Can DT Swiss' 232 One butt-in on the dominance of Fox and RockShox?
Photos: Colin Levitch
After testing the DT Swiss F 535 Darth Vader enduro and all-mountain suspension fork a couple of years ago, we had heard there would be more to come from the Swiss masters of wheels and wheel components. The DT Swiss F 535 impressed with its stiffness and very plush initial stroke that offered incredible traction. The DT Swiss 232 ONE range is at the short travel end of the spectrum and aims to 'push the boundaries of XC even further' and it includes a suspension fork, rear shock and short travel dropper post. If you've been keeping up with the World Cup cross-country (XCO) racing over the past few years, you'll understand why even XC bikes are getting stiffer forks, far greater adjustability, wider tyres and rims, longer and slacker geometry, and of course – dropper posts.
Downsized in leg diameter and travel, the DT Swiss F 232 ONE suspension fork is the leader of the range, and the all-black fork is available in 100, 110 and 120mm travel options for 29” wheels and with remote or non-remote lockout options.
The 32mm fork legs might seem small compared to a Fox 34 SC or a 35mm legged RockShox SID, but the test data from DT Swiss shows that their materials analysis has put the material in the right place, with excellent stiffness claimed for both torsional rigidity and for bending. This creates a fork that doesn't bind when the going gets rough, and weighs from 1480g, depending which variant you get. This 120mm model weighed 1510g with an uncut steerer. It has a 51mm offset which is the only option. That's what my bike is designed around, although I run shorter offset with a 100mm fork and 51mm with a 120mm fork.
The air spring is called LINEAIR, and it has two chambers. The negative spring (which helps reduce the breakaway force and initial stiction of an air spring) has a much higher pressure than the positive chamber when not compressed. So, the start of the stroke is super plush, and perfect across trail chatter like a lattice of tree roots, tightly packed rocks and stutter bumps. DT Swiss use a bypass so that entering the mid-stroke the pressures equalises and just the positive chamber compresses. As such, the spring curve is pretty linear through the mid stroke. This means that although you have that very plush initial travel, the rest of the fork travel isn't like a sponge – it ramps up really well from the mid-stroke onwards. There is a spacer system that can be used to adjust how the spring curve ramps up.
The damping cartridge is called INCONTROL and has 3 positions: Open, Drive and Lock. The cartridge controls low speed compression (LSC) in the Open mode, with 14 positions that can be set atop the cartridge. But in the Drive setting LSC is bypassed, and high speed compression (HSC) oil flow opens on bigger hits. This means it is pretty firm when climbing, but still activates on larger bumps. Lock is super firm for road climbs and finish line sprints, but of course there is a blow off valve. Rebound damping is below the fork leg with 30 clicks of adjustment.
The rear shock is a little different as in Australia, it won't be stocked as readily. DT Swiss are primarily using this for stock builds with brands, so they can get the shock tune just right for specific suspension designs. With my Norco Revolver accepting 190x37.5mm shocks for 100mm of travel, or 190x45mm for 120mm travel, I threw caution to the wind and ran the DT Swiss R 232 One shock at 190x40mm, figuring I'd get around 105mm of travel. It's nice and light at 244g, saving 36g from the Fox Float DPS that came off.
The shock has the same LINEAIR spring and INCONTROL settings, and DT Swiss make a very neat over the bar dual lock out lever. The rebound dial is at the front of the shock body with a very positive click for adjustment – and 40 clicks!
Setup was pretty simple, with no surprises in fitting up any of the parts, I settled on about 68psi for the fork and 145psi in the rear shock. This took a little bit of work as the initial stroke does feel so plush, I actually ended up running too much pressure at first, because it felt too soft. I kept the stock 2 volume spacers in the fork, although it can take 3. The fork is already quite progressive in the travel, and 2 matched the 3 I run in my Fox forks for feel. DT Swiss have a guide online and they suggested a firmer fork and softer shock – but this is what worked for me.
On the trail
Once I'd got the pressures I wanted, I really started to get into the DT Swiss One suspension. The first ride once setup was actually one of the most eye opening, as I did think I had s slow leak in the front tyre. The fork was just so supple that I thought something was wrong at the front end. I was descending into a no phone service area, so acutely aware that I didn't want to do any damage and not even be able to phone a friend for help. But it was just the fork, and it felt brilliant. The increase in traction especially with the boost in stiffness beyond the 32 SC I removed was excellent.
I did end up adjusting the LSC a little more, and stayed at 5 clicks, which is softer than I started. I think at first the really plush initial stroke put me off. I really hate suspension that is soft and dives around, but the air spring in the DT Swiss F 232 One fork is anything but that. Yes, it is very supple, but it really maintains its ride height in the mid-stroke. When I wanted it firmer for fire trail climbs and smooth singletrack I just moved it to Drive mode.
The rear suspension was the same – at first I thought it was just totally the wrong tune for my bike when bouncing around on a driveway test. But again, on some rough descents my bike was just so planted! I did dial the rebound back a little for some more pop, but it was so good to ride. I do sit a little more into the travel than with my normal rear shock, but it's not much, and it is very stable once there. And again, with the Drive position, I get a huge amount of stability for smooth trails. But where this suspension really delivers is when it's open.
I don't think I'm the sort of rider to go out and chase personal bests when testing new suspension, but I did set of few anyway in the process of testing the DT Swiss parts over the past few months. Sure, it could have been the tyres, or riding my local trails more than other years, but either way, the suspension was working really nicely, and I was really happy to get the tune right so easily.
The DT Swiss One fork and shock are available in non-remote lockout options as well, but I think for XC purposes that almost misses the point, especially with three distinct positions. The DT Swiss system passes a lot more control back, and calling the middle Drive position 'half locked' would be a disservice. The Drive position is incredibly useful, and used far more often than Lock. Using the settings is not unlike shifting gears or using a dropper post after a few rides – all part of the small adjustments you make to your bike to go as fast as possible.
I was incredibly impressed by the DT Swiss One suspension, but there are still some drawbacks. Pricing is high, although I can easily see the value in it. I don't think being 29er only is a drawback as what modern XC bike doesn't use 29” wheels? I do think having just one offset available is limiting, especially with more cross-country bikes being designed around reduced offset forks. Similarly, not being able to change your 100mm fork to a 110mm or 120mm variant internally is a downside. The Fox 34 SC can have an airspring change to those three travel options, and while not many people do it – you can.
Overall, I really enjoyed the time riding the DT Swiss One suspension, and I would thoroughly recommend considering it if you're looking at some top spec suspension for your XC bike.
F 232 fork: From $1549
R 232 shock: $575 (special order)
- Great spring curve and suspension adjustability
- Amazing initial stroke and mid-stroke support
- Stiffness to weight ratio
- Just one option, at top dollar
- May not have the specs you need
- Daggy over the bar lockout lever