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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

X Fusion Velvet RL Preview

X Fusion Shox may not be the first name that comes to mind when looking to outfit your ride with new suspension, but they have been making great strides in the last few years and are quickly becoming a major player in the market.

Based out of Santa Cruz, California X Fusion has been selling products since 1999 but has worked as a suspension manufacture for the ten years prior. Their current product range includes four fork lines, four shock lines and a height adjustable seat post. All of their products carry a two year warranty.

I'll be testing their 2011 Velvet RL fork. Targeting cross country and aggressive trail riders (AKA "all mountain") the Velvet RL is air sprung and features internally adjustable travel (80-130mm), external rebound adjust and lock out.

The blue adjuster is for Lock out. Red, down by the axle, controls the rebound, and under the black cap you'll find a schrader valve to adjust your air pressure.

The Velvet is available in the traditional 1 1/8th inch steer tube and is also sold with tapered and full 1.5" sizes. I'm testing the straight 1 1/8th model.

Velvet Travel Adjustment
My fork came preset from the factory at 100mm and changing the travel to 130mm was a relatively simple process, but one that requires a bit of mechanical skill. X fusion uses a pin ladder on the air spring side to limit the travel.

A how to guide is provided on their website for changing the travel. The work can be done by a home mechanic, but if your a bit leery of pulling apart a brand new fork, it might be a job best suited for your local bike shop.

Syntace X-15 axle
X Fusion chose to offer a 15mm axle option and has licensed the X-15 system from Syntace. It's very simple to use, with no pinch bolts to fuss about, just slide in the axle and spin it tight. A 9mm QR version of the fork is also available if you prefer. Myself I'd take the thru axle and the added stiffness if offered any day.

My fork came in at 1760g (3.88 pounds) including axle, star nut and crown race. Not bad at all if you ask me.

The build quality is great and everything has a quality feel to it. The internals are all metal, no plastic bits to be found. As far as looks go, I think it's a fine looking fork. I especially like that the graphics are clear coated over so you don't have to worry about your decals pealing.

X Fusion is distributed in Canada by Renegade Cycle Solutions and retails for $425 in 9mm and $430 for the X-15 model. A refreshing change when compared to many of the competitors forks pricing.

So hows it feel? So far so good. Being winter I've only managed to sneak in a few short rides, mostly bombing around town, hopping curbs and the such, but did get in one short trail ride.

The range on the rebound is wide and each click offers a noticeable difference. The fork was a tad sticky out of the box but has already smoothed up very nicely. Stiffness is great and the bushings feel tight, the fork has a solid feel to it.

The lock out is easy to engage and offers a blow off feature in the event that you forget to unlock the fork.

I have the fork mounted to my Astrix Union hard tail where it is sure to see its fair share of abuse. I'll also be bolting the Velvet up to a 140mm travel Salsa El Kaboing to see how it preforms on a full suspension bike.

My initial impressions of the fork are very good and I look forward to getting some real trail time in once spring hits. Expect an update on the forks real work performance in the coming months.