X-Fusion's New High-End Damper - Taipei Show 2015

Mar 17, 2015 at 21:19
by Mike Levy  
Taipei

The big news from X-Fusion is their completely redesigned 'Roughcut' damper that sees the company move away from the twin-tube, emulsion style system that they've longed employed in their popular Vengeance mid-travel fork and RV1 downhill offering.

Both the Vengeance and RV1 have been highly praised, so it while it does come as a bit of a surprise to see X-Fusion abandon those proven internals, it's also no secret that the new sealed and bladder-equipped dampers from FOX and RockShox have raised the game. The new Roughcut damper does use a similar design, complete with an expanding bladder to compensate for oil displacement and to provide back-pressure to limit cavitation, but it's important not to forget that bladders have been used in suspension for many, many decades. The improvement in performance is big enough for Joel Smith, X-Fusion's General Manager, to say that it's ''the single best product that we've ever made,'' which is no small claim.

X-Fusion Roughcut damper Taipei 2015
  An expanding bladder (seen at the far right) means that the Roughcut damper has no air inside of it.


X-Fusion's goal with the Roughcut, and the ideal behind any sealed damper that's free of air, is to provide more consistent damping. An open design where the air and oil are allowed to mix is inherently less expensive to manufacture due to the simpler layout, but the difference in performance comes after a few minutes of riding on sustained rough terrain: the emulsion damper will begin to lose performance as the air and oil slosh together and foam because that foamy oil is now flowing through the damping circuits. The sealed damper that has no air inside of it will offer much more consistent damping because the oil won't foam up to nearly the same degree. This is why nearly all high-end suspension, including both forks and shocks, are bled free of air and use some type of compensator.

The compensator, which is the rubber bladder on the Roughcut, is what allows for the damper to be completely full of oil and have no air in it. As the damper rod goes into the the fork, oil is displaced and the rubber badder expands to allow for that displacement. Without it, the damper would not compress - it's either allow for air in the system or use a compensator.


X-Fusion Roughcut damper Taipei 2015
A breakdown of the Roughcut damper.
X-Fusion Roughcut damper Taipei 2015
The bladder expands as oil is displaced.

The Roughcut sees X-Fusion invert the damper's architecture, with the compression assembly and both high- and low-speed adjuster dials atop the right fork leg and the low-speed rebound knob at the bottom. The previous damper saw the compression at the bottom because the air in the system would rise to the top during use and X-Fusion wanted to keep it out of the compression circuits. The new damper is bled free of air, though, and the compression dials are now moved to the top for easier access.

And while on the subject of dials, Smith explained that the new design also makes for a much more consistent adjuster range compared to the older layout, with each click offering a near similar difference in damping regardless of where on the adjustment scale you are. This applies to the sixteen-click rebound and both the thirty six click high- and low-speed compression adjustments. There's also less ''crosstalk'', which means that each adjustment is far more independent of the others, so adding a few clicks of rebound won't effect the fork's compression feel.

X-Fusion is dyno testing each and every Roughcut damper before it leaves the factory, and they've actually just begun to ship forks with 34mm stanchion tubes and Roughcut dampers, so consumers will be able to get on it very soon. That said, Smith was keen to note that this isn't something that's been rushed out the door, with X-Fusion rider Brian Lopes actually using an early prototype to win at least year's Sea Otter event. Expect forks that feature the Roughcut damper to go up by about $100 USD in price (note that's still less expensive than their competition), and the damper will be offered as an upgrade for older forks in its second year of production.



123 Comments

  • + 140
 X-Fusion: the most underrated suspension company
  • + 14
 34/35mm trail fork with high and low speed compression. spot on! more adjustability than a pike, and (hopefully) a weight that undercuts the 36 would be perfect. particularly on all the new heavy hitting short travel bikes.
  • + 16
 I have X-Fusion shock and fork and it's brilliant, not a problem in 3 years!!
  • + 9
 My Metric HLR is nothing short of amazing
  • + 2
 @blitz66 I love x-fusion, but I think you dreaming if you think it will be lighter. That's part of what I like about them, though: build things a little more robust for long life instead of chasing every last gram of weight savings. I'm still running open bath, partly because I like being able easily rebuild my entire fork. What I want to hear, is how they're handling seal lubrication, now that there isn't a bunch of oil sloshing around in the fork, & if they'll provide instructions & parts to easily rebuild the damper. That's the brand that will get my money.
  • - 19
flag tbubier (Mar 18, 2015 at 8:10) (Below Threshold)
 Underrated? They are right where they belong. They are not putting out anything revolutionary or significantly better than what is already on the market.
  • + 13
 I think he means underrated in the terms that, 95% of the buying public looks at X fusion as a significant downgrade when in reality they offer a product (for the most part) equal in performance but less in price.
  • + 5
 Or better than some options. Suntour ain't too bad these days, but i'll take an X-fusion over one any day of the week.
  • + 5
 For real, sometimes overlooked but excellent quality at a lower price point = underrated. Nothing wrong with the suspension giants, but sometimes it feels good to support a smaller company.
  • + 7
 Anyone knocking X Fusion, especially the top tier stuff, has never ridden them.
  • - 17
flag democody (Mar 18, 2015 at 9:08) (Below Threshold)
 X-Fusion is BS poor customer service and there stuff fails constantly.
  • + 8
 I rode a Vengeance for two years. Not one issue. I am into my second year on a Metric. Other than changing the oil, nothing. I'm not a hack nor a beginner either. Not sure how to take "fails constantly".
  • + 1
 I've heard a lot of good things about their products, but I'm inclined to agree with democody about their customer service based on my limited experience with them. I was on the fence considering one of their shocks and sent them an email via their website asking a question about it. Never got a response, so I went with a different shock.
  • + 4
 Nothing but good things to report after over two years on an xfuxion trace. I chose it not only for price but because I didn't want CTD.
  • + 3
 Still run the very first vengeance with routine maintenance still works like it is pulled straight from the box. Set it and forget it, never leaked never a change in air pressure.
  • + 2
 The X-Fusion Slant has worked perfectly for the last two years, but I am a bit dissapointed with my Vengeance HLR DLA. The DLA part has caused a lot of problems and it has been at the shop to get fixed 4 times within 1,5 years. Not completely sure what happens when it breaks, but it goes down to 150 mm of travel instead of 170 mm and stays there. I know a friend who has one without the DLA and it works perfectly.
  • + 1
 @groghunter theres oil in the lowers too...
  • + 1
 @ahlmanj2011 yes, but not the same amount. a huge part of the problem people have with FOX seals is that they dry out because fox doesn't spec enough oil to keep them lubricated. It's also not a foregone conclusion that they're using oil here, once it's no longer required in the leg for damping: It can be argued that grease is a better choice for seal lubrication with a sealed damper. Suntour makes some stuff that way.
  • + 0
 @groghunterthats why suntours leading the high end suspension market
  • + 3
 nothing but good things to report from my 2013 Vengeance HLR. Works perfectly, already done quite a few alps seasons and all they needed was occasional seal service and still feel like new

@democody

Have nothing but good things to report about their customer service to. Once lost the dials protective cap on the bottom, quick ring to their customer service. They said it wasn't a retail part but they would send me one for free anyway, 2 days later one turned up. I know likes of Fox or RS would have charged atleast £15 for it, most likely more
  • + 45
 Huh, just in time for SPRING. Eh?
  • - 15
flag manofsteele (Mar 17, 2015 at 22:10) (Below Threshold)
 .....no....
  • + 54
 Don't dampen the mood
  • + 25
 Someone had to rebound the puns back into action...
  • + 10
 The winter was compressing
  • + 10
 I'm feeling Charged up!
  • - 14
flag ParkerJonesmtb (Mar 17, 2015 at 23:36) (Below Threshold)
 Its time to rebound into summer (its lame and bad I know)
  • + 8
 All those things you say don't click to me. Maybe the rate at which I learn new stuff has bottomed out.
  • + 12
 This conversation shims a bit funny to me.
  • + 5
 my ears are bleeding from all these puns (for more consistent performance)
  • + 19
 The problem with the bladder solution is that the older you get the harder it gets to bleed it.
  • - 1
 I don't have a bladder yet so I still rely on Depends.
  • + 16
 YESS. GO X FUSION, FUCK UP THE INDUSTRY WITH LOW PRICED, BETTER PERFORMING SUSPENSION!!!
  • + 3
 Manitou already did that with the Mattoc, no?
  • + 3
 Nope, Manitou didn't
  • + 1
 Mattoc Pro works better than Pike or Vengeance HLR. Had to tune my Metric HLR to bring it to the level of the mattoc. Although I admit the adjustment range is quite small ;-) at the MAttoc. Only need to shrink the airvolume a bit (PIke spacer). But great highspeed chatter is soaked up and traction is great too. HLR is overdamped and the HSC channels must be improved.
NOw the MEtric works almost as the MAttoc Pro. Like both, love MAttoc!
  • + 13
 Avalanche suspension claims open bath is still superior yet Fox, Rockshox, and now X-Fusion... say separating air and oil is better. Who to believe? Anyone have experience with all care to share their experiences?
  • + 15
 Well the pike and it's "bladder" are great when new but good luck repeating that feel after a rebuild. got tired of rebuilding charger dampers on both my sons bikes and just went with Avalanche dampers and could not be happier. I sure hope XFusion this figured out as I do like their stuff.
  • + 1
 Wonder if they would put a rough cut on the big twos.
  • - 1
 There not that hard to service if you take your time
  • + 7
 I've had 4 pikes and 2 of them were excellent and 2 were not impressive at all. I've also had a 2015 fox 36 and a 2013 Xfusion Vengeance. Definitely agree with MX298 comment about the rebuild problems. I'm getting an Avalanche open bath damper shortly as my current pike is a dud.
  • + 7
 @B650wagon I find it hard to believe there's much, if any of a performance advantage to the closed bladder system vs a good open bath like avalanche. But one thing you can't get past is the weight savings of the closed bladder system and how important that is to the average consumer, so its no surprise the big fork brands are moving this direction with damper design.
  • + 3
 Actually, Avalanche does not claim open bath is superior. Here's a post from Craig of Avalanche:
forums.mtbr.com/knolly/lyrik-avalanche-%3D-good-786602-post9702090.html?highlight=#post9702090

The sealed cartridge he mentions is for a Fox 40:
www.avalanchedownhillracing.com/Fox%2040/Fox%2040%20RC.htm

Not hating on Avalanche. Either style of Avalanche cartridge, has a long list of features not offered together in any other fork (that I know of).

I have never ridden one, but I wouldn't mind.
  • - 6
flag gabriel-mission9 (Mar 18, 2015 at 2:27) (Below Threshold)
 "expanding bladder to .... provide back-pressure to limit cavitation"

This statement? Utter bullshit.
  • + 6
 Open bath just works without any hesitation. I'm servicing my 05 66 RC in a couple of minutes Smile
  • + 6
 I perfer open bath even though it's a little heavier.
  • + 13
 There is no substitute for oil inside the legs. Open bath may well offer a lower level of performance but most people won't be able to tell the difference. In my experience, Marzocchi open bath forks just work. I can't tell the difference after a service. Rockshox on the other hand need a service every five hours or so to keep them as smooth as when they were new. I also have a Marzocchi DBC fork and while not as bad a roxkshox for going off the boil over time, they definitely do get less responsive quite quickly. Factory racers who get their boxxers serviced twice a day might benefit from a sealed system, just as bikepark whores would benefit from the long service intervals that only open bath can provide. This new x fusion sounds to me like they are just following the market and increasing the price accordingly. I tell you what, for a set and forget trail fork, I think your best bet is a marzocchi 55R, the cheap one with coil and oil. Upgrade the compression stack with CR or NCR and it will never let you down or demand you service it.
  • + 5
 Both systems can be good. The best moto suspension on the planet (Kayaba's SSS on Yamahas) does not use a bladder system but a twin tube system.
  • + 2
 Why couldn't they just stick with the twin tube AND have some sort of expansion compensation? Thats what twin tube rear shocks do. Just stick some closed cell foam in there like Manitou! I'd hit a Mattoc in two seconds if they made a 160mm 29er and didn't have such long axle-to-crown lengths.

(edit: I now know the Mattoc isn't twin tube)
  • + 1
 I want Avalanche products!
  • + 11
 Looks awesome. I love my XFusion HLR air. They make awesome products no doubt.

Anyone else feel like 36 clicks of rebound is maybe to much?
  • + 10
 I heard the same topic come up for DVO stuff. The explanation I heard which makes sense to me is this: The really wide range of adjustment is to cover every possible rider weight that can be on that fork. So one individual rider at a specific weight (180lbs, 140lbs, 200lbs, etc) will have a certain range of adjustment within the whole range. Like a minimum of 20 clicks and a maximum of 25, or whatever the case may be.
  • + 2
 That's interesting I never thought of it like that. I suppose if they have a solid setup guide online or with the fork that explains what range you should start in then it's not a bad idea.
  • + 2
 I'm personally fine with the 25 clicks on my 40
  • + 3
 I appreciate the 36 clicks of rebound because I tend to be on the outside limits of the standard ranges.
  • + 3
 I'm a teeny tiny person who barely runs any air in forks, as such i tend to have between 1 and 3 clicks of rebound adjustment that are useful... I'm all for this!
  • - 2
 Yeah 36 clicks of rebound is too much. Maybe x fusion thought that too, as theres only 16...
  • + 2
 It says 16 for high and low speed compression adjusters but if you look at the bottom there's 36 clicks of rebound adjustment. I doubt it'll be too much, you should know straight away how fast you roughly want the rebound and only adjust within a few clicks either way
  • + 1
 What? No.

'the sixteen-click rebound and both the thirty six click high- and low-speed compression adjustments'

How are you thinking theres 36 rebound and 16 compressio?
  • + 1
 I didn't spot that. I assume that the diagram is correct and below was a typo.
  • + 5
 Ah. I hadnt been able to read the writing on the diagram. Your more than likely correct then, pinkbike seems to have gone terrible in terms of proof reading articles, loads of typos and wrong info recently.
  • + 2
 I think dgm10's got it right. I have a 2012 Fox Float 36 right now. I'm getting it Pushed because the damping circuits just really aren't setup for my weight... I'm right on the end of them. What X-fusion is doing is the exact same shit that Cane Creek has been doing with their Double Barrel shocks.
  • + 3
 I used to scoff at such wide ranges of adjustments until I got married. When I got a bike for my wife, the 2010 fox 32 has to be set up with such low pressure that even all the way open the rebound is too slow for her. I run the front a bit too high for her weight to keep the rebound somewhat usable.
  • + 3
 I can't get my wife to ride around the block.
  • + 4
 My brother got a X fusion shock replacing his Fox on his trail bike. It looks like the same shock and functions maybe even a little better out of the box. My dad also got one a few weeks ago after just blowing out his fox rp23. If you have not tried a X-fusion product I would recommend you do. After riding there bikes for a bit the x-fusion shock works really well compared to all the other brands. This is not knock off brand company. Their products are top of the line components. Too bad they do not make a shock for the demo 8 replacing the fox van rc.
  • + 4
 So is the revel hlr possible with this rough cut damper?

What we all really want to know is when the hell are those small parts for the revel hlr fork going to be produced and shipped from Taiwan?

Or was the revel hlr all hype and those of us on the wait list are just going to have to wait, forever
  • + 2
 your going to need to make a video about your new science in suspension if you expect me to understand it. a video like the ones in schools in America around the 90s nice and slow. and don't be afraid to repeat yourself. thanks.
  • + 1
 I just talked to x-fusion today about retrofitting the new dampers in the old fork. I was told that it was only being produced for the 34mm chassis which is a real bummer as it may have fixed an issue on my Vengeance HLR DLA with the high speed compression not working in short travel mode Frown
  • + 1
 Same in Uk,early next year.Another option is just get a custom tune,mine was £100 for a service,upgraded negative spring,skf seals and custom tune,make a real difference on the standard set up,may not be as good as the new damper,but is a definite improvement.
  • + 1
 got a second hand set of X-Fusion Vengeance coil for £100 not so long ago and by far are the smoothest forks I've ever rode
X fusion could do with selling after market parts like springs etc to shops as the only way I can get hold of a new spring for my fork is to order one in direct off fusion themselves and this is going to cost alot !
  • + 1
 Do I Spring back or Spring forward, Autmmn is here, and its looking like a rough cut this season, another beer off to empty the bladder , it will take all 36 clicks! WTF 36 clicks of rebound!

How about a 20mm / 160/170 mm fork around 4lbs and is a Pike/ 36 killer, eg a updated Vengance, that would be my target!!!
  • + 1
 Heard of the Metric? It's all that except comes in at 4.8lbs but I would consider that to be excellent for that type of fork.
  • + 1
 I am well aware of Metric, but seems its less than the Vengeance in terms of rep from what Ive read, I had a Veng, as good as a Pike except weight, Metric dosnet seem like enough of an improvement, lose some weight with out loss of stiffness and 20mm
  • + 1
 I haven't ridden a Metric but I'd struggle to believe it's not better than a Vengeance being the successor. I had a Vengeance Coil and I thought it was better than a Pike apart from the creaking. I don't think you will find anything better than the Metric.
  • + 1
 I have a metric and went to it from a pre-ctd fox float. The metric is way more plush but doesn't blow through the travel like my fox did, it's stiffer, and also doesn't need to be rebuilt as frequently. Also, they actually LISTENED to what riders wanted before they released it: 20mm axle, both 26 and 27.5 compatibility in the same fork, and 36mm at a reasonable weight. The carbon guards, air bleed valves, and piston ball joints are a nice bonus too. I would like to see fox and rockshox follow with the dual wheel size compatibility, but I seriously doubt that will ever happen as being larger companies they would want to cash in at every opportunity possible with the next slightly different new "standards" they release. This just acts as a reminder that the amount bike companies spend on marketing doesn't directly equate to the performance of their products. Of those three x-fusion is now the leader in fork performance in my book followed closely by rockshox.
  • + 1
 X Fusion and Manitou kill them all in terms of performance/price ratio and are best anyway.
I have used both forks, the Metric HLR and my Mattoc pro for 8 days in Finale Ligure and San Remo with 94 Kilos rider weight. BUt Metric shimmed a bit more to my needs and the MAttoc has 2 Volume Sapcers in it. This way, the best performing forks I´ve ridden so far. They really excell. BUt I cannot say, that there is a lack of stiffness that would hinder me from staying of the brakes more than with the metric.... it´s rather referring to rider´s taste. Under such hard conditions a bit of chassy flex is even good for your arms and sometimes helps keeping lines.
I love the adjusatbility of both forks and their compatibility for both wheelsizes as well as the travel options. Best forks for money ;-)
  • + 1
 Being a bigger dude, I could never get Fox or RockShox to really feel different unless I dialed my compression or rebound like 2 clicks from the top or bottom. XFusions tuning allows for a difference in feel one or two clicks in either direction. I love my no-non-sense slants.
  • + 5
 gotta love that 20 year delay on technology from mx-mtb
  • + 2
 Looking forward to a shoot out now with the big two,will any of the stalwarts be swayed to try the "lesser'" x fusion brand,dare they be seen with god forbid x fusion stuff!!
  • + 1
 Still riding the Vengeance coil HLR. Love that fork. Not a single issue in 5 years. I'm sure I could use an upgrade though its hard to justify it when the thing still rides so well. Good work XFusion.
  • + 1
 I have mine on order along with the Vector Air rear shock. I'll be posting up a full review once I have some ride time on them.
  • + 4
 charger.
  • + 1
 Put it in a 180 mil fork with 20 mil thru axel. may be a straight 1/8 steerer as an option?
i will use the fork with a Vengence.
  • + 2
 X-Fusion, you got my attention
  • + 1
 i use x-fusion vengeance hlr since 2011 on my nomad no prob Smile good product at bargain price :!!
  • + 2
 But is it going to be ALL GOLD!?!?!?!?!!!???
  • + 2
 But do their crowns still creak?
  • + 1
 Love my xfusion Hilo. Approximately 500km now and not a single problem.
  • - 1
 Sa-weeeet!!!!! Hope it's still metal inside, unlike the fan-boi offerings that make t-shirts for boy bands.

I like to refer to my Vengenge HLR/DLA as a "XXX" Fusion!
  • + 4
 You must have Fox clothing and FOX SHOX confused. I call em seX-Fusion myself.
  • + 2
 Smangin, wanna ride one
  • + 1
 Is X-Fusion a Taiwanese company?
  • + 1
 Thanks for the reply. And which country are they from? I can't find it anywhere.
  • + 1
 America.
  • + 1
 Thanks Smile
  • + 1
 Is it possible to buy cartridge alone as an Upgrade?
  • + 1
 I'll take 36 clicks on my knob
  • + 1
 Looks like a Se..... sorry, Charge
  • + 1
 So its a charger damper?
  • + 5
 if thats the case then the charger damper is really a FIT damper
  • + 6
 it can go back even further in the moto world with showa, kayaba (kyb) and WP suspension if we need to go there haha
  • + 2
 Not only FIT, even 2006 36 RC2 has/had a closed cartridge with a bladder inside. Still working
  • + 1
 only izsue was shite mid stroke
  • + 1
 Had mine PUSHed in 2009 and did the TALAS to Float conversion two years ago - great fork
  • + 1
 Available aftermarket?
  • + 2
 i really hope so, my Sweep is screaming for it
  • + 1
 My Vengeance might be getting this upgrade.
  • + 1
 The word here in Oz is that they'll be using up the carts in new forks first, then getting aftermarket dampers out a while later.
  • - 2
 Now that's a roughcut above the rest
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