Fork Review: 2016 Fox Float 34 vs 2016 RockShox Pike (Mid Travel Showdown)

RockShox Pike Overview:

The Rockshox Pike was resurrected in May of 2013 with a completely redesigned platform from the original Pike that was released in 2003. The original Pike was made more with a focus on dirt jump/freeride bikes whereas now the new Pike is strictly a trail dominator! This fork is a whole new beast in 2016.

Fox 34 vs RockShox Pike Fork

RockShox Pike | Evil The Calling Demo Bike

Starting on the outside you get a sleek murdered out look with 35mm stanchions, tapered only steerer, and a new 15mm Maxle Lite axle (You can also get a stealth bolt on axle, click here). On the inside you have the new Charger Damper, as well as the external adjustments consisting of rebound, low-speed compression (On the RCT3 model but not on the OE version RC model), and 3-click high speed compression, fully open, medium setting and then lockout setting. This fork was definitely made to perform at the top level and it lives up to the hype and certainly does.  

You can check out our selection of RockShox Pike forks here to see all the various sizes.

Fox 34 Overview:

Then there is the 2016 Fox Float 34 Factory Series which is an entirely new design compared to the previous years. It comes in various wheel size and travel options just like the Pike, it comes out of the box with a QR 15mm axle just like the Pike and also has an option for a stealth style bolt on axle, click here for that. In past years... let's be honest, the Fox 34 basically sucked... But don't even think about that since this an entirely new design.

The 2016 version was made for the die hard aggressive trail rider and has been completely re-designed from the inside out. This year it features an all-new FIT4 damper, Float air spring, and an incredibly lightweight chassis. The FIT4 is Fox’s fourth generation closed cartridge system that provides three compression damping positions consisting of Open, Medium, and Firm (Just like the Pike, simple 3-position high speed compression setting with a lockout). These adjustments were made to adapt with the large variety of trail conditions you will throw at this fork.

Fox 34 vs RockShox Pike Fork Review

Fox 34 | Yeti SB4.5 Demo Bike

The Factory series Float 34 features an additional 30 low-speed compression clicks when in the open positions so you can really get technical with your tuning. Low speed compression may not be something every rider wants to play with but it is a great adjustment to have in certain situations and those who understand how low speed compression works will enjoy the 30 positions this fork has. The second big change Fox made on this fork was their updated air spring for the Float series. So new damper side and new air spring, this is what makes this fork nothing like the previous versions. It now provides excellent handling in small chatter. The air spring in the fork is now similar to their rear shocks consisting of positive and negative air springs that equalize during use to give the right pressure balance. You can also adjust the progressiveness of the air spring by adding or taking away air volume spacers. (Wonder where they got that idea….)

Just like the Pike, the 2016 Fox 34 Factory series has nearly the same adjustments and air spring concept as the Pike RCT3. The most important of those being air volume spacers, or as RockShox calls them, bottomless tokens. This idea is what more or less revolutionized the way forks work now-a-days. Because of the spacers you can really tune how progressive you want the fork to feel, you can make it ramp up very quickly so you don't bottom out but are still able to run a low pressure so you can get that incredible supple feeling that really smooths out the trail and makes the fork plush.  

View our selection of Fox Factory 34 forks here.

What Do We Think?

The previous years of the Fox Float 34 were significantly below par when compared to the Rockshox Pike. All of us at the shop here thought it would be a good idea to take the 2016 Pike which hasn't seen too many major changes since 2013 and the 2016 Float 34 that has been completely re-designed for 2016 and do a side by side comparison of the two. The Pike was the first fork I rode in this Battle of the Forks. The Pike was progressive in all aspects and handled everything we threw at it, from staying stable on climbs to the fast rocky downhills - there was plush bottomless travel when necessary and was very smooth through the chatter. After the Pike I rode the Float 34 and it was crazy to feel how far it had came from the previous years model. I was blown away with the new 34, to say the least. Fox stepped up their game and came out swinging with the 2016 Float 34.  It handled awesome and had a very comfortable feel but at the same time it was progressive just like you would want it to be and just like the Pike. It was incredible through the slow sections and handled the terrain just as well in the fast sections and it never skipped a beat. At end of the ride, both forks left you feeling fresh and with a smile on your face, so it's hard to say which fork is better. Our verdict is that either way you go you will be stoked and you can't go wrong with either of these forks.

Let's recap some of this and add in some specs - 

  • The Fox 34 is lighter, about 0.2lbs. (Depends on exact model)
  • Both forks have the same adjustments, except the Pike has 12 clicks of low speed compression and the Fox has 30. (In our experience about 5% of riders even use this adjustment...)
  • Both forks use volume spacers to dial in how progressive you want the air spring to feel. This is a great feature. 
  • You can often find Pikes cheaper than Fox 34's and if you need a more rare size you are more likely to find an available Pike since RockShox has much better distribution in the industry compared to Fox so more shops stock and have all the RockShox models available where as they might only carry the common model Fox forks. Our shop falls in this boat as well. 

Sorry we couldn’t give you a “This one is better” answer but the truth is, if somebody does, they are biased for some reason or another. Both of these forks perform incredibly well and simply have a slightly different feel. Both do what any rider would want, super plush in the beginning of the stroke with great tunable progression to make it feel bottomless. If you want to nitpick you can look at weights, axle to crown heights, pricing, etc. Either way, you will be happy with whichever fork you decide to purchase.

Rockshox Pike Forks

Fox Shox 34 Float Forks

October 21, 2015

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