DVO Emerald – the new fork that could turn the downhill world upside down

Motorbikes have used 'upside-down' forks for years but inverted designs have never really taken off in mountain biking. Marzocchi had a go with the Shiver and Manitou followed suit with the Dorado but flex has always been an issue. This is the fork that could change all that – the new DVO Emerald.

The benefits of upside-down forks are clear – less unsprung weight, gravity-assisted lubrication and masses of mud clearance. But without the big axles used on motorbikes, torsional rigidity tends to suffer. Stiffer isn't always better and a bit of 'compliance' can be a good thing, helping to soak up trail chatter. But previous inverted downhill forks haven't quite got the balance right.

It's the Emerald's massive 43mm upper legs that first catch the eye, with their green coating. But the key to this fork is the Carbon Torsion Arch, or CTA for short. DVO claim this patent pending, moulded carbon structure increases torsional stiffness by over 50 percent. It's not all about the arch, though – the internals are pretty special too. Check out the photos to find out more.

Expect to see this fork in action on the World Cup circuit this year – rumour has it that Cedric Gracia could be one of the big-name riders putting them through their paces – and look out for an all-mountain version, due to be unveiled in prototype form next month.

There's no word on pricing yet but the DVO Emerald is going to be aimed at the high-end downhill market. Picture by James Costley-White

There's no word on pricing yet but the DVO Emerald is going to be aimed at the high-end downhill market, so we don't expect it to come cheap

It's the arch that sets this fork apart from other upside-down designs. Made from 'Hex Core Carbon' and integrated with the stanchion guards, it's said to boost stiffness massively. Picture by James Costley-White

It's the arch that sets this fork apart from other upside-down designs. Made from 'Hex Core Carbon' and integrated with the stanchion guards, it's said to boost stiffness massively

We like the way DVO have cleverly incorporated a mudguard into the arch design – a Neoprene 'shield' can be fitted over the hole for extra protection. Picture by James Costley-White

We like the way DVO have cleverly incorporated a mudguard into the arch design – a Neoprene 'shield' can be fitted over the hole for extra protection

The stanchion guards wrap around the lower legs to help protect them from rock strikes, trail debris and uplift abuse. Picture by James Costley-White

The stanchion guards wrap around the lower legs to help protect them from rock strikes, trail debris and uplift abuse

A twin-tube open-bath damper cartridge controls the Emerald’s 203mm (8in) of travel, with externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound. Picture by James Costley-White

A twin-tube open-bath damper cartridge controls the Emerald’s 203mm (8in) of travel, with externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound

The fork’s been designed to be highly tunable – and not just by suspension experts. Unscrewing one bolt at the bottom of the right leg gives access to the ‘Bottom Loader’ base valve and lets you play with the shim stack. DVO will offer in-depth online videos to walk you through the tuning process. Picture by James Costley-White

The fork’s been designed to be highly tunable – and not just by suspension experts. Unscrewing one bolt at the bottom of the right leg gives access to the ‘Bottom Loader’ base valve and lets you play with the shim stack. DVO will offer in-depth online videos to walk you through the tuning process

Like other high-end downhill forks, the Emerald uses an air spring rather than a weighty steel or titanium coil. Unusually, though, riders of different weights can add or remove preload from the negative spring to help tailor the fork’s feel. Picture by James Costley-White

Like other high-end downhill forks, the Emerald uses an air spring rather than a weighty steel or titanium coil. Unusually, though, riders of different weights can add or remove preload from the negative spring to help tailor the fork’s feel

The Emerald can be used with 26in or 650b wheels, simply by switching the crown. It'll still pump out the same 203mm of travel no matter what wheel size you plump for. Picture by James Costley-White

The Emerald can be used with 26in or 650b wheels, simply by switching the crown. It'll still pump out the same 203mm of travel no matter what wheel size you plump for

On the prototype seen here, a collet system is used to attach the crown and top clamp to the uppers. DVO say this gives a more even distribution of force. But they haven’t quite perfected the system yet so initial production models will come with traditional pinch bolts. Picture by James Costley-White

On the prototype seen here, a collet system is used to attach the crown and top clamp to the uppers. DVO say this gives a more even distribution of force. But they haven’t quite perfected the system yet so initial production models will come with traditional pinch bolts

The forged magnesium dropouts should help keep the Emerald somewhere around the 2.9kg/6.4lb mark, slotting it in between the class-leading Fox 40 and RockShox Boxxer World Cup. Picture by James Costley-White

The forged magnesium dropouts should help keep the Emerald somewhere around the 2.9kg/6.4lb mark, slotting it in between the Fox 40 and RockShox Boxxer World Cup

More info at www.dvosuspension.com.

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