RockShox Pike 454 Air U-Turn fork £499

Brilliant, super-reliable long-travel air fork

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

The RockShox Pike Air is probably our favourite trail fork of the past few years. It seemed an odd fork when it appeared four years ago, but now this tough trail bulldog is in its element.

This air-sprung, travel-adjustable (U-Turn) version costs an extra £140 over the Pike 426 coil, but losing the coil spring and steel steerer drops  almost 400g. It’s still heavy for a 140mm fork, but we’ll take its extra stiffness for aggressive trail use any day.

The adjustable negative spring means easy adjustment of initial feel, while the ‘Floodgate’ can add a low speed platform for cornering and braking and spring rate rise is spot on. It takes a few rides to really bed in, but the Pike has possibly the nicest feel of any air fork, with only occasional damping hiccups when you’re absolutely hammering.

U-Turn travel adjust stops at 110mm (coils go to 95mm) and its got old school international standard disc mounts but reliability is fantastic.

Like the RockShox Revelation, there are times when you can outrun the ‘Motion Control’ damping on successive hits and end up bouncing a bit, but overall consistency is superb.

If you’re really worried, we’ve heard good things about the new Push upgrade damping, available from Tim Flook's TF Tuned outfit.

The Maxle 20mm QR is a stroke of design genius, too, making the Pike as tight-tracking and accurate as full-grown freeride forks. As long as you keep the threads clean, it’s super-simple and reliable to use. The overall result is the fork equivalent of the computer game ‘big gun’, letting you blow straight through technical sections that terrified you before.

Pricing is actually higher than it used to be, but we don’t know anyone who’s regretted buying a Pike. If £500 is too much, coil versions are cheaper and smoother (but heavier).

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