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DVO Diamond fork review

October 16th, 2015

By Andrew Dodd in Reviews

Full Product Name: DVO Suspension Diamond 27.5in suspension fork

Retail Price: £799

Available From: Silverfish

A diamond amongst the other stuff

DVO – or Developed Suspension – is a relative new comer to the mountain bike suspension market, although the team behind it have a long history in mountain bike suspension.

 

The first major product DVO launched was the impressive Emerald inverted downhill fork in 2014, followed by the Jade coil shock and now the Diamond trail fork.

The DVO Diamond is an air sprung fork with 130-160mm of travel; 27.5in and 29in options and features external adjustments for rebound, and both low and high speed compression damping. It also features the unique OTT adjustment that comes from the Emerald DH fork, which controls the negative spring.

Going head-to-head with the Rockshox Pike and the Fox 36, we expected a lot – read on to see what we thought of the DVO Diamond…

Our pre-production DVO Diamond has different graphics to the production fork, and didn’t come with the removable fender – but is every bit the same internally. It’s a very plush fork, with a big range of damping adjustment and control. Production forks come in the DVO green, or black with blacked out graphics.

The details

The crown is a forged and CNC machined design, and features 44mm offset on our 27.5in test model, and 51mm on the 29in version. The upper stanchion tubes are made from 35mm tapered aluminium and the lowers are magnesium.

Our 27.5in model set at 160mm travel has an axle to crown height of 555mm – a 160mm Pike comes in at 552mm, whilst a Fox 36 measures 549mm.

We weighed our sample at 2100grams, which is a little heavier than the Pike at 1861grams, and the Fox 36 at 1923grams. It’s worth noting however, that both the Fox and Rockshox forks use a completely air sprung system – for both positive and negative. The Diamond uses a coil negative spring set up.

The left leg houses the air cartridge unit – a complete unit that can be removed and serviced, whilst the right leg contains the damping unit – which is a closed cartridge bladder system. This unit works a little differently to other bladder units in that the bladder compresses, rather that expands – in a similar way to the internals of the Jade rear shock. The shock is filled with air at atmospheric pressure, and oil is added to a separate chamber, avoiding cavitation. DVO say this system adds durability, increases initial sensitivity and makes for easy shim stack adjustment.

On the left is the CNC machined top cap concealing the air valve, and on the right is the low and high speed compression dials.

At the fork crown an anodised cap covers the Schrader air valve on the riders left, and the right hand side sees the high and low speed compression adjusters.On the base of the fork legs is the rebound adjuster, and the OTT negative spring adjustment. This is a preload adjustment on the negative spring, which affects the fork’s feel and characteristics – the more preload you add, the more sensitive the initial stroke. As you add preload, it also affects the rest of the stroke – the fork becomes more progressive and has increased support in the mid stroke.

The OTT adjuster itself has 14 turns of adjustment; the fork runs from 90-170psi; there are 20 clicks of rebound; 6 clicks of low speed compression and 29 clicks of high speed compression.

The fork travel can be adjusted internally – there’s a video detailing how here – by adding or subtracting spacers from the air spring. It’s a fairly simple job for the home fettler.

The base of the fork shows the rebound adjuster – on the left – and the OTT ‘Off The Top’ adjustment. This increases or decreases the negative spring, altering the forks spring characteristics.

The DVO Diamond uses a 15mm quick release axle system, that operates in a similar fashion to both the Fox QR15 and the Rockshox Maxle set up – although the DVO system has a captive nut that can easily be replaced. The axle of both other designs screw in to inserts pressed in to the fork casting. The axle itself is nicely designed, and is milled down in the centre to save weight.

Everything is easily replaceable on the DVO Diamond. Nice detailing from the Californian brand.

Out on the trail

With the Diamond installed to my Intense AD160, I set it up according to the recommended base settings for my weight. I added 130psi to the fork; 7 turns of OTT adjustment; 1 click of low speed compression; 4 clicks of high speed and 11 clicks of rebound.

I’ve been riding the DVO Diamond fork since May, and once past getting it dialled in have really found it’s strengths. The air spring system feels great and the compression damping on offer is really capable.

In the workshop the fork felt a little sticky off the top, but once on the bike it wasn’t noticeable – a case of the fork bedding in and perhaps the bushes were a little dry from storage.

During the first few weeks the fork noticeably loosened up and felt a lot more supple. In turn I added a little more pressure and made some adjustments to the damping to compensate. I found that the OTT damping recommendations didn’t add enough sensitivity for how I like things, and went up to 11 clicks from the base recommendation of 7-8 turns for my weight. With that done, the fork immediately felt different – the initial movement was very supple and gave a lot of front end grip – but I needed to adjust other settings to balance things out.

I didn’t find there was enough high speed compression for me on the base setting of 3-4 clicks, and I kept on adding until I started feeling bigger impacts through the bars. Interestingly though, the Diamond never really felt like it spiked – you could definitely feel a touch of harshness on hard hits and flat landings if running a lot, but the range feels quite useable. I eventually settled between 6-10 clicks of the available 29 clicks for differing riding.

I also lowered the air pressure 5psi and settled on 2-3 turns of low speed compression. It took me quite a while to get to my sweet spot, although that’s not because the DVO is difficult – it’s just different. The set ups on Rockshox and Fox are very familiar and can be dialled in pretty quickly – you need to be patient to get the best from the DVO.

But it’s definitely worth it.

As I mentioned previously, initial movement is very supple and the fork offers a lot of grip – but the mid stroke offers good enough support that you don’t feel the need to add more pressure or too much low speed compression to keep the fork high. The three clicks of low speed I liked, kept the fork from moving too much against my body weight but didn’t affect the smaller hits. But cranked round to 6 and the fork stiffens right up and feels good for out-the-saddle climbing.

The low speed adjustment is easy to do on the fly as the lever is easy to grip – though it does work in the opposite direction to low speed compression on most other forks.

The chassis itself has a very similar foot print to the Pike. Same size stanchions; a similar feel in stiffness and similar tyre clearance – which isn’t the best. However, it’s not been an issue yet and we have been running the huge 2.4 Mavic Charge tyre. Our pre-production fork didn’t come with the fender, but you can see the three mounts that accept it. We love that the DVO Diamond comes with an integrated mud guard.

The high speed compression – as with other forks featuring this adjustment – is really important to get right.

Having spent a lot of time on the Fox 36 with minimal high speed – I was initially prepared for running the 3-4 clicks that DVO recommend, and possibly backing off. But I increased that early on for my local trails, but have been down to 5-6 clicks on rougher days – like uplifts when my hands need all the help they can get.

DVO Suspension’s Bryson Martin Jr putting a pre-production Diamond through it’s paces in the Garbanzo Zone at Whistler Bikepark. Photo | DVO Suspension

The damping itself feels really good – the shocks transmitted to the bars on trails such as Rim Dinger at Bikepark Wales were muted, and even after several runs hand fatigue wasn’t an issue. The fork also felt good on those dirty head-nod drops to flat – although perhaps not quite as controlled as our Fox 36. We’ve not made any tweaks to the shim stack though, or added oil to further ramp the fork up – there is plenty of additional tweaking that can be done.

Once set up, the DVO is a very good fork. It tracks well and offers a large useable range of damping. There are also plenty of custom tuning options thanks to the shim stack system inside the damper – the DVO website has a lot of literature on the tuning of the damper units. It’s nice that they are so open with the design of their products.

Is it as good as Pike or a 36? That’s hard to say without a lot of time dedicated to repeat runs on various different trails. But it’s certainly right up there with them both in terms of quality, range of adjustment and feel.

One thing is for certain though – DVO have made a damned good fork. There was no messing about from the Californian crew on their first single crown design.

We say

It’s great to see another suspension manufacturer producing a high end fork that works well and has a lot of scope for tuning. The level of damping adjustment on offer is up there with the Fox 36, and the OTT adjustment really helps tailor the ride feel too – without having to install air volume spacers.

A pair of Diamond’s retail for £100 less than a 36, and although the Pike retails for over £800 it’s largely available online for under £680. A tough choice, no doubt – but those wanting something different with a lot of tuning capabilities will be rewarded if picking the DVO. It doesn’t disappoint.

The DVO Diamond is a refreshing new fork from a company that seem to be making every effort to do things differently, and effectively. You could say a Diamond amongst the other stuff.

We really like the DVO and their whole approach to suspension. They won’t be getting this sample fork back for some time!


Enjoy this write up? Check out FactoryJackson.com for more great reviews and articles.

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