- DT Swiss HVR200 shock
- Ultimate Pursuits
If this were one of those traditional magazines, reproduced in ink on a large chunk of reconstituted wood pulp divided into what now look like rather whimsical “pages”, we’d have to spend the next few paragraphs explaining what DT Swiss’s HVR200 platform shock is, how it came to be and what it’s supposed to do. This would be by way of background, because, were this a traditional magazine, we’d have no way of knowing whether you’d read the introductory piece some months ago. Or indeed, if having read it you could recall any of the finer details. Thankfully, we’re a web site, everything we’ve ever done is still here somewhere and we can simply wibble away our opening paragraph on some gimmicky introduction before gently pointing the reader towards the background in question – don’t forget to hit Back when you’re done…
OK, up to speed? Good. That means that we can cut to the chase and tell you how the shock is in real life. The first thing it is is light. Really light. Claimed weight is 192g for a 165mm eye-to-eye unit – we had a 200mm one that weighed 200g and felt, when hefted, like it was possibly some sort of balsa-wood mockup. But no, it’s a fully-functional shock.
Fitting is simple enough once you’ve got hold of the relevant hardware – DT has bits and bobs to fit pretty much everything. The HVR has spherical bushings at each end, meaning that the mounting shafts can deflect within the shock eyes without transferring any bending or twisting loads to the shock. The good thing about this is that it makes the shock last longer. The bad thing is that you may find that your bike actually relies on a rigidly-mounted shock to keep the back end going in largely the same way as the front. It’s a bit of an awkward situation, really. It’s not a particularly good idea to use a shock as a structural element, but quite a lot of bikes do it to some extent. In theory it’ll reduce the life of a rigidly-mounted shock, but you might find that a “floating” shock renders the whole thing too floppy to ride. There’s no easy answer to this, you just have to consider each case on its merits, but it does mean that the DT shock isn’t necessarily going to help if you’ve got a bike that persistently eats shocks – if it’s flexy enough to kill shocks, chances are it’s too flexy to ride without a shock holding it in line.
Set up is easy. If you’ve had any experience of platform shocks like the 5th Element or Manitou SPV units, you may have experienced a degree of confusion getting them to work to your satisfaction – there’s a way of doing it, and if you don’t do it that way you can easily end up chasing settings around the shock and not really getting anywhere. The DT is a doddle, though – back off the platform clicker and rebound, set air pressure to get your desired sag, add rebound and platform damping to taste. Done. The internal negative spring is an elastomer unit, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Setting the rebound is a tad fiddly thanks to the axial position of the clicker, but at least it’s traditionally Red for Rebound. Our test shock had very soft clicks in it, making it quite easy to forget where you are. That’s only a problem if you like to know exactly how many clicks from fully open you like to run (rather than just thinking in terms of “a bit more/less”).
DT has worked hard to get the biggest possible air volume within the constraints of the shock’s length and diameter (both of which are obviously limited by having to fit into a bike). Its efforts have clearly paid off – we were running barely 60psi in it.
Which just leaves the platform dial. This is delightfully simple – wound all the way out you have essentially no platform effect, with full plushness at your disposal. And it is pretty plush – perhaps not as super-floaty as a good coil shock, but certainly unlikely to attract any complaints. It’s very linear, too. Unlike the top-line 5th and SPV shocks you don’t get the ability to control the end-stroke progression, but it felt good on the test bike. Wind the platform on (no pump required, just turn the knob) and the shock gets gradually harder to activate merely through gibbon-like pedalling until you reach a point where it’s essentially locked out unless you hit something really quite hard.
There’s enough range that you should be able to find a setting you like. We’d imagine that most people will be operating somewhere around the point where they can dial out most pedalling influence without giving up too much plushness, and happily there’s enough difference between one click and the next to let you start at that point and maybe put in a click or two one way or the other depending on the prevailing trail conditions. In the higher platform settings you do start to encounter a rather abrupt on-off feel that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ridden a first generation Specialized Epic, but in most cases you’ll find that a slightly less aggressive setting will work just as well but feel better.
Which just leaves the ever-thorny reliability question. Which, alas, we can’t really answer. Ours hasn’t given us any trouble, but there’s not all that many DT shocks out there to get feedback from – at least, not compared to the oodles of Fox ones. There’s nothing in the construction that gives us any cause for concern, and those tricksy bushings will help, but beyond that we can’t really comment as yet – we’ll keep you posted.
Positives: Extremely light, easy to set up, performs well, on-the-fly platform adjustment
Negatives: Your bike might be too floppy to use it, awkwardly-placed rebound adjuster, no long-term reputation as yet
Verdict: This is a very good shock. We’re not, we have to admit, totally sold on the spherical bushings – yes, they make engineering sense, but if the rest of the bike doesn’t then you’re not really any further ahead. And if your bike’s sufficiently well put together that putting this shock in it won’t make it go all floppy, then it won’t have been loading the existing shock in a funny way either. But leaving all that aside, the weight and on-the-fly platform adjustment are reason enough to give this shock serious consideration. If you’re a set-and-forget kind of rider, then regular platform shocks can be had for less money, but if you like to twiddle and you don’t mind being an early adopter, the HVR is a real contender.