Impressively supple and lightweight shock for cross country kids
The X-Fusion Microlite RL is a rear shock for weight saving. Its priority is to help you have a bike – a XC race bike – that is as light as possible.
However, this is not to say to say that performance has been demoted entirely. It’s more that gram-counting has been factored in more so than such things as countering shock-fade or offering on-the-fly compression adjustment or volume spacer potential and so on.
The whole point of the X-Fusion Microlite RL is that less is more. Less weight. Less adjustability. Less to think about. Less to go wrong. Less to have poorly setup.
There are a grand total of three things you can adjust on the X-Fusion Microlite RL rear shock: air pressure, rebound and lock-out.
I’m pleased to say that all three of these are very easy to access and extremely positive in operation. The rebound dial is very clicky (both audibly and in finger-feel). The lock-out is proud and positive. Even the air valve sticks out nicely and isn’t fiddly to attach a shock pump too.
Go on then, how much does it weigh?
X-Fusion list the shock weight as 170g but that’s for the 165mm eye-to-eye version. I have the 190mm eye-to-eye size and it weighs bang-on 200g (minus mounting hardware).
What you may not be able to appreciate from the photographs is that the Microlite RL achieves a great deal of its low weight by simple virtue of being… small. It’s like a scaled down version of a ‘regular’ shock. The air can is 38mm in diameter. The shock shaft is a mere 22mm in diameter. Compare this to a RockShox Deluxe RT DebonAir which has a 52mm air can and a 29mm shaft.
Despite this miniaturisation I am impressed by the actual feel of the Microlite RL. It is a very, very supple feeling shock. There’s no hint of a stiff or sticky action. The ‘gold slick ano’ and seals do a great job of keeping the shock feeling fluid.
I was also impressed by how well the shock handled rough stuff. The was no sudden trapdoor effect of blowing through the travel too eagerly. The shock offers a good level of support to work against and deal with bigger hits and landings. It’s on the less progressive side of things but it is definitely not a collapsing linear feel.
I can’t profess to have tested the shock on any extended alpine-style length descents but for all the stuff I encountered here in the UK it behaved the same at the end of a descent as it had at the start.
The rebound range was more than adequate, which is pleasingly atypical for me as a lightish rider, but as expected for a shock aimed at XC racers.
The one and only niggle I had with the X-Fusion Microlite RL was the lock-out. It tended to bounce around a bit, as if running without any rebound damping, if the sag was set to anything more than the trad 25%.
The cure? Either don’t use the lock-out if running a saggy setup (dial in a couple more clicks of rebound instead) or, as I ended up opting to do, just run it with the usual 25% sag and it’ll be fine. This is after all how XC racers will have it set.
The X-Fusion Microlite RL is not a brand new shock, it’s been available in this guise for a few years now, but it is still well worth considering if you’re on the lookout for a light, no-nonsense rear shock for a shorter travel bike that can deal with proper trails as well as with groomed XC and Endurance race courses.
Overall I'd say that X-Fusion nailed the remit for this shock. It's a fit and forget shock for riders and racers aboard shorter travel bikes doing cross country and trail riding. Pretty much anyone can set this shock up to work well. Light, well-made, trouble-free and with an on-trail shock-absorbing performance that belies its diminutive size.