Over the last 2 years, X-Fusion has gone from a relative unknow brand to a dominant player in mid-range forks. The brand offers extremely affordable suspension that meets (or exceeds) the performance of some of the big brands out there.
I started my journey by first looking at RL2 version for the X-Fusion Sweep Forks which is essentially the base design. The Sweeps are air sprung with a dampening cartridge that runs the full length of the fork leg. The RL2 damper has limited adjustments over the HLR with just rebound controls and a lock out but for those that are not too bothered with precise tuning, the Sweep RL2 forks felt plush on the trails. I would say that they felt very similar to entry level Fox 34s or Rockshox Pikes but not quite as well balanced. Still not far off.
But this review is not about the RL2, its about the HLR version of the Sweep. X-Fusion provided me with an HLR damper which I got Upgrade Bikes to fit for me. It utilizes a fully bled bladder cartridge system which separates the oil in the damper from air outside the cartridge. This basically means that there is no mixing of air and oil and thus you get consistent fade-free damping…….at least that’s what the brochure said.
It’s important to note that X-Fusion has developed this dampening system in house and that it is unique to their forks. I’ve not personally seen this type of system in another fork before. The HLR damper also provides high and low speed adjustments which I didn’t find necessary to mess with for me personally but it’s great to have both options available for fine tuning. That’s said it doesn’t have the option to for volume spacers to adjust the bottom out of the fork but I understand that you can alter the oil volume in the air spring to achieve the same result. The fork travel is also internally adjustable from 100mm to 160mm. For our demo rig, we have this set at 160 and doing so was pretty painless.
But how does it perform on the trail?
Well, I found that the X-Fusion Sweep HLR forks don’t seem as stiff as Fox 34s or RockShox Pikes, but there is not much between them. But that said, weighing in at around 1900g, these are comparable. The Sweeps maintain good contact with the trail and give me well controlled feedback from the trail without oversharing and shaking / tiring out my arms.
I found that the X-Fusion Sweep HLR forks performed relatively on par with that of the mid-range Fox 34s and Rockshoxs Pike forks with some mild trade offs like weight over stiffness but overall, they balance out well. When you hit much heavier terrain like rock gardens, the 34s and Pikes outperform on the trail but the Sweep HLR forks still hold their own and maintain confidence.
The BIG difference here is cost. Retailing at £550 the X-Fusion HLR Roughcut forks are about 40% cheaper than that of the Fox/Rockshox. So, for those that are price conscious and not professional athlete, X-Fusion is a winning combination that balances out performance, weight and cost very well.