X-Fusion Hilo SL - Interbike 2012

Sep 21, 2012 at 14:36
by Mike Levy  

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X-Fusion Hilo SL 125 details

• 125mm of drop
• Infinite adjustment
• Two-bolt head
• 'Gold Slick Ano' stanchion
• Remote operated only
• Weight: 450 grams (claimed)
• Sizes: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
• Availability: December
• Price: TBA

X-Fusion's new Hilo SL telescoping seat post has been in development for a year now, and although it utilizes the same internals as their standard Hilo post, the chassis is an entirely different animal altogether. Gone is the single-bolt, clamshell saddle rail clamp, with a proper two-bolt layout in its place. Rider's who have had time on a single-bolt rail clamp will know that the design can be prone to rotating, especially under hard use or larger riders, so the new layout is a very welcome change. While the new head will eliminate that moment when you discover that your saddle is pointing up at a 45° angle after a jump gone wrong, it does mean that X-Fusion has had to do away with the under-seat lever option due to space constraints. Those who prefer not to add yet another cable to their cockpit can use either the standard Hilo 100 or 125 models - both are still in the lineup. The same goes for those who's frame's require a 27.2mm diameter post - the Hilo SL will only be available in 30.9mm and 31.6mm sizes due to the change from the steel upper tube used on the original design to the larger diameter aluminum tube employed on the Hilo SL.

The new aluminum stanchion receives X-Fusion's Gold Slick Ano treatment that they claim meets Kashima when it comes to smoothness. Word from X-Fusion is that it makes a noticeable difference in the post's action, but that it also won't add much to the retail price of the post.

Internally, the Hilo SL borrows the same open cartridge layout employed within the standard Hilo. Its hydraulic internals allow the saddle to be positioned anywhere between full extension and completely lowered, but it also means that the saddle can be pulled up by hand
unintentionally, although it will return to its lowered position and won't have an effect on reliability. A low pressure air spring that can be set between 15 and 30psi is used to adjust rebound speed.

X-Fusion Hilo SL seat post

Does the Hilo SL's remote ring any bells? If it looks familiar, it's because it functions in the exact same fashion as Crank Brothers' Joplin remote, although X-Fusion has machined a different profile onto the lever that should offer an improved feel. The original Hilo post used a trigger-style remote switch that mounted up against the grip, but they wanted a more dynamic lever to operate the SL. The new post's remote does just that, allowing the rider to not only mount it nearly anywhere on the bar, be it above or below, but also activate the post by pushing or pulling on the lever in any direction. "I wanted a remote that I knew I could operate when completely gassed," X-Fusion's John Hauer told us, "and this one is easy to hit, no matter how tired you -
are." This is possible thanks to the lever itself not actually being mounted solidly to the perch, but rather depending on cable tension to hold it up against the base. Pushing or pulling on the lever forces it to pivot on its edge that sits within a groove around its circumference. And while the remote is clearly very close in design to the original Crank Brothers unit, the cable pull required by the actuation arm atop the post's head is far less comparably, meaning that the lever throw needed to raise or lower the saddle is lower than found on other designs. It pulls on a standard shift cable, installed through the outboard end via a removable cap, and also employs a split perch for easy installation or removal.

One-Piece Crown and Steerer Unit
Inspecting the aluminum steerer tube and crown assembly on your own fork will reveal that the two pieces are separate, but joined together with a press fit - this is the norm for pretty much any suspension fork on the market. While this press fit joint is largely trouble free, it can be the source of creaks and groans after some hard abuse over the long run. X-Fusion takes a different approach with their Uni-Crown by machining both the tapered steerer tube and the crown from a single piece of aluminum. The obvious benefit is the lack of the aforementioned press fit joint, but the unit is also said to be approximately 15% lighter and stiffer to boot. The Uni-Crown assembly will only available on X-Fusion's Trace series of 29er forks (there will is standard 1 1/8th option as well) for 2013, but expect it to pop up elsewhere in the lineup down the road.


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  • + 14
 One-Piece Crown and Steerer Unit you say - So the dreaded and all together too common X-Fusion creak from their poor crown tolerances in the past will one day be a thing of the past? Excellent!
  • + 1
 its pretty crazy how fare telescoping seat posts have come in the last like year maybe year and a half...its like I had never heard of them or really seen them and then bam!
  • + 4
 One piece crown/steerer units (CSUs) aren't used by other manufacturers for a simple reason - it's weaker due to the stress concentration at the steerer/crown junction. With a traditional two piece CSU, the separation of crown and steerer means that the potential stress riser caused by the sharp edge between crown and steerer doesn't actually have anything to focus the stress on, because the ability of the crown and steerer to flex separately without cracking (which is also where the creaking issues can come from if the press fit isn't stiff enough). The one piece CSU doesn't have this ability, and I'm willing to bet we'll see a few of these broken unfortunately.
  • + 3
 recently my 8 month old Fox 32 RL 29'er fork started the dreaded "CSU creak" under hard braking

I rang the UK Fox distributor and had an interesting chat with their leading techician

having ridden and sold Fox forks for years, I'd always assumed this creak was caused by the steerer / crown interface: I'd seen this on previous Fox 32 and 36 forks I have owned, plus a good number of customer's forks

so I asked him "is this the steerer moving in the crown?" and " is there any difference between 1.125" and taper steerer for this problem?"

not so, he corrected me. it's actually caused by a loss of the grease coating Fox use when press fitting the fork stanchions into the crown

over time (he specifically mentioned cleaning products like Muc-Off, and riding on winter roads which have salt sprayed onto them) this grease actually leaches away from the stanchion, as the stanchion coating is porous allowing contaminants to migrate into this junction, and flush this grease out

this then causes the creaking heard under hard braking. he said unfortunately they cannot refit the stanchions as they use a light weight crown (riders want lighter forks) and its a very precise machine operation which has a narrow tolerance range, and the machine actually rejects a number of fitments during manufacturing

he said the loss of grease will never cause a safety issue, but its very annoying to hear this noise

he said Fox have noticed this problem occurs more in the UK, probably because of the wet weather riding causing high use of cleaning products on a very regular basis

fortunately he said Fox are more than happy to cover this during the 1 year warranty period, and within 4 days I had my fork rebuilt free of charge (fully serviced) with brand new CSU.

I'd always assumed it was the steerer causing this issue, but good to learn something new!
  • + 3
 Gotta love Fox.
  • + 1
 It also has to be more expensive to machine the full set from one piece of aluminium and machining times would also be longer once again costing more money and increasing tool wear etc...
  • + 9
 All these dropper seatposts are pretty cool and work well. But I see almost none around because they're still so expensive. What's going to be revolutionary is when somebody puts one out at a really solid pricepoint. I'm talking about when you can buy one for £100. That is what will change the game.
  • + 1
 You gotta be kidding right?
Theres about 2% of people who ride trail on the reg out here in Whistler who DON'T have them.
  • + 8
 People who live in Whistler are either mega rich or have moved there because they love mountain biking so much. They're minority of the market that can warrant spending that much money on the seatpost. The majority of us either don't have enough money or don't spend enough time riding our bikes to warrant spending £250 on a seatpost...
  • + 0
 I see a shit tonne coming though the little shop i work at. Reverb is still my fave. Why X-fusion went with the awful Crankbros style lever is beyond me.
  • + 3
 lol mega rich. AHAHAHAHAHA!
  • + 7
 After a long up and down a fireroad on rainforest by the beach today, just sat here with a beer thinking my spz epic needs a dropper seat post Smile this got to be a sign, gotta go for it.
  • + 1
 Your wish is my command
  • + 2
 if you're complaining about the price of a dropper post, then the benefit is obviously not worth it to you. to me, it's the most revolutionary idea in mountain biking since disc brakes and clipless pedals. whoops... this was meant for the post below.
  • + 1
 Revolutionary? Maybe evolutionary. Dropper posts are an answer to an issue, the issue was not being able to alter the seat position without getting off the bike. The revolution was the ability to move the seatpost, therefore the revolution caused the issue which led to an evolutionary solution. I am glad; however, to see the number of manufacturers putting dropper-posts in their inventory... more selection leads to more competetive pricing and that is good for everybody... meaning this once-luxury will more than likely become commonplace.... sort of like 10 years ago when disc-brakes were only for the elite models and now are on walmart bikes.
  • + 3
 Am i the only person that wished you could get a seatpost that would go down without any weight on it? That lever looks like if you press it down, it goes down, pull up, it comes up. that would be dope (but unlikely)
Theres some times where i find im out of the saddle, and need my seat down, but have to try and get back on it to get it down, making things get hella sketch.
  • + 2
 It would not be impossible to design it but it would add weight as you would likely have to use something like a disposable compressed CO2 canister to push the seat back down/up.
  • + 4
 no mention of the price anywhere..... its all well and good having all this shinyness but im interested at which price point are they aiming at
  • + 4
 That's a pretty clever seat post remote. I think I'm going to be seeing a lot more of X-Fusion's products soon.
  • - 8
flag Borgschulze (Sep 21, 2012 at 15:13) (Below Threshold)
 Not the same as any other remotes in the past right?

Joplin remote..

  • + 16
 He mentions that it is like the Joplin remote in the article
  • + 1
 but to say clever is inaccurate
  • - 3
 I'm replying to a comment someone made about the remote... Saying it's clever kind of hints at Arnoodles thinking it's something new.
  • + 9
 No it doesn't. Special relativity is clever. The wheel is clever. Fire is clever. How new are they?
  • + 2
 which.. was a copy of the original Maverick speedball remote lever
  • - 1
 Yes, the Maverick Speedball, I forgot about that one.
  • + 2
 Clever, Yes. Original? welllll, not entirely.. but still a smart and simple design.
  • + 1
 Nothing wrong with the functionality of the lever, my Speedball one works ok but this X fusion one looks a it tacky (not that the maverick one is any better really). It looks like they've just jammed a handle of one of those mini screwdrivers you get in christmas crackers on to it.
  • + 1
 The FOX one piece Ti was and is definitely available. If guys can buy it here in South Africa, it should be available in the US. I just dont understand why guys always diss X-fusion when they are the only guys trying to offer a better product at a cheaper price. This fork will sell for about $850. The top FOX 29" fork is about $1200 in South Africa.... and guess what? EVERY SINGLE FOX FORK I HAVE SOL had to get at least 1 CSU replacement because of massive creaking issues.
  • + 1
 if that really does weight 450 grams that means compared to most seatpost like mine which weighs around 200 grams, that this seatpost adds only a little over half a pound on a bike. INSANELY AWESOME!!!!!
  • + 1
 So that's why the stanchion on my HiLo was rusting; it was made of steel. I hope they've solved this problem already with this new version. Too bad it's not available in 27.2.
  • + 2
 So when the new KS Lev gets absolutely rave reviews in every single major bike magazine why bother gambling with a diff brand ?
  • + 2
 I think my next bike might have to have a matching set of Gold Slick Ano fork, shock, and post...
  • + 2
 All comes down to price, either this or the thomson!
  • + 2
 X-Fusion has great products and is a great company
  • + 1
 That's the shame won't be a 27.2 version for ma cannondale Frown .
  • + 2
 Yep stick with the Gravity Dropper. I have 3 bike and there all 27.2
  • + 1
 I have had a Kind Shock dropper for my 27.2 Cannondale for 2 years, still works like new. Have about 550 miles on it.
  • + 1
 Yep, I know them. The only issue is heavy weight I afraid.
  • + 1
 Thats a dropper which could actually convince me !!
  • + 1
 im liking that steerer
  • - 2
 Fox did this year's ago....
  • + 1
 odd. My 07 and 2010 fox forks didn't have this
  • + 2
 Fox did (might still do) a one-piece titanium crown and steer tube. It was/is only available on their short travel XC forks. It is likely too flexy for their long travel offerings.
  • + 2
 They developed a one-piece titanium crown & steerer, but failed to actually produce any production forks with it. It appears in some catalogs still and on a couple places on the Fox website, but the fork is pure unobtanium. Other than some pre-production samples and prototypes, nobody can actually buy one.

Personally I think the way halson inversion went with the steerer on their PDS fork was the smarter way to go. The fork crowns are machined with a morse taper joint, which a matching steerer fits into. A bolt on the underside of the crown (like the crank bolts you use to put your cranks on with...except bigger) applies pressure to pull the steerer tube into the crown. One fork crown, any size steerer (that was then available). Cut down on production costs immensely when instead of making seperate forks for different kinds of bikes (1", 1 1/8", threaded, threadless, etc) they just made forks and an assortment of steerer tubes. In 4 years of riding one, I had the steerer tube bolt loosen precisely ONCE... and it was an easy fix with an 8mm allen wrench.
  • - 1
 deeeight that is partially incorrect. For a while there Fox did indeed have the F100 Ti on their website. Whether or not it was actually being produced is unsure.
  • + 3
 I never said they didn't have it on their website... they still do (explaining the crown technology), but they never actually made any for joe public to buy. All the ones showing up on ebay and dealers were "pre-order" offers... that's it... no forks were ever actually delivered. That's why all those ones on mail order dealers and so on vanished after a few weeks and the fox website suddenlly lost all direct links to the fork or its features.
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