DVO Suspension may be relatively new to the market but the combined experience of their engineers shines through in the attention to detail shown in their new inverted downhill fork, the Emerald.
The idea behind the inverted downhill fork design has always been appealing to suspension manufacturers, but many shy away from the concept due to the complex design parameters that need to be navigated in order to produce a competitive and affordable fork.
The benefits of the inverted fork design include a reduction in un-sprung weight, gravity-assisted consistent lubrication and masses of mud clearance.
The big downside most people focus on with the inverted design generally revolves around the amount of flex or torsional rigidity when compared to the more traditional, one piece lower leg arched design. Stiffer isn’t always better and a bit of controlled torsional compliance can certainly be a benefit.
To help control the amount of torsional compliance within the 42mm upper and 36mm lower leg assembly, DVO created the Carbon Torsion Arch, or CTA for short. They claim that this patent pending, moulded carbon structure with Hex core that anchors at the two legs together down by the dropouts actually increases the torsional stiffness of the Emerald by over 50 percent. Cleverly, DVO have incorporated a reasonable sized fender into the arched design as well as a good amount of wrap around coverage to help protect the stanchions from rock strikes, trail debris and uplift abuse too.
A twin-tube open-bath damper cartridge controls the Emerald’s 203mm (8in) of travel
What we’re most excited by are the internals though. Controlling the 203mm (8in) of travel is the twin tube open bath damper cartridge. External adjustments include high and low speed rebound as well as high and low speed compression via dials at the top and bottom of the right leg. DVO’s ‘Emerald Valve’ or piston allows for an increased and more controlled oil flow and greater tunability via the changeable shim stack assembly, allowing them to really optimise and tailor mid-stroke damping characteristics.
And it’s the tunability that DVO are keen for their customers to experience first hand – but with a difference. DVO want you to make the adjustments yourself, tweaking the damper as they sit fit to suit their riding. This is all comes courtesy of the Bottom Loader base valve assembly which is easily removable from the lower right leg (it simply unscrews) without the need for a full strip and rebuild. DVO also claim that even when removing the Bottom Loader assembly, there’s no oil loss. DVO will offer in-depth online videos to walk customers through the tuning process, with a shim layout guide and expected results from these different shim layouts so customers should have a better idea of how things should feel once changes are made.
The fork’s been designed to be highly tunable – and not just by suspension experts
Like many other high end downhill forks, the Emerald uses an air spring rather than lengthy and weighty coil spring. Where the Emerald differs slightly though is through its tunable negative spring. This means riders of different weights can add/remove preload from the negative spring to help tailor the forks feel to their liking.
There are two fork crowns available, each specifically designed to around either a 26in or 650b wheel size. What’s key here is that the Emerald will still pump out the same 203mm of travel no matter what wheel size you plump for.
Unusually, on the prototype seen here DVO use a titanium collet clamping system to tighten the crown to the upper fork legs. The advantage here being a more even distribution of force when tightened as opposed to traditional pinch bolt style leg clamping. They haven’t quite perfected the system yet so initial production models will come with pinch bolts.
Other notable details worth a mention are the forged magnesium dropouts which should help keep the Emerald’s target weight stay around the 2900g mark, sitting it somewhere between the two leading high-end downhill forks, the Fox 40 and RockShox Boxxer World Cup.