In Issue #113 of Singletrack Magazine, we tested, reviewed and recommended the X-Fusion McQueen Roughcut HLR Fork
Here is an air-sprung suspension fork from Californian suspension people X-Fusion that offers all the good stuff and nothing extraneous for a very good price. It’ll cost you less than the competition while ticking all the ‘want’ boxes. It’s Boost spaced and boasts 27.5+ and 29in wheel compatibility with plenty of muck room ’twixt legs and ’tween crown for up to 27.5 x 3.25in tyres. The steerer is tapered and stanchions are hard anodised 34mm diameter aluminium. Claimed weight is 2,100g (uncut steerer) and ours weighed in a little less at 2,030g. It’s built right with enough material to resist twist, keep things on track, and able to handle disc brake rotors up to 203mm diameter.
The legs are fastened together with a simple 15mm thru-axle. There’s a slight irritation here with the lever though. While it feels good in the hand, when open and rotating the axle to remove the front wheel it collides with the fork leg and has to be repositioned as it’s turned. Not ideal and something to improve on. This is the only fly in the ointment that I have experienced.
What’s it like to ride, eh? Very good. There’s nothing missing performance-wise and the McQueen is very much a high-function fork with quality damping that does both sensitive and big hit mastery alike. The McQueen deals with lower level trail irregularities and higher amplitude hits with aplomb. On the trail, performance has been consistent when charging at roots, rocks, etc., and it’s proved dependable. Controlled at high frequencies and quick to react, moving readily and easily.
Set up is pretty straightforward; it’s not difficult to get a good feeling from the get-go simply set sag and rebound, then ride. Over the next couple of outings, get the high and low speed compression damping where you wish. Once you have a base setting sorted you can tweak characteristics by fiddling with dials to get it working just so for different trail conditions and scenarios if you wish to eke out the best possible performance and ride feel. With 36 clicks of rebound adjustment and 16 clicks for both high speed and low speed compression, there’s a broad range of adjustment on offer.
With these compression adjustments you are well equipped to find your setup sweet spot. Increase the low speed to resist brake dive and maintain good position when heading down steep ’n’ twisty trails and adjust the high speed compression to better deal with fast lumps and bumps. With the fork brand new I found small bump sensitivity fairly good and reckon that this has improved with use. Hours of repeated up and down cycles later it delivers a good and supple start, the mid-stroke is nice and supportive and end stroke is progressive. All good function and feel. It’s billed as a trail/enduro fork and very much hits the mark.
The Roughcut HLR damper is sublime and simply superb, giving a composed measured feel and good grip on the trail without ever giving up too much movement. The McQueen does a great job of absorbing the big hits when pushing hard over rough ground and floating nicely over the smaller stuff. And this high-quality performance has been consistent and fade free. The damper incorporates a fully sealed bladder, so air and oil are kept separate, and there’s no chance of bubbles forming or degradation of damping control.
The Roughcut HLR damper is sublime and simply superb, giving a composed measured feel and good grip on the trail without ever giving up too much movement.
I’ve been running the fork at 130mm and 140mm travel. Travel can be adjusted internally in 10mm steps – this takes some effort and time in the workshop, but does mean that there is a degree of versatility here. And it does mean that you have a fork with travel options and whether set up at 100mm or 140mm travel settings it’s plenty stiff enough and happy being pushed into steep corners and tracking well when you’re changing direction and holding on through rough terrain.
The McQueen Roughcut HLR is a superb, value for money, suspension fork, a really accomplished performer. It delivers something of a measured feel to travel, efficient and controlled, poised and maintaining composure, not readily upset or out of shape, and does a good job on the traction and grip fronts. Are you happy to try something new, or stick with the tried, trusted and well known? This fork may not be your go-to choice… try it I say, you’ll like it.
|Product:||McQueen Roughcut HLR|
|From:||Upgrade Bikes, upgradebikes.co.uk|
|Tested:||by James Love for 4 months|