Introduced at the Taipei Cycle Show, the new X-Fusion Roughcut HLR sealed cartridge damper promised to bring their trail/enduro forks into the modern era of suspension forks. It closed off the oil, separating it from the air by putting it inside a bladder, rerouted the circuits to separate compression and rebound circuits, and gave it high and low speed external compression controls.
On paper it looked great, but its the performance on the trail that matters. So we lined up a test ride just before Sea Otter on X-Fusion USA’s home trails around Santa Cruz, CA. The trails combined plenty of steady climbing, smooth singletrack, swooping turns and a few brake burning technical descents. Sure, it was only about 90 minutes, but the mix provided a good feel for the new forks…
As a rider that likes to fine tune their suspension settings, the switch to top-mounted high and low speed compression adjustments is a huge plus. Each knob has 16 clicks, and they have a wider adjustment range than the previous model. After fiddling with it on the trail, clicks do make a noticeable difference, but not so much that I wanted anything between them. To be honest, one ride on unfamiliar trails isn’t enough to really get a new fork 100% set up to perfection, but I got it so that compression was controlled on both standing slow bobs and rapid and big hits.
While they didn’t tout it at Taipei Show, I was able to grill their marketing guy on the ride and learned that another goal was to keep the fork sitting high in its travel. There’s no platform or “climb” mode, but the fork felt stable under hard efforts and didn’t get bogged down by repeated roots or rocks. By staying active enough to absorb the little stuff without diving, it stays ready for the big hits and helps you maintain a safer riding position.
The rebound knob gets 32 clicks and an improved range, too. The Sweep recovered quickly but controllably, and there’s plenty of adjustment for you to set it how you like it.
The other side of the fork holds the air spring, which is opposed by a coil negative. The air volume can be tweaked by adding suspension fluid (oil) to the positive air chamber, and X-Fusion sells their own recommended fluid if you wanna keep it all in the family.
The Roughcut HLR dampers are only available on the 34mm stanchion forks (Slant, Sweep and Trace), where the names only differentiate wheel size, not features.
Retail pricing for the Sweep RC HLR is $749.99, and it’s made for 27.5″ wheels. The 26″ version is called Slant and has the same features and retail price. Trace is the 29er and runs $799.99 because it comes with the Uni-Crown, which is their one-piece crown/steerer that adds a lot of stiffness to the fork.
My test ride was aboard the new Ibis Mojo HD, and I wish I could tell you more than just “it rode really great.” My attention was focused on the fork, and fortunately the rear end of the bike and it’s overall handling was spot on enough to allow my focus to remain up front…which speaks volumes.
As for the fork, it brings all the features and tech modern bikes and riders require, and the pricing is very competitive. The 34mm stanchions kept things flex free and running smooth, even with tons of grip from the Schwalbes on Ibis’ extremely wide rims. I’ve been running the prior generation Trace with Uni-Crown on my Niner RIP9 for a while and have no complaints, either, but the support over bumps is noticeably improved with the new damper. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re building up your dream enduro bike.