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HOLISTIC SUSPENSION – CHAPTER 2 – THE DESIGN

We don’t understand design like an asset you either have or you don’t. To us design is having a concept on how to make the form a function, and the function a form. Continue reading to learn more about the design concept and the design process of the 535 suspension platform.

THE CONCEPT

FORM IS A FUNCTION

With our design concept we keep it close to nature. Areas that have a lot of functions and need to support large loads, are thick and high volume. Areas with fewer functions and smaller loads, on the other hand, are always thin and svelte. This not only results in a unique design, but also the ideal ratio of weight to stiffness. Following nature’s credo, FORM BECAME A FUNCTION and made us apply material and lines only where they are needed for functional purpose.

NATURAL LINES
Have you ever seen something ugly out in nature? This is why we shaped the 535 products the way nature does it. Every volume, every line has its purpose. Just like that tree outside your office: Its form is a direct result of its function.

HOLLOW CLOSED VOLUME DROPOUTS
The dropout caps allow us to fully hollow out the dropouts, yet they make sure dirt is kept out while cleanliness and speed are kept up.

THE FENDER
Following our HOLISTIC SUSPENSION approach, the F 535 ONE needed a fender thought of as one with the fork. We came up with an ultra slick solution where the fender follows the arch closely for max. clearance and the mounting threads are precisely integrated into the arch’s truss.

THE DIALS
To us, a high end product should be high end to the very detail. Therefore we made sure that when you touch and turn any of the dials there is precision feedback, no play and a noticeable effect on your damping.

THE PROCESS

EARLY STAGE
The design work starts when the two main components of the project are defined:

1. The build room, as we call it, has to be set in a CAD file. It defines all externally set factors such as: The needed tire clearance, downtube clearance, fork offset, disc brake dimensions and many more.
2. The detailed required specs from sales and product management are defined. With this information on hand, the designer works out multiple scenarios, able to integrate the demands for the project in a 3D shape. These scenarios are visualized with sketches, CAD drafts, moodboards and more. They are then presented to all the responsible people to decide on. For the 535 platform three scenarios were worked out: round/smooth, clean/sturdy and raw/edgy. Clean/sturdy was chosen.

THE LINES
All lines are bundled and directional.

INFINITE LOOP
All reinforcements are integrated into one infinite loop.

SINGLE BEND CROWN WITH COVERS
From the steerer to the stanchion there is only one bend in the forks’ silhouette. This is a key visual element which no other suspension fork has (except upside down forks).

VISUALIZATION
The full fork visualized in an early stage to evaluate whether the single elements work together or not.

FIRST DRAFT
The technical requirements and the design concept are merged as soon as possible. This brings up a lot of new issues, especially in such an ambitious and complex project as the 535 platform. It is the back and forth between the engineers’ CAD models and the designers sketches that ensures the final product performs holistic.

THE COVERS I
Concept rendering for the 535 crown cap construction.

THE COVERS II
And for the dropouts.

BACK AND FORTH
Sketch to clean up lines, to make them interact with each other. Serves as a base for the engineer’s CAD modelling.

PRINT
Low-cost 3D printed plastic crown to verify a design variant of the 535 crown.

THE FINALIZATION

It ain’t over until everything is defined to perfection. And «until» in the case of the 535 platform meant more than two years. Details and small parts have to be adapted based on feedback from suppliers in order to guarantee production results at a DT Swiss-high level. Through our profound know how we can anticipate most manufacturing issues that could stem from design decisions, but nothing replaces actually making a prototype. This is where things such as the minimally manufacturable radii and wall thicknesses have to be considered, in order to make the whole work to perfection. Also the graphics for the dials and on the fender have to be checked for production: They are laser etched, tampon printed or injection molded. And with either technology it is always a question of having the best design that is still producible in Swiss precision (and won’t make any alarm bells go off in the controlling department).

DIMENSIONING
Proportional drawing for the engineering team to finalize production files.

FINISHING
The finish of every single part has to be defined and verifyed for producibility.

LEVERS
The detailed design of the lever controlled version of the F 535 ONE gets ready for production.

OPTIMIZATION
Graphic and form details are optimized between engineer, designer and supplier.

FINALLY
After a lot of blood, sweat and tears in what was the most complex development project for DT Swiss up to date, we created the 535 Suspension platform. For you to enjoy out on the trails. See you there!

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