X-Fusion Sweep Boost HLR
Words: Seve Mustone, Photos: Pierce Klinke
As you may have noticed, 2018 was a big year for mountain bike suspension. From the release of the new Rock Shox Lyrik to Fox’s unveiling of their Live Wire technology and SR Suntour’s world class performance on a budget, there has been a lot to get excited about. X-Fusion has thrown their hat in the ring with their Sweep Boost HLR.
Chances are when you hear the name X-Fusion you don’t instantly think of a lust worthy suspension product. Instead they have a reputation of making lower quality forks for OEM department store bikes. Unfortunately, this has seeped into how people see their higher end products as well. In fact while testing this fork I got quite a few, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone ride an X-Fusion fork” comments on the trail. That being said, it was interesting to hear these people were not dismissive of the fork, as their next sentence was usually, “I would love to try one of those out.”
While X-fusion may have some marketing ju-jitsu to do in order to alter their reputation, that in no way affects how the Sweep performed on the trail.
We received a 160mm Sweep Boost HLR, which can be reduced to 100mm in 10mm increments. The fork was immediately mounted on my Evil Insurgent LB. The fork has an axle to crown length of 551mm, has 34mm stanchions, weighs in at a reported 1,905 grams, and has a 46mm offset. It also boasts low friction wiper seals that reduce seal drag yet remain durable. It retails for $750, but that may vary depending on where you look. On paper, it’s a well-situated fork that has all the features of a high-performance suspension product.
Out of the box, the fork comes with some stickers, a star-nut, a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and a shock pump. A note on the shock pump– it’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve ever used, so props to X-Fusion for that.
One of the most standout features of the Sweep is its HLR damping system, which is X-Fusion’s top of the line technology. It has a single wall bladder system that completely separates the oil in the damper from the air outside the cartridge. It offers external rebound adjustment & external high and low speed compression adjustment, but does not have a lock-out function. I found this a little problematic because I usually love being able to lock out my suspension. However, as I reflected more and more on the Sweep, I realized that if I had to lose one thing on a fork to reduce cost, the lockout would be the first thing to go.
One major difference between the Sweep and many top of the line forks is the fact that it doesn’t take volume spacers. You can very easily alter the oil volume in the air spring to achieve the same effect, but that is a little bit more labor intensive than the process of just dropping some tokens in to reduce volume.
The last thing to note regarding the fork’s technical features is the locking 15mm thru axle. Some fork manufacturers choose overly complex axles that you have to screw, unscrew and then whisper a secret password to get your front wheel off. I was happy to see that X-Fusion went a much more sensible route. It’s a simple screw and unscrew system, that would be completely perfect save for one thing. I noticed that the handle of the axle slaps against the fork bottoms while unscrewing it, making it a little troublesome to remove. This definitely isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it is notable and pretty annoying, especially if you remove your front wheel a lot.
The Sweep is no chump. While riding it I found myself generally happy with how it performed. After having owned and ridden some variant of a Rock Shox Pike for the vast majority of my life, I sometimes had to remind myself that I was riding the Sweep, which is perhaps the best compliment I could give it.
I did notice pretty quickly that the Sweep was finicky in terms of rebound and compression. I felt like I could never quite get it to the exact rebound and compression settings that I wanted, even after pouring over the manual and looking online for set up tips. On some days it felt great on the down but then far too soft on the up. Then after some adjustments for the next ride it would feel like it was a little too stiff. This back and forth process continued for the majority of my time testing the Sweep. Despite making these little changes to my settings during my rides, I never found the sweet spot. While I can confidently say it never once rode badly, I can also say it never felt perfect.
The HLR system is the real star of the show here, even on the chunkiest of terrain and the beefiest of drops, it didn’t ever feel like I was putting it through too much. The 160mm of travel is definitely well spread out across the fork, and I didn’t find myself looking for tokens to increase the ramp-up. For reference, I usually ride my Pike with two bottom out tokens, and the Sweep felt like my Pike with one token installed.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Overall, the fork performed very well. It was a pleasure to ride on the downhill and performed just how a mountain bike fork should. I didn’t find it diving too much in corners like many sub-par forks tend to do, which was a huge area of concern for me. It also offered decent pedaling compliance when fully open, which was another area of concern due to the lack of a lockout function. The chassis of the fork is not the stiffest, but I found that it did not hinder my riding. Heavier riders may want to factor this element into their purchasing decision however, as I have a rider weight of about 160lbs.
I wouldn’t go around saying it’s the fork that will, “change mountain biking forever.” However, in a situation where a rider needs a good fork for a good price, I would definitely put the Sweep on my list. The Sweep is an especially good pick for riders looking for a budget fork who enjoy constantly tweaking their suspension. If you don’t care about lockout, want a smooth suspension feel and can handle adding some oil to adjust your progressivity, I would highly recommend taking a peek at the Sweep. It’s not quite the set and forget Fox or Rock Shox rig with easily dropped in tokens, but then again it doesn’t cost as much either and it never held me back when it came time to shred trail. While it is a very competent and capable fork, if we had to compare it to the recently reviewed SR Suntour Auron, another budget-friendly fork, we’d pick the Auron for value and performance.
HLR Damping System
Hard To Make Perfect
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