For the last three years, SRAM has invited a small group of journalists out to their Trail House camp. While many product launches happen in the confines of a hotel conference room, SRAM takes a different approach. The Trail House is a more up close and personal experience where the focus is on riding the new products, hanging out with the people who make the product happen and having a good time. This year's Trail House was held in the beautiful landscape of Sedona, Arizona where the trails range from twisty singletrack through dry river beds to narrow slick rock paths cut out of ancient red rock mountains.
Some of the most exciting products at the Trail House came from the guys at RockShox. The new Pike fork is aimed squarely at the bike at or around the 6-inch travel mark, essentially the meat and potatoes of today’s trailbikes.
The New Pike
- Intended Use: TR/AM
- Weight: 1838g
- Travel: 140-160mm (140mm available in 29" only)
- Upper Tubes: 35mm
- Wheel sizes: 26”, 27.5”, 29”
- Steerer: Taper only
- Axle: 15mm only
- RC or RC3 Damper
- Solo Air or Dual Position Air spring options
- Updated Maxle Lite
- $980-$1085 MSRP (Price dependant on wheel size, damper and air spring options)
RockShox’s Jeremiah Boobar explained that the goal of the Pike was to hit close to Lyrik stiffness at close to Revelation weight. Designed with 35-millimeter stanchions, the 6.2-inch travel model for a 26-inch wheel weighs in at just a hair over 4-pounds
In order to achieve this low weight while pushing stiffness, every piece of the chassis had to be carefully designed. One of the most visually distinct designs is the Pike's asymmetrical lower legs. Like other RockShox forks, the Pike features their Power Bulge technology at the lower bushing. On the Pike's non-disc side, the bulge stops 40-millimeters below the bushing. However, on the disc side, the bulge runs completely to bottom of the leg to add stiffness and keep the fork from having too much torsion.
The Pike's bottom out point on each leg is also asymmetrical. On the spring side of the fork, RockShox found that they wanted to add some volume to keep the fork from having too much ramp. However, on the damper side, there was more available air available in the upper tube so it could be left slightly shorter. While these seem like almost insignificant details, they all adds up to is reducing the amount of material in an effort to shave grams.
Some simplifications to the internals have also helped lighten up the fork. The Pike features a new single seal system. Where the Lyrik has a pressure seal and a wiper seal, the Pike features an integrated seal that does the job of both; making it a lighter weight and more free of friction. RockShox also used a slotted upper bushing that allows more lubricating oil to make its way to the single seal to keep it running smoothly.
Pike also features a new black hard annodized stanchion color. This coating is not the same as "Black Gold" or "DLC" coatings and RockShox was quick to say that it is primarily for aesthetics. In fact, they would get the same performance out of a clear tube, but we have to admit, the black looks awesome.
Charge The Trail
As refined as the Pike’s chassis is, the internals are also completely new. The Pike features an all-new completely sealed and bled cartridge damper called “Charger.”
“The benefits to a bladder charge system is consistency more than anything. By not having any air in the system whatsoever, the system performs the same no matter how much you’re thrashing it around or how hot it gets,” explained Boobar.
Of course, as the damper rod compresses there needs to be somewhere for the oil to go. To account for this, the Pike uses a bladded which expands as the oil is pushed up through the damper. Aside from consistency, the sealed damper is also claimed to be make for a more supple fork. "Unlike an IFP system, there’s what we call ‘zero offset’. An IFP has a charge of some sort that is pushing on the oil, but because of the bladder system, there’s no real pressure needed to get the thing moving," said Boobar.
Aside from the sealed nature of the damper, the architecture of the damper itself is also new. Unlike the Mission Control damper found in the Lyrik fork, the pedal and lock settings all sit behind the performance damping in the flow of the oil. This means that there is no compromise in perfomance in any of the three settings.
The Charger also features RockShox’s Rapid Recovery technology which first appeared in their latest Monarch RT3. Rapid Recovery uses a tuned, preloaded shim stack to set the ending stroke rebound to a faster setting than the beginning stroke. What this does for the rider is allow the bike to return to closer to top out over successive hits, rather than packing up as is common with standard rebound systems. This faster ending stroke rebound keeps the suspension in a softer part of the spring curve which makes for a more supple ride.
"People comment that ‘oh, you guys have changed the compression settings, it’s much lighter now than the compression I’m used to running.' In actuality, the fact is that because you are riding higher in the travel, in the lighter part of the spring curve it actually feels like you have lighter compression," Boobar said.
Rapid Recovery keeps the bike higher in the travel through and thus in a softer part of the spring curve through successive hits. This translates to the suspension being able to absorb more energy and transfer less to the rider.
Updates to the Monarch Plus
- $486 MSRP
- Twice the rebound range
- Increased compression flow
- Quieter action with more control
- New lower profile air valve location
- New adjusters
Along with the Pike fork, RockShox introduced us to their updated Monarch Plus shock. The Monarch also features Rapid Recovery, a larger damper piston, revised flow paths and a larger volume negative air spring. All of these add up to a smoother, quieter and more supple shock.
New Reverb Options:
Mechanics everywhere will rejoice with news of the new Connectamajig for Reverb Stealth. Connectamajig is a hydraulic hose coupler which interupts the Reverb's remote line and allows the system to be disconnected and reconnected up to three times without needing to be bled. This will easily allow mechanics to assemble bicycles, routing the hose internally without needing to bleed the whole system afterward. However, RockShox was quick to add that since you can only do this three times without bleeding, it is not meant to be a feature for packing a bike for travel often.
- Connectamajig Stealth options
- 150mm Stealth options
- 34.9mm options in all travels
While two days on new trails with a new bike is hardly a recipe for a good test, the Pike and Monarch plus treated us very well on our first encounter. Our RockShox dialed Yeti SB-66c handled everything from rolling g-outs, light trail chatter, chundery high speed descents and everything in between with ease and gave us a serious sense of confidence even though we were seeing many of the trails for the first time. We were blown away with the smooth motion of the fork and the Rapid Recovery technology seemed noticeable as the fork rode high in it's travel yet was very supple off the top. We look forward to getting the Pike and Monarch Plus out on our home trails for a fair evaluation.