X-Fusion 02-RC Rear Shock - Pro Review
By: Karl Etzel from http://ride424.com/
Date: Aug 21, 2006
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The suspension market continues to be an area of innovation for the MTB industry as a whole, and while the major players have not changed much in the last few years there have been a few new entries (and exits) at the edges of this product segment. One of those relatively new entrants, at least from a brand perspective, is X-Fusion Shox. I say "from a brand perspective" because, like many other bike companies that have gone before them, X-Fusion got their toe in the water by manufacturing parts for other bike companies to put their names on and sell to the public. X-Fusion entered the U.S. market in 2005 as an independent brand. This approach gave them time to learn the ins and outs of production, while also establishing the infrastructure to support a complete product line. They offer stable platform and standard air sprung shocks, as well as coil over shocks for the more vertically inclined.
In this Pro Review I'll cover my experiences using 2 of their products, the 2005 model 02-PVA (stable platform model) and the 02-RC air shocks. These were both run on my Trek Top Fuel over a 10 month period and a variety of terrain.
I'll touch only briefly on the 02-PVA, since I used it for only about a month. The reason for this was simple - this is the wrong shock for the Fuel. The combination of stable platform damping and the short travel (the Fuel takes a shock with a 6.5 inch/165 mm eye-eye length) made the system over damped and harsh. This was obvious out on the trail because after a few minutes of riding the sag was significantly more than it was when setting the shock pressure in the garage (a characteristically tough thing to dial in with stable platform valving). If you are running a longer travel, or longer stroke system with a single pivot design that needs more help in the stability arena, this is the shock to consider, but it is not ideal for those short travel linkages which are pretty efficient at eliminating pedal induced actuation.
Switching to the 02-RC made all the difference, and I felt like it gave the best of both worlds - medium compression damping if I wanted to set the bike for a long gnarly descent, fully open for plush tracking of the rear wheel on climbs, and a lockout for those fire road hammer fests. The compression damping is adjusted with the blue lever, and this also does the lockout - just swing it all the way clockwise and the shock is locked out. There is a blowoff so that you can run the lockout without fear of damaging the unit, and the lever is plenty long to reach down and flick the switch if needed while on the trail. X-Fusion is the only company I know of offering both compression damping adjustment and a lockout feature, which is a nice option when so many rear shocks are only available in stable platform or in lockout only mode with no damping adjustment.
X-Fusion is coming out with a remote lockout feature for 2007 but given my preference for a lightweight and a clean cockpit setup I would probably skip this feature anyways. The handlebars get pretty crowded in a 24 hour race with number plate, lights, and HR monitor so I'll just settle for reaching down to hit the lockout on the shock (which I don't do all that often anyways).
Setting the pressure on the 02-RC is not any different from any other system, just go by the sag and start with the guidance in the manual. Rebound damping is set independent of the compression, and is handled by the small red knob. I played with this rolling off the curb and got the rebound damping dialed in with no problems. One thing to note is that the rebound knob rotates with the blue compression dial, but what matters is the position of the red knob relative to the blue lever. So as you rotate the blue lever the rebound knob rotates also, but the rebound damping does not change. I did run into one minor glitch, the set screw holding the red knob on the shaft came loose and I fumbled around trying to dial in the rebound when in fact I was not adjusting anything. A 2mm hex key fixed that and I have not had trouble since then.
The 02-RC gave me what I wanted on the trail, going up or down. On climbs it allowed me to stay seated and know that the rear wheel would roll over obstacles while maintaining traction and sparing my body some abuse, and on descents it let me focus on carving the turns and carrying speed.
I've only had one complaint in all the time I've used this shock, and it is hard to blame it all on the shock, but it was a bit of a surprise to me so I'll mention it. At one of my early season events (24 in the Old Pueblo) the shock nearly seized up completely after just a couple of hours of racing. I've grown accustomed to getting a little more warning on the degradation of shock performance but the 02-RC proved much more sensitive to the condition of the lube on the shock. A squirt of silicon spray (my normal shock lubrication choice) and a few strokes of the shock to get the lube distributed fixed this, and the performance was good as new. But the lesson learned was to use a heavier lube like Slick Honey on this unit, and pay closer attention to the simple maintenance of keeping it lubed. I've gotten away with being a little lazier about rear suspension lube on the Float I ran last season but I know now to stay on top of this with the 02-RC. In the long run this will keep the shock running better anyways.
With so many leading shock companies hyping stable platform damping, it is good to see X-Fusion offering a lightweight, simple option like the 02-RC with the adjustable compression damping and lockout features. After all the effort to get to intelligent linkage systems that eliminate, or greatly reduce, pedal induced actuation, it makes sense to have a standard air spring shock that will take full advantage of the suspension, especially for short travel shock systems that can be difficult to adjust with all the low frequency damping. I find this especially true when climbing at the end of an ultra-endurance event, when I really want the shock giving me the full benefit in taking up hits and reducing the abuse on my body.
In my enthusiasm I forgot to weigh the 02-RC before mounting it, but the 02-PVA came in at 262 grams on the scale. Weight for the 02-RC is spec'd at 250 grams, I would expect that with less internals it might have a few grams of margin to that. MSRP is $340. Contact the folks at <a href="http://www.x-fusion-shox.com">X-Fusion</a> to find out where to get one.
- Light & simple
- Highly tunable - rebound and compression damping, plus lockout
- Rapid performance degradation if lube goes dry
- If you must have remote lockout, gotta wait a little longer for the 2007 model
I give these 4 chilis out of 5
X-Fusion 02-RC - $340
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Pro Review written by: Karl Etzel
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