DVO Jade Coil –  First Impressions


Intro

I’ve been testing a bunch of different shocks recently including my go-to Kitsuma, the impressive NovyParts Novya, a 2020 NSR-tuned Super Deluxe, a stock Super Deluxe 2023 and this stock Jade Coil.

The Jade has been a confusing, but not bad shock, so far. I bought this completely stock online so isn’t a direct or fair comparison to the other tuned shocks I’m using. I paid €287 from Bike24.com (no affiliation) so it is definitely cheap compared to everything else on the market. The aim was to restore my faith in DVO after last years DVO Saga.

Setup

The confusing part is that DVO has tons of good theory and information on their website about suspension setup as well as lots of self-aggrandisement, but this Metric 250×75 shock has no base settings online. There are only settings for older imperial sizes, so I started with the closest option of 241×76. Not ideal as Metric shocks have been around for years now.

DVO say these are just start settings and depend on the bike. Obviously, I have a strange, single-pivot, linear machine (testing on the titanium Egerie) with only 6% overall progression which is different to most mainstream bikes, but a linear means setup does mean that changes are very easy to feel. 

Step 1 is always to set sag. DVO’s Spring Rate suggestion for my 73kg, fully-kitted weight is 450lb to get 23-30%. In reality, I’m using a 300lb spring to get 30% sag, that’s a 33% difference so it would be nice if they suggested spring rates in ranges for bikes with different amounts of progression. The website does say these are only starting settings, but if a customer with a similar setup to me ordered one with the 450lb spring they would need to go and buy another spring.

Next, I set the bladder pressure to 180psi as recommended (it arrived with 90psi so 100% should be checked before the first ride, as recommended in the manual).

Rebound is counted in the usual counterclockwise clicks from closed. For 73kg, minus 29-32 is recommended out of -37 clicks. My shock only has 20 clicks, I ended up riding around -9. Maybe the newer Metric ones have different settings?

Compression, for some reason, is measured in clockwise clicks from fully open. HSC should have been 24 but the maximum I could turn with my pathetic fingers were 14 incredibly hard-to-turn clicks from closed and needed another ten clicks to get to the recommended +3/+5 clicks from fully open. Releasing the bladder pressure did make it much easier to turn the adjuster and there were 24 clicks as suggested in the manual, but releasing and re-inflating the bladder is not really an option on the trail if you want to dial in the shock. 

LSC should have 22. Mine had 25, this time easy-to-turn clicks. Again, I ended up fully closed (-1, never close a shock past the last click, when recommended was +2/+5 from open. There didn’t seem to be a huge difference between the clicks of compression. But that’s one reason for the Adjustable Bladder (instead of an IFP) to adjust the damping force through the entire shock then the adjusters can be used to fine-tune.

My recommendation, if you are starting out on this shock, would be to set the adjusters in the middle and work with the bladder pressure first, start with recommended, then try to go firmer or softer until you are happy with the level of support and then fine-tune with the adjusters: my original/recommended method seemed to waste a lot of trail time.

On The Trail

After this initial setup and a bunch of runs on my usual test tracks, I ended up with HSC -1 and LSC -1 from closed. It feels pretty good like this and comparable to the NovyParts + Kitsuma in terms of midstroke support and bottom-out resistance. The Jade was definitely firmer off the top of the stroke in the car park than those two but sits into the travel well, suggesting it has a more digressive damping curve, like always there are no curves provided by the manufacturer so we’re just playing guessing games.

Next, I bumped up the bladder pressure by 10psi to 190psi, which is a big change when the total range is from 170-200. Then I was in a much better starting position and dropping the clicks put me more in the middle of the range.  Not much to say really, it worked like a well-set-up coil eventually. Not a bad start, but some more testing is needed.

Opinion

It comes with a really nice box and had green anodising!

But, like buying any new shock, there’s a lot of faff to get through to get a good feeling. This faff wasn’t helped by the setup guide and going backwards and forwards through the complicated website and multiple documents, then double-checking in a confused state against my actual product.

It would be nice if DVO updated the Base Settings to include the newer metric sizes as this standard must be 5 years old by now. That might reduce the setup time as this took one whole day of testing to get this far, though I did end the day with a couple of decent runs. It worked great in the end, but then it was hometime and the BikePark closed for a week. I’m lucky as I get a lot of bike time, but for the average consumer and AstonMTB follower bike time can be precious and is not to be wasted.

As always, you should go to a reputable tuner to buy the product. I know I am not following my own advice here, but I’m trying to act as a consumer and drive home this point. There are many of them out there that do a great job. From my personal experience, you cannot go wrong with Rulezman in Italy, NSR Racing in Australia, J-Tech / TF Tuned / Mojo in UK.

I get dozens and dozens of questions about which of the latest fancy or expensive shocks to buy. My advice is to worry less about the particular product or brand, the pretty colours and the marketing hype, something basic but well-tuned will outperform fancy stock every single run of the year. Oftentimes, the shock you already have will be improved in multiples with service and setup from a good tuner.

The product cost new is usually the same direct from a tuner than online, but they will strip and check every unit before it is sent out (which avoids common assembly issues from some brands from new), they will get you the right spring, hardware, and setup from Day One. If you build a relationship with a tuner they learn what you like, and if they are using a dyno (which they all should be) it’s easier to feed back to them and when you want a new product they can quickly set them up to match your previous preferences.

The adjustable bladder which allows adjustment of the entire damping assembly externally is a very handy tuning feature which I am not aware of on any other shocks, but I’m not 100% sure how to get the best out of it without a lot of trial and error. If anybody knows a reputable DVO tuner in mainland EU would be nice to send this off for a professional tune to get the best out of it. DVO in the USA do offer custom tuning from new but only recommends this: *If you are out of the range of our recommended air pressure then custom tuning might be for you. I was right in the middle of the air pressure chart.


Support

If you like this independent First Impression please support with some competition tickets. The €3500 of Rulezman’s Finest is the one you want to win if you’re interested in suspension – I’ve given away over 18x Rulezman prizes to date with a value of over €36000 all paid for at full price by me, I’ve only had overwhelmingly good feedback from the customers. 

Thanks, Paul.