RockShox Pike RCT3

Settled on the air spring tweaking, I then did the same thing with the compression damper adjustment, while riding in the Open setting. I rode the same descent about 6 times, moving the damper one or two clicks each lap. With the range of damping available, you can make this fork feel either extremely loose, or ready for a pumptrack. It’s impressive.

Kevin Bazar reviews the SRAM Pike RTC3 150mm, Blister Gear Review
Charger compression damper on the SRAM Pike RTC3

About 5 clicks from full closed (out of 14 total), the fork began feeling pretty harsh to me. I was riding a pretty rough descent and started getting my front wheel bounced around. I settled pretty much right in the middle of the range, and ended up with a smooth ride that felt very reactive, yet very supported and controlled. While the fork never really dives, it also gets the hell out of the way when you really nail something. Low speed compression damping is nothing new, but up until the last few years, very few systems have really worked as advertised. This one does.

I read one review of this fork that claimed it was unfair to compare a 150mm trail fork to a DH fork, but in this case I think it’s entirely justified. That’s because it works better than most dampers on DH forks. About the closest comparison I can come up with is that it mimics a dialed Fox 40 RC2 damper. Overcoming the threshold on a hard hit is just as smooth. To be honest, the damper on the Pike feels more refined.

I can’t wait to see this damper and token system dispersed out into all of RockShox’s other air forks.


Wanting to really test the dual position air Pike, I dug into a giant parts list from RockShox just to see if there was any one piece that I could buy to make this fork a dual position model. I did find a dual position air spring listed. It’s sitting in the fork right now, and has about 20 rides on it. I figured I might as well pass along some information I got from someone at RockShox regarding doing this.

The dual position air forks (for some reason only available in white) have a small dimple on the interior of the air side stanchion. There’s a small exchange of air between the negative and positive air chambers when the travel adjust is used, and this dimple allows a re-equalization of the two chambers as the main piston passes it. Without the dimple, the negative chamber continually charges when the travel adjust is used. I haven’t seen this happen yet, but having learned about it, I have no doubt that it will eventually happen.

On that same parts list, RockShox has two different crown/steerer/stanchion options for replacements, one a dual air and one a solo air. So they definitely are different. Considering the dual air system only drops the fork 30mm, there’s really not a whole lot gained on steep climbs on a slack bike in my opinion. But just a heads up, if you want the dual position air fork, buy the dual position air fork. Maybe one day they’ll even offer it in black.

Bottom Line

RockShox has absolutely set the standard in trailbike forks with the Pike. That’s not news at this point, but I’m absolutely throwing my hat in the ring of those who have said it before because I wholeheartedly agree. With the combination of the tunable air spring, the damper that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, chassis rigidity, and an impressively low weight, the Pike is a winner.


11 comments on “RockShox Pike RCT3”

  1. Nice review. It offers support to how good people are saying this fork is. I especially appreciate the recount of the fiddling you’ve done since some readers would contemplate similar measures. It’s a bit of a shame Rockshox has made it such that you can’t just drop in a Dual Position Air spring. Do you know if you could use a Solo Air spring with the dimpled uppers?

    I was wondering if you had any insight as to how the RC version differs, which comes OEM on a few bikes. Does it use the same Charger damper but with different adjustment settings, or is the action entirely different?

  2. I’m really surprised you didn’t use any ‘bottomles tokens’. I have the same fork as you (26″ 150mm solo air) and I was getting really harsh and loud bottom outs on an abrupt G out with even a single token. Now I have two tokens in and have yet to bottom out the fork. I think I might cut a token in half and try running 1.5 tokens to see if that would be the magical mix of using full travel without harsh bottom out.
    By the way, what is your weight and the pressure on the fork? I’m about 75kg/165lbs and run 75 psi in the fork, resulting in slightly over 20% of sag.

  3. Hi kevin

    Have you had a chance to ride the solo and dual on the same bike? There is a lot of hearsay on the web regarding the solo being a better fork, and some people having issues to reach full travel on the dual, there are some custom tokens made for the dual that people say they help but no experience. 30mm doesn’t seem a lot but, if we are talking technical rocky climbs it makes a big difference on a slack bike, my rides are usually 2500 to 3500 ft climbs and a big part of that is through motorcycle trails so very steep and technical and I’d love a lower fork, but don’t want that if the price is a not so great fork going down!

  4. Hi Marcel. I’ve been riding a dual air that I converted from this solo version for the last year. Here’s a response I gave to a friend of mine asking about the differences:

    The weight difference is like 100 grams according to BTI.
    I have a 95 cent rubber stopper in my DPA to act as a volume reducer/token.
    If you’re riding a bike with a 65-67 degree headangle, I think the DPA is totally worth it if you find yourself even thinking about it. Just dropping the front end that little bit, helps with uphill steering, rear wheel traction……which let’s be honest, really does go to shit on a bike that slack when you’re trying to pedal it uphill, especially where traction sucks.
    I rode a solo air for most of a summer, and then converted it to a dual position. I even switched it back to a solo air while I had the DPA assembly out, trying to figure out how to do some volume reducers. The biggest difference I noticed between two different bikes has nothing to do with friction or weight, but the fact that you can’t get token equivalents for the dual. Both systems are a little divey in the midstroke, the DPA slightly less than the solo with no tokens. That’s just typical air spring stuff. You can easily get away from it with the solo and some tokens, or get creative with some things in the dual. If you’re not comfortable with that, just be aware it’s going to be a limitation. Maverick suspension sells some dpa tokens but they’re like 70 bucks for something that’s probably mind bogglingly simple. Or you can pay avalanche suspension way too much money to deal with it through damping with a stronger midvalve system.

    But that to me is about the only real performace difference I’ve noticed. This newer system RS is using has pretty much made performance differences between the two essentially a moot point IMO. The only thing rubbing in the DPA that the solo version doesn’t have is a concentric pair of tubes that are about 7mm in diameter and lubed up. It’s really not much.

    • Hi Kevin, very pleased to have come across your post. I have the dpa pike on my reign and have been trying to find a cheep alternative to the adapted tokens. How many rubber stoppers did you fit and was it an easy process? Cheers, Ollie

  5. Hey Kevin,

    I have a 2015 Dual Air Pike that came on a 2015 Giant Reign Advanced 2 as well as an aftermarket 2014 Pike RTC3 160mm fork. Both 27.5″ versions. The Reign came spec’d with the 46mm offset CSU, Dual Air Pike which I want to mate with the 160mm Solo Air Spring for weight reduction and ease of use of volume reducer tokens.

    I am going to put the 160mm Solo Air Spring in my 2015 Dual Air Pike chassis. Do you think the ‘dimple’ referenced above will create any performance issues for me short or longterm? Do you feel this change will have any affect on the negative air pressure if the travel adjust is not being used? Any other reasons to not run this configuration you can think of?

    Thanks a bunch. Your article and comments on this have been very helpful.

    – Chris

    • The negative airsprings reset themselves differently in each system. Don’t bother with switching the air springs. Just switch the lowers between the two forks and use the solo air. Then you still have two completely useable non-cobbled together systems. You get the offset you want and the proper springs in the proper stanchions.

  6. Hello, what do you think about some reliability issues that are found in some forums like mtbr, which aim to a bad charger damper quality… Do you know if those comments are widespread or representative respect this fork? or are them isolated cases?
    I mean, I want to buy this fork, have saved money in order to switch from my current Sektor RL, but that’s a worrying topic for me


  7. Fabian: I don’t really see that as a ‘reliability issue’ more of a reminder that with bike parts, shit happens. I’ve had three charger damper forks and I as well as the majority of users haven’t had that problem. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that it won’t happen to you, just that your odds are likely pretty low. And one of the best things about Sram/Rockshox is that they’ve got one of the best warranty practices of anyone. If you have a problem on a new fork, they’ll fix it. If you buy a used one, you know what to look for now. I’ve had all the dampers out of the three forks I’ve owned several times and never seen anything like that. I certainly wouldn’t use what’s in that mtbr thread as any kind of deterrent from buying one. I can’t think of a single bike product that’s ever been made in the history of mountain bikes that was always 100% flawless, all of the time, every time. It just doesn’t happen. And dorks on mtbr will always pretend a small percentage of issues is somehow representative of the whole lot. It’s what people do these days.

Leave a Comment