DVO Topaz T3 Air Shock - Review

Jul 27, 2017
by Vernon Felton  
DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton

DVO released their Topaz T3 Air shock last spring. You can think of it as the rear-end counterpart of their Diamond fork model—essentially a lightweight, heavy-hitting bit of suspension for all-mountain and enduro bikes with its healthy-sized air can, external reservoir and a bevy of tuning options.

But is the Topaz a viable alternative to other popular shocks in this niche? Models such as the Monarch Plus RC3 or Fox DPX2? To find out, I bolted this thing onto an Ibis Mojo HD3 and rode it for a season.

DVO Topaz T3 Air Details
• 3-position, compression-damping adjuster
• Adjustable rebound damping
• Tunable air volume/bladder-pressure adjust
• Five different eye-to-eye/stroke options
• Specialized Enduro and Stumpjumper-compatible versions available
• Weight: 390 grams (200x57 size)
• MSRP: $500 USD
www.dvosuspension.com

DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton
The Topaz T3 Air comes in this nifty carrying case. Swank. If nothing else, you won't lose your spare volume spacers...

On Trail

The Topaz is a bit of a tuner’s shock. There are the typical adjustments—a three-position compression adjust lever that lets you toggle through what amounts to be open/trail/climb settings on the fly as well as an easily-accessed rebound damping knob with 9 clicks of adjustment.

You can also mess with the shape of the shock’s spring curve by adding or subtracting volume spacers to either/both the positive and negative air chambers. In other words, if you correctly dialed in the sag and you still feel like the shock is blowing through its travel, you can add a spacer or more to the positive chamber. If you feel, on the other hand, that the shock moves too quickly through its initial stages of travel, you can add a spacer to the negative chamber.

While volume spacers are, of course, nothing new in the world of suspension, one thing that does set the Topaz apart from a lot of other shocks on the market is that it features a bladder instead of an internal floating piston (IFP) and that has an impact on both suspension performance and tuning.

DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton
The Topaz T3 utilizes a bladder instead of an internal floating piston--you can play with the bladder pressure to either soften or firm up the shock through its entire stroke.

Bladders and IFPs seek to do the same thing—reduce the risk of cavitation. When I originally published this story I poorly worded my explanation of cavitation. As several readers quickly noted—air and oil mixing could more accurately be described as aeration or elmulsification. Whereas cavitation is the result of low pressure behind the internal floating piston allowing the shock’s damping fluid to shear or separate into a gas. The nitrogen charged-pressure behind an IFP or, in this case, the air pressure in the bladder, puts positive pressure on the oil to resist the formation the low-pressure pockets (what I was clumsily referring to as “air bubbles”) on the other side of the IFP/badder. Thank you, readers, for pointing out the distinction. There’s a reason IFPs and bladders exist—to provide you with consistent performance when your shock shaft is cycling like mad and you really need your suspension to refrain from suddenly surprising you with some bullshit behavior.

While IFPs clearly work a charm, some suspension manufacturers in the motorsports world prefer bladders, which they contend are more reliable. IFPs rely on a tight seal. Drag a seal back and forth a whole bunch and you get friction and heat. Excess heat can also muddle your shock’s performance on sustained descents (that’s fundamentally why there’s that piggyback reservoir hanging off the shock in the first place—to help cool the damping oil). Anyhoo, a bladder is essentially a mini balloon, so it’s not adding a seal that must drag back and forth along the inside surface of the reservoir. Thus, no additional friction and added heat. Sweet. Why don’t we see more bladders in shocks then? Truth be told, IFPs work well and bladders, manufacturers like DVO claim, are more expensive to manufacture shocks around.

The use of a bladder, however, also gives you another tuning option. To wit, you can unscrew the green cap on the external reservoir and adjust the pressure inside that little balloon. There’s a fairly narrow range of adjustment here—just 30 PSI, but it makes a substantial impact on shock feel. Adding pressure makes the shock firmer throughout its entire stroke. Reducing pressure does the opposite. In other words, changing bladder pressure allows you to essentially shift the entire spring curve up or down, as opposed to changing the shape of the curve, which is what you accomplish with those volume spacers.

DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton
The Topaz also features a 3-position compression damping adjuster - Open/Medium/Firm.


Some people live to fiddle with their parts. I prefer to ride. Besides, you can go blind if you get carried away with the fiddling. That said, I appreciate having the option to tune my shock—a few PSI here and there make a world of difference. I wound up settling on 205 PSI in the air spring and 180 PSI in the air bladder. The Mojo HD3 tends to ride pretty high in its travel, regardless of which shock is bolted to it and I didn’t feel the need to add a spacer to the negative spring. I opted for a single spacer in the positive chamber.

While the pictures below show the shock off the bike (I had to weigh it), you can usually add or subtract volume spacers with the shock still on the bike, which makes tuning a whole lot easier. Simply let out the air, take off the ring, and slide down the air can. Because the volume spacers are, essentially, slotted plastic clips, they just snap in place. No need to unbolt the shock from the frame. Nice.

Once I got the shock dialed, I proceeded to ignore its health and well being for a season. To its credit, it never complained or got glitchy. The Topaz replaced a fairly plain-Jane inline shock and the bike’s big-hit performance radically improved with the addition of the DVO shock. Same holds true for suspension performance when the impacts come quick and don’t let up for long stretches. Was the rebound damping particularly consistent because of the bladder, the reservoir, the extra ribbed-for-pleasure “cooling fins” on said reservoir? Who the hell knows? The shock just worked.

DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton
DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton
Adding a bit more ramp to the end of shock stroke is as simple as letting out the air, unrolling the O-ring, pulling down the air can and adding a volume spacer to the positive chamber. You can also add or subtract volume spacers from the negative chamber to change the Topaz's beginning stroke behavior.

The Mojo HD3’s DW-Link suspension is pretty damn efficient regardless of which shock you are running and I could often leave the Topaz Air wide open. The 3-position compression adjuster, however, does work. It’s a bit more subtle than some compression adjusters—the firmest setting isn’t quite as firm as what you might experience with some other shocks, but I didn’t actually consider that a drawback as I rarely require more compression damping than what was on tap with the “Medium” middle setting. Again, squat isn’t a huge issue with DW-Link.

I’m looking for something to complain about here, but honestly, the Topaz doesn’t leave a lot of room for complaints. I guess the detents on the rebound damping knob are a bit more subtle than I’d like (makes it a bit harder to keep track of the clicks when you are in the fiddling process), but it just required a bit more attention on my part during the initial set-up phase—it’s not like I’m tweaking rebound damping more than once in a blue moon.

In short, the Topaz T3 is a performer. It’s not inexpensive, true, but the DVO is priced on par (a hair less, actually) than its main rivals in this niche.


DVO Topaz T3 Air Review by Vernon Felton


Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThere haven't always been a ton of rear suspension options outside the RockShox and Fox fold. While both of those suspension giants produce very solid products, it's always good to see alternatives that actually rival the big guys. DVO's Topaz T3 is a legitimate challenger. It offers a wide range of tuning options, is easy to adjust, holds up to abuse and flat out performs on the trail. Vernon Felton



164 Comments

  • + 103
 Super surprised it took the media this long to get a review on this shock. I picked one up after a failed CCDB coil, and I've been really impressed with it on my Warden Carbon. I'm picky about suspension setup, and while I do wish this shock had some external HSC and LSC adjustments, the 3-pos lever is big and easy to flip on trail, and all adjustments are super effective.

The biggest thing not mentioned in this review is DVO's customer service. Unlike other companies (*cough*FOX*cough*), they deliberately make their products user serviceable without requiring special tools. When it comes time for a rebuild, I can order the rebuild kit from DVO and do a full shock service at home - no special tools or nitrogen required. The DVO guys even offered to jump on the phone with me when the time comes to talk through some shim stack changes that I might try out to get a little bit more HSC support and lighter rebound.
  • + 50
 yeah I forgot to mention DVO does by far have the BEST CUSTOMER support out there!!! You're the man Ronnie!!!
  • + 7
 Absolutely. I've been stuck doing silly mods on a bunch of old fox shocks just so I don't get stuck with two weeks of downtime while stuff is being rebuilt ( www.huckingkitty.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=680 ).

That DVO makes it all serviceable by the consumer? Amazing!

I was even able to email one of their guys who rides the same bike as me to snake his setup (HD3, 2bands positive, 180 bladder, around 205 main air).
  • + 5
 Fox stuff *is* user serviceable - they make all manuals, parts, and fluids available to customers. But I agree, servicing Fox stuff is a pain. They are much more likely to use parts that are really difficult to work with (I'm looking at you, Smalley retaining ring). IME Fox rear shocks don't require more tools than your average shock - you need a vice block to get the damper apart, but that's universally common. Their DH shocks may require a special tool to crack open - it's been so long since I looked at a manual for one that I can't recall.

The real offender here is Cane Creek. Their stuff truly is not user serviceable - they don't provide manuals, spare parts, or anything else. The DB looks like it requires a special tool just to crack open.
  • + 14
 Dvo gets it. This thing is hot
  • - 28
flag Banjopickin (Jul 27, 2017 at 11:32) (Below Threshold)
 @WaterBear:

No shock or fork is truly "user serviceable" unless the user has a vacuum oil fill machine, nitrogen tank, etc. A "complete service" requires that the damper be serviced and only folks with professional equipment (like service centers) can do it right. Plus service centers back up there work... if they are a good one.

Cane Creek, Fox, etc. all make air spring parts and tools available to bike shops. My local shop rebuilt my DBAir CS a few months ago and its rocking. Id rather support my local shop and give them business... They're the ones out there really spreading the stoke and keeping me riding.
  • + 6
 This comment sold me. I want a DVO shock now.
  • + 4
 I still got $20 for Ronnie to take a bite out of that cheeseburger!!
  • + 1
 @whattheheel:
Not happening bro.
  • + 23
 @Banjopickin: spoken like a person who has never worked on their own suspension. First, please show us the fork that needs a "vacuum oil fill machine" and "nitrogen tank". You can't as no such beast exists. Forks don't use an ifp. Similarly, some shockds, such as the topaz are designed to be rebuilt by the end user. Again, no need for a vacuum oil fill machine or nitrogen.

While you may be happy to pay a shop to rebuild your suspension, I am not. I have had more poor rebuilds by "qualified shops" than I can count. Getting a shock or fork rebuilt by a manufacture or good shop, takes weeks and costs about $150 per rebuild. I have 10 mountain bikes including my son's and wife's. It is $3,000 per year to keep them serviced through the manufacture or dealers. I can do it myself and save $2,500 and not be out for weeks on each one.
  • + 5
 @Banjopickin: As has been said, that's not correct. You can perform a bleed yourself at home without any special tools, and you don't *have* to use nitrogen. As per the Rockshox manual (for a Monarch Plus anyway), compressed air is fine.

Still trying to figure out why people are down-vote bombing me, though. I thought I was stating facts.
  • + 6
 @sourdiesel: I can confirm that. My emerald developed a sound on air side. Emailed Ronnie. One week later and the fork it's at home with revamped internals.
One week. No fees.
  • - 2
 Now if he'd just take my bet!!!
  • + 2
 @zhendo Me too! CCDB just kept failing (Cane Creek has solved the issue and that shock is working very well) I bought a Topaz to go with my Diamond and love it! However, I feel like a total barnacle head. I had no idea there were two places to put air. Think my shock is about to get SUPER dialed!
  • + 5
 Thanks buddy, appreciate the kind words and support!
  • + 1
 @sourdiesel: Thanks buddy!
  • + 2
 @jjwillTOmaui: Thanks, we are smaller and we try harder!
  • + 1
 @Nathan6209: Thanks Nathan and we look forward to having you as a customer!
  • + 0
 @DVOSuspension: What about me? I has dreams and aspirations?
  • + 2
 @whattheheel: I'm still in this, 40 bucks sucka! Take a bite!
  • + 1
 @zhendo Must be a really good shock those Knollys rely completely on the shock for suspension feel... If you ever manage to make the pivot bushings to spin smoothly!
  • + 2
 Well said dude....DVO rule regarding customer service
  • + 1
 @rcksurfer: What type of sound? I just developed on this last weekend, air side. Like a clicking at the top of the stroke during rebound. Same place, every time...
  • + 1
 @DylanDaSilva: totally disagree - this is my first Knolly, but I've been really pleased with the suspension so far. Felt great with a coil before and feels great with the air shock. The suspension is super predictable, so setup is easy if you know what you're doing. I had wondered about the bushings, but after a wet spring followed by a bone dry summer, they've been fine. A little squeak out of one a couple of rides ago, but just cleaned out the dust and it was silent again.
  • + 1
 @krashDH85: definitely not a clicking sound. Mine sound like an oil splash mixed with rubbing sounds.
  • + 43
 When I am not riding, I often fiddle with my parts...
  • + 8
 Same. I sit at a desk all day staring at a computer. I enjoy servicing my bikes about as much as riding them.
  • + 14
 the extra ribbed-for-pleasure “cooling fins”. Aimed squarely at those that like to fiddle with their parts. Smile
  • + 2
 @WaterBear: You are so innocent :-)

He is fiddling with his parts! You on the other hand, are sitting at a desk all day staring at a computer.... and you are telling us you are not fiddling with your parts?
  • + 4
 @mtb-journal: #multitasking
  • + 30
 Dear lord. Cavitation *is not* the same thing as air mixing with oil. Cavitation is when a vacuum forms inside the liquid and the cavity collapses violently. Pressurizing the oil prevents cavitation. You separate pressurized gas from the oil with either an IFP or a bladder.

Increasing bladder pressure doesn't change the force-vs.-displacement curve of the air spring, it effectively increases compression damping.

*nerd rage complete*

Yea his feelings are pretty much like mine. Lovin' my Topaz.
  • + 16
 Thank you! That got me almost as annoyed as when people say dampening instead of damping.
  • + 27
 @WalterBear - "Increasing bladder pressure doesn't change the force-vs.-displacement curve of the air spring, it effectively increases compression damping." - While you are correct about cavitation NOT being the same as aeration, bladder pressure does change the overall force vs. displacement (spring) curve. The bladder expands and contracts due to the damper shaft displacing oil, which is position (displacement) based and the amount of pressure on that bladder determines the force it applies, not how fast the shock is moving (force vs. velocity, damping curve).
  • + 9
 @jlindy86: Indeed I believe you are correct. My understanding was faulty.
  • + 19
 @WaterBear, thanks for pointing out the crappy/inaccurate explanation of cavitation. I've amended the explanation.
  • + 7
 @vespertilianus: Sometimes it's not so clear: many years ago, I had a Headshok unit that didn't do much to control shaft speed, but it did explode and cover my bike and my legs with oil. It was more of a dampener than a damper.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: ahhh geeezzz man. Too funny.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: XD Oddly enough I usually get a similar effect from my half-assed brake bleeds
  • + 19
 @vernonfelton please correct the review, as you are spreading misinformation regarding the term cavitation, which is a phenomenon that ocurrs when the pressure of a liquid drops below its vapor pressure, thereby generating vapour cavities. When the pressure rises again, the cavities or "bubbles" collapse generating shock waves that can erode and damage internal components such as pistons.

Air and oil mixing is called aeration or aerification.
  • + 4
 @vernonfelton: My suggestion:

Bladders and IFPs seek to do the same thing—reduce the risk of cavitation. When I originally published this story I poorly worded my explanation of cavitation. As several readers quickly noted—air and oil mixing could more accurately be described as aeration whereas cavitation is the result of a drop in pressure on the oil allowing vapor cavities (bubbles essentially) to form. The nitrogen charged-pressure behind an IFP or, in this case, the air pressure in the bladder, puts positive pressure on the oil to resist the formation of the vapor bubbles which would otherwise cause inconsistent damping as well as damage to internal components when such bubbles collapse.
  • + 16
 I love my DVO Topaz an air shock that actually feels like a coil!!! Been running it for over a year now and still feels the same as day one!!! Also just this pass weekend I hot lapped the piss out of a local lift access and was consistent the whole day, about 25miles of DH!!!
  • - 6
flag chillrider199 (Jul 27, 2017 at 11:41) (Below Threshold)
 You know, a . Fixes !!! All the time. Just saying...
  • + 2
 Thanks sourdisel, appreciate the kind words and the support!
  • + 15
 Make sure to avoid comparison when you do reviews...or they may end up being useful..
  • + 12
 Nothing against DVO here, but why is there plenty of air shocks with 3-position compression damping adjusters which doesn't bring much once you've got a pedalling efficient and progressive frame while there is so little air shocks with proper LSC and HSC adjusters? Or even just LSC...

The 3-position adjusters might be interesting for some seaking simplicity but people buying aftermarket shocks are more likely to be interested in being able to tweak their suspensions on their own without turning to the local tuner.
  • + 3
 As someone who swapped from a Cane Creek with adjustments you're seeking to this shock, I actually find the Topaz to have more useable tuning options. I have a Bronson 2, and the HSC adjust was effectively useless, anything more than 1 turn would bounce your teeth clean out of your mouth on big impacts. Tuning the progression and digression of the air spring is a much more useable and effective means of this.
  • - 3
 What does HSC got to do with bouncing?
  • + 3
 @OGTallPaul: you do realise the whole range of adjustment on the canecreek shocks or similar shocks are not intended to be used by one rider! The adjustments are for different riders preferences. If too much hsc makes you shock feel hard you've gone past your optimum setting for YOU! I'd suggest getting spring weight correct then start with the adjustments. The canecreek is a very versatile shock and is way easier to get wrong than correct if you don't know what you're doing.
  • + 2
 @mikelee: or @OGTallPaul can ride the cane creek for a month till it blows up then he can switch to the DVO
  • + 12
 Really good question, one that we for sure get a lot. The topaz is meant to be the best all around do anything type of shock. The three position switch is the easiest way to immediately switch between settings when you're racing or don't want to spend three minutes dialing a knob in 30 clicks to a achieve a pedal platform. Yes, there are bikes that pedal well enough to never need the climb switch but not all bikes are like that. Remember, we have to make shocks that perform well for riders on any kind of bike.

The ability to tune the air volume in both positive and negative is so you can match the air spring of the shock to work well with your frame design and personal preferences. Example; if you have a super linear bike like the Stumpjumper, you can make the Shock really progressive and get that extra end stroke support.

Then if you want to go further, you can fully customize the shim stack to get it suited for your liking.

The three position knob isn't a tuning feature, it's a practical feature made for immediate and drastic change while riding. The air volume and shim stack is for tuning. Hope this helps!
  • + 7
 We have adjustable compression damping and adjustable air spring tuning because frame designs whether progressive or linear are generally static. So a frame that has some progression built into the end stroke does add to bottom resistance it still doesn't take into account the weight of rider and speed which are variables. It is challenging to make a shock that can feel great on all the suspension kinematics out there but we feel like the Topaz is pretty damn close! Cheers DVO!.
  • + 1
 @OGTallPaul: Thanks buddy and appreciate your support!
  • + 1
 @Bigernmcracken: admittedly canecreek had an issue with the first IL air but their shocks have always been as reliable as fox,rs etc. I now run the iL coil and it's only marginally heavier than a decent piggy backed air shock but so much more responsive with the best climb feature available. I'll never use an air rear shock again. They ALL require too much service time and just can't compete in both performance and reliability of a coil. I'll take the 150g hit!
  • + 3
 @bryson-dvo and @DVOSuspension thanks for your replies!
What I mean is that there are plenty of coil shocks with HSC and LSC adjusters and very little air shocks except for the Fox X2 which is quite expensive, the Cane Creeks which have a not so desirable air spring curve and the X-Fusion Vector for which I have no opinion... (I might have forgotten some..?)

Why don't you make a Topaz with the same adjusters as the Jade? That would be something interesting
  • + 1
 @mikelee: I have two blown dbcoils and one air that say otherwise. (www.instagram.com/p/BVDWt9uln1B/?taken-by=jim_mcmurchy&hl=en the) The air was impressive how bad it blew apart
  • + 1
 @Bigernmcracken: maybe you got unlucky! I know over here they're sold by tf tuned and if you buy from them the shock is stripped and rebuilt by them b4 dispatch incase of any issues from production. I've had several fox shocks blow early and rockshox but I don't slag them off! They're all as crap as each other tbh. Some go for years some last weeks.
  • + 1
 @mikelee: pretty sure I did not get unlucky 3 times, I have yet to get a full season out of a cane creek product. I have many friends that have had the same issue
  • + 0
 @Bigernmcracken: are you one of those big American dudes? Like 220lbs?
  • + 0
 @mikelee: I'm 6'3" 220, and no, I'm not light but I maintain under 15% body fat and I ran a traditional DBair, and it could never last. The initial build lasted 7 months, and then it blew up 3 times in 8 months. I ride aggressively, but I only go to the bike park a couple times a season and earn all my turns. Don't build a shock and tote it as the answer for true bike hand less and aggressive riding if it can't hold up to it... hence my proclivity to DVO suspension. Plus every time I sent it back, Cane Creeks answer was "oh wow, we don't know what happened, this is really unusual." I call DVO and get a direct, fast answer. The first time my DB air blew up, I sent my fork to DVO for some updates and a 100 hour service and had it back from California sooner than Cane Creek could get me my shock from North Carolina. I won't hate on Rock Shox or Fox because I know they make quality products, but for me it's @DVOSuspension every chance I get.

Also, I very much understand HSC and the proper way to tune it, but unless you're Aaron Fein, or Richie Rude (Or Danny Hart/Gee Atherton since you're a Brit), most of us mortals benefit much more from ramp up than over damping with HSC. Too often people attempt to get an improperly tuned air spring/volume with extra compression damping, which just results in harsh feel and actually less traction. The DB air and it's siblings are great ideas, but they just don't hold up in the real world. @Bigernmcracken I should've mentioned you in this too, lol.
  • + 0
 @OGTallPaul: I'm not saying you're over weight but at 220 pounds that's dam heavy whether it's fat or lean muscle. The top shocks,frames,wheels etc are built as racing parts for a pro level standard rider. Of course anyone can buy this kit but reality is that it's been designed for guys around the 160-180 weight. Some parts do have weight restrictions and I think more should. You'd be running near max pressure to start,as the shock gets hotter the air expands further still this must put huge stress on seals etc. What you're doing regarding damping is correct. You need that spring weight correct so you can run minimum damping reducing heat. But I'd still suggest an air shock especially would be hard to stop failing at your weight.
  • + 1
 @mikelee: I know a big dude, and I always argue we stress bikes more. Even if it's muscle it's multiplied even more. We need to run burlier wheels, brakes and suspension, any time you cross the 200 lb mark, it's a whole different world. I get that, but according to Cane Creek I was nowhere near max pressure and DVO has said the same. I would also point out, I asked for Cane Creek's opinion on which one of their rear shocks I should run and they steered me to that shock because it was "designed to be put through the abuse I would give it." Your point about there being weight limits is a valid one, but I never blew up my Fox rp23 shock even when I was a very fat 270 lb mountain biker, with little skill bouncing down the bike park on a bike with less travel and smaller wheels.

You're trying to make excuses for a substandard product. The DB series of shocks are an awesome idea, and they've spurred more adjustment from competitors but Cane Creek has admitted that their shocks require almost NASA clean room level maintenance sites. That's great if you have them there to rebuild them once a month or even week for free, but it's impractical and borderline impossible for a regular mountain biker to deal with. As a part time bike and full time car mechanic, I have access to goods and services as a rate most people don't, and even with that it's not worth the downtime. By the way, I'm still waiting for an answer on why my shock failed the 3rd time, they stopped returning my phone calls. I've since spoken to Ronnie at DVO via phone and email for anything from advanced tuning to replacing a part I cracked (took less than 2 days cross country btw). If your product can't hold up, you need to back it with quality customer service. Cane Creek does neither. DVO for the win.
  • + 15
 My RockShox fanboy days are over. Got a Diamond and it's the best fork I've ever felt.
  • + 1
 And we're comparing this against...? It's not that I don't believe you, but I want to hear what you are referencing it against--Pike? Fox 36? I only have some short goofing off time on a friend's Diamond, but it is looking to be my next fork. Would love to hear more about your experience on it!
  • + 3
 Right on dude, let us know if you need anything. We'll take care of ya
  • + 3
 @mikealive Mostly Pike, my experience on the Fox 36 was limited. I'd maybe take the 36 if I needed a stiffer chassis for some reason... However, the Diamond is the only fork I've ridden that truly "disappears." I don't notice it. It's super smooth, super supple, plenty supportive. No compromises, and everything I need.

When the Onyx SC fork comes out, the 36 will be dead in my book Big Grin DVO tunability is a huuuuge win.
  • + 2
 @eicca: Dang man, they may have to cut you a check--I think you just sealed the deal for me!
  • + 1
 @mikealive: you won't regret it!
  • + 3
 @mikealive: I went from a 36 to a Diamond, so I can supplement here. The thing I noticed about the 36 was how stiff it was, and the thing that blew my mind on the DVO was how unbelievably smooth it was! Supportive on jumps/berms, ate the small chatter, and didn't dive under hard braking. The Diamond performance was better on my first ride than my 36 did after a year of tuning to my liking.
  • + 5
 For heavier riders, I still say twin tube is the way to go. In traditional shocks, its too difficult to tune the high and low speed circuits externally- you have to custom shim them. This is fine if you are in the middle of the road weight; the factory tune is pointed right at you. However, for those at the high end of the weight spectrum, having Cane Creeks adjustments at your fingertips makes the shock actually have support and suppleness at the same time for bigger dudes.
  • + 5
 I have this shock on order. As a lightweight rider I had the same concern. DVO offered to adjust the shim stack for me for free. Apparently they have already developed lightweight rider tunes. I imagine they have ones for heavier riders as well. I don't disagree with you--but if you do want to run this shock give them a call and see if they can help you out. Their support seems pretty good.
  • + 4
 I hear what you're saying and that's the same reason I ordered my Cane Creek with my Bronson 2... and proceeded to blow it up 3 times in under a year. What good is tuning for bigger dudes if the shock can't hold up to it? Happily replaced it with topaz. It's wonderful, bike rides higher, feels more plush, and chews up everything this side of an eleven six.
  • + 2
 @OGTallPaul: Did you have the regular or in the inline? I have the traditional one, and it has held up great so far. I also think the Cane Creek climb platform works better than any other I've tried.
  • + 1
 I was told by Avalanche that Twin Tube systems were not good for heavy guys because you cannot adjust them internally. Being a big buy that sends big shit ( www.instagram.com/jim_mcmurchy/?hl=en ) I blew up 3 cane creeks to coils and one air. After talking to the fine folks at Canfield Bros they recommended two options for custom tunning for large riders Avalanche and DVO. The owner at avalanche recommended shocks that have shims that can be adjusted like his shocks, dvo and old fox dhx's
  • + 3
 I know it sounds biased coming from me, but we truly do make sure our products work for people outside the "perfect" weight range. The other guys seem to forget that there are people that don't weigh 170 lbs and ride bikes too. You will have no problem getting the topaz to work well for you. If it doesn't, we'll do whatever we can to make sure you're stoked.
  • + 1
 @bryson-dvo: I don't doubt your company's products; unfortunately my experience for a heavy-hitting trail rear shock has been from the two big boys, and they feel meh. If/when my ccdb blows up, I'll give the topaz a look!
  • + 3
 @bryson-dvo: As the owner of an Emerald and Diamond, I can attest to this. I am 235 pounds and a fair rider. Ronnie worked with me to find a tune that worked great for me and my bike.
  • + 2
 @bryson-dvo: as soon as the vivid air on my nomad blows up I will contact you guys for a topaz and maybe a jade for my Jedi.

Loved you podcast on Vital BTW
  • + 1
 @carym: See, what you and @litany say about custom shim tuning is great, but isn't mentioned anywhere in the review or in any DVO marketing literature I've come across. That is why I made my original comment about twin tube dampers.
  • + 1
 @Bigernmcracken: right on! and that was dad's podcast, I'll let him know you digged it!
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: hey dude, I just saw this. I had a DB air CS, and it didn't last. I thought I would have better luck since it wasn't an IL too, but I was wrong. I agree with you on the climb switch. It's impressive for sure, but the @dvosuspension Topaz rides so high and is so much more lively I haven't even missed it. Kicking it to the middle setting gets me all the climbing traction I had on the DB air. Plus, no matter how much I fiddled with air pressure and volume spacers it never felt as plush as the DVO.
  • + 2
 @Bigernmcracken: get the Topaz for your Nomad when it's time. It's pure sex on my Bronson 2.
  • + 5
 "Bladders and IFPs seek to do the same thing—reduce the likelihood of air and damping oil mixing, getting all bubbly and wrecking havoc on the shock’s damping performance. The fancy term for that phenomenon, as you probably know, is cavitation ..."

Oil and air mixing is not cavitation, its aeration or entrailment.

Check out the Myth Busting Tuesday Tune at 3:54 for an explanation of cavitation.
www.pinkbike.com/news/the-tuesday-tune-ep-14-myth-busting.html
  • + 4
 The Topaz replaced a CCDBACS on my 2015 Balance when the CC blew up after 8 months of riding. It is ridiculous how little stiction the Topaz has, it feels almost like a coil shock. It has been dead reliable since I got it and unlike the CC, I don't have to pay large sums of having it serviced when it croaks. I am a big fan.
  • + 1
 Awesome dude, thanks for rocking DVO!
  • + 8
 A lot of information compressed in one article.
  • + 5
 Great! Now the bike industry is telling me that I may have to service my bladder, too....
  • + 5
 Especially if it's emerald-coloured.
  • + 2
 Unfortunately, LEAST reliable shock i've owned!

As much as i'd like to compliment DVO, with their good ood customer support, the fact is this shock gave me nothing but trouble from mile 1.
-constantly blown dust seal
-loss of air pressure
-inability to adjust piggyback accurately (even by mechanics)
- stock rebound is too slow even fully open. weird. (need to fiddle with shim stack)
- stanchion color rubbed off after 30mins of persistent mud (never happened to me in any shock in 15 years of riding)

overall, a good performing shock with very supple stroke. very much hindered by reliability on this model, for me and several of my friends alike. Hope it improves in the future. DVO truly deserve to be on the map.
  • + 5
 So sorry to hear about your troubles, we really hate hearing that. Do you still have the shock? We will have no problem replacing it for a new one. What you're experiencing is not common on our products, we need to make sure you have one you can count on.

Have you tried contacting us before about this? Please call the shop 661 295 9500 and talk to Ronnie. Or shoot him an email and cc me in it please. ronnied@dvosuspension.com brysonjr@dvosuspension.com

We'll get you taken care of buddy, don't worry.

-Jr
  • + 1
 @bryson-dvo: btw- long overdue followup- DVO stood behind their product eventually and replaced the defective shock within a day of contacting them again. So, despite the not-so-perfect experience i had with the shock itself, i must give thumbs up to DVO. I truly hope this is an isolated case, since they truly deserve to be on the map.

Good customer service is what retains customers.
  • + 2
 Keep in mind when u plug a shock pump onto the piggy back, u have gone from the very small size of the bladder to the much larger size chamber of piggyback plus shock pump chamber. The former 170-200 psi of the piggy back will now flow into the newly way bigger chamber of pump + bladder and read very low. Every time you put a pump on the bladder you just have to be prepared to pump it up a whole bunch to get back to an accurate pressurized reading. Same happens with main air chambers of any suspension, just to a lesser degree. Taking a pump off of suspension does not lose any air out of the suspension, just out of the pump. However putting an empty pump back onto any suspension will allow air to flow out of suspension into pump, resulting in a low reading.
  • + 2
 Huge fan of DVO. The front forks on all my bikes are now Diamonds! Interestingly, I love CCDBs for my rear shocks, but will have to try out the Topaz on one of them to compare performance. As most people here have stated, they have absolutely amazing customer service.
  • + 2
 Thanks buddy, you'll love the Topaz!
  • + 2
 You had me @ Topaz!

Bladder just took me over the edge!

There is a reason most of the off road aftermarket suspension tuners have been using and are developing bladders over IFPs, as the article said its heat and friction, tunesbility, awesome. DVO!

We don't need a Fraction too much Friction!
  • + 1
 awesome dude!
  • + 2
 I have a Switchblade... originally, with the Fox EVOL DPS, then i installed an X2. I didn't like either one. A local shop suggested a DVO Topaz. I set it up with three volume spacers in the positive and one in the negative based on another article on the shock and immediately the bike was much firmer in the initial small bumps. This is where the other shocks I had left me bobbing around while peddling at all and forced me to use the climb switches to stop the from moving so much. Both Fox shocks were specifically tuned for my bike and I even hired a suspension specialist to meet me at the trail to help me set up the X2 since I absolutely did not like that shock. Even after the additional tuning of the X2, the Topaz still feels so much better with me simply guessing at the first try to set it up. I'm really impressed with the DVO Topaz shock, but I have not yet tried a DVO fork, yet.
  • + 2
 This shock is absolutely amazing on the short travel Smugger. Feels like a progressive coil. Zero break away force (ridiculously light initial feel), and strong support. I've ridden Float X, Monarch, Monarch plus, CCDB. This one, on a short travel bike, is f*cking money

And it is HARLY fiddly. The air can is similar to the monarch, so I just dropped in 2 bands (that you can do on the trail), pumped it up to less than body weight (bonus), went with minimum bladder pressure (170psi), and I was off. The 'climb' position isn't that firm, but at least on good pedalling bikes, it's perfect for climbing and traversing. And in Canada, for whatever reason, it's really well priced compared to Fox.
  • + 1
 Very interesting... wouldn't think this shock would be the pick for a Smuggler given the relatively short travel, but I like what I hear man! Thought sounds like a dream ride.
  • + 2
 glad you're loving your topaz! Thanks for the great feedback, if you need anything let us know!
  • + 1
 Should be receiving my shock tomorrow for my '17 Santa Cruz Hightower (200x 50). Needless to say I'm excited as hell!

Any insight as to where I should start as a baseline with this shock on my Hightower? Not really tune saavy here :/

Local trails are pretty mellow, some drops every now and then (3-5') with a mixture of ups and downs. With a BMX background, I will coast over some medium sized jumps on the downs (no Ratboy or Semenuk here), but mostly flowy and smooth. My geared weight is about 190 lbs.
  • + 1
 I'd suggest to start off with a minimum of 2 spacers in the positive and maybe one in the negative if you are on the heavier side. Be sure to check the DVO website and watch the video of Ronnie installing spacers.
  • + 1
 Cedric has the same bike as you (and I) and runs the Topaz. Somewhere in this he mentions his exact pressures, etc.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-V0cCsxa1Q
  • + 1
 @RynoRodrigosouraus:
Sweet, thanks! I did watch a Cedric's bike check video and was leaning towards this setup. But wasn't sure if I should baseline this tune or not.
  • + 4
 @JustBuyIt: Thanks man, "its not that you're slow Jason, you just have to look ugly".

Green Topaz on a matte/mint Hightower. But I do have an orange decal kit from invisiframe on order!

Also a 29er wheelset is in route, because 29er is cool!
  • + 1
 Yo dude, I have the same bike and pretty close to your weight. Two spacers in positive, one negative is awesome. 190PSI in the bladder and around 220-230 PSI in the main chamber. Make sure you're sagging 25-30%. tech.dvosuspension.com has a tutorial on how to change the volume bands. Cheers dude
  • + 2
 @bryson-dvo: Thats great, I should be able to get close with that. Appreciate the help bro!
  • + 1
 If my 2013 enduro didnt have a proprietary rer shock I would buy one of these today... my next bike WILL have DVO on it, and my reasons for that are 1. great products and 2. excellent customer service AND 3. excellent customer service.... you guys are awesome/
  • + 1
 You can get a new yoke from bike yoke an then run whatever rear shock you like Wink

Sorry for late reply this thread but no need to wait - & from a Topaz owner it's ridiculously good.
  • + 4
 So, what was the "plain Jane" shock on the Ibis that the Topaz is so much better than?
  • + 10
 @gtill9000, Good question. I meant to mention that, so thanks for bringing it up. The bike came originally spec'd with an X-Fusion 02 RLX shock. I ran that for a season, followed it up with a Monarch RT3. Those are fine--not particularly high-zoot units to which I was referring. I switched to the DVO for a season, but have also benchmarked it during that time (on the same frame) against a Monarch Plus RC3 and Cane Creek DB InLine. I have not ridden the Fox DPX2 yet, but have spent plenty of time on its predecessors. Cheers.
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: Thank you!
  • + 1
 The Topaz is a great example of a product that sticks to the fundamentals and executes it properly. A higher performance may be possible with twin-tube dampers, separate circuits for every mode, variable spring and damper volumes, etc., but these designs haven't delivered.

A generous negative spring, sensible positive spring compression ratio, straightforward damper and LSC adjustment, durable volume compensator, tight tolerances, and good customer service: that's all you really need.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: I am with you in so much that I just want to ride. That said, I want the suspension to either be pretty bang on outta the box needing only a minor tweek or have adjustments that actually do something when it's fiddle time. I rode Cane Creek DB's in assorted configurations (air/coil/CS) on different bikes from '07-'17. They allow for tons of "usable" fiddling. However, having gotten the hang of how to tune them I would simply leave them be thereafter. There is no doubt in my mind that the Double Barrel answered many questions the competitors shocks could not at the time. Now that the bar has elevated do you believe that the pendulum is swinging back towards shocks that are more set and forget?
  • + 1
 First ride with the Topaz today:

Spoke with Ronnie and a few other guys from DVO yesterday regarding setup. Got my sag right, and pressures dialed ( I think). I'm definitely not a suspension expert, but I can say that I definitely noticed a huge improvement over the stock monarch on my Hightower.

Right off the bat I noticed the small bump compliance. Almost felt like i was riding on a rear tire with 5psi without losing any speed. Climbing was great, no pedal bob issues in open mode. Decents were kick ass, went through the full travel without any harsh bottoming, or maybe just had a few mm to go before a bottom out. One decent was f@k'n knarly, steeper than yeti's prices, full of rocks and a bit much for my sticky ass guide brakes (hopes are on my to do list).

Originally I thought I was going to leave my pike on the bike and just upgrade the rear... hmm, now I believe I might have to give the Diamond a good thought. Kinda ironic, I ran into another rider with a Topaz/Diamond setup, said he got his Intense dialed by Ronnie and just loves it. That's my luck, I knew I should've built this bike from a frame... I'm just swapping everything out. And now just gonna have to spend more money!
  • + 1
 This shock totally outperformed the Monarch Plus that came stock on my Evil Insurgent in every way. And as a big guy, 230-240lb ready to ride, I did find that the bladder pressure helped a lot in terms of finding a sweet spot. The Monarch either wallowed when set to a pressure that allowed for some small bump sensitivity, or felt like a board when it was set up to sit a little higher in the travel. No number of volume spacers ever fixed that for me. The Topaz, by comparison, rocked.
  • + 1
 so guys, let me get this straight. let's say we start with a pretty basic compression curve for a shock, no fiddling with compression and rebound adjustements. let's just talk about the air spring. increasing the air in the air can increases the amount of force required to move the shock, and equals to shifting up the curve in the force vs displacement graph. adding spacers, steepens the curve especially toward the end stroke. adding pressure to the bladder / IFP AGAIN shifts up the shock curve? i'm confused.
  • + 1
 My trail bike is DVO Taopaz and Diamond equipped Smuggler, amazing is all I can say,
I just spent all day riding Whistler lap after lap a solid package, 115mm / 140mm
combo eats everything like a champ. Was only going to do a few runs, but was having way
to much fun to switch back to my Fox equppped DH bike with a 40 float and a dhx2,
115mm Topaz and 140mm Diamond are solid performers.
DVO crew and their products are top notch !
  • + 1
 Happy my topaz will be here Friday and then getting my DVO fork (diamond) next week. I liked my pike until things started getting sticky even with a vorsprung lufftkappe. I'd rather pull things apart and make it my own myself vs having some one else do the work for me.

So what brand/weight of oil does DVO recommend for their products?
  • + 0
 I've been using Dvo topaz t3 for 6 months. All I can saw it's the most amazing shock I've ever used. Way better than rockshox & fox & shitty cane creek. This shock is very easy to tune to your style side. It doesn't need lsc/hsc.

Now all I have to do now is pair it with Dvo diamond and get rid of shitty rockshox pike :
????????????????????????????
  • + 1
 This is what im afraid of. Going with the topaz (installing today) with the intent of leaving my 150 pike up front, that eventually Ill want to ditch the pike.

I knew I should have just bought a frame and built from that... now here I am about 2k later post a 4 month old new complete bike. Well, I guess Ill have enough spare shit laying around to slap onto another frame.
  • + 1
 The guys at my LBS have been trying to sell me on DVO for the last few years. They make nice gear and all the reviews rave about them, but it's just so damn expensive in Canadian dollars.
  • + 2
 Yes in the customer service department!!! Easy to maintain, get great help when rarely needed, and this shock just rides so good.
  • + 1
 Mine ate itself internally and all the shaft is scratched and scored up. Have no recipt though since it came on my used frame
  • + 2
 I love a shock that you don't notice smashing down a trail. That's what the Topaz does for me.
  • + 2
 I need a metric version of this shock, asap!!! Smile something to fit the jeffsy27
  • + 2
 we have em'
  • + 3
 Does it have an all black version?
  • + 2
 Take the stickers off then leave it blank. Looks great with the green highlights and "DVO" on the shaft.
  • + 4
 It's green
  • - 2
 Anyone else run this shock for the Stumpy? I could only take it for one ride. High speed compression damping is WAY overboard. The open position on the Topaz feels MUCH more stiff than my Ohlins in the high compression position.
  • + 11
 So lets just be clear - you buy one of the most tuneable shocks on the market, ride it ONCE, decide you don't like it based on HSC which is tuneable, and instead of tuning it you switch back to your Ohlins? DERP!
  • + 1
 @ratedgg13: Tell me, how do you tune the HSC on this shock?
  • + 2
 @thuren: open it up and move shims around! Just like KingsSmile
  • + 4
 I have the same bike and the topaz is sick on it. That is a very linear bike so you need to run 3-4 spacers in the positive chamber to achieve great small bump sensitivity and end stroke support. If you're not running any spacers on the stumpy, the shock will be really chattery off the top and bottom out easily. You also need to mess with the bladder pressure as that will have a huge effect on the way the shock feels on that particular bike. Please send me a direct email if you're still having trouble and we'll be sure to get you stoked. brysonjr@dvosuspension.com
  • - 1
 @bryson-dvo: Bryson mine must be tuned wrong. I'll send it back. I'm 200lbs and at 35%ish sag, and the positive chamber full of rings, I can bottom the bike out on a large bunny hop. That's normal, and that's how I like it. Same setup 25mph baby head chatter feels like I'm riding a hard-tail. For reference I am very versed at shocks(being that I design them) and generally will fine tune internals/tuning/shims/custom machine volume spacers/etc. This shock is so far out I did not even feel like taking it apart. I'll email you thanks!
  • + 2
 @bryson-dvo: Also, I will say, customer service was killer on the phone and machining quality looks great on these!
  • + 1
 Put one on my Reign at the start of the year. Whole new bike. Amazing shock.
  • + 1
 This review sold me on buying one of these shocks and I'm loving it. Super smooth.
  • + 2
 I am very happy with this shock!
  • + 2
 Sorry, but this article was a mess.
  • + 2
 4th picture compression damping adjustment is that rust on the bolt.
  • + 1
 i think so
  • + 1
 I'm also wondering. Did you ride your bike on the beach ? @vernonfelton
  • + 2
 @zede: Just live and ride in the PNW. It's wet out here.
  • + 1
 I like this shock and all the running.
  • + 1
 tuning
  • + 1
 Good to see a review of this even if it took way too long
  • + 1
 Can't find any DVO products in EU online shops. Bummer.
  • + 1
 Check with Probike
  • + 1
 That's funny timing. My trunnion topaz delivered today!
  • + 2
 Awesome, let us know if you have any questions and appreciate your support!
  • - 1
 Leaky bladders are so shocking.
  • - 3
 green colored Monarch Plus with bladder updated~~~nice= ̄ω ̄=
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