Aftermarket suspension should feel special. After all, if you’re buying an aftermarket shock, it likely means there is room for improvement over your OEM-specced shock, whether it’s the sensitivity or stiction, the tuning capability, or mid- to bottom-out-support. OEM suspension is typically made to suit availability of service and the widest portion of the bell curve, meaning it will work well for the majority of riders, but maybe not exceptionally for any one individual.
On the other hand, most aftermarket suspension upgrades are an expensive endeavor, easily equating to a large fraction of the bike’s price.
Enter DVO Suspension’s Topaz Gen 3, an air shock made for everything from XC to enduro, according to DVO. The brand offers an array of shocks, like their lighter Opal, which is more suitable for XC, while the Topaz is that bell curve shock, ready for anything, though it’s really a shock with a solid value compared to some suspension brands out there, offering an impressive amount of tunability.
About the DVO Topaz 3
I’ve been testing the DVO Topaz 3 since last fall, minus a very a snow winter. As DVO says, it’s a “do-it-all” air shock, and that’s an apt description. The shock has a three-position compression switch (low, middle, firm), nine clicks of low-speed rebound adjustments, a bladder pressure adjust, and both the positive and negative air chambers can be loaded or unloaded with volume spacers.
What exactly is a bladder pressure adjust? DVO uses an air-pressurized bladder in place of an internal floating piston (IFP) to keep air and oil separate. The bladder gets a high PSI to push against the oil and create pressure in the system, and as oil flows through the shock, it will compress the bladder. DVO says this reduces the chance of cavitation in the shock, and compared to IFP shocks, which are most of the shocks riders are using, bladder-equipped shocks maintain better sensitivity and reduced stiction. DVO has a great explanation of the shock’s inner workings in its entirety here.
What will probably matter more to folks is how that makes for an optimized setup. Riders on the DVO Topaz can set their sag in the main chamber like they would on most shocks, giving them the overall mid-support and pressure they need, and then the small bump sensitivity can be tuned via the bladder offering a range of 40PSI. Finally, riders can of course tune the bottom-out support with volume spacers.
Now this isn’t the level of adjustment you’d see on higher-end air shocks with on-the-fly, high-speed compression and rebound dials, or a greater level of low-speed compression adjustments, but the Topaz is two-thirds to half the price of some of those shocks.
The shock sells for $550 and an upcoming update will let Topaz Gen 3 owners upgrade their shock to the Topaz X for $200 and have better low speed compression adjustments and high speed compression adjustments.
The Topaz 3 is available both trunnion and metric sizes:
- Trunnion: 165×40, 165×42.5, 165×45, 185×50, 185×52.5, 185×55, 205×60, 205×62.5, 205×65
- Metric: 190×40, 190×42.5, 190×45, 210×50, 210×52.5, 210×55, 230×60, 230×62.5, 230×65
DVO Topaz 3 ride impressions
Some things just work from the get-go and you really don’t have to mess with them to get them to feel good. That’s been my experience with the Topaz. It did help to get the custom tune, however that is an additional $150, bringing the cost of the shock up into the territory of some of the high-end shocks out there like Cane Creek or Ohlins.
DVO says the custom tune includes a high performance race oil, a custom shim stack, a hand bleed, and input for proper pressure settings, like riding ability and terrain. If you feel comfortable adding your own volume spacers and playing with air pressure, you may be comfortable skipping the tune to keep that aftermarket shock price as competitive as possible.
I’ve always been able to tell a difference between swapping from a stock air shock to an aftermarket one like the DVO. The new shocks generally use travel more efficiently and there is a big difference in sensitivity. I’ve played with the pressure a little in the Topaz, but other than small air adjustments, it’s felt great from the factory.
The bladder adjustment produces a noticeable difference in top-end sensitivity without really affecting the efficiency or mid-support of the shock, though it is a small range of bladder adjustment to work with.
As is the case with most modern bikes, I usually leave my suspension fully open and have done the same to satisfaction with the Topaz. The compression switch is rather small and elusive compared to other shocks on the market that can easily be found and switched in the saddle. But if you’re like me, and you’re not frequently switching compression settings, it probably won’t bother you.
I haven’t attempted to service the shock yet. DVO has a 100 hour service recommendation on the Topaz and the service kits and guides are easy to find on their website. The shock appears to be easily serviceable by competent home mechanics, which is also a bonus for DVO compared to other high-end shocks which often require special service centers.
- More affordable aftermarket shock
- Better tunability and feel than many OEM shocks
- Easy to adjust and service
- Tuning option pushes overall cost up a lot
- Small compression switch
The DVO Topaz Gen 3 is a more affordable suspension upgrade option that has been reliable, offers mid-level adjustability, and an ease of access to service, parts, and upgrades.
- Price: $550
- Buy from Worldwide Cyclery and Aventuron.