Now well over a year in the making, DVO's suspension products are nearing production.
After several iterations and countless hours of testing, DVO feels it's time to move forward. Several key features have evolved since we last examined the Emerald fork when it was introduced last November.
Not to be forgotten, the Jade coil shock has progressed as well.
Out with the old, in with the new. The Trek Session 9.9 served as our test sled for two days of riding in Whistler, BC.
One of the most unique features of the Emerald is the 'Off The Top' adjustment. Known as OTT for short, the adjustment can drastically change the initial stroke feel of the fork.
In addition to standard the air pressure adjustment, riders can also dial in their negative spring force as well as the air spring curve from linear to progressive, depending on their personal preference.
The inverted design was appealing to DVO for several reasons, but they knew they'd have some major obstacles to overcome.
Thinking outside of the box led the team to the Carbon Torsion Arch (CTA), which keys into slots on each side of the dropouts.
The CTA utilizes a sheets of carbon fused to a separate core material, allowing the brace to function much like a traditional tube when resisting twisting forces at the axle. Does it work? We hit the hill to find out.
The plan for the test session was simple. Ride lots and adjust as needed.
Dave Trumpore, photographer by day and former World Cup shredder by night, dials things in.
Bryson Martin, DVO's founder and owner, has an immense amount of suspension knowledge and experience, something we'd lean on for input throughout the day.
Dialed in and ready to roll, we mounted up and took to the lifts.
Whistler's huge variety of rowdy terrain served as the perfect place to try things out, especially considering how beat up the trails were during Crankworx. The Emerald's impressive small bump sensitivity was immediately noticed.
The ability to quickly adjust both the air spring and negative spring (OTT) allowed us to make big changes quickly.
The impact OTT has on the fork is huge. As the day progresses and you begin to fatigue, you're able to soften the feel up without impacting the full range of travel. Plush but firm is now an option.
The little bit of torsional compliance offered by the inverted design wasn't a nuisance. It helped the bike track far better, in fact. There was little to no stiction while the fork was loaded in turns, unlike many other designs.
Both the high and low-speed compression adjustments made noticeable changes to the fork's behavior, and a wide range of clicks made fine-tuning possible. The fork uses high flow compression ports to eliminate harshness while allowing the tapered shim stack to deliver the dynamic damping. That's Bryson Martin Jr. pinned through the roots.
The relative lack of unsprung weight and controlled twin-tube open bath damper calmed trail feedback, allowing us to focus our attention further down the trail.
Aided by the Jade coil shock's use of a bladder instead of an IFP, front to rear balance was impressive. With minimal initial stiction, small bump sensitivity and the smooth transition from compression to rebound created a rear end with plenty of predictable grip.
In a time when other companies are dumbing down designs, DVO is providing massive adjustment ranges with the means to easily fine-tune as needed.
DVO kept Dave on his toes with a few blind tests. The changes were noticeable on the trail, even though they were often minor.
So what could be improved? Some of the adjustment knobs could be easier to turn with more pronounced detents.
Mud clearance is also a potential area for concern.
Finally, the lower crown pinch bolts may present an issue on some frames, though there were no clearance concerns on the Trek Session 9.9.
On the Jade, the loader compression assembly can easily be removed from the reservoir body to access the shims. From there, you can adjust the shim stack.
Maintenance and disassembly was seemingly very easy. Everything is well-thought-out for the tinkerers amongst us.
Much like the shock, the fork's compression circuit can be easily disassembled and revalved, or it can be swapped out for an entirely separate, pre-tuned piston assembly. DVO will provide aftermarket tuning kits as well.
DVO plans to offer substantial tuning support so riders can feel comfortable taking tuning into their own hands.
Tuning feedback and advice is expected to be available at your finger tips.
What's the bottom line? DVO's well-executed inverted Emerald design and readily-available adjustments combine to create a fork that is quickly tunable to any terrain. The action is incredibly smooth and predictable while offering support and taking the edge off in a way the we haven't experienced before. The Jade follows suit, and is a fitting, well-balanced match.
Outside of our test session, Junior has been hard at work finalizing tunes and tweaks for production.
Junior's positive findings in the mud help to alleviate one area of concern.
A little bit of compliance can go a long way.
Durability wise, Junior's use of the same seals and bushings for several months is encouraging. We'll be long-term testing to verify.
Cedric Gracia's own immediate impressions were very positive.
A few recent changes have resulted from CG's feedback, which was taken into serious consideration by the DVO team.
Again, the inverted design and OTT adjustment made a big difference for CG, even at the World Cup level.
"I think the fork saved my face!"
It's go time. With production of the Emerald just weeks away, the design team is shifting gears and will soon introduce an Enduro fork. Jade production will happen around November.
Built off a solid history in the suspension business, DVO's offerings represent a welcome shift towards increased rider knowledge, tunability, and ease of maintenance.
With a focus on high-end products and suspension education, DVO is looking to stir things up. After a few days of riding, we think they've pulled it off in a big way...
For more details, visit www.dvosuspension.com.