X-Fusion may not be on most riders' immediate go-to list for their next suspension fork, but the Vengeance could change all that thanks to its very impressive performance at a decent price.
At 2,304g with a cut tapered steerer (the standard steerer version is £649) it’s slightly heavier than the RockShox and Fox opposition, but it’s a lot lighter on the wallet. The 36mm stanchions, chunky lower legs and crown, and 20mm through-axle offer tracking precision and braking stiffness that’s right up there with the best all-mountain forks too.
The 160mm (6.3in) of travel balances with most all-mountain back ends and, although it’s slightly longer than a Fox 36, most people won’t mind slackening off their head angle a bit and raising the bottom bracket. Travel can be stepped down to 130mm (5.1in) or even 100mm (4in) internally.
Features are all well and good, but it's the actual suspension performance that really matters, and the Vengeance was way better than we expected for the money. The first ride was a bit notchy, and the recommended pressures sync more with big-hit work than trail use. The more we rode, the smoother it got though, and after 10 or 12 hours it was properly buttery over the small stuff, and accurate and concise when dealing with bigger hits.
Independently adjustable twin-tube high- and low-speed compression adjustments let you set up the fork to sag or sit to taste (an RC version is available without high-speed compression adjustment for £579.99), with no serious spiking or other inconsistencies. In fact overall control continues to really impress as ground conditions get more treacherous several months into testing.
The air spring is definitely progressive and full travel is a rare event, but we’d rather have that than a fork that dives too easily. Lighter riders were right at the light edge of the rebound range, but otherwise we’ve only tweaked the Vengeance for testing purposes after initial setup. The three-bolt axle is slow to use but it’s more grit tolerant than a lot of quick-release setups.
The only real issue is that, while the fork is still a killer for the price, the 2012 version gets 170mm (6.7in) of travel for the same height, a Syntace X-20 axle, more linear spring and lighter rebound range, so it’s worth the wait.