first unveiled their Diamond single crown fork at last year's Eurobike
trade show, and after a summer of refining and testing, the first rideable (and raceable – Cedric Gracia rode his to a 23rd place finish at last weekend's brutal Enduro World Series race) pre-production versions have arrived. There will still be a few minor changes to the fork before it hits store shelves in November, but the Diamond we were able to ride is a good indication of what the final version will be like.
DVO Diamond Details
• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Travel: 160mm, adjustable via internal spacers to 150 and 140mm
• Wheel size: 27.5", 29" and 26" versions are in the works
• Air sprung with a coil negative spring
• External adjustments: air spring, rebound, separate low and high-speed compression, Off the Top
• Stanchions: 35mm
• 15mm thru-axle
• Colors: green, black
• Expected availability: November 2014
• MSRP: Around $1000 USD
With 160mm of travel, 35mm stanchions and a 15mm thru-axle, the Diamond is aimed squarely at the all-mountain and enduro market, and an expected retail price of around $1000 USD reflects its high end intentions. Befitting a fork of this caliber, the Diamond's adjustments include air pressure, independent high and low-speed compression damping, rebound, and Off The Top (OTT), which changes the initial feel of the fork by preloading the negative spring housed at the base of the fork's air cartridge. The Diamond also has an integrated fender mount, which allows a short fender that covers the latticework at the back of the arch and extends a few inches rearward to be quickly installed. The final weight hasn't been confirmed, but DVO is hoping to shed some grams off the prototype version in order to hit the 4.1 pound mark. Mountain bikers can be a fickle bunch, which is why DVO will be offering the Diamond in both green and
black versions, along with the strong possibility of a black stanchion coating in the future. The first run will be for 27.5" wheels, but a 29" version is on the way as well. The 29" version will also have 160mm of travel, but its lowers will have a different amount of offset and clearance for the bigger wheels.What's Inside
The fork's air cartridge is housed in the left side of the fork, where a green aluminum cap covers the Shrader valve used to adjust the air pressure. It's common for companies to use the stanchion tubes themselves as the outer portion of the air chamber, but in this case DVO decided to go with a cartridge style set up, a design that allows them to more easily house the coil negative spring. There's a 5mm hex head knob at the bottom of the leg that adjusts preload on that spring, the OTT feature that was previously mentioned.
The damper cartridge is found in the right side, with a circular dial to adjust the high speed compression and an almost arrow shaped dial to change the amount of low speed compression. The idea was that the low speed compression could be quickly ramped up with one swipe of the hand, a boon for racers looking to firm up their ride before embarking on a long uphill transfer stage. A small green knob is located on the bottom right side of the fork to adjust the rebound, although the shape for this knob hasn't been finalized. The current design has it tucked well out of the way and less susceptible to rock damage, but I did find it a little difficult to turn – the small shape made it hard to get a firm grip on it.
There are several forks out there that use an oil filled bladder that expands when the fork is compressed, but DVO has taken a different approach in their damper cartridge. To compensate for the oil expansion, DVO uses a bladder that is inflated to the ambient air pressure and is then surrounded with oil in a small chamber. As the fork is compressed, the oil is able to squeeze the bladder inwards to make room for the expansion. Just like their Emerald downhill fork, DVO places a strong emphasis on riders being able to service their products, and both the air and damper cartridge are user serviceable.
It's been a hot and dry past few weeks in Whistler, and the trails in the bike park are showing the effects of thousands of riders pounding out lap after lap. The trail crew here does a commendable job, but there's only so much you can do in the battle against brake bumps and blown out berms when there's no rain, which means that trail conditions on the mountain are rougher and dustier than ever. Wheel swallowing holes and brake bumps abound, trying to rattle bikes and riders to bits, and creating the perfect proving ground to try out a new fork. Before diving into the initial impressions, it's worth noting that this is still a pre-production fork, and there will likely be changes before it hits the shelves. As such, this is far from a comprehensive review – it's more of an initial overview detailing my first impressions of the fork. We'll have one for a more in-depth test once they roll off the production line in the fall. Setup
- I started with 130 pounds in the air chamber, and a click or two of high and low speed compression, a good base setting to begin getting accustomed to the fork's ride characteristics. The Diamond's design does use slightly more pressure in the air chamber than what a RockShox Pike or Fox's 36 would use, but it's still not extraordinarily high. Other than that, once I had the initial sensitivity set via the 5mm adjuster on the bottom of the left leg and dialed in the rebound to my liking I was ready to roll. Sensitivity
- Hand fatigue is a good indication of how well a fork is doing its job in the bike park – if you finish a run and need to peel each finger off the bars, or if it feels like arthritis has suddenly set in, those are signs that your suspension could use a bit of help. Luckily, my hands never turned into immovable lobster claws, even after riding at top speed through hundreds of yards of brake bumps and water bars. The sensitivity throughout the stroke didn't feel quite as supple as the current benchmark, RockShox's Pike, but it wasn't far off the mark. Where in a blind test it would be easy to imagine that the Pike housed a coil, rather than an air spring somewhere in its stanchions, the Diamond has a decidedly air sprung feel, although the OTT feature does help allow for more initial suppleness than would typically be expected. Air Spring / Damping
- Where a fork rides in its travel, and how it deals with repeated hard impacts are two of the most important factors to consider in order to determine whether a fork is up to par. The Diamond did well in both categories, and it never felt like it was riding too low in its travel or diving unexpectedly. It stayed in its sweet spot, that middle portion where the bike's handling isn't compromised, and where there's enough travel left in reserve for the really big impacts. The initial portion of the stroke was quite smooth, as was the ramp up, but I would have preferred to be able to eke out slightly more travel before that ramp up began. John Pelino, DVO's general manager, said that they have been working on the air spring curve to adjust this for the production version. Racers have been favoring the more progressive feel, but riders who spent most of their time riding at a more casual pace would likely benefit from a more linear stroke. Torsional Stiffness
- I'm on the lighter side of the rider weight spectrum, but that being said, the Diamond's stiffness didn't give me any reason to complain. Whether I was pushing it at full speed into a tight berm, or navigating through a sequence of rocky shelves that forced the fork to use all of its travel, the Diamond was as solid as its namesake. Pinkbike's take:
|Competition in the bike industry is a good thing for the consumer, as it means that more and more options to choose from. By the looks of things, DVO's Diamond should be another viable contender in the 160mm category, a fork that can take on the roughest trails without skipping a beat, with a couple trick little features that help set it apart from the others. That being said, competition in this category is fierce, with the RockShox Pike and FOX's 36 currently sitting in the top positions. We'll get our hands on a full production model as soon as possible to truly put it through its paces and see how it stacks up against the others over a longer period of time. - Mike Kazimer|