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2020 Pinkbike Awards: Suspension Product of the Year Winner

Dec 29, 2020
by Dan Roberts  

The Suspension Product of the Year award for 2020 was a broad category, one that spanned everything from weight conscious items for cross country racing, through the plethora of trail and enduro offerings and topped out by DH race proven units. Last year we couldn't find a clear winner despite having some brilliant products up for nomination.

But development rarely stands still, and for 2020 there were many new products that caught our eye along with updated products that also shone through. We also have a winner for 2020 that takes the award amongst the vast array of suspension products we saw this year.

This year's nominees included the EXT Era fork, Fox's 38 fork, RockShox's Zeb fork, Cane Creek's Helm MkII fork, and Öhlins' DH38 m.1 fork.


Öhlins DH38 m.1

Suspension that vanishes underneath you and left us a little bit speechless.

For me, an outstanding product is one that effortlessly and quietly goes about doing its job underneath you, leaving you to simply ride your bike without any thought of it. When we ride, we have enough to focus on as it is before we get to weird quirks and traits that need to be in your brain while you try and push your limits. I read a lot about motorbikes and racing where they talk about getting the information at the ground to the rider's brain as fast and as undiluted as possible. That way the rider can just react to these crystal clear inputs almost devoid of deep cognitive thought.

The DH38 m.1 has provided this since the day I bolted in on the front of my downhill bike. No matter the riding speed, terrain or commitment levels, I just forgot about the fork, only to arrive at the bottom of a run to look at it and realise what it had just done. Yes, some might bounce on it in the car park and say that it's too stiff and overdamped. But I'd like to remind you that we do our riding up in the hills on trails, and up there the DH38 simply shines above everything else I've ridden this year, which includes the latest versions of the Fox 40 and RockShox Boxxer.

Traction is plentiful combined with a small bump sensitivity that gives you all the information you need about what's going on at the contact patch. As the hits get bigger and more intense the support and composure builds accordingly leaving you with no traits to ride around or mentally prepare for before you drop in for a run. It's soft when you need it to be and hard when you need that. All the while maintaining a ride height that leaves you closer to a natural riding position and not needing to consciously move your body to get to that good position.
Ohlins DH38 m.1

Adjustability is simple and palpable, with each adjustment, be it for spring or damper, being usable and allowing you to effortlessly tailor the fork's feel to the days riding knowing exactly what each adjustment will change with no need for second guessing. The air spring ramp tuning is another highlight for its almost infinite adjustment possibilities and no need to go dismantling the fork. Plus there are four different offset crowns and availability to run 29" and 27.5" wheels. If this fork can win World Cup DH races under Loïc Bruni one weekend and then send some of the biggest jumps known to man under Nico Vink the next then it shows the adaptability of the fork. And if each athlete is finding their happy spot and reporting the same creamy feeling then it's not just me who likes this fork.

Öhlins took the original DH38 Race fork and tweaked it here and there, each one no more than a marginal gain and often scoffed at for not being enough of a change to warrant the new product status. But it's in the culmination of all those marginal gains where the new m.1 fork shows its advancements and has had my back in every situation and eventuality that I've thrown its way.

There have been a lot of really good suspension products released this year, but the Öhlins DH38 m.1 is more than that, it's special. And for that it is the recipient of the 2020 Pinkbike Suspension Product of the Year award.

Photographer Kifkat Shaperideshoot

Author Info:
dan-roberts avatar

Member since Apr 6, 2019
137 articles

  • 301 9
 Deore got robbed.
  • 16 181
flag dv8416 (Dec 29, 2020 at 9:44) (Below Threshold)
 Last I checked Deore is a Drive train not Suspension
  • 202 0
 @dv8416: last time I checked you weren't suspension
  • 49 1
 @dv8416: Last I checked, suspension makes your bike go whoooooooosh
  • 3 42
flag raozaki (Dec 29, 2020 at 11:51) (Below Threshold)
 deore won component of the year...
  • 21 0
 @raozaki: Aaand right over his head.
  • 15 1
 @felimocl: good comment rebound
  • 3 1
 @dv8416: last time I checked I didn’t check but you got deorelly suspended
  • 1 1
 @raozaki: got it once
  • 136 20
 Suspension Product of the Year because it'll only last a year before it starts leaking
  • 21 0
 don't tell me that air caps are not exploding anymore...
  • 43 11
 @kleina You mean to say if you ride your fork past the service interval it stops performing as it should Redface
  • 12 1
 Been riding various Öhlins forks and shocks for a long time and have never experienced a leak. And that's with pushing it a bit over the service intervals a couple of times.
  • 2 0
  • 8 4
 The wonder of German engineering, "Recommended intervals" is a direct command, if you disobey, you will die.
  • 20 0
 @Ajorda: Swedish, German... basically the same.
  • 111 2
 The suspension product of the year should be any product I use. If it's not, then it's wrong.
  • 4 0
 HA! Nailed it!
  • 30 0
 I’m a little confused as to why the 2015 pike on my trail bike didn’t win this year
  • 93 7
 If you are going to pick something nobody will buy, at least go with the EXT since that is the suspension product that everyone wants (and has a bike to put it on).
  • 38 2
 Suspension Product of the Year rules and Guidelines:

"Each nominated product must have been reviewed by, or have been the subject of a thorough first-ride opportunity by Pinkbike’s editors."

"Nominees will be judged by absolute performance and technical design aspects. "

Soooo, where is the thorough first ride opportunity detailed ? Because there isn't any first ride in the linked Ohlins 38 update presentation from the "first look" link here ...

and here
  • 52 10
 @gnaralized, Dan’s been testing the Ohlins for the last few months on the front of the new Demo. There’s a comparison review of the Fox 40 / RockShox Boxxer / Ohlins on the way.
  • 14 2
 @mikekazimer: Given that you have been so vocal about your fondness of the Era I think a lot of people are surprised to see this result. It is also interesting to me that Dan, who wrote this article, has not spent any time on it. Was this actually closer than we think and do you think if had a chance to ride it the result may be a bit different?
  • 2 4
flag mikekazimer Mod Plus (6 hours ago)
@gnaralized, Dan’s been testing the Ohlins for the last few months on the front of the new Demo. There’s a comparison review of the Fox 40 / RockShox Boxxer / Ohlins on the way.
  • 8 2
 @gnaralized: Plus a wad of cash on the side to Pinkbike helps advertising and sales in the long run....
  • 1 1
 That EXT review has been a long time coming. I wonder if they've had an issue with the fork and had to request another sample? Possibly a creaky steerer? This is how rumours get started, eh?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: I wonder which fork will come out on top Wink
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: not the case. Long term review coming.
  • 37 4
 *2016 motion control yari with new seals and teflon oil entered chat*
  • 28 1
 The human knee got robbed.
  • 18 1
 username checks out
  • 8 0
 Yeah, it is all about the hip hinge these days. The best suspension product is the shorter seatpost. Some say reach got longer but that's only one way of looking at it. If you're happy with sticking to the same amount of reach, you can get your saddle lower with every new version of the frame.
  • 29 5
 Pffft. Should go to DVO after seeing that fucking overshot jump Reece had.... Lol
  • 13 2
 I have a Jade X with a CaneCreek ramp up coil. The shocks tune is for an entirely different bike and yet, the shock feels so perfect. Ive never felt a better shock. Maybe a Push116. But thats another tier. Highly recommend their products. Also their customer service is awesome. (Thanks Jeff)
  • 9 3
 You do realise that Öhlins were responsible for Cane Creeks first Helm fork internals? @chillrider199:
  • 1 0
 @chillrider are the compression settings on the jade x enough?
  • 1 0
 @Bollox64: knowing nothing about the helm, what is the resource of this?
  • 1 0
 @truenorthsimon: when the first helm rolled out, as I remember it, they noted that the internals were a joint effort with Ohlins. I assume it had more to do with CC just reaching out to get some help with certain tuning wants and asking for help from some of the top brains makes sense.

Both Ohlins and CC both have suspension that's got a bit more of a "more damped" feeling than other suspension offerings.
  • 4 0
 @Bollox64: that is not correct?

Cane Creek used Ohlins for their Double Barrel twin tube shocks, and they used to come which a Ohlins logo on them as a matter of fact. But they had nothing to do with the fork as far as I know. Can you send me a reference for that?
  • 1 0
 @demo7jumper: you can buy it with a custom tune and I think you can even go in there yourself.
  • 2 1
 Geoff is a great dude. Dvo makes some seriously good stuff. @chillrider199:
  • 1 0
 @demo7jumper: Depends on what youre looking for. It has rebound and a 3 compression adjustment nobs. The air bladder helps get a feel that you want. As far as ramp up goes, youll need to get that done through a coil. DVO mentioned they are making one.

If the tuning is not feeling right though, DVO will retune shocks or forks if needed to your preference. They offered it for my shock for a small price. But I found a good spot for what I like in my shock.
  • 2 1
 @chillrider199: Agreed, I had 2 jades on 3 different frames and everytime it's a giant improvement over what came stock even if it was coil vs coil. It's quite amazing actually that they can tune that much bandwidth into to damper and yet still be dialed in down to the click on multiple different kinematics
  • 3 0
 @fitnj: I'm glad that you and others like your Jade's. Was not a fan of the one I had personally. It has a large shaft and tiny body which means lower oil volume running through the main piston and a narrow and light damping tune/range. Not much that really can be done to make significant changes or for tuning. It was an improvement over the RS Super Deluxe Air it replaced in a few regards, but overall I thought it was a pretty underwhelming piece of kit. The DVO forks certainly seem interesting.
  • 1 0
 @Inclag: What kind of bike did you have it on? I was interested in the shock if this xfusion h3c doesn't work out.
  • 1 1
 @Inclag, @gillyske:

Interesting, seems to be completely the opposite experience. I ran it on a '16 delirium, "19 GT Fury, and most recent '20 Demo. The Jade adapted very well to all three platforms and in each case I liked it better than the CCDB, super deluxe and ohlins ttx it replaced. The last one being the biggest surprise. Must just work well for me and my riding style. And yes DVO forks are great. Have an Onyx DC on my Demo and I wouldn't trade for anything else. Including the 'best fork of the year.' No matter what, we've never been more spoiled for choice in this sport than now. Such great gear out there..
  • 1 0
 @chillrider199: I use a 575-700 dvo spring on my jade x. Dvo has them now.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wheels: Maybe I got which product it was mixed up. I was at Öhlins factory a couple of years back for an interview, and the MTB Manager guiding me around, he mentioned that they helped CC with some suspension. My bad if it was a shock, and not the fork.
  • 30 6
  • 12 4
 No SiD? I thought that would be a shoe in for a nomination as Levy is basically Mr Downcountry! I’ve been blown away by the SiD on the front of my Spur, it’s better than the Pike on my old bike and way lighter. Perhaps the bushing play that’s widely reported threw it out? Seriously though it’s an insanely good fork and makes a lot of bikes a whole lot better.
  • 5 0
 How are your bushings?
  • 1 0
 Ok so far, got around 150 miles on the bike and all good.
  • 7 0
 @lawman91, yes, we had a few too many forks come through with bushing play for the new SID to earn a nomination. It does sound like that issue has been sorted out for the latest batch, though. Other than that, the performance of the SID has been excellent - it's impressive what such a short travel fork allows you to get away with on the trail.
  • 1 1
 @lawman91: lucky. I've been waiting almost a month (so far) to ride my new bike that came with the sloppiest fork I've ever felt.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: thought as much, I’ve seen some first hand, my LBS had a fork on another Spur that had play right out of the box! Shame as it’s an awesome fork as I say, let down by patchy reliability.
  • 4 1
 Why wasn't Sprindex on the list for consideration? Is it because they launched just so barely before the start of the year? I think the engineering and manufacturing must be non-trivial. Both the spring and the indexed composite insert thingy need to have fairly good accuracy on them to meet the nominal spec, and the whole process needs pretty good tolerances to be repeatable. I'd say that's a pretty big achievement, and also it's class leading (is there another variable rate spring out there?) and just an awesome product.
  • 7 0
 Surprising result Was expecting Deore to get it
  • 5 0
 Just you wait until Shimano Deore Coil and air shocks.
  • 27 22
 Who rides pure DH bikes anymore?! This is the suspension product of the year for something like 5 people who only ride lifts.
  • 8 6
 Have you been to Winter Park/Trestle, Whistler, or any number of DH parks in the last full season (not this dam Covid year)? Packed and plenty of dual crown bikes.
  • 18 3
 @bman33: ...and an estimated 90% of mountain bikers have never been to Winter Park/Trestle, Whistler, or any number of DH parks
  • 4 2
 @f00bar: or any other mountain bike park around the world.or any other mountain bike park around the world.I mentioned the US and North American bike park specifically because the poster was for the United states. If they posted from europe, I would have included European bike parts. The point is there are plenty of DH bikes out there with dual crown forks.
  • 5 0
 @bman33: Living in CO and having been to Trestle a bit lately, I would say the trails are predominately packed with "Enduro" bikes. Almost to a shocking degree. Lots and lots of Specialized Enduro/Status, Trek Slash, Giant Reign, Yeti SB150/130, Transition Sentinel, Norco.
  • 2 0
 This thing can be set anywhere from 120 to 200mm of travel. I would happily slap a 160mm one in front of my hardtail... let me just plan the next bank robbery.
  • 9 1
 @bman33: the point is the ratio of all-mountain/enduro bikes to DH bikes ridden by mountain bikers is roughly 100:1, so a dual crown fork has pretty much zero appeal to the vast majority of mountain bikers - makes the pick for the award somewhat weird
  • 16 1
 People who like to party. Dont wet your lycra
  • 3 0
 @KJP1230: Not to mention Trestle has maybe ONE trail that's better on a DH bike vs a trail bike. Their new trails may be better on a hardtail.
  • 4 2
 Anyone who likes to have more fun than some lycra endurobro. DH is where its at and if you don't have one, you should seriously consider it.
  • 1 2
 @bman33: sure-old ones. All the new whips at Trestle are enduro rigs.
  • 1 1
 @f00bar: I live a couple of hours from Trestle and get a few days there most years. And you only see new rentals and old DH bikes. Almost all the new bikes people actually own are enduro whips.
  • 3 0
 @davec113: this is most parks these days, all flow, no gnar, catering to families not downhillers...
  • 1 0
 @bman33: Only DH parks within a reasonable distance of me (or you, I guess) would be Keystone and Angelfire. The trails there actually warrant a dedicated DH rig. Trestle and Steamboat don't,
  • 2 0
 I was thinking of buying it for my hardtail. Lol.
  • 12 3
 Why does it matter if a relatively small number of people ride DH bikes? This is a mountain biking magazine. DH bikes are mountain bikes. If a fork with the most performance gain over its competitors is a DH fork then give it the trophy. I've never ridden a DH bike before and probably never will. I've also got absolutely zero interest in riding a XC bike, but if some super light carbon XC thing is way better than all the other XC things then give it a prize
  • 7 1
 I'd just like to state that over in Euro land there are a lot of people riding DH bikes.
  • 2 1
 @dan-roberts: new ones?? Plenty of folks still on DH rigs Stateside, but usually older ones.

Come time to buy a new bike, few buyers pony up for a one trick horse.
  • 2 1
 @peleton7: For sure. Fair enough I do live in a part of the world with lots of lift access riding, be it lift or funiculars or shuttling, but DH is definitely not dead over here.
  • 3 1
 @dan-roberts: it’s not dead here, but DH bike sales are. And that’s a global phenomenon-which is why a big company (the biggest!!) like Giant ditched their successful DH lineup.
  • 10 6
 I never thought I'd see the day that PB users were bitching about DH products winning. Sad times. DH is the pinnacle of mtb. Always has been. Always will be.
  • 1 0
 Yikes, but the truth hurts.
  • 2 0
 @dan-roberts: Yes, I can definitely confirm Dan‘s statement! ...and yes, we are very lucky to live over here. A DH bike is a very good investment if you live in the alps.
  • 1 2
 @gabriel-mission9: Only to watch mate. Closest place to ride a DH here is 3 hours away, and I live in the PNW, USA.
  • 2 0
 @mybaben: I live on Mt. Hood and we're lucky to have 2 parks but really I only need the big rig for the pro line at ski bowl, which is old school OG....I could probably ride timberline easier on a hard tail, but they claim there are some bigger features in the works, only their 2nd year open...
  • 2 0
 @ccrida-pnw: Hey mate, I'm in PDX. I hit Timberline once last year opening season. Couldn't do it this year with the pandemic and big fires. I agree, def would not ride a DH bike there. Haven't checked out Ski Bowl yet. I've been to Bachelor several times. You could prob do a DH rig there, but it's certainly not required. I'm looking forward to Timberline as it matures. It has good potential!
  • 4 0
 Has Dan ridden all the candidates?
Just asking out of journalistic curiosity. I'm all for editor-selected awards (rather than public votes), but suspension is such a subjective and personal thing.
  • 3 1
 Almost all of them, just not the EXT and Cane Creek. But we do discuss and share notes on all the products we test. Mike and I discussed the candidates at length before agreeing on a winner.
  • 5 0
 Öhlins??? Whatever. I haven’t had a service on my fox 36 in 3 years, and it barely makes a crunching sound with each compression.
  • 8 3
 This surprised me. I thought for sure it was the 38. The 38 seems to win everything.
  • 28 2
 Absolutely nailed on for 'loudest creak of the year award'
  • 3 0
 I just got a Commencal spec's with Fox 38 performance Fork. Love the Bike and its ride, the fork felt great. However 3 rides in and develops a creak and by time got home it is making a huge CRACK sound under full compression. WTF. Very very disappointed.
  • 6 4
 Suspension product of the year is hands down the Marzocchi Bomber DJ. For all the other disciplines there are alternatives, but it's been forever since a decent DJ fork was released.
  • 2 1
 How about budget suspension product of the year? That would be a showdown between the Recon Silver TK for reviving old 26ers in Covid times or the Z1 for the modern enduro crowd. Or those just happened to be my 2 new forks for this year and they are both pretty sweet in their own regard.
  • 4 4
 It is the SUSPENSION product of the year, yet you only included forks !
Shocks are as important as forks so I think they should deserve their own award, and there are amazing, high performance products from small manufacturers as well (Fast, Push, Intend, ...)
  • 5 0
 there was a shock mention
  • 2 0
 @franciscof40: honorable mention, not in the actual mix.
  • 3 0
 You had me at "multiple offset crowns". What's up with the huge offset on Fox 40s?
  • 2 1
 40 comes in multiple offsets
  • 1 1
 @onemanarmy: no it doesn't. It has 1 offset per wheel size. You can't change it
  • 8 4
 Rev Grips
  • 2 0
Please could you post links to where you test reviewed all the nominees?
  • 3 4
 MegNeg should have gotten it. It takes the Monarch platform and makes it super tunable. And easy to tune. And only $100. And it’s not just for the 10 people buying dedicated DH bikes.

Put a MegNeg on my Reign Advanced 29, and it rides comparably to my girlfriends Reign Advanced 29 with an X2. Doesn’t get much better than that.
  • 4 2
 I feel like a product that only 1% of riders will ever use shouldn't be able to win a contest like this.
  • 1 0
 Forgive me for saying this but I kind of want them to make a XC fork. I would ride it.
  • 1 0
 Does this mean it is worth waiting for the 38 fork? (which I know is kind of out in the wild, well the ebike version)
  • 2 0
 I only found Dan Robert blog post about the specs, where is the review?
  • 2 0
 That award looks like the obelisk on the cover of Led Zeppelin Presence.
  • 1 0
 It's funny to me that the product of the year is a product I never heard anything about.
  • 1 1
 Waiting for irritated Swedish people to join the comments over the pronounciation of Öhlins. Maybe they've given up on correcting the rest of us.
  • 3 1
 Happy to see some DH product coverage on PB again.
  • 2 0
 Why are so many people hating on this? This fork is soooooo good!
  • 1 1
 why was the cost left out that usually has a valid point to any item of the year??????
  • 2 0
 Does anyone even know how you buy Ohlins stuff? Its like the most unavailable stuff ever
  • 2 0
 @ctd07: my second point....like why? Only available to those with the "precious"
  • 1 0
 fwiw v1 a couple years ago was $2000
  • 1 0
 I see the stack of donuts in the background... what does it all mean???
  • 1 0
 CC Double barrel & Öhlins dual crown Grim Donut 2.0 dropping soon?
  • 1 1
 @sjma: blowing seals at both ends??
  • 3 2
 Whatever you do, don't stop the fake smiles
  • 1 1
 Very few people sampling this product. Does the reviewer own a bike he installed this product on?
  • 4 2
 EXT should of won
  • 1 3
 Looks like Ohlins committed to some heavy advertising in 2021
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