X-Fusion Slant RL2 160mm Mountain Bike Fork review – First 100 miles

The purchase of a new fork was prompted by a major failure in the Charger damper in my 2014 RockShox Pike (26″, 160mm Dual Position Air).  Not knowing how long the fork would be gone for warranty or if I would get a new replacement, refurbed unit, etc I decided to try out X-Fusion.  I’d been reading good things about them on PinkBike, MTBR forums, BIKE magazine (via review of the Sweep 650B fork in the 2014 Bible) and I wanted to try something a bit apart from the Fox and RockShox stuff I’d been riding for the past who-knows-how-long.  There were a few things I wanted in a fork:

  • Simple – too many knobs and I get the “placebo effect.” It is a rare occasion when I can make a click or two on a Low- or High-speed compression knob and feel a major difference.  I need rebound, lock-out, air pressure, and height adjust is optional.  Fox CTD – don’t get me started…too stiff, too loose, no in between.
  • Durable – I have a tendency to destroy equipment. I always fix/repair/maintain stuff, but the inevitable happens because I like to see how far equipment (and my body) can go before crapping out.  If a $1000 brand new technology RockShox fork fails in 50 miles, I’d like to find something that has been around a little longer and reviewers have remained happy with.
  • Inexpensive – This is self-explanatory.  If you missed it – I’m a research scientist / wildlife ecologist.  I don’t do what I do for money – I’d be disappointed.  Every penny counts and I’ve already got an expensive lump of metal in for warranty and another sitting lifeless in my garage.
  • Match my current ride  – I needed 150-160mm travel, tapered steerer, 15mm thru-axle.

I’m not a weight weenie, but keeping it below 5lbs is pretty much par for the course on a fork like this nowadays.  This was a non-issue. Weight was 4.1~lbs after cut.

I purchased this fork for well under $500 delivered to my door from QBike (good experience by the way with a personal phone call from the head honcho prompted by my email query – check them out the X-Fusion stuff is cheaper now than when I purchased!).

I’ve had a chance to put about 100 miles on this fork.  I’ve ridden in Auburn, CA where the trails I rode had lots of ups and downs in dusty singletrack, jagged rocks, and a little bit of road connectors.  Also Bidwell Park in Chico, lava cap, beat-your-ass-up roughness, and Mt. Ashland, which was hero dirt when I was there, mostly downhill packed perfection.

Scottie on BTI

Scottie on BTI in Ashland

This fork performs.  Took me a little bit to come to this decision though.  The fork was super-harsh (to me) out of the box.  The geometry of the Remedy felt a little off, especially with the 80mm stem I had on there.  Axle to Crown comparison for forks I have used on this frame:

  • 2013 Fox TALAS 34 (with 2014 internals) – 538mm
  • 2014 Pike 26″, 160mm Dual Air – 542mm
  • 2013 Slant RL2 – 545mm

….small changes, big difference.  The Remedy felt raked out and the stem had me feeling squirrel-y.  But super great to gain a first hand understanding as I use a larger variety of equipment.  This is the sort of thing I usually only read about.

Recommended spring PSI for my weight was 80-85PSI, and after the first 30 miles or so I found the best mix of small bump compliance and square edge hit damping to be 75PSI when the fork finally settled in.  After being beat up in Bidwell, where getting off your line leaves your arms and wrists sore and your vision blurry from shake, finding the right spring pressure was like catching the sunrise when you crest the hill of your 6 mile fireroad climb leading to a well-earned 2 hour downhill.   Cleared frustration, forgotten irritations, just….pinned.  Rebound damping has 33 clicks.  I’m running at 16 clicks out from slow right now.

The Mid-Valve damper seems to vary the available platform in response to the severity of the hit.  Washboard rollers the fork just bobbled through it without any jerkiness, but you could feel a firm up when most of the way through the fork’s stroke when off-line or going through a rock garden.  Very impressive considering you don’t have to think about this benefit.

I notice a tiny bit of flex in comparison to the Pike.  To be expected, I suppose, when going from 35mm to 34 mm stanchions.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that this 1mm increased stiffness by 12% or something like that….. I guess if I’m going to be reviewing stuff I need to start remembering these things. Despite this little sensation of noodles, the fork tracks impressively well through rough stuff.  No lateral, fore-aft, or torsional flex enough to screw me up.  Only I screw me up.  Line choice….always the line choice.

A few things to note:

  • Can only mount an 8-inch rotor.  Not a problem for me, that’s what I use anyway – though I can see how a 7-inch front might do better.
  • This is a simple rebound, air spring, and lockout.  There is no other compression adjust.
  • There is a small amount of “stiction” when bobbing the fork in a parking lot.  I notice no special coating on the stanchions and no stiction apparent when actually riding.
  • The 15mm axle on mine is a screw in affair, with no flipping of a lever – just spin it down hand-tight and it stays put.  It works as it should.  The 2014 models have a different axle, which I have not seen yet.

Would I buy this again / recommend this fork? ABSOLUTELY.  And it’s $100 less than I paid right now (you’re welcome Dave).

I’ll give another shout at the 200 mile mark and discuss longevity.  I’ll also provide some details on my new Kona Process build.  It’s an old model frame now with the 650B Process line out, so I won’t do a full on review.  But I like building bikes and I’ve noticed a few things with the upgrade from a 2009 that might be of interest to some of you.

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About RCS

An interested, often crass fellow. Likely found on a bike or wandering in a seemingly aimless fashion in the woods. Use caution when approaching, as the subject is known to be oblivious, and at times obnoxious.
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One Response to X-Fusion Slant RL2 160mm Mountain Bike Fork review – First 100 miles

  1. Pingback: Bronson Carbon, Fox 36, Steel Hardtail (again) | The Reality of the Situation.

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