Review: DVO Diamond fork

Aimed directly at All Mountain and Enduro riding, the DVO Diamond is an air sprung fork with 130-160mm of travel. The Diamond is available in 27.5" and 29" options. It features a plethora of external adjustments that includes DVO's OTT (Off The Top) negative spring adjust borrowed from its bigger brother the inverted Emerald downhill fork. We've been testing a 27.5" 160mm model for the past 10 months.

DVO Diamond fork 5.jpg

 

Chassis and Damper Design


The crown is a forged and CNC machined hollow design, and features 44mm offset on our 27.5" test model and 51mm on the 29" fork. The uppers are made from 35mm tapered aluminium and the lowers are magnesium (casted by SR Suntour) with a visible external taper to help prevent excessive flex and binding. The QR15 axle is tapered in the centre to reduce weight and allows you to rotate the lock nut to get the perfect angle when the lever is closed.

 


DVO Diamond fork 12.jpg

DVO Diamond fork 11.jpg

DVO Diamond fork 8.jpg


Our 160mm 27.5" model set at 160mm has an axle to crown height of 555mm compared to a Pike's 552mm and Fox 36's 549mm. Weighed wise it is on the heavier side thanks to its coil negative spring. Claimed weight for this model is 2100g. Compare that to the Pike which weighs in at 1861g, Fox 34 at 1780g, Fox 36 at 1923g - all of which use complete air spring systems. Only the MRP Stage at 2025g (actual weight with a cut steerer) comes close, but it too is air sprung.

 

External adjustments include air pressure, independent high and low-speed compression damping, rebound, and Off The Top (OTT). OTT changes the initial feel of the fork by preloading the negative spring housed at the base of the air cartridge.

 


DVO Diamond fork 3.jpg

DVO Diamond fork 2.jpg


Air is adjusted on top of the left leg with the top of the right leg hosting the Low Speed Compression (LSC) and High Speed Compression (HSC) adjustment. At the bottom of the left lower is where you will find OTT adjustment with Rebound adjust on the right hand side.

 

A smart touch is an integrated fender mount, which supports a short fender that covers the latticework at the back of the arch and extends a few inches rearward. Installation is quick and easy and it does a great job of keeping the worst muck off your face and chest.

 


DVO Diamond fork 10.jpg

DVO Diamond fork 4.jpg


The left leg houses the air cartridge unit which is a complete unit that can be removed and serviced. The right leg contains the damping unit which is a closed cartridge bladder system. Unlike other forks where the bladder is filled with oil and expands as the fork cycles, the Diamond has air inside the bladder and oil on the outside that compresses the bladder rather than expanding it. A design DVO first used on their Jade rear shock. They chose to go this route to combat a few negatives of cartridge bladder systems, including loss of elasticity of the bladder over time. DVO claim this improves initial sensitivity.

 

The compression piston is quite large compared to other forks, according to DVO this allows more oil flow and less choke during big hits. In addition, the shim stack has a greater impact on the damping curve, and can be custom tuned by removing the top loader assembly.

 

Set Up


With a full range of external settings and several more tweaks possible internally, initial setup can seem a daunting task for those not familiar with all the settings and how they influence each other. For instance higher air pressure requires more rebound damping and lower air pressure will require less rebound damping, but this greatly depends on the trail you're riding and the overall feel you're after.

 


DVO Diamond fork 7.jpg

DVO Diamond fork 6.jpg


Fortunately setup is made easy by a very useful booklet that comes with the fork or by having a look at DVO's online setup guides. I found the base settings ideal and it made for a perfect starting point to further fine tune to my liking.

 

On a side note: I found DVO's website very helpful. Apart from the setup guide, they have service guides and tuning videos that cover everything from adjusting travel internally to adjusting rebound. What they do not cover with videos is explained in text. In fact, I think their website is a worthwhile read for anyone looking to up their understanding of suspension setup and fault finding.

 

You will need a 5mm Allen Key to adjust the OTT. Increasing (rotate clockwise) the OTT will make the fork more sensitive (softer) at the beginning stroke. Decreasing (rotate counter-clockwise) the OTT will make the fork less sensitive (firmer). The OTT feature will not change the middle or ending stroke of your fork. OTT offers 14 full rotations total with 6 clicks per rotation.

 

 

On The Trail


My first couple of rides I summed up as "promising". Using the stock settings the correct feel was already there and I felt that with some tuning a beast will be unleashed. I was not wrong. After some riding the fork loosened up noticeably with a more supple and controlled feel, and with some further tinkering it really came alive.

 

In an effort to get a feel for each adjustment I went extreme and found that each setting has a useful range with a notable change in feel. From the recommended stock settings for my weight I dropped 5 psi, dialled in a couple of OTT clicks, kept LSC more or less what was prescribed and tuned the HSC until I was happy with the feel. For those who like to hammer on the climbs LSC can be used to stiffen the pedaling platform reducing fork dive under load.

 

DVO Diamond fork 1.jpg

 

On my Mercer Hungry Monkey the ability to tune the fork to a feel I like on the trail brought the bike and my riding to life. Compared to the dual position Pike I had fitted to the same bike, the DVO Diamond was not as smooth from the get-go but settled in and with the setup to my liking it was a step or two ahead without any signs of the additional weight.

 

Everything from repeated hits to trail chatter melts away under the Diamond and the harder you push the better it gets. On several rides I used full travel without ever noticing it out on the trail. There is no discernible flex even in the worst conditions helping steering input and traction through rough corners. Much is made of small bump compliance, and rightly so, but to keep a bike playful it needs good mid-stroke support and the Diamond delivers, making the bike easy to move around as it feels alive underneath you.

 

Thanks to the control the fork offers, the front tyre yields maximum grip further boosting confidence and speed. Arm pump and hand fatigue are not an issue after long days in the saddle, even with our extended summer that wreaked havoc to trails.

 

The more I rode the DVO Diamond the more I pushed it and myself. The beauty of the full range of external settings means that once you have a feel for what each setting does and how they compliment each other, you can start custom tuning your fork for different rides and even specific trails.

 

Verdict


The DVO Diamond is not short of technology with a lot of thought clearly having gone into the design. It's not just another fork running the same solutions in the hope that the marketing will claw some market share from the big guns. At the same time DVO did not simply go a different route just to brag about clever design or for the sake of being different. All of the ideas, months of tuning and strict quality control have come together in a big hit capable single crown fork that, at its first attempt, not only took the fight to Rockshox and Fox, but left them circling the ring. It is an incredible feat considering how long the competition has been around and the amount of refinement they've made to their products.

 

Fortunately for us the Diamond not only looks and rides the part, our test fork has also proven itself to be reliable over the 10 month review period. Throw in the wide range of tuning options and you have yourself a fork that should suit just about every rider who shreds his local trails week in and week out.

 

When you're next shopping for a new fork or looking to do a custom build, the DVO Diamond should be on your list of fork options. Right at the top of the list will do just fine.

 

Specifications


[spec_list][spec_list_row=Travel]130 -160mm adjustable travel via internal spacers[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Wheel sizes"]27.5” and 29” options available (The 29"" model is 27.5"" Plus capable up to a 3.0"" tyre size)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Crown]Forged CNC Hollow[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Offset]27.5 = 44mm / 29"" = 51mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Adjustments]High-speed compression (29 clicks), low-speed compression (6 clicks), rebound (20 clicks), OTT coil negative spring (14 full turns with 6 clicks per 1 turn), and air spring (90 to 170psi)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Axle to Crown"]29"": 160mm = 572mm / 150mm = 562mm / 140mm = 552mm
27.5"": 160mm = 555mm / 150mm = 545mm / 140mm = 535mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Stanchions]35mm Tapered Alloy[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Axle]15mm Quick Release. Available in both 100mm and 110mm Boost[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Weight]2100 grams[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Steerer]Tapered Alloy[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Lowers]Magnesium, Disc Only[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Rotor size"]160mm-203mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Colour options"]Black, Green, Factory Brown (Available in Boost only)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Retail price"]R 18,500[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]
Recommended service intervals:
  • Stanchion Wipers and Chassis Lubrication: 65 hours, dependent on riding style and conditions.
  • Air Spring: 100 hours, lubricant and piston
  • Damper: 250 hours, but it’s easy to bleed and change the tune on the Top Loader system when desired.




7 Comments

Rocket-Boy, Jun 27 2016 09:14

You could add to the list of pro's that it looks awesome too. 

But I guess that is subject to individual taste.

NicoBoshoff, Jun 27 2016 10:24

You could add to the list of pro's that it looks awesome too. 

But I guess that is subject to individual taste.

Nah, pretty sure it's just hot.

Rocket-Boy, Jun 27 2016 02:01

Nah, pretty sure it's just hot.

I think it looks seriously hot and its different to millions of pikes lurking around.

KingTJ, Jun 27 2016 03:55

I think it looks seriously hot and its different to millions of pikes lurking around.

but at R18k...ill stick to a pike or a lyric

Iwan Kemp, Jun 27 2016 04:50

but at R18k...ill stick to a pike or a lyric

 

When we featured it in our First Look Friday 10 months ago it was a grand cheaper than a Pike at R 13,500. Price has tanked the last 10 months for all the reasons we know about.

Robodog, Jul 06 2016 09:08

Yip,the DVO is still slightly cheaper than the Pike.

 

Good review Iwan. I love my Diamond especially as a biggish trail rider.

AlanD, Jul 06 2016 09:20

Really nice looking fork. Pity it don't come in 26 inch ;)