The 2018 RockShox Pike RCT3 DebonAir Boost 27.5 suspension fork.

Review: the new RockShox Pike RCT3 DebonAir Boost 27.5” Suspension Fork

Christoph 13. April 2017

With the Charger 2 damper, a negative air chamber and being 150 g lighter, the Pike RTC3 is definitely an update to older versions. The question is: does it perform better?

"DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK"

RockShox didn’t just redesign the Pike’s casting, they also threw in an updated damper. A new, larger negative air chamber improves linear progression, small bump compliance and overall, the fork is almost 150 g lighter than comparable 2017 models. The question is, does the 2018 Pike RCT3 really preform any better?

Specifications

Application Enduro, Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650B)
Type air
Weight 1870 g
Travel 120 mm, 130 mm, 140 mm, 150 mm (tested version), 160 mm
Steerer Tube 1 1/8" - 1.5" tapered
Axle Type thru-axle(15 x 110 mm)
Brake Mount disc PM7 (direct mount 180 mm)
Axle to Crown 512 mm (bei 120 mm), 522 mm (bei 130 mm), 532 mm (bei 140 mm), 542 mm (bei 150 mm), 552 mm (bei 160 mm)
Adjustment Options
Compression low-speed (3 positions / 20 clicks)
Rebound yes
Remote no
Travel Adjustment no
The new decal design keeps the fork looking sleek.

The new decal design keeps the fork looking sleek.

Significant Changes

  • Charger 2 damper: it’s lighter, has more adjustment options and comes in 2 versions, the RCT3 and the RCTR (with OneLoc remote)
  • DebonAir air chamber: the larger negative air chamber improves linear progression and small bump compliance
Top: the new negative air chamber, Bottom: the old version.

Top: the new negative air chamber, Bottom: the old version.

  • Casting: increased tyre clearance to 2.8” -> plus tyre compatible
  • The new fork is only available with Boost spacing. However, for those who want a Charger 2 damper on their older fork, there is an upgrade kit available.

The Breakdown

The Pike RCT3 DebonAir suspension fork comes in black with a reworked decal design. Note: the fork we tested came in glossy black. However, the final version is sold in diffusion black (matte).

Something that is immediately noticeable is the new top cap desgin. The air and damper chambers can now be opened with a Shimano lockring nut instead of a socket. This solves the common issue of the top cap stripping when trying to unscrew it.

The damper and air chambers can be opened with a Shimano lockring nut.

The damper and air chambers can be opened with a Shimano lockring nut.

Now, the stripped top cap problem of previous models is a thing of the past.

Now, the stripped top cap problem of previous models is a thing of the past.

On the drive side of the new Pike you will find the Charger 2 damper. It comes with 3-position adjust between open, pedal and firm (lock-out). The low-speed compression (19 clicks) is in the same place as the old fork, namely the non-drive side. Operation and the high-quality feel of the 2018 Pike is at the level we have come to expect from RockShox as well.

Low speed compression with 19 clicks and 3 position adjust.

Low speed compression with 19 clicks and 3 position adjust.

The rebound adjust remains unchanged to previous models with 20 clicks that are easy to adjust.

Rebound adjust is the same as previous models.

Rebound adjust is the same as previous models.

Christoph rides the Pike RCT3

Christoph's Setup
His body weight 78 kg
Riding style aggressive, playful, fast
Fork air pressure 90 psi
Rebound clicks 9 out of 20
Low Speed Compression clicks 2 out of 19
Front Tyre Pressure 1.9 bar
The Pike RCT3 looks good on the trail.

The Pike RCT3 looks good on the trail.

After reading about the updates to the new Pike, I couldn’t wait to install it and hit the trails. The first thing I noticed while riding, was the stiffer lock-out of the Charger 2 damper when compared to the original. This was definitely a plus on the uphill.

When I got into the forest, I went straight for the gnarliest trail to see what the Pike RTC3 could do. So I opened the damper, lowered my saddle and dropped in. Immediately, it was easy to tell that the updated Charger damper was worth it. The fork ate up bumps like nobody’s business and kept the root covered trail smooth.

Video

I tested the Pike RCT3 for four weeks over 200 km of diverse trails and I can tell you the following:

The old Charger damper worked great and set a high bar that was hard to beat. When I compare the new Pike with the old, it is easy to notice how much better the 2018 version is. This really comes down to the new Charger 2 damper and the updated air chamber. Now, the fork gives me even more small bump compliance. Another great feature, is the increased adjustment options of the Charger damper. With it, I can set up the fork to fit my riding style even better.

Final Verdict

All in all, the new 2018 Pike RTC3 impressed me. Thanks to the new damper and the DebonAir air chamber, the overall performance of the fork has been greatly improved.