X-Fusion Slant RL2 fork £455

Benchmark affordable trail fork

BikeRadar score 4/5

X-Fusion’s aggressive assault on the mid-price, high-performance suspension market continues with this seriously stout and impressively smooth new trail fork. 

BOS introduced the idea of mid-sized 34mm stanchion forks for the enduro market, with X-Fusion and Fox following suit; RockShox recently announced its 35mm relaunch of the Pike.

The struggle has been making the new in-betweener size significantly stiffer than existing 32mm forks while still being usefully lighter than the bigger, 36mm forks. X-Fusion have nailed it in both directions. At 1,898g for our chopped and star-nutted 140mm version it’s only 130g heavier than X-Fusion’s Velvet fork and 120g lighter than Fox’s Float 34. 

Big cutout dropout knuckles and a thick, low-set brace mean it’s a properly stiff tracking unit. Even with a super-wide bar, a stubby stem and sticky front tyre we couldn’t get any significant twist out of it, and it holds a line really well through random rocks, off cambers and rough berms. There’s plenty of fine feedback through the fork without blowing your arms up on long runs. 

The Syntace X-15 axle is equally robust, with a simple wind-up action from the easy to orient ‘handle’. And unlike RockShox’ Maxle system, we’ve not had any issues with stickiness or loosening on any of our long term sets either. 

A resized and revalved version of the Velvet RL2 damper gives an impressively consistent and controlled ride on the trail. Even without the ‘Gold Slick’ anodised finish of the 2013 prototypes, the Slant gets supple enough to create excellent small bump traction in a few hours of riding. Better still, unlike many contemporary trail forks, the progressive stroke means you won’t be diving under braking/berming or slamming to the bottom of the stroke on drops. 

The rebound is similarly balanced, bringing you back from the depths quickly if you’re really hammering hard, but not bouncing out of your hands at the top of the stroke.

You can get it to cough and splutter if you ‘black run’ its brains out, but overall control is still very impressive for the price. There’s a lockout for climbing and a 160-130mm travel adjust DLA version, but the standard RL2 can be set to 100, 120, 140 or 160mm travel internally. 

General reliability has been excellent through two years of full time, flat-out X-Fusion Velvet and Vengeance fork use, so we’ve no reason to doubt the durability of the Slant.

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

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