X-Fusion Velvet RL2
Specification:Weight: 1,819g / Contact: upgradebikes.co.uk
At under £400 the X-Fusion Velvet RL2 is affordable but it’s also heavy. This is because internally it has the stanchions and damper of a 140mm travel fork — it’s actually an adjustable-travel unit (140mm/120mm/100mm) with the settings controlled by X-Fusion’s internal ‘pin and ladder’ system. This built-in adjustment is a great feature if you want to move the fork onto a longer travel bike at a later date. The X-Fusion Velvet is also 650b (27.5in wheel) compatible, but it’s not just a case of fitting it to a 650b bike — the fork needs to be fitted with a travel limiter, which stops the bigger tyre buzzing the crown on full compression. This will reduce available travel by 10mm.
The X-Fusion Velvet comes with a threaded thru-axle that X-Fusion licences from Syntace. It’s easy to use, and the clockable design means you can vary the final position of the lever by simply undoing the 4mm bolt on the side. We had a couple of issues with the hardware. The aluminium steerer was slightly oversized so it stretched the crown race on the Cane Creek headset we were using for test. The hose guide on the front of the fork didn’t grip the brake hose securely, plus it has a tiny 2mm fixing bolt, which is easy to round out. There’s also no O-ring on the stanchion for sag setting, so we fitted a zip-tie.
During the first two rides the Velvet bedded in dramatically. We increased our initial air pressure from 75psi to 100psi, with a corresponding increase in rebound damping. The fork continued to bed in during the test and has become progressively smoother, suggesting the bushings take quite a while to settle. Despite the smooth action the X-Fusion Velvet RL2 is firm at the top of the stroke, which means it takes a slightly bigger impact to get it moving. This has a knock-on effect on the sensitivity and grip, but you can run slightly more sag to improve matters without the fork diving too much.
The damping feels the least sophisticated here and was harsh on rougher descents, but on groomed trails it never put a foot wrong. Factor in a star nut, shock and pump (both included as standard), plus 650b compatibility and travel adjustment, and the Velvet is the standout value package in this test.
MBR rating: 9