RockShox has given the Pike a thorough makeover for MY23, and, for the most part, it's a step forward.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

RockShox Pike Ultimate MY23


  • Supportive, sporty feel. Easy to use adjusters.


  • Slightly less initial sensitivity compared to the Fox 34 Float Factory GRIP2.


RockShox Pike Ultimate (MY23) fork review


Price as reviewed:


RockShox’s ambitious new changes for 2023 sees the brand update and redevelop every single aspect of its forks from Zeb to Pike, so it’s like ground zero for this popular 35mm trail chassis in pursuit of a top spot among the best mountain bike suspension forks.

RockShox Pike Ultimate

New angular brace and mounting points for a mudguard

Mirroring the angular 38mm Zeb, this redesign sees an all-new Charger 3 damper, new DebonAir+ air spring and even a completely new isolation technology called ‘Buttercups’. Ultimate level forks also gain ultimate bushings with greater overlap to reduce friction and lower leg air relief valves that let you purge any unwanted internal air pressure build up that can affect performance.

Charger 3 ditches the expanding bladder design that’s been a Pike fixture for nearly a decade. Instead, it now regulates displaced damper fluid as the fork cycles in a similar way to a shock with an internal floating piston (IFP) – similar to Fox’s GRIP2 unit. A spring-backed internal piston moves back-and-forth to change the volume, which RockShox claims improves consistency and makes high and low speed damping adjustments more independent and noticeable. Tuning is done through all-new chunky dials, and RockShox also claims the range of adjustment is wider than previously.

RockShox Pike Ultimate

Buttercups are hidden inside the base of the lower legs.

At the base of the lower legs are the ButterCups. These are effectively rubber bushings between the upper and lower leg fixings designed to reduce the impact of certain high frequency vibrations. This technology (borrowed from chainsaw grips) gives 4mm of vertical compliance and RockShox claims they cut vibrations by around 20%.

The new damper has been optimised to reduce rebound wheeze with a specially-shaped ‘Silencer’ valve. And it works; the new Pike is completely silent, to the extent it makes its rivals sound like they’ve got a bad chest.

RockShox Pike Ultimate

The crown is much chunkier and more angular than the previous generation.

More friction-reduction comes from the 53% longer bushing package, premium-grade Maxima damping fluid, and ultra-low friction SKF seals. So, the new Pike chucks the kitchen sink at bumps with the aim of delivering the smoothest ride possible, but has it succeeded? Well, the answer is, yes, sometimes, but it’s complicated.

How it rides

Once bedded in – our fork took a while – control was totally dialled and the adjustment range gave meaningful and perceptible changes to performance. Damping control was poised with smooth handling of repeated hits and no weird behaviour on rebound, even when absolutely smashing the fork into the ground landing big jumps or drops – something that can be the nemesis of shorter travel, lighter forks. The air spring is extremely supportive too, so the 140mm Pike rides in the sweet spot in the middle of the stroke and uses its travel economically so we could really push hard without ever getting pitched forwards on steep stuff.

RockShox Pike Ultimate

Bleed nipples on the lower legs help release trapped air.

Once into its travel, performance is superb with a proper ‘magic carpet’ ride, but here’s the rub; the new Pike isn’t always very sensitive off-the-top and transmitted more harshness to our hands than the Fox 34. It also has less grip and ability to track small trail bumps and undulations.

It’s most noticeably less comfortable in rough sections, turns, and when rider weight is rearward on high-speed sections. It’s subtle, but repeated square edge hits (or even small root webs and little rocks and stones) tap and even slap at hands when the tyre touches back down after micro impacts. In simple terms, it felt like we were running 5psi more air in our front tyre.

In an effort to improve performance, we tried every compression setting and even tried the rebound wide open. We also reduced air pressure, added volume spacers, and even tried a second fork to make sure there wasn’t an excess of assembly grease in the air spring clogging the transfer port.

RockShox Pike Ultimate

New compression adjusters are simpler to use and the settings have more independence and less overlap according to RockShox.

Our best guess to the Pike’s occasional firmness is either that the air spring is geared too much towards maintaining ride height (so the negative spring doesn’t push it into the travel enough after unweighting), or that certain aspects of the IFP design are not as sensitive to initial movement or directional changes as the Charger 2’s expanding bladder.


As a package, it's frustratingly close to greatness, and 90% of the time the performance is exceptional, but possibly RockShox has changed so much on the new fork that it needs some further dialling in to realise its full potential. Particularly considering how well the Fox Float 34 works straight out of the box


Weight:1,880g (190mm cut steerer)
Travel:120, 130, 140mm