It was an interesting process to watch - the shiny, polished, burn-scar patch ridged gently, then like some sort of mutant birth mark started to spread up the stanchion. In a dry region it probably wouldn't matter. In a dry region it probably wouldn't have happened. But in the Peak, the end result was that a mix of grit and water tip-toed past the wiper seal, foam ring and oil seal and contaminated the lubricating oil in the fork lowers, screwed the action and caused yet more wear. Weekly oil changes. Not good.
This stuff - doesn't like moving parts...
So in the end, much as I loved the Air U-Turn with its Push damper for its ability to wolf down repeated rock strikes at speed and come back unflustered for more, it had to to.
Normally I'd just swap like for like, but Air U-Turn Pikes are like hen's teeth now, so after several calls, mails and googles, it was off to buy a Dual Air Revelation, a 2011 with 150mm of travel. It's white, which after three years of black Pikes is weird. And it's light, around a pound less than the Air U Pike, I guess.
Memories are made of forks
So anyway, tore the Air Pike apart and swapped the Push bits into the Pig's Pike coil - result - and stuck the Revelation on the Pace instead. Done and ride.
At this point, I'm meant to rave over how amazing the Revelation feels, but actually I'm so used to the Pikes that fresher, lighter, longer, whiter forks feel disconcerting.
I know how much weight shift it takes to lift the front end, not any more, 1lb less makes a real difference. The extra 10mm travel seems to raise the front enough to screw up steep climbs, grrrrr, miserable failure on Lockerbrook fighting just to keep the wheel on the deck, and the stickiness and set-up teething issues mean that the bike feels like a strange, foreign thing. No more plugged-in confidence, just this slightly disconcerting, alien, front-end frisk.
And I don't care what anyone says, you can feel the difference in stiffness, the Pike was somehow just more implacably planted, the Rev just has that little bit less - but then that weight had to come from somewhere and that somewhere is the chassis.
To be fair, it's getting there. The seals are breaking in and upping the negative pressure pulls the fork down far enough to compensate for the extra height and adds small-bump plush as well and I'm recalibrating front-end lifts as well. Give it time. And failing that, give it the Pushed Pike from the Pig.
Pig Pushed - win!
I don't believe in 'perfect bikes', that's just an industry marketing strategy and I feel slightly sorry for people who seem to be engaged in a doomed pursuit of the bike that will somehow transform their riding, and when something I have just works, I don't generally see the point in changing it unless I have to, because that just interferes with what matters, which is riding.
Oh, and the bike looks odd with white forks. Less solid, more flighty. Which clearly is utterly petty. But there you go. Black forks are stiffer and faster and just work better. Give it time.
And if time doesn't work, then it's off to eBay for another Pike Air.