The RockShox Pike was a firm favourite with aggressive riders when it debuted back in 2005, and has been relaunched and totally overhauled for 2014. Thanks to its supple, supportive action it's already creeping to the top of everyone's suspension fork wishlist.
Just like the harder hitting Lyrik, the Pike gets stiff 35mm stanchions to help with steering precision, yet RockShox has still managed to deliver when it comes to weight. Our 160mm (6.3in) travel, 26in wheel, Solo Air sample weighed in at 1,800g.
Damping is taken care of by the new Charger cartridge – a fully sealed design that uses an extruded bladder to avoid air mixing with the oil. This should, in theory, deliver more consistent damping – and it seems to work too.
Hammer through chattery, rough, rock riddled sections and you'll be surprised by just how much the Pike can deal with, and the amount of composure and support it does it with.
On quick, successive hits the Pike tracks the terrain well – partly thanks to the Rapid Recovery rebound circuit – recovering impressively even after big, fast compressions and only using the necessary amount of travel.
This makes navigating awkward, high speed boulder fields a more confident affair. Although the Pike doesn't feel quite as stiff as Fox's 36 chassis, you don't lose any of that wheel-positioning accuracy, and at no point did we ever feel like we were out of our depth, even on downhill trails.
On smaller, rumbling hits and loose surfaces, the beginning stroke is impressively smooth and supple, helping to claw out any available traction and alleviate much of that annoying vibration through the hands that can affect control on longer descents.
The RCT3 model offers plenty of adjustment too. Along with a rebound knob, there's a large dial that lets you toggle between the open, pedal and lockout modes. In the open setting (which works on a separate damping circuit) you can use a smaller dial to tune the amount of low-speed compression damping. On top of all that, RockShox include their 'Bottomless Tokens' – plastic spacers that reduce the air volume to create a more progressive spring rate.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.