DT-SWISS XMM Twinshot 29″er fork – Final Review: by c_g
Only recently we had brought to you the verdict on the DT-SWISS XM 1550 Tricon wheels (here) … now it is the XMM 29″er suspension fork´s turn (in the 15 mm thru axle / Twin Shot version) to receive its verdict.
Some may remember that during our visit to the DT-SWISS headquarters for the 2013 product launch (here ) we had done two modifications to the fork. One was to exchange the remote lockout lever for a fork mounted one – a thing that can be done without touching the damping circuits of the fork. The other has been to swap the standard lubrication oil for the all new Panolin Specialty Oil, which is said to improve small bump sensitivity and not be prone to low viscosity when ridden in extremely low temperatures – a thing I noted in my first impressions (here) where the fork has been ridden at below 5°F (-15°C).
First for the changes: Like commented before, the indexing of the Twin-Lock Remote- lever is fairly soft, so finding the middle setting in the heat of riding action had sometimes been hard. Also when getting muck into the fairly open and exposed mechanism, the spring activated release had sometimes been delayed (some cleaning does solve that, but it does happen). While indexing still was fairly soft with the fork mounted lever, the position was easier visible and being hand activated in both directions there was no more delay.
Switching the oil over to Panolin definitely caused the fork to perform differently – it got a good amount more active and sensitive, but also big hit performance got enhanced in my opinion – only on steps or small drops would the fork sink into its travel more than before (a thing helped by going for a slightly higher compression damping on such sections). The only side effect of the modification has been that rebound also felt faster, but that was easily taken care of by adding just a few clicks if rebound damping (before I had run the fork´s rebound completely open). Once done I liked the suspension action even better than before – which already has been really good.
The Twin Shot Damping also has performed flawlessly. By its 3 settings from „activ“, to „ semi-activ ,30% reduced travel“ all the way to „100% locked“ (which can be engaged ether in full extension or partly reduced mode) it has never shown any malfunction and worked like a charm. It has been especially welcome for those longer alpine climbs where I often found myself going for the middle mode, which gave me a better climb-ability in steep sections – on my shorter uphills back home I mostly went from open to fully locked and hardly ever bothered with the middle setting – primarily because with the soft indexing it had been easier to go from one extreme to the other rather than feeling for the middle setting. With a stronger indexing I may have ridden the fork a bit differently, but then again, maybe not. I am a sucker for reduced travel forks when it comes to long rides, simply because I feel it helps me save energy on the climbs and in this regard the reduced travel (and semi-active suspension action) of the Twin-Shot system has been great. If you don´t care much for such features, you can opt for the more simple (and cheaper) Single-Shot Lockout – but keep in mind DT-SWISS believes in real „lockouts“ not a „highly damping lockout“, so when engaged the fork is not only firm, but rigid.
In my last report I have already mentioned how variable the DT-SWISS XMM fork´s suspension character is even with small modifications in the air pressure.
I acknowledge that every air-sprung fork is prone to change with air pressure (be it positive or negative air chamber, which in the XMM is worked by only one valve and DT´s „Auto Balancing Spring“), but if you really want to change the suspension character, the changes need to be so big, that you either compromise usable travel or recommended SAG. In other words, with most forks I know (apart from the Dual- Air ROCK SHOX, each fork has a certain character. Not so the XMM – here a slight change in air pressure (say 0,1 bar) will lead to a detectable change in feel. I have done several tests with this, running the same trail sections over and over with only small modifications to the air pressure, and it cannot be denied. By going up or down 0,2 bar you can change the fork from being aggressively responsive (XC and Race) to really plush and sensitive – all without getting huge effects on SAG or usable travel.
I really enjoyed that ability on the XMM fork and am sure many others will, too, but you need to be aware that the initial setup (to get it just right) may be a bit more elaborate than some competitor´s forks with a wider „sweet spot“. All the other adjustability features, like rebound and compression damping, (both easily reached on top of right leg) are also there and work in a wide range to get you just the tune you prefer.
Another thing about the XMM is how precise and laterally stiff it is … and rides. In the combination with the DT Tricon 29″er wheels it has been the most precise 29″er fork (with 32 mm stanchions) I have ridden up to now (not by much, but still)– only surpassed by the FOX F34 and the GERAMN:ANSWER Excite. I have had the chance to inspect the fork´s lower casting – once with and once w/o the Torsion Box insert and to feel how the alloy insert does turn the casting from noodly to bomber stiff is astonishing.
During the last phase of testing I rode the XMM fork back on my ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element (where it had started out also) – in between it has been ridden a lot on the BERGAMONT Revox Team. All comments and observations apply to either bike, mostly because by the tunabilty I could get it too feel however I liked it best – on the hard tail and on the full suspension bike.
Above that I have had no issues and no peculiarities with DT´s XMM 29″er fork – it has been trouble free and absolutely reliable all the time.
CORRECTING COMMENT: In my intro I had commented how RWS lever of the 15mm axle was touching the fork leg in its last two rotations … and called that a flaw. As it turned out this is intentional, to keep the axle from further opening up should it somehow accidentally get knocked loose. I may add I have never experienced any such loosening, but it is good to know that even if it happened (e.g by some ground contact) that there still is a safety measure to keep it from really getting loose. Sorry folks for not calling the smartness of the design .
VERDICT: With more than 6 months of riding, lots of foul weather, alpine tours and absolutely no maintenance I can confirm how the XMM 29″er fork (along with the XM Tricon wheels) have proven their reliability and performance. If you are a rider seeking a „Set & Forget“ product, then be aware that in order to get the most out of the XMM fork you have to invest a bit more time to get the set-up right. Once done the XMM fork will perform on the same level as other high end suspension forks and will not disappoint. If you like to tune your equipment according to the situation or preference, then the DT- SWISS has a unique quality of its own by offering a wider than usual range of suspension feel that can be modified easily and quickly by modifying the air pressure.
In terms of stiffness I´d say it pretty much leads the pack of 32 mm forks and when it comes to looks (purely subjective) I think it is pretty unique, too.
ps: Like we have reported already, while in 2012 you could only get the ultra light carbon crown/steerer version with 9 mm QR lowers, for 2013, DT-SWISS has added the the 15 RWS version – completing the 29″er fork line.