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Review: DVO Topaz X - Shock Week 2023

Aug 24, 2023
by Matt Beer  
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DVO Topaz X



DVO made waves by entering the suspension market nearly ten years ago with their show-stopping USD Emerald fork. Continuing with a focus on user-friendly service and tuning, their Topaz X air shock shouts the same message as their other shocks, but this time with more external adjustments.

The addition of the letter “X” to the Topaz model a more precise low-speed compression adjuster knob, as well as one on the external high-speed side with the usual singular rebound dial. On top of that, the bladder pressure is tuneable along with the positive and negative air spring volumes.
Topaz X Details

• Tool-free damper dials
• Pressurized bladder design
• High-speed compression - 9 clicks
• Low-speed compression - 5 clicks
• Rebound - 9 clicks
• Weight: 512 grams
• Price: $550 USD
dvosuspension.com

All of DVO’s shock designs utilize a pressured bladder in the damper over an internal floating piston (IFP). The two designs are similar in layout, except that the bladder is said to reduce friction between the oil reservoir and pressurized air seal of an IFP. In theory, this should allow for ultra-smooth shaft direction changes.


Setup

Preparing the Topaz X isn’t overly complicated, despite the shock having a second Schrader valve on the bladder. The theory of pressuring the bladder is to reduce the chance of cavitation - the higher the air spring pressure, the higher the bladder pressure.

As usual, we started with a spring rate that gave us roughly 30% sag. I say roughly, because bolting the Topaz X to the Nomad hides the position of the O-ring on the shock body, and lower shock mount behind the frame.

I landed on 190 PSI in the air spring and 160 PSI in the bladder. Both numbers lie close to the middle of their respectable pressure ranges, 100-300 PSI, and 140-180 PSI.

In terms of the clickers, finding a sweet spot took a little longer than the other shocks. Dario and I agreed that when adjusting the HSC and LSC one click at a time, and exclusively, their effects weren't evenly applied. One click could have either little effect on the damping, or, as we moved further toward the closed position, each subsequent click would change the damping drastically.

With that said, I did find a sweet spot which happened to be 3 clicks from closed on the green LSC dial, 6 HSC, and 6 out on the rebound adjuster.

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A bladder separates the oil reservoir from the air and is said to reduce friction compared to an IFP design.

Climbing

Gaining those external adjustments over the standard Topaz, you do lose the T3 compression adjustment, which firmly locks out the shock in the closed position. Without that T3 lever, it’s unlikely anyone will take the time to turn the LSC dial for a climb.

Climbing the Nomad with my preferred shock settings meant that the Topaz X provided an adequate level of support, equal to the Marzocchi with its compression adjuster open, but a hint less than the Float X2, Vivid or TTX Air.

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Easy access - all air valves and tool-free damper adjusters are located on the upper end of the eyelet; main spring, bladder pressure, LSC, HSC, and rebound.
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1, 1, 2, 3, 5... not all clicks have an equal effect.

Descending

Is the bladder as squishy and supple as you’d hoped to hear? Well, yes and no. On one hand, the buttery transition in shaft direction rivals the monster-sized Vivid and Float X2 shocks.

Unfortunately, there was a pesky bit of top-out. When the bike became unweighted, a slight bump could be felt as the shock returned to full travel. In the case when the rear wheel was on the ground, the shock functions extremely smoothly.

And what about the air spring performance? The Topaz X produced a generic air spring ride that took a touch more effort to ease into the travel than the rest of the bunch, although I wouldn’t say it wallows by any means.

Altering either air spring volume wasn’t the play here as progression was spot on. A similar level of support was found on the Marzocchi. These two shocks provided a softer mid-stroke with a later, more aggressive ramp-up. No negative spacers were installed to begin with, therefore no actions could remedy the initial force required to break it into the travel.

Sitting in the middle of the price bracket, the Topaz X provides value with DVO’s vault of tuning arrangements and the on-the-bike external adjustments, even if they are finicky. Another win is that no special tools are required for regular air can servicing which comes up at 150 hours of ride time, or about once a year.

Are those new external features and moderate $550 USD pricing enough to hold onto the fans of DVO’s bladder-type dampers? Considering that three other high-end shocks give you equal, if not more adjustability and climbing functions for roughly $200 more, they’ll be hard to look past.

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Changing clip-on volume spacers only involved releasing the air spring pressure and the help of a strap wrench to twist off the air can.




Pros

+ Changes in shock shaft directions are very smooth
+ Tool-free LSC, HSC, and rebound adjusters


Cons

- We observed a small clunk or top-out as the shock returned to full travel
- LSC and HSC adjusters do not produce equal changes per click
- Increase in LSC adjustments is forfeited in favor of T3 lever (climb switch) from Topaz 3




Stay tuned for more Shock Week content, including a roundtable discussion of all the air shocks we tested.

Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
388 articles

89 Comments
  • 47 2
 A top out noise, clunk, or even feel is one of the most annoying things to have on a bike. I can't stand it when either my fork or rear shock does it so this makes it a strong no from me.
  • 13 0
 I had this on my old Marzocchi Drop Off Triples. Almost ruined the fork for me. Sounded like a pellet gun being fired everytime my front tire came off the ground.
  • 6 0
 I recently road a new coiled Marzocchi z1 that had an annoying top out clunk when jumping. Hadn't felt it since I was on a suntour
  • 9 14
flag PHX77 (Aug 24, 2023 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 Also, super annoying is having a pump up a very small chamber to a specific psi. I sold my Ohlins 38 because the ramp up chamber was such a pain in the ass to get right. The number of things to pump up, per piece of suspension equipment, should not exceed one.
  • 2 0
 I don't experience that on the former T3. Disappointing, indeed.
  • 3 0
 Can confirm. My EXT Era V2.1 has an annoying top out clunk
I even sent it back and they added more to the top out bumper but it’s still noticeable
  • 3 0
 My syncros fender that bolts to my current model fox 34 flexes away from the crown then slaps the crown on landings.

That…. Is most annoying.

Either will remove or use some zip ties.
  • 1 1
 @PHX77: I had to go in to the airspring on a 36mm ohlins and re work the ramp up chamber. It gives too much ramp no matter what pressure it is set to. Mainly affects mid stroke support. Not a good design IMO.
  • 4 3
 @PHX77: You are absolutely right, why pump up two things when one works fine ... or perhaps pumping up two things makes it work better, hmmmm, ya might want to take the baby out of the bath before draining the tub Wink
  • 1 1
 @zyoungson: weird, I haven't had that issue on my rxf36 m.2. And Seb Stott just published a review that seems to say the opposite (but honestly, I don't generally agree with his opinions). Maybe a defective unit?
  • 2 0
 My Sapphire fork does this too
  • 31 2
 I was really hoping that shock week would have included some how to articles or interviews with big shock tuners with tips and tricks...not just reviews. This could have been something really cool that could help people out with setting their shocks up properly.
  • 13 0
 Oh wow, tips, tricks, full rebuild tech for each of the shocks would be the ultimate shock manual, like Enduro MTB magazine did for brakes!
  • 33 5
 @pedalhound, there are some good tips and info in these two Shock Week articles: www.pinkbike.com/news/burning-question-suspension-setup-new-technology-shock-week-2023.html and www.pinkbike.com/news/mountain-bike-suspension-terminology-explained-shock-week-2023.html.

You're right, though, there's plenty more to explore on this topic for the next edition of Shock Week.
  • 15 29
flag taskmgr (Aug 24, 2023 at 9:45) (Below Threshold)
 They had for a title of a theme but no idea how to execute. Wheres the surprise?
  • 5 0
 I agree. Setup remains one of the largest hurdles to get over in the sport for newbies.
  • 6 0
 @wolftwenty1: people pay me to turn dials for them, so yeah.....I think more bike brands need to have solid primers on their website to setup and how to go about experimenting with their bikes with all the different sus. components they offer in builds. It doesn't help to go to fox, since they can't possibly know every single bike that an X2 is on.

And on that topic, we need to standardize reference points! some setup guides have clicks OUT from from full closed, and some have clicks IN from full open. Then I get confused when someone hands me a bike with HSC and LSC at polar opposite ends of the range. lol
  • 6 6
 @taskmgr: just the pinkbike way, Academy was super poor and the should-be-deleted high/low series.
  • 1 0
 @Mtbdialed: fox is probably the best of all of them. Agree with you, long way to go. Norco does a good job too IMO.
  • 3 3
 @Mtbdialed: LSC/LSR you count from closed because they are valves with a set closed point. HSC/HSR you count from open because they add preload as they go.
  • 9 3
 at this day and age we cant really get any honest reviews from big boys of the industry....
Imagine Mike saying that the X2 broke in almost everybody whos ever had it on its bike....

It would reduce AD revenue, steeper than how ad revenue died on tweeter after they stopped endorsing trans & Faty bombaty positivity
  • 25 5
 It is like shocks now has feelings and you have to be politically correct when addressing an opinion. Based on the facts in this video it is quite clear if this DVO shock is belonging next to the X2 and Vivid or not, but the answer to this quiestion was like explaining to your crush's dad what would you do to his girl... I would suggest to stand out from the crowd and create honest and straightforward reviews. Not all products are to be recommended and there should be no problem communicating it.
  • 24 6
 Such a weird video where they talk about nothing, don’t really define anything and miss all the reasons you would buy DVO. Do better pinkbike
  • 19 0
 welcome to even lower effort pinkbike, brought to you by outsideTM
  • 12 7
 Maybe there are no reasons to buy a dvo. Or maybe you should create a video clearly explaining the reasons why people should buy a dvo. Or maybe just complain about other peoples effort.
  • 3 7
flag bonfire (Aug 25, 2023 at 19:00) (Below Threshold)
 There are no reasons to buy DVO. They are less reliable than an X2 and the parts are hilariously expensive comparatively to fox.
  • 2 5
 @bonfire: imagine shilling for fox lol
  • 10 0
 Has anyone else with this shock noticed the top-out clunk? I'm more of a set-it-and-forget-it type of rider when it comes to suspension, so the other con's aren't that big of a deal to me, but the top out clunk would probably get annoying.
  • 15 0
 No clunk here and I have put it through plenty of rock gardens. The only thing I needed to do was add a positive chamber volume spacer for a little more bottom out support.
  • 12 0
 Put one on my Canfield at the start of the season and have had zero top out clunks or issues. Been a stellar shock for me.
  • 3 0
 I wonder if it's a quality control issue then, or if the one the boys got was a fluke.
  • 10 0
 @danielfloyd: I asked the DVO guys and that shocks not even in production yet so I’m confused why it’s being reviewed
  • 6 0
 No idea on this one but I've got the Topaz and zero top out. It's a vey smooth and quiet shock all around.
  • 5 0
 @Lololmalol: Lol ya I was surprised to see this considering the Topaz 3 came out in the last year. I've smashed that model since March, no top out clunk, very smooth dependable shock.
  • 6 0
 I've also had a Topaz 3 on my Stumpy Evo for almost 18 months (they sold me one before they were publicly released state-side). I've never experienced any top-out issues or clunks.
  • 11 1
 Dvo clearly doesn't donate enough in pinkbikes mind to get worth a shit coverage.
All these fanboys declaring hot trash, sucking fox's dick without even trying something else are why entry level bikes with nx and garbage wheels are $4k.
  • 5 1
 Truth. Year after year PB continually jerk off the major advertisers and spray their marketing load all over the website.
  • 8 0
 "Increase in LSC adjustments is forfeited in favor of T3 lever (climb switch) from Topaz 3"

I think you mean the lever was forfeited in favor of the range...
  • 5 0
 Any updates on the LSC/HSC adjustment being sold separately? The original article had mentioned it but I've yet to see anything on their website. Really enjoy the Topaz on my bike, so smooth and nice but ramps up well. I've been putting it off but I need to overhaul mine. Got all the seals, oil, etc sitting in my garage.
  • 1 0
 It looks like you'll have to seal the mode adjuster switch. Which means it's more like a whole piggy-back and shock head required than just an adjuster setup.
  • 7 0
 1,1,2,3,5... Fibonacci tuning!
  • 7 0
 top out clunk was setup error or bad shock.
  • 2 0
 I would love for the reviewers to talk about each platform and how it will work for heavier riders. Air spring ramp up makes it difficult for me to find full travel. Do any of these shock platforms work better for heavier riders?
  • 3 0
 that would require effort my brother, this is all about spamming content for clicks
  • 4 0
 It would be worth having 3 people review the shock: a small, medium, and large person. I think you make a good point about the disparity of riders/ use cases!
  • 5 3
 I have a local, mtb-specific shop here with good people, and they sell DVO as an aftermarket option. A couple of years ago I asked their opinion, and they basically said that DVO offered mediocre performance, but that they were cheap, relatively easy to service, and simply available (during COVID times).

Not exactly a resounding review - although it aligns with what these reviewers are saying. No matter how you slice it, its worth your $$ to look at other options.
  • 12 5
 Not a fair review in my opinion. DVO fork dampers are solid, and the OTT spring is one of the better (single chamber) air springs out there if you happen to fall in the middle of the recommended weight range.
  • 7 0
 People were praising the O.E. spec of the ripmo with dvo suspension for a while. Funny how industry trends ebb and flow
  • 5 3
 "Is the bladder as squishy and supple as you’d hoped to hear? Well, yes and no."

Well, yes. That top-out issue has nothing to to with the bladder. What a slight bump mean with respect to top out, anyway? Felt, heard, both? A detent or notch feel?
  • 1 0
 Strange writing and way too much conflation of concepts going on!
  • 4 1
 Maybe a strange question but why are these video reviews not on youtube? Conscious effort to drive me to the website? Because its working lol.
  • 3 1
 why give profit to Youtube who play ads on your own created content
  • 2 0
 The content owner gets ads revenue share from YT, yo!
  • 1 0
 For my fellow rippers that may want some clarity in terms of what does what on your bike setup here is a link or two that helps explain some things. This is from Penske, who has been doing this 5h1t longer than MTB was a thing!

www.penskeshocks.com/blog/what-do-low-speed-and-high-speed-compression-adjusters-do
www.penskeshocks.com/blog/what-is-low-speed-compression-and-why-might-you-need-to-adjust-it
  • 7 4
 I gave up on mine and went with Fox after several bladders broke or had punctures. Always paid attention to the PSI.
  • 4 1
 same. i really wanted to love the topaz since i really loved the onyx sc i had on my bike. but, i am one of those guys who has to have matchy matchy things and the thought of running a dvo fork with a fox shock didn't work for me. so i went fully back to fox. the amount of times i had to check the bladder pressure (every ride) and the always looming possibility of hearing the dreaded squish at any moment really killed it for me with the topaz. my onyx on the other hand was great. no issues, serviced it once, just beat the crap out of it and it never complained.
  • 4 1
 I love my topaz t3 but the amount of money it costs to rebuild the constantly failing bladder makes it a terrible shock. Two rebuilds + my annual can service kits and I could have purchased a new shock.
  • 1 1
 @stonant: Same. I really liked it, too! But, i sent it out for a full reservice with a replacement bladder and it ruptured just a few rides in. Ended up not wanting to stress every single ride.
  • 1 1
 @stonant: Same here. Really liked how the shock felt but reliability was bad. The damper failed twice, both times at the seal in the rebound adjuster, and then the shaft broke and I gave up on it.
  • 3 2
 i had 2 jade x! would never run it again. 2 broken shocks on my rip af.
the EU service center -cosmic sports- is the worst shop ever! the even have any spar parts in stock (waiting time till a half year)!
  • 3 1
 I see it the same way. I also had the Jade X. First it leaked after the first three trips, then it had wear on the piston rod. Cosmic Sports could not repair it because DVO could not supply spare parts. In the end, it was replaced with a new one. And sold directly.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer @mikekazimer I’m a little confused by the sag settings. On the vivid you ran 18 to 20% and on this you ran 30%. Surely these would give wildly different performance.
  • 1 0
 @tbc, it was 18-20mm of sag on the Vivid, which is the same as 27-31% sag.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: ahhhh thanks for the clarification. Would be good if everyone used the same language when describing their setup
  • 3 0
 @tbc @mikekazimer I have to agree, it’s confusing when you don’t use consistent units of measure.

Might I suggest switching all articles to reference the sag in furlongs or beard-seconds?

I’ll see myself out……
  • 2 0
 I have the Suntour version of this. The TriAir2 and it's been great. No issues or complaints at all.
  • 1 0
 Their table is missing a few good players, i'd say. I hope they give an overall vote of -1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th place, to the shocks being reviewed and not just one shock wins.
  • 2 0
 30% off sale now on their site!!!!
  • 2 0
 A climb switch and HSR is worth two hundo?
  • 3 3
 Where do you buy this version with turny clicky things? I don't see it on their site
  • 1 1
 You can get the new Topaz with or without the compression adjustments, and can also purchase the adjuster separately if you already have the same shock (replaces the climb switch).
  • 1 0
 @mammal: It is only compatible with the newer model topaz right? Woudl be great if you could replace the climb switch with these dials on the previous version Topaz. That is a great shock
  • 2 0
 @mammal: Where though? Cause dvosuspension.com/product-category/suspension/shocks and dvosuspension.com/product/topaz-gen-3 don't show any turny clicky things on my screen
  • 1 0
 @DizzyNinja: there website is trash you have to call or email.
  • 1 0
 Unfortunate that neither Suntour nor DVO got the Rockshox HBO.
  • 1 0
 I'll take "features that 99/100 riders don't want, need or understand" for $400 please Alex
  • 1 0
 @OneBikeStand: then why do the high end shock companies use it as a premium feature?

It’s useful if your looking for coil-like linear spring rates.
  • 1 0
 @PHeller:

Premium feature: not for 99/100 users

Coil-like spring rate: buy a coil.
  • 1 0
 @OneBikeStand: why buy coil when air, with a simple HBO feature, would work and allow easily adjustable spring rate? not just that, but it'd work for both bike path riders and pro downhill racers (hence why it's on the new Vivid).
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: At the end of the day, the coil will feel superior.

Look I get it, air has it's place since it's soooo much easier to setup for the average rider and for shops not to have to carry millions of springs when they sell the bike and modern air shocks including this vivid do feel great, but....

...no matter how they twist and turn and tune things the coil will still have the edge. Period. All of these bells and whistles increase the complexity and thus the cost and maintenance, all just to play second fiddle to a coil in the first place.

Maybe in another generation air will truly overtake and replace coil but this Vivid has not done that yet.
  • 1 0
 tool free adjusters is nice for sure.
  • 1 1
 How are you boys liking the Nomad? On my short list now that they are on “sale”.
  • 1 1
 I’ll wait for the DVO Tempo.
  • 1 3
 The one dude is always doing something weird with his on-camera facial expressions.
  • 1 0
 How PC of you Smile
  • 10 13
 Dvo aka trash
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