RockShox Pilot XC 2003 Front Shocks

2.61/5 (36 Reviews)
Weight : 4.06 lbs MSRP : $200.00


Product Description

TRAVEL: 80/100 mm
Adj: ALL TRAVEL

SPRING: Single sided coil with Air Assist
Adj: Positive air pressure via Schrader Valve

DAMPING: NEW! HC2
Adj: Internal


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Reviews 1 - 15 (36 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Ben a Cross Country Rider from columbia, MD

Date Reviewed: October 17, 2006

Strengths:    Low maintenance, once you get it dialed in, your set for a lot time
RockShox the company has done well by me with product failures. They paided to have problem parts replaced


Weaknesses:    The lock out does not work very well.
It does not adjust stiffness well with pressure. I'm not a big guy, 140 lbs. I run the pressure around that for a 250lbs person because its so over plush. And even if you bump the pressure way up, there is almost no change in the stiffness.
I don't do downhill riding, i mostly do fairly smooth trails, and i have bottomed the fork out on more than one occasion.
This is my second one of these. I blew the first one out in a week, and that was before i started running really high pressures in the fork. Now the second one has lasted 2 years, and when i blew the seals on the first one, Rockshox paided to have it replaced and upgraded it to remote lockout... so the company gets some props for that


Bottom Line:   
I really dislike this fork. The air seals are weak and the fork is way to plush. If your a beginner, buying a less expensive bike, you probably won't notice or care.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Similar Products Used:   Manitou SX, Marzzachi Bomber few others


Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Tim a Weekend Warrior from Somewhere, Connecicut, United States

Date Reviewed: October 9, 2006

Strengths:    This is a great fork if you want a low maintenance, reliable, get-the-job done type of fork. I loved it for the first year

Weaknesses:    I'm not sure but I think that the fork is losing some of its bounce and responsiveness. Whatever the reason, it is way to soft right now. I have to find out why

Bottom Line:   
Great for the money; not the greatest durability; wouldn't recomend fork for the hardcore rider

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Nipmuck Trail (I know you have not heard of it)

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Purchased At:   came on bike

Similar Products Used:   Marzocchi exr supra

Bike Setup:   '03 tass

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Graham a Cross Country Rider from Phoenix, AZ, US

Date Reviewed: November 23, 2005

Strengths:    Durable...

Weaknesses:    Step up from department store bikes, not very active, not a real air fork

Bottom Line:   
If coming from a no suspension bike, however unlikely that is, this fork is great. Coming from a Judy you wont know the difference except for an air vavle which I suspect does nothing but look good and make the shock a little stiffer. This fork sags for me often, I weigh 130lbs. and put the correct psi in it, yet it will still sag on the trails. Even with sag though, it wont soak up most bumps and it often feels like its bottomed out or just not performing well. Fork is a good price though, and has lasted me a year this christmas, but its about due time for an upgrade to a real fork. Manitou Minute 2, here I come! Value - 4, -1 because if you know where to look you can get a way better fork (Minute 2, FOX low-end, BLACKs) for 230$-270$ that are slightly used but not abused. Overall - 2, its a very durable fork but for god sakes, it sucks!

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Favorite Trail:   Fast singletrack

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   came on bike

Similar Products Used:   No suspension to my current setup... this was a godsend at the time, but now im going to a Minute 2

Bike Setup:   2004 NRS-3, SRAM X7 shifters, front/rear derailer, Avid juicy 5 disc brakes

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Brian a Cross Country Rider from Kennesaw, GA

Date Reviewed: July 30, 2005

Strengths:    Looks like a real fork

Weaknesses:    Where to begin

Bottom Line:   
This is easily the worst piece of crap I have seen aside from a department store special. It says air assist....HA!
This came as standard issue on my wife's Gary Fisher Tassajara. We upgraded her to a 05 Marzocchi EXR Pro for around 2 bills for an inexpensive but massive upgrade and all is well. Do not purchase this fork as an upgrade to a judy or other entry level fork.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Purchased At:   Came on Bike

Similar Products Used:   Several Models from FOX, Rock Shox, and Manitou

Bike Setup:   Gary Fisher Tassajara w/ deore mix

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Ev a Cross Country Rider from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Date Reviewed: April 7, 2005

Strengths:    Easy adjustments, pretty good on downhill portions

Weaknesses:    WAY to much bob, a lock out would be nice...

Bottom Line:   
This is a fine stock shock, but if you are going to get serious in riding upgrade to a fox shock i recomend. If the NRS was an expensive bike i would be disappointed with Giant, but given the value of the NRS 3 its gotta have a weakness. No lockout is really the only problem i had though.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Bike Setup:   Giant NRS 3 w/disc brakes

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Fat Tony a Cross Country Rider from Jersey

Date Reviewed: March 20, 2005

Strengths:    - Smooth supsension action/stroke
- Fat 2.7 tire clearance (I've run a Panaracer Fire FR on this fork)
- Excellent rebound adjustment


Weaknesses:    - Stanchion travel increment markings do not match manufacturer claims
- Comes undersprung and WAY too soft in stock form


Bottom Line:   
Well it's been a year and the fork is still going problem free. It is rather undersprung straight outta of the box, so upgrade to a stiffer spring if you weigh more than 120 pounds. I know people knock this fork and bad mouth it, but all I can say is that it's worked just fine for me. It's nothing exciting like the SPV and Motion Control stuff out nowadays, but it's a versatile fork for XC. Keep it at 85mm for clims and crank it to 115mm for decents. My only beef with this fork is that it comes MAJORLY undersprung. If you weigh more than 120 pounds, get the next heavier spring, at least, maybe even two springs up. The key to being happy with this fork is a spring upgrade. The bad news is that the spring kit is expensive because it comes with the whole U-turn assembly kit, so it'll run ya around 40-50 dollars. Other than that, I have no complaints. It's reliable and does the job. My next fork will be something more modern like a Manitou Minute with the SPV.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year


Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Stefan a Cross Country Rider from Tulsa

Date Reviewed: October 18, 2004

Strengths:    Takes small and mid bumps, don't need much maintainance

Weaknesses:    heavy - but on the other side - cheap.

Bottom Line:   
I'm 170 lbs - bike is a hardtail - I ride 2-3 times a week - about 60 miles "light terrain" and about 20 miles "hard & aggressive".

This is a great fork for the price - I would recommend it for recreational riders and XC riders that don't ride very aggressive. I wouldn't recommend it for racers and of course not for downhill.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Similar Products Used:   Fox Talas, Marzocchi Comp

Bike Setup:   Roland ElTorro XC

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dougal Torrance a Racer from Canberra Australia

Date Reviewed: August 31, 2004

Strengths:    Good solid fork (at least for a 70kg rider). Very easy to service. Great value for money. I really like the adjustability of the air spring

Weaknesses:    Compared to the SIDs I now use, the Pilots are a heavy(ish) fork. They can be a bit noisy too.

Bottom Line:   
Look, if you're just getting into Mountain bike riding these are a great starter fork. If you're contemplating racing, these forks may be a bit too heavy, and perhaps a bit behind, technologically. Having said that, you can usually pick them up a whole lot cheaper than newer forks, and they'll do the job.

I would suggest you get someone (or do it yourself) to make them have the full 100mm travel, as the 80mm feels like about 50mm. Be warned though, and extra 20mm will make your bike look more like it has dirt bike forks! I was very impressed at how easy these forks are to service, but make sure you log onto the Rock Shox web site and download the manual first. Also, there's a lot of oil in the forks so use an oil pan! I'm reasonable as a mechanic too so it may be a bit harder to service the fork for absolute beginners. Don't worry about getting 5wt rock shox oil. 5wt Motor bike fork oil is just fine (and cheaper). With the 100mm of travel, the fork is now nice and plush, with a lot more ability to absorb most size bumps. I'm impressed enough to still be using it on my reserve bike.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Kowen

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $100.00

Purchased At:   Phantom Cycles

Similar Products Used:   RS Judy (elastomers) RS SID Team

Bike Setup:   Hard tail- deore spec mostly

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Pat harrington a Cross Country Rider from aurora, co, USA

Date Reviewed: August 13, 2004

Strengths:    reliable, good for XC riding, takes normal bumps well, very little maintence, for me that is!!

Weaknesses:    gets soft after use, not intended for jumps and large drop offs

Bottom Line:   
So the fork was stock. I tend to think that how you ride should decide the fork. It is slowly loosing travel, about 65-70 now but this thing has been more than reliable for me. Bottomed out once on me. Untill I get a new fork, made for aggressive XC I am fine with what I have. Have done a lot of trails in GJ/fruita area with it and a few in Moab. For where I live and ride this is an awesome fork. Though I want to upgrade to a black, duke, or marz. The bigger the drop I get leery on with this fork and have been since I got it but it suits me well and I am happy.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   mary's loop

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   Littleton Cyclery

Similar Products Used:   manitou black, duke, judy

Bike Setup:   03 Tassajara, bar ends, candy SL eggbeaters.

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Brian a Cross Country Rider from Moscow

Date Reviewed: June 16, 2004

Strengths:    A decent fork, after you've overhauled it and converted it to 100mm of travel. Once you've made the conversion (and replaced the oil), the fork works fine.

Weaknesses:    I experienced the same "locking up" problem that others have with the forks straight from the factory. After a little more than a month of use, the fork simply would not travel more than 50mm. Requires more maintenance than it should. The fork doesn't really work WELL until you convert it to 100mm of travel.

Bottom Line:   
I have mixed feelings about this fork. It's a decent fork, once you get it working properly, but the hard part is getting it to work properly!

When I got it, it worked great, but after less than a month of use, it started bottoming out at 50mm of travel, as has apparently happened to a lot of other people. I took it back to the shop where I bought it. They overhauled it, and it worked fine for several months (a solid 75mm of travel). About 8 months later, the fork wasn't working as smoothly as it used to, so I decided to overhaul the thing myself. The left side of the fork was almost completely dry (i.e., there was no oil in it)! The only reason I can think of is gradual oil loss through the upper seal.

I overhauled the thing myself, following the manufacturer's service manual (available online), and decided to convert the fork to 100mm of travel. I'm really glad I did the conversion, because the fork FINALLY works like it should have from the beginning. Because of the design, when in 80mm mode, the spring seems to be already compressed to some degree, reducing the amount of "pre-compression" you get when you sit on the bike, and making the fork less responsive to small, frequent bumps. In 100mm mode, there is apparently more room for the spring to compress when you sit on the bike. I now get a good 20-25mm of pre-compression, resulting in much greater responsiveness to little bumps, and a much smoother ride. Because of the additional pre-compression when I sit on the bike, the front end of the bike doesn't sit any higher than when in 80mm mode when I'm actually riding.

Note: I am a small, lightweight rider (5'7" and 140 pounds), so this fork had barely any pre-compression at all in 80mm mode (perhaps 5-8mm). In 100mm mode, I get a good 20-25mm of pre-compression, which makes for a MUCH smoother ride for me. I have no idea whether converting to 100mm mode will work well for larger riders, but I suspect it will.

Note: When I did the overhaul/conversion, I replaced the oil with 5W-40 motor oil. For whatever reason, this has virtually eliminated the strange "sucking" noise that the forks used to make when damping. I don't know why that should be the case, as I used the manufacturer's recommended oil weight (5W).

Anyway, in conclusion, if you want to take the time to overhaul the forks yourself (a very messy, difficult, frustrating job, if you don't have the right tools and are trying to do it in your bathroom), or want to pay someone to do the conversion and change the oil for you, the forks work a heck of a lot better.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Bitsevski Park

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   Came stock on 2003 Gary Fisher Tassajara

Similar Products Used:   None.

Bike Setup:   2003 Gary Fisher Tassajara, stock, except for clipless pedals.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Greg a Cross Country Rider from Nashville, TN 37212 USA

Date Reviewed: June 14, 2004

Strengths:    Decent fork for the money and paired with a nice bike. Takes out most of the bumps but itsn't too squishy.

Weaknesses:    Don't try to put more air in it than 15 psi or so... you will blow a seal and the "dusk cover" fill blow and slide up the side tube. In my case it seems to not have done any long term damage. As long as I make sure the pressure is correct the seals seems to be holding fine.
It makes a strange air sucking noise but this is normal and you hardly notice it once you're used to it.


Bottom Line:   
I good entry level fork. It won't take a whole lot of abuse but for $175-200... eh its fine. I am thinking of upgrading this winter to a Marzochi MX Comp ETA. I've had this fork over a year now with no problems after I got the air pressure correct. FYI I used to be 210 when I bought the bike so I was trying to max out the air...not a good idea. I'm down to 195 now and am pretty happy with the shock at the max pressure it says it will hold.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Hamilton Creek

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   came with bike purchase

Similar Products Used:   --- My first Front Shock---

Bike Setup:   2003 Gary Fisher Tassajara mostly stock except Egg Beaters and a Serfas seat

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by gaza a Weekend Warrior from Australia

Date Reviewed: March 6, 2004

Strengths:    Value for money

Weaknesses:    Can be a little plush

Bottom Line:   
Before buying the Pilot XC and because of the reviews I read on this site I contacted the distributer for Rock Shox and put forward some of the Issues submitted by the reviewers on this page. I was very satisfied by the honest feedback offered by the Importer. It is agreed that for a heavier rider the Pilot can seem a little too "Plush" and perhaps not the right choice of shock. As far as air seals going in the shock it is suggested that 9 times out of 10 it is due to operator error, ie people trying to put too much air into the fork because they are trying to eliminate the soft feel and the recommended air pressure does not seem enough to do this. "Air Assisted" forks are not designed to take high pressures and will easily "turn out" seals if the recommended pressure guidelines are exceeded. As far as the "Travel" Issue is concerned it was advised that some of the forks were over filled with oil in the factory for some reason, which is by no means acceptable and does leave some concerns about Quality control. This does greatly reduce the total travel and if noticed the fork should be Immediately removed and returned to the supplier for service under warranty. Also on the Issue of travel it was explained that most forks will never have the amount of "in use" travel that is stated in the specs. Travel is measured before any compression is applied to the fork and also includes any "negative" travel a fork may have. In other words if your fork has 80mm of travel it probably includes around 10mm of negative travel which is how far the fork will extend out if pulled rather than compressed. So already your 80mm has become 70mm. Then allow for the "sag" factor while you are positioned on the bike and suddenly your 70mm becomes 50mm!!! As with any product proper care and maintainence will always prolong its life.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Similar Products Used:   Rock shox Judy, Marzocchi

Bike Setup:   Specialized Hardrock HardTail.

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Jason W a Cross Country Rider from Bentonville Arkansas

Date Reviewed: January 22, 2004

Strengths:    Adjustable rebound

Weaknesses:    It's been serviced by rock shox twice! After a couple rides, 100mm of travel becomes 10mm! Seals leak, and it sounds like water is squishing around inside.

Bottom Line:   
I wouldn't waste my money on it! Buy a Black. Better yet sell a kidney and buy a Fox!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   The Den

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $200.00

Purchased At:   Local retail shop

Similar Products Used:   Manitou black

Bike Setup:   2003 NRS

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Frederik a Cross Country Rider from Denmark

Date Reviewed: December 29, 2003

Strengths:    Cheap, looks cool, cheap, cheap...

Weaknesses:    little bit soft for my taste....affraid to breake it

Bottom Line:   
The pilot is a great beginners fork...but it is too soft....wouldn't recommend it for agressive XC...think I'll put it on my old bike when I get my new fork!!!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $160.00

Purchased At:   Used

Similar Products Used:   suntour, rs mag 20, both crap

Bike Setup:   Ghost htx, xt, xtr, ritchey, hope

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by james a Cross Country Rider from charlotte, nc

Date Reviewed: November 30, 2003

Strengths:    pretty good absorbing shocks, air for low price

Weaknesses:    NOT the full travel! kinda flexy

Bottom Line:   
i was in denial when i read the reviews on this fork, and i figured i wouldnt have the same problems with mine, but i did.... what the hell, rockshox?! its NOT 80 mm travel! its more like 65. and what the hell happened to them.... the travel WENT AWAY, meaning it used to be 80 but now its less.... that sure is stupid. come on, rockshox, get it straight here. also, i used to have this clicky sound when i would compress my shock about halfway down, but that went away with my extra 15 mm of travel!

as much as i complain about losing the 15 mm, i dont really need it that much... i ride xc so its not too bad as long as i dont do big jumps and stuff

so im screwing these, and i have already ordered a marzo mx pro w/ eta

they're really not that bad, as much as i complain

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $150.00

Similar Products Used:   nothing really, demo'd a bunch of stuff, but that doesnt count

Bike Setup:   fisher tass w/ shimano clipless

Reviews 1 - 15 (36 Reviews Total) | Next 15

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


RS Pilot XC problem.

This morning I decided to dust off my back up bike and go for a ride. I haven't touched it in about 4 months and I didn't want it to get lonely. I pushed down on the fork and found it only compressed about 1.5 inches and stopped with a thud. It's a 2005 (I think) Pilot XC,100mm, coil with air ass ... Read More »

Old Judy XC vs "newer" Pilot XC

Built up a mtb for my girlfriend, old Klein/Waterloo Pulse frame w/a new deore/truvativ group from a Jamis. Actually built up really nice for not that much cash. The frame came with Judy XC from 96,97 or 98 (gold, may have come stock with the Klein) which seems to be in good working shape. A frie ... Read More »

Please help me choose...Duke XC or Pilot XC

Hey Guys, I currently have an Airborne Ti hardtail with a Duke XC w/U-turn fork and 63-108mm adjustable travel. I added a stiffer spring, one heavier than stock. Of all surprises, my wife bought me one of those closeout Airborne Al hardtails that came with a Pilot XC fork. The Pilot has air ... Read More »

ROck Shox Pilot Xc recently serviced and oil leaking...

I have jsut serviced my 2003 rock shox pilot xc and upagraded to 100mm travel insted of the original 80 mm set up. The feeling is much better , but I can see some oil leaking out of the top of the lower tubes, along the upper tubes. I have put the recommended amount of oil.Does that mean that a seal ... Read More »

Help: Rock Shox Pilot XC fork any good?

My crappy Manitou Six fork that came with my '04 Rockhopper is in for service and needs to be replaced. I'm looking for a cheap upgrade fork (less than $150) since I know I will be completely replacing my bike in the next year or two. I'm 5' 5" 170 lbs. and do mostly cross country riding (no big d ... Read More »

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