For years, mountain bikers faced a choice when it came time to pick a truly top-notch fork—Fox or RockShox. As far as choices go, those weren’t bad options. At all. There’s a reason those two suspension manufacturers survived the Great Suspension Winnowing of the early and mid-2000s: They were consistent at the high end. But who wouldn’t want more options? We’re in a decidedly more competitive place today. BOS, Cane Creek, Fox, Magura, Manitou, MRP, RockShox, Suntour… The fact that I'm undoubtedly leaving important companies out of that list sort of makes my point—if you want choices today, you've got `em.
DVO Diamond 110 Boost Details
• Intended use: all-mountain/enduro
• 27.5" (tested) and 29er options
• Travel adjust (via internal spacers) from (140 to 170-mm/27.5) and (130 to 160-mm/29er)
• Weight (27.5): 2,104 grams (4.6 pounds)
• MSRP: $999 USD
DVO, for its part, emerged in 2012 (shiny, green Emerald DH fork in hand) from the ashes of Marzocchi’s doomed-and-wandering-in-the-desert days. The company’s key players were the driving force behind Marzocchi’s USA operations—the guys responsible for the bulk of Marzocchi’s innovative designs during the company’s peak years.
In 2014, DVO rolled out the Diamond; a beefy, all-mountain/enduro fork that aimed to play with the big boys. This past summer, DVO followed that up with this Boost 110 version, which gets wider lowers (no, duh) and a modest bump in travel. Does the Diamond 110 Boost match up to the best? You’re probably thinking Fox 36 and RockShox Pike/Lyrik, as you should be… the Big Two still wield a big stick in this world. The Diamond looks to shake that up a bit. Features and Build
The Diamond 110 Boost is available in both 27.5 and 29er trim (the 29er version will also accept 27.5x2.8 to 3.0, “plus’ size” wheel and tire combos). We opted for the 27.5 version, which offers between 140 and 170 millimeters of travel. You can adjust the travel on offer by installing or removing spacers to the fork's left leg.
Speaking of that left leg, that's where the Diamond’s removable (for easy servicing) air cartridge unit resides. Damping duties are handled by a hydraulic cartridge in the right fork leg. Taking a nod from DVO’s Jade shock, the Diamond utilizes a closed-cartridge bladder system. Unlike the bladders in their competitors’ forks, the Diamond’s bladder compresses instead of expanding. DVO claims this improves long-term durability.
You inflate the main spring via a Schrader valve under the left top cap. The damping (both low and high-speed) are within easy reach, on your right. The rebound-damping adjuster is in its usual place, at the bottom of the fork’s right leg. So far, so standard. On the bottom of the left leg, however, is a novel feature—DVO’s OTT (Off The Top) adjuster.
The OTT adjuster increases the fork’s sensitivity to bumps in the first stages of its travel. Turning the dial clockwise (something you’ll need a 5-millimeter hex wrench to accomplish) preloads the fork’s coil negative spring, which helps ease the fork into its travel, even when bigger riders are running ungodly-high air pressures.
The Diamond boasts a burly chassis—beefy crown and lowers--into which slide 35-millimeter, butted aluminum stanchions. A 15-millimeter thru-axle ties things together. If you’ve operated a quick-release before, there’s nothing here that will surprise you. Finally, the Boost versions of the Diamond are available in green, black and this fetching brown color. If you aren't into the whole Boost thing, DVO still offers 27.5 and 29er Diamonds with non-Boost chassis (with max travel of 160 and 150 millimeters, respectively). Set Up
You have options when it comes to tuning the Diamond. Lots of options. Once you’ve looked up your baseline air pressure (DVO has a very complete set-up guide on their site) and dialed in your sag, it’s time to fiddle with the OTT settings. Again, you’ll need a hex wrench to do that. There are 14 full rotations worth of adjustment (six clicks per turn) on hand here.
For reference sake, I weigh 180 pounds, wound up running 125 PSI in the air spring and settled on eight full rotations of the OTT dial. Compressing the negative spring that much gave the fork a very smooth and supple initial stroke. Who would actually need another six full rotations of the OTT adjuster? I guess someone who weighs a hell of a lot more than me. The heavier you are, the more OTT you’ll need to combat the higher air pressures you’ll likely run.
When it comes to high-speed compression, you have 29 clicks of adjustment to play with. I wound up dialing in four clicks of high-speed compression damping and never budging from there. As for the six clicks of low-speed compression damping, I fiddled with them throughout my rides. Slap it on “6” for climbs and open it up to “2” on descents. I set the rebound at 8 clicks and never bothered with it again.Performance
Why haven’t we tested the Diamond before? Well, Mike Kazimer wrote a first impressions piece when the fork debuted in late 2014, but, yes, we haven’t published a long-term test to date. We intended to. Back in 2015, we got ahold of a Diamond test fork. Things went well until that particular fork suddenly lost air pressure (while sitting in one of our apartments, no less). We sent the fork back and reached out to DVO about the failure of that first fork.
DVO president and founder, Bryson Martin Sr. explained it this way, "We jumped the gun on sending out a test fork to you guys and it had an undersized air piston," says DVO's president. "Fortunately, it was only a $2 part. Once we got it back in the shop and figured out what was amiss, we swapped out the piston. That fork is actually still going strong on the front of Ronnie's bike."
So… in late 2016, DVO dropped off this Boost version and we took our sweet time with the thing. We wanted to know how the Diamond fared long-term. Which brings us all to the next sentence.
It didn’t blow up.
No, wait, more than that, it proved decidedly awesome throughout a season of riding and not being maintained.
Thanks to that OTT adjuster, you can easily tweak the fork’s character—running as much air pressure and high-speed compression damping as you want, without sacrificing the fork’s feel on all the hits that don’t threaten to knock a filling loose. Admittedly, it’d be nice to not have to use a 5-millimeter hex wrench to get the job done. You also need to pay close attention to those rotations (there are a lot of clicks at play here). The OTT adjuster, however, works a treat and, to be fair, it’s also one of those settings that you play with for a week or two and then never budge from again, so the whole allen wrench thing isn't any kind of actual failing.
The low-speed compression damper works well. It’s not as aggressive (i.e., firm) a “lockout” switch as some riders might be accustomed to, but it firms up the fork nicely for those climbs when you are pedaling out of the saddle, your body English has gone to hell and the last thing you want to feel is your fork diving and bobbing with every turn of the cranks. In short, it gets the job done.
When I initially set up the fork, I was leery of how few high-speed compression damping clicks I was using. There were still a hell of a lot of clicks to play with there. Was I missing something? But with that much high-speed compression damping dialed in, I didn't bottom the fork out excessively and when I did, it wasn’t the harsh, wrist-snapping kind of impact of a fork with too little ramp up in its stroke. Turns out DVO's baseline high-speed compression settings are pretty close to spot on or, at the very least, a smart place to start.
There are people who will likely be bummed that you can’t simply install volume spacers in this fork to add some progressivity to the mix, but the high-speed compression damping does the heavy lifting for the Diamond and it does it well. If you’re an absolute man-giant or the King of Huckers, and you find yourself still needing a bit more end-of-stroke ramp up, you can remove the valve core and add about 5ccs of oil. DVO says that they have only rarely suggested doing that and given how controlled the fork is on big hits with just four of the 29 clicks of high-speed damping in play, I’m amazed that anyone would feel the need to actually add oil. So, the inability to fiddle around with volume spacers? I wouldn’t sweat it in the case of the Diamond.
The Diamond takes some time to dial in (more so, at least than a Pike or Fox 36), but the dials on this fork truly offer you the potential to customize the fork to your riding style. Once you find that happy place, it’s largely a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. On the trail, the Diamond 110 Boost offers up steering precision and control on par with the best of the breed as well as a great mix of beginning-stroke smooth and deep-stroke controlled. Given our first test fork, we were, frankly, concerned about the Diamond’s reliability, but the fork has shrugged off a season of use with zilch in the way of maintenance. What’s not so awesome? The Diamond is 100 to 150 grams (a quarter to a third of a pound) heavier than many of its rivals. Me? I couldn't give a crap. The Diamond is still miles away from being an anchor and, after all, this is a fork boasting 170-millimeters of travel…it’s not like I’m strapping it to a 20-pound hardtail. I can deal with the extra quarter pound if it means that big, fast and non-stop hits don’t send me yardsaling down the mountain.Pinkbike's Take