Review: The DVO Diamond

If you aren’t familiar with DVO Suspension maybe you remember the glory days of Marzocchi. DVO was founded by the chief innovator who created the Marzocchi products back in the good ol' days when they were at the top of the game. When he left to start his own brand he didn't miss a beat.

DVO is one of the small players in the suspension game, and as you would expect their products are crafted with small batch dedication and care. Their products are known for dependability and serviceability.

Recently you may have seen my write up on the Revel Rail. I didn't really address what was on the front end of the bike. As good as the rear suspension was it needed one hell of a fork to keep up. The build I rode had a 170mm DVO Diamond that definitely fit the bill! It impressed me just as much as the bike did. The contact with the trail felt like buttered velvet. Not only did it absorb all the chatter, small edges and big hits, it had great support too. The Pool and Ice Rink trail at Eagle has a lot of quick corners, whoops, g-outs, high speed bumps and tricky jumps. Not once did I feel off-balance or not in control of the front tire. It honestly felt as homey and comfortable as any fork I had spent years fine tuning.

The suspension tech at Revel did a great job of hitting the setup right on the nose, but DVO definitely made it easy for them. Their forks are some of the most externally tune-able forks on the market. As someone who sets up a lot of suspension, I really appreciate that. They have 6 clicks of low speed compression (with a numeric display that lets you know right where you are at), over 30 clicks of high speed compression, dynamic rebound adjustment and (my favorite feature) an externally adjustable OTT spring.

What the hell is an OTT spring?
OTT stands for Off The Top and it softens the initial stroke. You may have heard the term “negative spring” as well. They basically do the same thing. Coil forks ride exactly how a fork should ride. They have little to no break away force (meaning the force needed to start the fork moving when that rock appears in front of your tire), even support at every point in the travel (meaning that as you compress the fork from the first mm to the last mm the fork pushes back and supports the impact at an even and predictable rate). The downsides of a coil suspension are the weight (a steel spring adds a pound or two), lack of tune-ability (you can adjust the preload a bit, but ultimately you need to open up the fork and drop in a new spring to adjust it), and the lack of bottom out resistance. For that reason most forks these days are air sprung. To adjust them for a wide range of riders you just need to release a little air, or pump in some more, and adjust the rebound accordingly. The other benefit of air is that, as you compress it, it pushes back at an exponential rate. That as you get closer to the bottom of the travel it supports you more and more.

The biggest hiccup of an air sprung fork is that it requires a lot of breakaway force to get it moving and absorbing all the little bumps that would otherwise shake the teeth out of your head. The solution is to put in a negative spring to pull down on the fork, soften the initial impact and leave you feeling like you are floating on a marshmallow. Negative air springs are quite common, work quite well and usually adjust themselves. The downside is it has a negative effect all the way through the stroke. You only want it right off the top. An off the top coil spring only affects the fork where you need it, but has a very narrow range of rider weights and corresponding air pressures where they work right.

The best illustration of brilliance, in my mind, isn’t as much figuring out some astrophysical mystery, but coming up with a more simple solution than everyone else. DVO simply made a negative coil spring that is adjustable. On a DVO fork you just turn the preload a click or two and not only can you tune the initial stroke for the rider's weight, but also fine tune for terrain and riding style. More small bump compliance for rocky square edged riding or less for more terrain response. Not only can you have your cake and eat it too, you can set it up to eat it all dainty with little forks and doilies or get right in there face first.

Don't take my word for it though. Drop by their tent at the show this weekend and let them show you themselves! Maybe even take a run, change the setup and feel the difference on the next. As an added bonus, they will have some REALLY bad-ass bikes to use for testing purposes. Nukeproof if I'm not mistaken.

Evan Winn
Snowmass Demo Days