The Good: The spirit of enduro likes this post.
The Bad: Leaky oil kills plants and makes hippies angry.
Over the past few years, X-Fusion has made quite a stir in the MTB suspension industry. These days, when one considers a new fork or shock, the name X-Fusion usually comes up in a conversation along with the major players like Fox Racing Shox, and Rock Shox when discussing suspension options. Given my friend’s raving reviews about X-Fusion’s forks, and the usual customer service benefit of dealing with a smaller company, I figured I would give their new dropper post, the HILO SL 125mm, a try on my trail bike.
The Hilo SL has a claimed weight of 450g without the cable, making it lighter than the gold standard of travel adjust seat posts, the Rock Shox Reverb (520g). The HILO SL is available with a seat post diameter of 30.9mm and 31.6 mm, and is infinitely adjustable (ie- you can adjust the post to any height you want while riding). The post also has a traditional seat mounting apparatus, so your seat does not fold back on you when you land on it hard.
Setting up the HILO is basically the same as setting up the Specialized Command Post or FOX DOSS seat posts. The hardest part is figuring out exactly how long to make the cable, because the cable is attached to the seat head. Therefore, you have to have certain amount of ‘free play’ in the cable so that the post can actually go up and down in an unrestricted fashion. Anyone with half a brain can do it. X-Fusion provides directions with the post, and has a set of awesome online service videos that will answer any questions you may have. Also, the pinch bolt that holds the cable in place on the post does not need to be torqued very tight. Be careful, as the head of the bolt is very easy to strip.
Riding the Post:
The post goes up and down, just as advertised. I personally like the infinite adjustability provided by the post. On the Command Post, for example, I sometimes find the trail mode to be too low but the climb mode to be too high for a certain trail grade. The HILO does not have this problem. Another thing to consider with this post is that the post doesn’t bottom out like most other travel adjust seat posts. So, someone trying to get his or her seat post as low as possible in the down position could have trouble with this post. I have attached an image below showing the low position on the post. Also, the lever actuator isn’t the most refined when compared to options from other companies. But, it does work.
Reliability/Ease of Service:
Unfortunately, I have not had the best luck with this post. From day 1 the post has leaked oil. Granted, the post still works, but it is very annoying to have to wipe dirt and oil off your seat tube after every ride. Over time, it predictably developed some sag under the load of you sitting on the seat. Despite leaking oil out, the post worked for over six months, and then crapped out randomly.
I attempted to service the post myself at this point, but I ran into trouble trying to get the seal head of the post loose. In order to do this, you will need a very good strap wrench. I broke two of these trying to get the seal head off, only to give up and have X-Fusion service the post at Sea Otter.
At Sea Otter, I gave the mechanic a rebuild kit for the post and tried to bribe him with a bottle of Pliny the Elder (but he did not drink). Regardless, he rebuilt it within the hour. But, when I re-installed the post again, it immediately leaked oil.
From other people I have talked to that own the post, about 50% of them have a leaky post, and the other half does not (Sample size=4). Maybe I got one out of a bad batch; who knows.
Overall, I would rate the post very highly if I could just figure out how to get the post to not leak oil. However, when you factor in the leaky seal head, and difficulty to service, I can’t recommend that anyone buy the HILO over a Reverb or KS Lev. The post goes up and down, has a normal seat clamp mechanism, and has been seemingly reliable despite leaking oil for 6 months and 300 miles of riding. But, you have to like having oil spew out all the time. If you are cool with the possibility of this happening to you, the X-Fusion HILO SL is your golden dropper post.