Fox and RockShox may have the OEM market pretty well cornered, but the demand for aftermarket suspension is apparent in the number of small brands that have popped up in the past few years. What those brands’ products share—besides novelty—is adjustability. With trail bikes being pushed harder than ever, it’s not hard to see why: Riders are looking to wring every last drop of performance out of their suspension, and some are running up against the limits of their stock springs.
Founded in 2012 by former Marzocchi employees, DVO started with a team that knew how to engineer and market their product. That's most of the marinade, but the fledgling brand needed production lines. For those, it turned to SR Suntour, which manufactures all DVO suspension.
The Diamond is DVO's fully featured trail fork: think 35 millimeter stanchions and 130 to 170 millimeters of air-sprung travel, depending on wheel size. "Fully featured" is key. In the case of the Diamond, you'll find twisties for low and high-speed compression sitting atop the damper side of the crown, and, of course, a rebound knob beneath the opposite leg. There's also some novelty at play, with the Diamond's "Off the Top" or "OTT" adjustment, which you'll only find on DVO products.
DVO Diamond Quick Specs
Spring type: Air
Travel: 140-170mm (27.5), 130-160mm (29)
Axle: 15×110 (non-Boost version also available)
Adjustments: LSC, HSC, rebound, OTT
OTT is a preload adjustment for the Diamond's negative spring. It allows the rider to tune how sensitive the fork is at the top of its travel, independent of the spring rate through the middle and end of the stroke. In theory, this allows for a supple feel over small bumps even at the high air spring pressures that heavier or exceptionally aggressive riders require.
But at 165 pounds soaking wet, I'm closer to stick figure than clydesdale, and my riding is exceptional only for its mediocrity. In fact, stock RockShox and Fox forks rarely leave me wanting. At most, I add a volume spacer and go on my merry way. I'm not a chronic tinkerer, either. I may tweak my pressure here and there, and experiment with whatever other settings are available, but I'd rather ride than chase the marginal performance gains that evenings spent fiddling with knobs, air and spacers can yield.
So you could make a strong argument that I'm the wrong guy to test this fork, and you wouldn't be wrong. But I suspect that the lion's share of riders are like me: average. In fact, I guarantee it. That's kind of the deal with averages. So here's my take on the Diamond. If you're an average rider, my findings apply to you. If not, well, just hold your horses.
Our Diamond was a Boost-spaced, 27.5 version, which we slapped on an Evil Insurgent and kept set at 170 millimeters of travel. For me, the setup process for the Diamond was an extended and mildly frustrating one that ended where it should have began—at DVO's setup guide. I began where I usually do with 25 percent sag, and went from there, fiddling and adjusting more than I like to until I eventually wound up running 20% sag and less OTT than I'd started with. It was at this point that I decided to see if DVO had any words of wisdom for me. I found something even better: charts. And in one of those rare moments when I actually feel like I know what I'm doing, my settings turned out to be nearly identical to what DVO recommends for my weight. See? Average.
DVO's website has videos, charts and words that will save you much cursing during setup, so if you buy a Diamond, don't follow my example. Let the guys who made the damn thing show you how to use it. Still, I'd like for both the high-speed compression and OTT knobs to have a more tactile feel, or even some audible clicks. Fewer increments would also be welcome in the OTT department. DVO recommends counting OTT adjustments by the rotation (the knob takes an Allen key), but 14 rotations with six clicks in each is a big range to work with.
I didn't need to do much adjusting once I made my way to DVO's recommended settings. The beauty of OTT is that it allows for suppleness off the top without consequences deeper in the stroke. The fork doesn't lack bottom-out resistance with DVO's recommended settings, but you can always add some high-speed clicks. Until you can't. If you're exceptional enough to reach that point, you can add 5ccs of oil to the air chamber to increase the spring's progressiveness. I didn't come anywhere close to that drastic measure. I also rarely reached for the low-speed knob, running it wide open everywhere aside from smooth climbs.
We put the Diamond through more than a season of abuse, including many days in the bike park. It definitely could use a freshening up, but it's also long past when I would expect a fork to need servicing. The only maintenance we did was to lubricate the thru-axle cam, which goes dry in short order. All indications are that this fork will hold up, and you can take further solace in the many glowing online reviews of DVO's customer service.
Do you need one?
The Diamond is supple and controlled, has a large, usable rebound range and feels just as precise as the competition from Fox and RockShox. Plus, at $1,000, it’s priced to compete with similar offerings from those larger manufacturers. If you’re already in the market for a new fork, there’s no two ways about it: This thing is worth a look.
What if you aren’t in the market? Is it worth running out to buy a Diamond right this very minute? If you've found a happy place with your current fork, and didn't need to do any extraordinary tuning to get there, then no. Probably not. As I see it, the Diamond is for two types of riders: First, those who—for whatever reason—need extra adjustability to suit their riding style, and second, heavier riders who need a feature like OTT to get full performance out of their front suspension.
Regardless of which group you fall into—average, exceptional or otherwise—if you want excellent baseline performance and the ability to adjust to your liking from there, DVO's Diamond could be your best friend.