Over the past few years one might have seen an X-Fusion Velvet fork here or an OEM model there, but 2012 feels different – from both inside and out. The company's product line has matured and they seem poised to give the established likes of Fox Racing Shox, Marzocchi and RockShox a run.
Their team of athlete representatives is growing too – like gangbusters. CrankBrothers' Race Club 11 program will bring the Enix cross-country fork to the World Cup circuit, while gravity icons Brian Lopes and, in X-Fusion’s most recent announcement, Anne Caroline-Chausson will show what the 170mm Vengeance and 140mm Velvet are capable of.
“We’re trying to put our resources around the trends we’re seeing like enduro racing, which is definitely gaining steam,” John Hauer, X-Fusion’s marketing manager told BikeRadar. “It’s pretty well known in Europe but this is the first year we’re seeing a big push [in the US].”
X-Fusion connected with both Lopes and Chausson through their bike sponsors, Ibis Cycles; both companies are based in Santa Cruz, California. “Everything stemmed from our relationship with Ibis,” said Hauer. “We already partnered with Ibis on the OEM side of things, so that success opened Brian’s eyes." For 2012, Ibis have produced a line of Special Blend Mojo SL bikes that exclusively use X-Fusion suspension components.
“Having Brian and Anne-Caro definitely suits [the enduro trend],” said Hauer, “and our product line really suits that style of racing as well.” These big names come as an addition to the already full freestyle and privateer programs X-Fusion have in place, the latter headlined by Tyler McCaul.
Organically grown suspension
2012 marks the first year X-Fusion have thrust their products into the spotlight. Until now, they've gained ground by selling aggressively priced products to both budget-minded riders and the OE (complete bike) market. “Our philosophy is: let’s offer Fox quality at realistic prices,” said Hauer. “Our support is there; we pride ourselves on our customer service here in the US, and internationally.” X-Fusion have three service centers in the US, and 30 worldwide.
Founded in 1999, the brand didn’t make their mark until 2007 with the launch of the Velvet fork. Once that was selling well, they added products one at a time, like the coil-over Vector downhill shock. As these gained traction, they used them as launch pads for the next items, like the Vector Air. 2012 seems different. The line is almost full, and X-Fusion's staff are starting to look up from their CAD files in Santa Cruz and from their Taiwanese workbenches.
“We had to fill a lot of holes in the line and this is the first time we can say that, other than having a downhill fork, we have pretty much a full arsenal of products for every aspect of mountain biking,” said Hauer. “It’s been stepping stones: getting the support of OEMs, increasing OEM sales, which has allowed us to do more for the aftermarket. Things are finally working to allow us to be a little bit more creative and push our products harder.”
By focusing on their products first, gaining acceptance second and building loyal OE business, X-Fusion have set the stage for this next chapter, which we’ll learn more about during their 2013 launch at April’s Sea Otter Classic.
“We feel the momentum – it feels different to us,” said Hauer. “We’re at a make it or break it point where people are expecting a lot out of us. We’re being cautious and making sure that we do everything correctly. We’ve done a good job not rushing into things. We’ve thought through our next steps pretty well and you’ll see that with the products that we’re going to launch in a month.” Stay tuned.