On paper the X-Fusion Velvet RL2 DLA gives up 10mm in travel to its rivals, the Fox 32 Talas and RockShox Revelation. However, in reality it consistently delivered almost 10mm more than the RockShox. It’s a shame then that X-Fusion’s penny-pinching means there’s no o-ring around the stanchion to show off this fact. Obviously a temporary zip-tie will do the job, but if you really want to compete against the big guns, details like this count.
Another small detail that really needs improvement is the hose guide. Calling it flimsy is being generous, and we’d definitely recommend adding a zip-tie for peace of mind.
Side by side with the Revelation, it’s tough to see where your extra £290 is going. Every knob and dial turns freely with positive clicks signalling each detent. X-Fusion runs Syntace’s 15mm axle system, a simple design that just spins up until tight, but, torqued up correctly, it does the job. So considering the build quality elsewhere is excellent, the minor flaws are particularly disappointing.
The Velvet RL2 DLA gets a single air valve, adjustable rebound damping, two travel modes and a lockout. However, there’s very little to actually tinker with, which is perhaps why the rebound range is 32 clicks when around half that number would suffice. Having so few tuning options certainly makes it easy to get up and running, but X-Fusion’s lengthy 10-hour break-in period means it still takes a while before it’s performing at its prime. We fast-tracked this process by spending a day shuttling downhill runs, and, as predicted, the fork improved noticeably over this period.
The first thing that struck us about the Velvet fork was its lack of small-bump sensitivity. As the miles clicked by, the many seals required by the travel-adjust system softened and, while the harshness at the top of the stroke subsided, it never fully disappeared. It is almost as though the negative spring that helps initiate the stroke is not strong enough, and too much force is required to get the fork moving.
Once past this sticking point, the fork moved freely through the mid-stroke and ramped up strongly towards the end. For us, it felt like there was too much reliance on this mid-stroke to do all the work, and we’d rather a more gradual progression. Perhaps, considering the price, it would be better to forego the travel adjust system and hope the simplified internals help release the Velvet’s true potential.
Putting the X-Fusion in the same ring against Fox and RockShox is credit to how far this brand has come in the last few years. It was easy to forget, during this test, that the Velvet RL2 DLA is hundreds of pounds cheaper than its rivals. Certainly, apart from a few minor flaws, in terms of build quality it can stand crown to crown with the RockShox. Ultimately, the performance is still a notch behind the competition, highlighted by a lack of suppleness up top and a hammock in the mid-stroke. Yet, factor in the price and this is still a fork that will prove a worthy upgrade for many bikes.
MBR rating: 7
Axle to crown: 523mm
Stanchion diameter: 32mm
This test first appeared in the September 2012 issue of MBR, alongside the RockShox Revelation RCT3 Dual Position Air and Fox 32 Talas 150 CTD.
For more X-Fusion reviews, see our test of the X-Fusion Vector HLR air shock.