The X-Fusion trace is a step up in performance from previous models
The Trace is X-Fusion’s 29er trail fork. Our test sample came set at 140mm of travel, but the pin system inside lets you set the travel between 80 and 140mm. Our fork also has the new Uni-crown; a one-piece forged crown and steerer assembly. It’s stiffer and lighter than the old two-piece design and has a harder-wearing surface finish — great for resisting cable rub.
X-Fusion forks we’ve tested were always a bit firm off the top, but to increase sensitivity the Trace has new slippery stanchions, low-friction wiper seals, a redesigned air seal and custom seal lubricant.
We had a bit of an issue getting full travel — maybe due to the progression in the spring — but the fork is definitely more sensitive to smaller impacts. X-Fusion’s new Roughcut cartridge damper also features. It has a bladder design, to deal with oil expansion, and has more consistent performance and reduced friction.
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Both high and low-speed compression damping are independently adjustable, but the lower dial jammed during testing. X-Fusion recommended loosening it with some adjustable pliers, which worked, but it didn’t feel nice.
X-Fusion’s forks using the older HLR damper used to spike on high-speed hits, but the Roughcut is more controlled on square-edge hits. The fork ramps up at around 120mm, so we never really achieved the full 140mm, but it dives less under braking or when pushing hard into a turn.
The Trace has a very light thru axle, but the lever is a little uncomfortable. It also has the same tiny 2mm hose-clip fixing bolt that we moaned about when we tested the 26in Velvet two years ago.
Previous X-Fusion forks we’ve tested didn’t always work as well as those from bigger brands, but were usually better value. The X-Fusion Trace now offers comparable performance, but has nearly doubled in price, and it still needs a bit of tuning to the spring progression.
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