DT Swiss EXM 130 15mm fork review£650.00

An instant hit on techincal trails

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Okay, so it’s been a while in coming, but DT’s evolved EXM 130 fork puts Swiss suspension in the trail fork front row.

Structurally, the big tyre clearance rear arch layout is retained, and the EXM uses a conventional magnesium bottom end. Elsewhere, the Torsion Box brace has a deeply-toothed alloy top section to create an astonishingly stiff structure, and DT’s ratchet lock take on the screw-thru 15mm hollow axle completes the impeccably accurate rock-slotting, camber-cutting feel.

Launch Control rebound lockdown has been totally re-engineered for more reliable results too. Simply slap the big red top cap and down the fork goes for better handling on steep climbs, only popping up when it hits lumps big enough to trigger the adjustable threshold release.

The damping is broadly adjustable for low-speed compression (bottom of leg) and rebound (top), while the air spring in the left leg uses amid-stroke air bleed to set negative pressure automatically. The pre-fitted travel ring makes it easy to judge air pressure set-up too.

To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect, but the EXM impressed us with its supple smoothness and control straight away, and has stayed equally smooth through every workout we’ve thrown at it, whatever the temperature and weather.

It hasn’t blinked or blown its composure in the face of stutter bumps, corner ripples, deep wooden steps or six foot drops. Compression control is excellent, with the fork never diving too deep or wallowing around, and rebound is equally well metered. Both stay consistent however long the descent or varied the size and speed of impact.

The outstanding structural stiffness for a 15mm fork means that, unlike some of its peers, the stroke control isn’t interrupted by twist or binding when braking or turning hard. It’s also pinpoint accurate in placement and seriously stubborn once planted.

Its weight is slightly heavier than the Fox 32 Float 150 (1648g) or RockShox Revelation Team Dual Air (1656g) at 1702g without axle (1771g with), but the £800 EXC 130 with carbon lowers is 50g lighter. There are 150mm travel and QR options for both EX forks.

There are several contenders for best trail fork, depending on what ride character you’re after. However, there’s no doubt that as a superbly accurate and controlled fit-and-forget fork that’ll particularly suit riders who love technical climb and descent challenges, the EXM 130 is a match for anything around.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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