Italian suspension brand Formula has a unique way of tuning their forks. Instead of an external compression dial and internal shim stack, like most others, it's developed a design where seven different valves can be interchanged in the fork’s top cap to give a much wider range of adjustability. This impressed me when I tested Formula’s original Selva enduro/ all-mountain fork earlier this year, but I felt there were limitations in the coil-sprung negative spring and range of rebound adjustment.
Due in November however, is an updated version called the Selva R. The notable difference is the addition of independently adjustable positive and negative air springs, giving even more scope for tuning. In the 2019 range, this fork will sit above the original Selva, which will now be known as the Selva S (S for single air chamber).
Formula Selva R technology
As confusing as the range of adjustments is the multitude of acronyms used. All of these are a carry-over from the last model, but in case you aren’t fully versed in Italian suspension lingo, here’s an overview of the key ones:
ITF (Internal Floating Technology)
When you hear about overcoming stiction in forks, most of us think of stanchion coatings — but smooth movement in the car park doesn’t translate to friction-free travel on the trail, when flex in the crowns, lowers and axle causes internal friction.
Formula’s solution to this problem is to use a piston head that can rotate and twist or ‘float’ as it moves through the travel. The same applies to the push rods and seals in the damper, which can withstand deflection, without leaking or creating excessive friction.
CTS (Compression Tuning System)
This is the name given to the externally interchangeable valves. Seven colour-coded valves are available and each produces different characteristics, from more suppleness initially, to greater mid-stroke support or bottom-out resistance. Fitment and removal is easy, using the supplied tool and they don’t even require you to take you fork off your bike.
With seven valves and thirteen clicks of adjustment on top of that, it’s easy to get lost, but Formula is keen to point out you can put your fork in the factory setting by simply fitting the blue valve.
Neo Pos (New Positive) volume spacers
These compressible foam volume spacers give a more gentle ramp up than a conventional solid spacer. Formula says the Neo Pos spacers still allow you to use full travel, but combine bottom-out resistance with a more linear, coil-like feel.
The all-new Selva R
There is no structural difference between the existing Selva and the new Selva R. Externally, the two forks are distinguishable by the graphics and the CTS dials, which are now lower profile and better labelled to make on-trail tweaking more intuitive.
On the back of the fork leg are inflation instructions for the dual air chambers, which must be filled in a particular sequence. The dual system gives a whole range of tuning options, that I wasn’t able to fully explore during my brief test ride.
Formula Selva R first ride impressions
Formula showcased the fork during the Bike Connection press camp in Les Gets, France, last month and I had the opportunity for a few runs on the 160mm travel, 29inch model, fitted to an Ancillotti Scarab EVO 29.
After an initial consultation with the Formula technicians, I was sent out to ride on the standard setting, with no Neo Pos spacers fitted and just a few PSI of air over the recommended pressures to favour a more aggressive riding style. This produced a very harsh ride, with noticeable sacrifices in grip and little cushioning over the harsh bike park breaking bumps.
On subsequent runs, I went for a lighter tune and fitted a volume spacer, which significantly improved the performance. I felt no immediately discernible advantages over a Rock Shox or Fox unit but with so many tuning options on the table and only limited time to ride, it’s impossible to make a fair judgment at this stage.
I'm positive that more analytical testing is required to discover the full potential of the Selva R, but one thing is for sure, this is a fork for the fettlers!
Pricing and availability
The Selva R is due to be released on 15 November, 2018. Formula isn't giving any figures for prices yet, but says the fork will come in above the existing Selva, which retails for £949.