X-Fusion Metric HLR fork $1039

Single-crown sibling to the excellent RV1

BikeRadar score 4/5

Downhill control, armour and accuracy help to put X-Fusion’s new single-crown big-hitter right up there with the best. The 36mm stanchions and chunky magnesium legs with replaceable impact/scuff guards are shared with X-Fusion’s RV1 downhill fork, as are the motocross style pressure-relief valves and clamped 20mm axle. Big screw-on caps protect the finely graded low- and high-speed compression adjusters.

With 20mm less travel than its dual-crown brother, the Metric is the only 650b compatible 180mm (7.1in) single-crown fork currently available. At 2,310g it’s heavier than the 170mm (6.7in) Fox 36 and RockShox Lyrik but lighter than the 26in-only 180mm version of the 36.

The bolted axle is less convenient than a QR style axle, particularly as you need two different sized Allen keys, and restricts wheel choice too. Aggressive 2.4in tyres take knob-to-crown clearance to within a few millimetres on the 650b version, though our fork hasn’t jammed with mud in several months of use. Other small gripes include a hose guide that isn’t compatible with fatter hoses, the painstaking pin-and-ladder internal travel adjust system (the Metric can be dropped to 160mm/6.3in) and recommended air pressures that are too low. Actual suspension performance is outstanding though.

The Nvolve wiper seals and articulated Flux ball-and-socket piston give the fork a super-smooth start stroke that Hoovers across ripples and roots with laugh-out-loud traction. The smoothly progressive air spring meant we never had to ‘prop it up’ with too much low-speed compression or use high-speed damping to stop it blowing through its stroke. Support is consistent right through the stroke too, with the twin-tube HLR damper and High Flow piston ensuring we never outran control however hard we pushed it.

The top-stroke rebound can feel quick compared with position-sensitive designs such as RockShox’s Dual Flow circuit, but the Metric’s ability to hold a line and mid-stroke ride height when carving corners or hammering through rock fields is inspirational. The 36mm legs keep it on line and predictable under heavy braking too. We’ve had occasional noises from the crown when we’ve really slammed it but no other issues. The price is reasonable for the level of performance and features too.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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