Words, photos and video by Carsick John.
Four days of testing the RockShox Pike and X-Fusion Sweep for 27.5 (650b) wheels in Hafjell, Norway, punishing the forks on technical backcountry singletrack and the best of Hafjell’s bikepark: Buldre, Rollercoaster and Røbolstien trails plus the 2013 World Cup DH track.
After getting my hands on a brace of 2014 27.5 forks – the X-Fusion Sweep and the RockShox Pikes – I was desperate to escape my family beach holiday, get to Norway and put the forks into some real action.
Hafjell is a truly amazing place, a Norwegian wonderland for mountain bikers and a bikepark with progressive well-maintained trails and a World Cup DH track. Above the park there’s Hafjelltoppen with its endless high fells. The fells are a secret singletrack heaven with some of the best and most technical trails you’ll find in Northern Europe, all this with an amazing panoramic backdrop that stretches for miles.
RockShox Pike – The re-invented Pike seems to be the new (self proclaimed) king of enduro and is tipped as the fork to have in 2014, with its new charger bladder system. In effect it is a closed and pressurized damper that is full of oil and has no air in it, so there is less chance of it foaming during hard, extended use. In short this translates into the damper riding high in the travel where it’s the plushest and that equals a smooth and firm ride which is still able to soak up bigger trail hits at will without ghosting through the travel.
Visually RockShox have hit a home run with the Pike’s styling. In a world of slippery gold the black stanchions really stand out and make the forks very distinctive.
Early reports of the stanchions discolouring certainly aren’t apparent as yet, albeit after only 65 hours of hard action.
The finish is matt black with some sci-fi sticker graphics flying around on the legs.
Initially the fork crown looked a little too skinny but after a while it has grown on me and doesn’t look too slim now.
X-Fusion Sweep – The Sweep is a new fork for 2014, but utilises X-Fusion’s excellent and well-proven RL2 damper. The RL2 system can take a short while to get into its ‘plusher’ sweet spot but once it’s there it has a great feel around the mid-stroke.
The Sweep forks use a more conventional nickel colour stanchion, which seems a bit pedestrian compared to the Pike, but on the upside the styling of the fork legs and bridge is much smoother and tapered and feels more modern than the Pike.
Finish is painted gloss black with a few neo modern stickers.
The plan was to take a friend (and very talented rider) Danny Sørensen, ex Danish BMX champ and DH guide at Switchbacks, along to help test the forks. Danny likes to go big and the perfect person to really push the boundaries of these forks.
I put the forks on two identical full suspension bike set-ups, using a titanium all mountain 27.5er with 145mm of rear travel as the test bike. I added a dose of Hans Dampf Super Gravity tyres into the mix as well to help maximise grip and enable us to focus on exactly how the forks performed.
In total we would spend four days in Hafjell riding the trails in the bike park and the backcountry singletrack. Riding back-to-back, swapping the bikes for each ascent and descent so we could gauge exactly how the forks handled against each other.