X-Fusion McQueen RC HLR fork review£550.00

DH DNA makes McQueen a top-value, top-performance Plus/29er trail fork

BikeRadar score4.5/5

We’ve been big fans of X-Fusion’s Roughcut bladder based damper since it appeared as a top end option in its Sweep and Trace forks and it makes the new wide stance McQueen fork a high control, low cost bargain for big tyre (or 29er wheel) fans.

If you’re really on a tight budget to upgrade your chubby tyred bike the simpler RL2 damper version is £100 cheaper, but I’d definitely recommend spending the extra on the HLR if you can possibly afford it.

It’s not just the ability to totally separate high and low speed compression damping through a wide but well graded range via the crown top adjusters that makes it worthwhile. It’s the sheer level of consistently sensitive ground connection and traction, particularly through the well supported centre stroke, even when you’re loading them hard through the brakes or bars or properly battering through the big stuff.

The high and low speed compression damping can be totally separated via the crown top adjusters
The high and low speed compression damping can be totally separated via the crown top adjusters

The fully sealed bladder damper and impressive chassis stiffness mean there’s no sudden spiking if they’re dealing with multiple incoming impacts at the same time.

That makes it a fork that loves you to get over the front of the bike and push it as hard as possible through turns and random rock heaps, but will still hook up and help out even if you’re hiding and hoping while hanging off the back of the bike.

It’s worth noting that they can take a few hours of riding to properly smooth out from a stubborn, dry feeling start and can sometimes need a few hundred meters warm up if they’ve been sat for a while.

The fork is heavier than a Fox 34 Factory and RockShox Pike RCT3, but costs less
The fork is heavier than a Fox 34 Factory and RockShox Pike RCT3, but costs less

Both sets I’ve hammered have held up perfectly and you can order them in any stroke setting you want from 80–140mm. There’s tons of room around the crown even with a wide rim, 3.0in tyre and a fender too. The only cons are that it’s 150g heavier than a Fox 34 Factory and 30g heavier than a RockShox Pike RCT3 in the same Boost format.

The way the thru-axle system can knock on the leg each rotation as you tighten it and the crude cable guide mean overall it’s not quite as slick in operation and appearance either.

At £350 and £379 cheaper respectively with otherwise totally competitive performance in suspension and structural terms once it’s bedded in, smart spenders should be able to overlook that for an absolute killer deal.

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

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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