Parcel tracking showed the product was received and signed for after a few days. Weeks and weeks later I still had nothing. I pressured Unicorn Factory again, and eventually, they got a credit note…
…minus a €138 + 22% VAT re-stocking fee. The Unicorn Factory is a new company and another friend, who didn’t really have the cash to send me back as all he had was a credit note. It sounds like after this experience he will be another tuner unlikely to bother with DVO again, I’m sure this also cost him a few quid in time and money, plus the stress of having to deal with a moaning bastard like me. Weeks and weeks of more pressure and I got the actual money refunded, still minus the fee.
Then I called Enrico personally to ask about the fee, as I mentioned earlier, we are friends so I have his personal number. To keep an already long story short, the answer was that 4Guimp claimed there was nothing wrong with the product and now it is used, so I had to pay the re-stocking fee.
In my mind, there are only a few ways that there could be “nothing wrong with the product.”
1 – I have no idea how mountain bike suspension should work
2 – Someone at 4Guimp doesn’t know how suspension works (e.g. it should move up and down)
3 – It fixed itself by magic in the post
4 – The DVO setup guide is way out
5 – It did function correctly. In this case, it is one of the worst MTB suspension products ever made
So there we have it, about 4 months wasted in total, loss of money for UF, 4Guimp and me, plus there’s no interesting review content for my great loyal followers, and about €4000 of bike hanging on the wall not being ridden or making money for me to invest in more products to test.
If anybody bothered to read my waffle until this point, they might suggest some of the following:
“Paul Aston should have tested the product further and found out the problem and fixed it,”
Now call me crazy, but I believe these products should arrive in working order. The brands that manufacture these products are responsible for this. After all, their marketing blurb makes many performance claims and DVO stands for “DeVelOped Suspension. Go and check out the Norco Shore Saga on my youtube channel – I already did plenty of prototyping work for them to make a mountain bike function to ride up and down mountains. Eventually, after I was initially told most problems were my fault, Norco admitted responsibility, they changed and upgraded their bikes including sending new parts to existing customers thanks to all my work. I just lost a LOT of time and money in the end.
“All suspension should be stripped and checked first, then tuned to get the best out of it,”
I agree that all suspension can be tuned for better performance and made to suit the rider. I would have been happy to try and tune it further if it at least worked in the first place. Stripping and checking it first? I’ve never in my life seen a suggestion printed ANYWHERE on any bike brands’ literature or setup guides to do this. If I opened a box to read a big warning sign saying “Please take this suspension to a (insert brand here) service centre or strip and check for correct assembly before use” then this is a fair point.
“It’s unfair to compare an out-of-the-box product against the custom-tuned stuff you have like the NSR Boxxer or Dorado RRT”
Some comments suggested that I was comparing this product unfairly to the other incredible products that I am very lucky to own via some of the world’s best tuners. It is true that this would be an unfair comparison. But the fork literally didn’t work so I never even got to the point of comparing it against anything else.
My conclusion and the reason why I went through all this rather than “just send it back,” is to imagine the following:
You’re brand new to mountain biking. You got hooked on bikes watching people send jumps and shred the gnar on youtube. You discover your new favourite pro riders. You follow them, you see nice reels of their suspension effortlessly moving up and down. You read reviews that say these products are great. You work hard, you save up thousands of £€$.
BOOM! It’s go time. Pull the trigger, order the parts, and receive them. They look amazing and are green anodized to the hilt. Enthusiastically build up the bike and follow the setup guide. Book your weekend away, pack up and head to the hills. You start riding, it’s difficult, your hands start to hurt, and it doesn’t look like much is happening in the travel department. You don’t question it as you have no idea how these things should work or feel on the trail. You assume it’s normal, after all, all those posts you read, the brand’s website claims and the thousands you spent can’t be wrong, can they?
A year later. Someone more experienced at the cafe tries your bike. They tell you your suspension sucks and isn’t working properly. You investigate. Turns out it was never assembled correctly and you feel like your first year of riding was a waste of time and money. On the upside, you survived a year of riding without an injury caused by a faulty product.
If I had just sent it back to be checked, or fixed it myself, and didn’t force myself to write another boring, negative and condemning article (I take no pleasure in any of this saga, I just want to buy nice stuff, test it, tell you its great, and then sell it in a competition to make a little salary), then there would be no pressure on the companies to improve their products and processes. They would continue selling stuff and making money and there may be lots of people like in the story above.
If these companies cannot deliver the products working correctly, then all of the development time, marketing, sponsoring pro-riders and everything else that is involved in getting the product to the consumer is a waste of time. Hopefully, with me complaining and bringing these issues to light, we will all get better bikes
and have more fun on them. Get your shit sorted out and let’s #buildbikebetter together!
I sent this article to a number of industry friends who work in MTB media or companies for feedback. They all agreed it was a fair story.
I sent it to The Unicorn Factory who was happy for me to publish it.
I sent it to Enrico Guala via whatsapp for feedback, he responded quickly saying he will check it and get back to me. Since then I received no response.
I didn’t send it to 4Guimp directly as they never responded to me previously.
I didn’t send it to DVO directly as they already denied responsibility.
I previously communicated with DVO New Zealand via Instagram who had debated me online about this situation. They had offered to fix and tune my products out of goodwill, or that I could borrow some prepared lowers from a local pro/supported rider, but I declined as that is not standard customer service from the original seller in the EU. They seem like nice helpful guys who have real faith in their DVO products that they build from scratch and tune to suit the rider before shipping out. I asked them to quote me (on the 15th June) for a prepared DH-spec fork and shock so that I could test their DVO products back-to-back over the summer against my Rulezman and NSR products – I never received a quote.
The Honesty Challenge:
If DVO are unhappy about this article, then here is my suggestion: DVO can send me two pairs of suspension free of charge. Two DH forks for 29″ wheels and two 250x75mm shocks, with the correct spring rates (300/325/350lb) and hardware (25×8 and 40×8) – email me for the shipping address.
I will buy a third matching set with my own money from a random online shop. Before riding anything, I will take everything to an independent suspension expert. They will dyno test all the units to compare friction, springs, and dampers for consistency. They will strip and inspect all units and rebuild them to the manufacturer’s spec.
If they are consistent, then I will test them. If they are amazing on the trail and outperform my other existing products, I will continue to use them (one set supplied by DVO, and one set I purchased) on two of my bikes over the next few months or years, until something better comes along.
After testing, I will give the (brand new) second set supplied by DVO away in a competition to try and make back the money lost on this saga and to pay the independent suspension centre for their time.
I don’t think I can be any fairer than that?
You can now win this bike featured here on my competition page. Freshly built with EXT suspension and set up for the winner with a full warranty from GeoMetron Bikes, UK.