X-Fusion Shox is just one of the many great members of the bike industry local to us here at MTBR. Based out of Santa Cruz California since 1999, they just recently expanded into a new facility with great access to trails for R&D so I was excited to join them for the launch of their 2013 product line. These guys don’t just work on suspension, they are all seriously good riders as well. And to top it off the very first World Cup XC Eliminator trophy and its owner Brian Lopes plus some members of the new Santa Cruz/X-Fusion team were on hand to lead us on a demo ride.
For 2013 X-Fusion is expanding its line of forks and shocks as well as offering improvements across its existing products. With its solid 2012 product line, X-Fusion knew they had the base of a good damper system, so they had to ask themselves what improvements can we add to step it up? The answers came in the form of weight and durability.
The biggest news is the introduction of two new forks featuring 34mm stanchions. There is the Trace 29 plus the Slant which covers 26 and 650b applications.
Starting off with the Trace 29 which features up to 140mm travel, with their ITA push-pin travel adjustment allowing a range down to 80mm on the short end. For you gram counters who won’t want over 100mm of travel the stanchions are available in a shorter length for weight savings over the full travel model. Also available is the DLA on the fly 30mm travel adjustment between 110 and 140mm. This fork exclusively features the new uni-crown technology which unites the crown and steerer tube as a single forging and results in a 40% stiffness increase over 2 piece crown assemblies.
The Slant is the other new 34mm stanchion fork and this one covers the 26 inch and 650b markets. Travel can be internally adjusted from 80 to 160mm and there is a weight saving shorter stanchion option for 120mm and under. Both the Trace 29 and the Slant feature the new Gold Slick Ano coating which is key to the increased lifespan. This new coating is not just better at holding lube but actually creates a harder sliding surface for better wear characteristics.
On the rear of the bike X-Fusion is introducing a new option for the XC racing crowd. Their new Microlite weighs in at only 170 grams and still features rebound adjustment and lockout features. This should be a good option for gram counters who can save about 40g over similar offerings while maintaining performance.
Not so much a new product as an evolution of their existing adjustable seatpost is the Hilo SL. This post picks up the Gold Slick Ano treatment from the forks and adds a revised clamp head and some machining to the internals that drops another 100 grams from its standard cousin. Both the existing Hilo 125 and new Hilo SL are available in 30.9 and 31.6 while the Hilo 100 includes the difficult to fit 27.2 diameter. The new remote design strongly resembles the Joplin remote which in my opinion is one of the best designs in the industry as it allows for much more flexibility of the mounting options. The new SL model is a huge step up and with the strength afforded by the 2 bolt head and the slick ano treatment on the inner tube this post looks like it could be on par with the Reverb without the pain associated with bleeding of the hydraulic remote.
Other new technologies and refinements for 2013 include Uni-Crown on the Trace, the Gold Slick Ano treatment, and a revised fork damper cartridge featuring what X-Fusion is calling Mid-Valve.
The Uni-Crown construction is a first in the industry. The fork crown undergoes a multi-step forging and machining process to create a single piece crown and steerer unit that is more durable and has tested at up to 40% stiffer than a two piece assembly. This should be especially noticeable when diving into a rocky rooty section under braking where the fork would normally want to flex backward under the bike.
The fork dampers featuring Mid-Valve are designed to provide more control through the mid-travel stroke of the shock. Basically a preset secondary low speed compression circuit that should provide increased resistance to the fork compressing up underneath the rider when in situations such as braking on a downhill. This damper is found in all of the 32 and 34mm forks.
The new Gold Slick Ano stanchion coating mentioned previously is not just on the new forks but is being added to the Vengeance fork, and the Vector Air and Coil shocks pick up this upgrade too.
In addition to all the performance upgrades, X-Fusion is planning to offer a custom tuning service to help users get the most of out of their shocks. For a modest charge you can send in your shock to be modified with one of several preselected options. These setup options have all been tested to ensure they will work for the specific bike and needs of the rider. While the basic tune will work great for most people this will allow riders to easily move to the next level of performance.
My impressions from the demo ride were limited to the Vengeance Coil and the standard Hilo post but these two performed flawlessly. The fork is very active over small bumps and swallowed the big hits with a smooth linear compression. It was solid enough to inspire confidence on the steep rocky sections. Given more testing time and tuning setup this fork could be a real performance upgrade for someone beginning to doubt the ability of their 32mm or air fork to keep up with their riding. The Hilo post functioned well; there was no detectable play and the return lacked the dangerous punch that my Command Post has.
With the numerous improvements coming for 2013 it seems obvious X-Fusion is working hard on innovation and is definitely a company to watch out for.