The word pike tends to be a catch-all for a number of polearms. In most cases, these extremely long weapons were used in formation; keeping alternately armed opponents at bay were they could be dispatched with the sharp points. When pikes became popular, and pikemen would meet each other in combat, the length of the pike began to increase in a sort of arms race. The unit with the longer pikes had a significant advantage, and this pushed the length of the pikes out to twenty-five feet long.
With such a heavy, two-handed pike, soldiers forfeited the easy use of the shield. This meant that formations of pike worked well together, but when separated they could be defeated easily.
The pike was constructed of ash wood, and would taper at the end. The taper reduced weight, and helped control the bending that occurred at such a great distance from the user. Metal strip reinforcements called langets were also added underneath the head to protect the shaft.