21/09/2015 - Why X-Fusion?

Something we have noticed recently when people inquire about our complete bikes is why we use X Fusion forks, or they ask if they can have something else. There was even a comment about the new Rocket XT comparing to it to some similarly priced bikes, "yeah, but those bikes come with Pikes".

We feel we need to make the case for using the X Fusion forks, because it is out of choice. We could get Rock Shox or Fox or whoever else, but the X Fusion forks are superb. We use them, they work really well, and X Fusion are great to deal with. But don't just take our words for it, Bikemagic did a head-to-head test with the Sweep RL2 vs the Pike RCT3. Here's the summary if you haven't clicked through to the article:"

Performance – Both forks performed so well that neither of us could define any one distinctive benefit that made it stand out, both forks do some things better than the other but they’re so closely matched it’s hard to name a clear winner. Draw.

Specification – 1905 grams vs. 1861grams, 34mm vs. 35mm stanchions, trail 46mm vs. 42mm, post mounts 180mm vs. 160mm, blah vs. blah. There are subtle differences between the forks, but they’re so small that none of these specifications play any noticeable part in their individual performance. Draw.

Reliability – This one is a bit hard as the RockShox charger bladder system is new, so there are no confirmed reports on how long it will ride before needing a service or how durable it is. Whereas the Sweep’s RL2 system is a known commodity, it’s been proven to need very little maintenance and is reliable, in fact I think it gets better with age. But I have to call this a draw, as only time will answer the Charger damper question properly. Draw.

So, according to Bikemagic, it's a pretty close run thing with the Pike and that was the Sweep in RL2 spec (as we put on the hardtails). This year X-Fusion have introduced the Roughcut HLR damper, and this is the damper we are specifying on the Rocket XT bike. It's a fabulous piece of kit. Here's what Bikeradar thought of the Trace 29er fork fitted with the new damper:

X-Fusion forks have been offering impressively consistent control and rock solid reliability at great prices for several years now, with options for everything from lightweight cross-country riding to full-on downhill hammering. The new 140mm (5.5in) travel Trace Roughcut matches the firm's proven 29er trail chassis to top-end damping, and the results are outstanding.

While the new ‘Roughcut’ damper sounds like a dumbed down version of the HLR cartridge used in the X-Fusion Metric and RV-1, it’s actually an evolution that offers improved performance and more user-friendly adjustment. For a start, the new damper piston means less stiction than with HLR and way less than with the RL2 damper of the standard Trace, so you get proper trail-hoovering traction and “ooh, plush” small-bump sensitivity from fresh.

Things are noticeably improved at the ragged edge of extended rocky/rooty/steppy sections too, where – like all but the best, most expensive forks – the rebound of the Trace used to become inconsistent. That’s because Roughcut is a fully sealed bladder damper (like RockShox’s Charger and Fox’s FIT dampers) so there’s no danger of air getting into the damping oil and causing cavitation, where the damping piston hiccups as it pushes through bubbles rather than consistent-resistance hydraulic oil. We’ve taken this system (the HLR version) to the maximum load, stump smashing, suicide straight line limit on the RV-1 and Metric for over a year and so far the new Trace has delivered similarly super-rich and supple control.

Where the original Trace really shone was with its superbly measured midstroke compression, and its successor doesn’t disappoint in this area either. While the new fork still feels too soft off the top, you’ll still rarely see the travel ring push past 60 percent under braking or steering and the fork slingshots berms or stutter-bump corners with superb poise and tyre-flattering support. Both high- and low-speed compression damping are independently and widely adjustable via easy-to-adjust leg top knobs too, while 36 clicks of fine-tuned rebound adjustment is available at the bottom of the leg.

They gave it 4.5/5. High praise indeed.

And it's not just the forks; Chay has been running a big Vector HLR Air shock on his Rocket for nearly 18 months now with just one service last winter, and he really likes it. We love it because it's the only air shock he's had which has lasted more than 3 months on his bike!

Allied to all of this, they're still pushing forward and innovating.

The Revel inverted fork is coming to production soon and we're really excited about it. We're suckers for an upside down fork, and with keyways similar to dropper seatposts adding stiffness to the legs it's likely to be the first inverted fork to truly realise the potential of the layout.

We use X Fusion kit because we think it's the best. Simple.

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