Dirt Rag Magazine

Review: X-Fusion Vengeance HLR

By Justin Steiner

X-Fusion may not have the name recognition of Fox, RockShox, or Marzzochi, but its parent company has been quietly producing suspension components for other brands since 1989. The X-Fusion brand itself was launched in 1999. In recent years, X-Fusion has been making a big push into the market, gaining significant OE spec and recently penning sponsorship deals with both Brian Lopes and Anne-Caroline Chausson.

X-Fusion introduced the Vengeance chassis in 2009 and refreshed it for 2012 with a new Syntace X-20 tool-less axle system and a new crown, which reduced axle to crown height by 7mm. Maximum travel bumps up to 170mm this year, while retaining the ability to adjust travel internally from 170mm to 100mm with a combination of X-Fusion’s Internal Travel Adjust (ITA) settings (at 160mm, 130mm, and 100mm) and as well as adding internal spacers to achieve settings between the factory options.

 

The HLR model offers a high volume air spring for a fairly linear feel while a coil negative spring help to overcome stiction and control top out. High and low speed compression damping adjustments as well as rebound damping adjustability round out the tuning options.

Fit and finish are on par with the competition, if not exceeding some of them. All of the adjustment knobs are nice CNC’d bits, in fact you’ll be hard pressed to find any plastic parts on or in this fork aside from the cable guide.

Suspension setup was straightforward in terms of air pressure and rebound damping thanks to the setup guide, but X-Fusion leaves compression damping adjustments up to the rider. While this is OK for experienced riders, less experienced or less diligent tuners might benefit from more discrete baseline recommendations. Your local shop will help you sort out suspension setup, or a quick call to X-Fusion will yield baseline settings.

On the trail, this fork is best described as buttery smooth, with supple small bump response and just enough spring rate progression to handle larger hits with control and confidence. I ran all the damping adjustments near the middle of their respective ranges, and found there to be plenty of meaningful adjustment in either direction from that point. Light or heavy riders should have no trouble setting this fork up for their needs.

Chassis stiffness is on par with the other forks in this class, which is no surprise given the similarities between this fork and the compe- tition in terms of the 36mm stanchions and weight—5.07 lbs with a cut steerer. Axle-to-crown height is identical to the Fox 36 I had set to 170mm of travel.

 

My test fork felt smooth out of the box, but developed pronounced stiction after a couple months of riding. I sent the fork back to X-Fusion where they found an out of spec bushing to be the culprit. With new lowers installed, this fork feels downright magical. I’ll go so far as to say it’s the most supple fork I’ve ridden—it’s that good. I’ll chalk the initial experience up to manufacturing variability.

All told, I’ve found the Vengeance to be a solid performer for the $835 asking price, which is roughly $200 cheaper than the equivalent 1.5” tapered steerer offering from Fox or RockShox. This fork holds its own on performance alone, if not edging out the competition in terms of small bump response, with a price tag that’s simply icing on the cake. It’s easy to see X-Fusion’s appeal to shoppers on a budget and those who don’t harbor existing brand loyalty.

The Vengeance is a legitimate offering from a company that stands behind their product with responsive support and a two-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects and workmanship.

Made in Taiwan.

www.xfusionshox.com
 

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