X-Fusion Velvet RL2 DLA suspension fork £445

Very user friendly

BikeRadar score 4/5

X-Fusion are pushing hard to become a top ranked choice and the 2012 Velvet RL2 DLA is an impressively controlled contender. Maximum travel goes up 10mm to 140mm this year without obviously affecting accurate steering and braking stiffness. 

The Syntace X-15 screw-through axle is a simple turn-handle – rather than cam closure system – but it locks the wheel in fine and it’s proved impressively weatherproof. Quick-release lowers are also available, plus tapered steerer versions for £360. Post-mount brakes and bolted hose clip complete setup fixtures.

Increased air volume over 2011 means the Velvet feels smoother, with a more linear feel that produces a more buoyant, responsive feel. Once riding hours get into double figures it really finds its flow over smaller stuff. The new damper gets a secondary mid-stroke valve to makes sure it never dives excessively or bottoms out brutally and keeps it sat at a consistently controlled level. 

This means you can work the Velvet hard in corners or under braking without worrying about tucking under or going over the bars. The DLA travel-adjust lets you drop travel (and ride height) 30mm for steep climbs with a quarter lever turn and there’s a lockout lever. Despite a serious price increase it’s still a great fork for the money.

Also consider: X-Fusion Velvet RL2, £410. Losing the instant travel-adjust saves a few grams and a few quid, but the precise steering and impressive control are all intact.

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

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