The gap between the bottom and the top of the suspension market seems to be ever increasing. Although entry level forks are undoubtedly better than they’ve ever been, the addition of new technology to give lighter weight, durability and performance at the top has come at the expense of well, expense and there’s a gap between the technology haves and the have-nots that looked like it was growing rapidly.
X-Fusion seem to be doing their bit by providing fully featured forks and shocks at a weight and cost that is a little bit more attainable than the competition. UK distributor Upgrade starting bring them into the country last year – you can see what Benji made of last year’s 160mm travel Vengeance here – but found that demand exceeded supply, so expect to see more of them this year.
They’ve also introduced their Gold Slick Ano across the 2013 range, which promises a smoother and more durable coating for the legs. The Vengeance now has a Syntace quick release 20mm through axle rather than last year’s somewhat fiddly bolted system, which was pretty much our only niggle with the fork.
X-Fusion Prototype upsidedown fork
Although it went through a brief spell of popularity in the early noughties, the upside down (or USD) fork has fallen out of favour in the mountain bike world in recent years, despite having some advantages such as permanently lubricated seals. The main reason is that it’s hard to make them stiff – certainly with existing axle standards – as they do without the extra brace you see on ‘normal’ forks. However, with the rapid expansion of different wheel sizes, it makes a lot of sense to have a fork chassis that can be quickly and easily scaled up and down (or even outwards) in size without the need for new castings each time – which is something USD forks lend themselves to very well.
This prototype from X-Fusion gets around the issue of twisting and flexing by using technology similar to that found on their dropper posts, with keyed upper legs to prevent rotation. The prototype gets bolted on dropouts which should help with adaptability once again and looks like it uses the guts from the Vengeance HLR to give 160mm-ish of air sprung travel, with rebound and high/low speed compression adjustment.
X-Fusion Slant 34mm legged 160mm fork
Back in the world of production forks, they’re released a 34mm legged answer to well, the Fox 34. It comes with 160mm of travel which can be reduced down on the fly to 130mm with the optional DLA adjuster. It’s much stiffer than the existing 140mm Velvet trail fork but weighs 200-ish grams more (edit: it’ll be sub 2kg) and it’s a chunk lighter than the now 170mm travel Vengeance. It’s also 650B convertible, should the middle way appeal to you, and only comes with a 15mm through axle.
X-Fusion Trace long travel 29er fork
Another new fork platform is the long travel 29er Trace, which also has 34mm stanchions. It’s internally adjustable from 80mm to 140mm in 20mm increments and you can get it with the DLA travel lockdown if you want too. There will be a number of damper options available, the one pictured here using the rebound adjustable and lockout equipped RL2 cartridge.
A really interesting feature and one that helps the fork to a claimed weight of just 1,905g is the single piece hollow forged crown and steerer. It’s not an all new technology, having been seen on extremely high end forks such as the Cannondale Lefty range, but it’s impressive to see it here and it’s allowed them to removed as much excess material as possible from the steerer-crown interface.
X-Fusion HiLo SL post
The HiLo post was a functional and affordable item but it wasn’t the lightest dropper post on the market by some stretch. This new SL model weighs a competitive 450g and still gives 125mm of stepless travel. It’ll be available in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters, but old frame only will once again be saddened by the fact they simple can’t squeeze all the gubbins into a 27.2mm model.