X-Fusion's shocks are a common sight on more affordable full suspension models, so the aftermarket price of its RCX might be a shock in itself. Its solid rather than sensitive performance lags behind the latest best too, even if you’re patient with a slow bed in period.
While tight seals are a longevity and low service frequency bonus further into the life of the shock, the first few clunky rides with the 02 RCX are definitely ‘off the record’ in terms of judging performance. Even when everything has settled in and smoothed out, and you’re running a lot of sag, it’s still not as supple as the latest Fox and RockShox units with their increased volume negative spring though. This stubbornness is noticeable enough that at one point we even loosened the mounting bolts to check it wasn’t being pinched too tight.
On the upside, this characteristic provides plenty of midstroke support for aggressive cornering, and gives the host bike a naturally planted feel that transmits power well when you stab the pedals. There are two intermediate ‘platform’ settings between open and locked – not just one – so it’s easy to fine-tune feel on the fly.
Because the damping keeps the shock high in the stroke you can run pressures lower than an initial car park test would suggest without wallowing too deep in the shock. The rebound damping on our sample was really sensitive though. A couple of indistinct clicks make a massive difference to the return rate of the shock and its responsiveness over repeated hits.
Overall, it can be tuned into a supportive and consistent state that more aggressive riders will appreciate, but it stubbornly stayed the least buoyant and dynamic feeling shock in our recent grouptest. Given how much we liked the shock in a Santa Cruz Tallboy LT CC long-termer a couple of years ago, a relatively disappointing performance this time round shows how far other brands have advanced rather than suggesting XF has gone backwards.
Sizes are also limited and, as alluded to above, the price of the RCX is high. The rebound and lockout equipped RL is cheaper if you’re after an affordable and reliable upgrade to a basic shock though. An entirely new Stage enduro shock developed with Brian Lopes is in the pipeline too, and given the performance of the latest XF Roughcut forks that’s potentially well worth waiting for.