Fusion bikes, handmade in Germany, aren't that well known, although German rider Guido Tschugg has made his mark in World Cup 4X races by winning on one. Fusion bikes are available as standard builds, custom builds or frame only. With custom builds you can choose the frame colour and the fork, shock, wheels, tyres and saddle. Promo and Comp are two build packages with different specs and prices. After seeing Guido in action, we had to check out the Promo Line version of his 4X rig: the Strangler.
The Strangler's aluminium frame has a solid, burly construction, although it's surprisingly light for a full susser. The slack head angle and low bottom bracket height show it's designed for 4X gate crashers who want to corner as hard as possible, stay in control when launching 40ft stepdowns and destroy the opposition in races. It's also good on dirt jumps too. Put simply, this bike is made for pointing and shooting - you point and it goes in that direction without any fuss.
The rear suspension features a Horst Link on the chainstay which, in combination with a shock driven by both seatstay and chainstay linkages, keeps the rear end independent of braking and pedalling forces.
Our test rig came fitted with a plethora of parts that produced a lightweight 4X build. Light but strong Sun Ringlé SOS rims were shod with lightweight Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres. Up front was the excellent RockShox Pike 426 U-Turn fork with 95-140mm travel. We ran our fork at 115mm (4.5in) to make the head angle slack enough for harder turns.
A Truvativ crankset with a chain guide provided power, although to get optimum chain protection we had to run the chain guide so the chain dragged on it slightly. Hayes hydraulic brakes made light work of stopping the bike while a Titec bar and stem kept the steering stiff and responsive.
The Strangler rules! Its low slung, slack geometry combined with the super stiff rear end provide the quickest, punchiest steering we've experienced in a fair while, and the floating link of the ultra grippy suspension just doesn't budge when you pedal like Brian Lopes.
The bike looks small but it's incredibly roomy with a long frame so you can move around and stomp on the pedals to make the bike accelerate - basically, it ticks all the boxes a World Cup 4X race-winning bike should.
The Fusion even rules on technical singletrack - you'll be able to hunt down riders on their XC thoroughbred hardtails. Much like the Santa Cruz Blur 4X and the Intense Tazer, this bike goes like a rocket and it looks so good it will have everyone staring.