It was easy even for the eagle-eyed to miss the new fork that Mathias Flückiger rode to the elite win at the first XC World Cup of the season, finishing completely covered in the mud of Albstadt. But a week later, he lined up in Nove Mesto on a clean bike. And we got a good look at his prototype DT Swiss XC mountain bike fork, which looks set to supersede the reverse arch OPM family.
Prototype DT Swiss 100mm XC mountain bike fork
Swiss mountain biker Mathias Flückiger races cross-country for the Thömus RN Swiss team, who rode last season on Fox suspension, but this year switched over to DT Swiss wheels, X313 shocks & forks. While other members of his team rode the current DT OPM 100 Race forks with a carbon crown and gold reverse arch lowers, Flückiger alone was on this unlabeled prototype – conveniently lined up at the start next to a current DT fork for comparison.
So how do we know this is a prototype DT Swiss F 232 ONE fork?
Besides the fact that the team is sponsored by DT and all other teammates were on DT forks, this one doesn’t really look like a DT Swiss fork. But a close up view does reveal some angular similarities with the F 535 One trail bike forks that DT Swiss introduced last summer.
Like the trail fork, this new XC race fork drops the reverse arch design for similarly shaped angular arch with a straight center section. It also uses straight (no bulges) lower legs with a blocky offset at the axle.
Holistic Suspension tech for XC?
Oh, and both the Thömus team & DT Swiss race support were completely tight-lipped on any details when I asked them, and kept the forks just out of clear view as much as possible over the race weekend.
I did spot a number of DT-connected mechanics wearing Holistic Suspension tee shirts at an XC race. That’s a name for the new Plushport position-sensitive damping tech debuted on the F 535 One that promises suppleness over small bumps, mid travel support & progression for the big hits. To make that work for longer travel DT combines coil & air springs in the F 535. It’s unclear if they will try to do that here in a lightweight XC race fork too?
Looking through the team’s tent while the mechanic was prepping Flueckiger’s bike, you can see a large open window in the back of each leg, providing access to adjuster controls. I don’t think those are the holes they mean by ‘Holistic Suspension’, though.
A closer look at its backside reveals the webbing of the thin fork brace of the one-piece magnesium? lowers, the bolt-thru attachment of the front brake line guide (on the left), and the smooth underside of the alloy crown and pressed in 1.5″ steerer tube.
Looking more closely at the forged crown, it appears that that this could be pulled straight from the current mid-range OPM forks. It has the same smooth ribbed shape and scalloped sockets for the stanchions (also suggesting that this prototype maintains 32mm diameter sliders.)
Where the arch meets the lowers, the fork gets some machined out relief channels mimicking the graphics on the new F 535, but presumably here to shave weight.
Up top, the prototype fork looks the have the same Remote Control compression lockout hardware from DT’s current O.D.L. internals (Open, Drive, Lock).
You can also see here again the oddly thinned, section at the center of the fork arch. Perhaps that fits together with a detachable front fender like on the F 535 One fork, but it seems like a strange place to shave away a small amount of material that has to have some impact of stiffness.
The offset at the dropout seems excessively boxy. All other DT Swiss forks have used an externally relieved design, but from seeing the back of the fork, perhaps they are relieved internally.
(Sidebar: can you guess the weight of Flückiger’s 29×2.25″ Racing Ray tires? 3g over Schwalbe’s claim.)
The bottom of the prototype fork’s lowers are completely hollow, and include large cutout windows that reveal some of what is going on inside. In the right leg you get a glimpse of a long red anodized control knob that likely controls rebound settings. But that knob is long enough to be accessed from the bottom of the fork leg, suggesting another reason for the cutouts.
My assumption is that the window actually is there to allow access to machine out excess material in those boxy axle offsets.
This is the carbon Tomcat hardtail that Flückiger won the Albstadt XC World Cup on, albeit cleaned up again after that muddy race. It and the 100mm carbon Lightrider full-suspension he raced to 3rd place at Nové Město appeared to have the only two of these prototype DT Swiss forks floating around.
As of now DT Swiss hasn’t given us any other information on the development of this fork. I will go out on a limb and suggest that it might be named the DT Swiss F 232 ONE 100 based on DT’s naming convention for their recent trail-enduro fork. Seeing it only on one pro’s bike suggests it is still a relatively early prototype, so I doubt we will get any more concrete information on it before late in the summer at earliest.
But for fans of DT suspension (the existing ODL controls are some of the best around & the Plushport tech in the trail fork seems promising), it’s nice to hear that a new cross-country fork is in the works. And it has already won an XC World Cup in the first big race of the season, with six elite podiums under Flückiger already in 2019.