The Giant Factory Off-Road Team announced today that it is partnering with DVO Suspension this year in a joint effort to optimize the performance of the team’s full-suspension downhill, enduro and XC race bikes. All of the team’s Maestro Suspension equipped bikes will feature shock technology created by the California-based suspension company.

“This marks a new phase for the team,” said Giant Factory Off-Road Team manager Joe Staub. “DVO is bringing an entire suspension brand to support our team. That means we get unlimited access to their full scope of engineering, product development and attention to tuning, as well as race support.”

With the start of the 2018 race season approaching, team riders have begun testing their new bikes and gear, including new suspension setups. After achieving initial suspension setups early in the year, a team camp scheduled for March will give the DH, enduro and XC riders an opportunity to work closely with DVO engineers to fine-tune their suspension systems ahead of key events.

“The relationship we have this year with the Giant Factory Off-Road Team is special because we are really focused 100 percent with Giant and their off-road program,” said DVO founder Bryson Martin. “From XC to enduro to downhill, all we do is focus on the team—making the best suspension for the team guys and specifically for each bike model and segment”

Martin said DVO will be creating and tuning shock technologies for specific usages, and the unique demands of pro racing. “For enduro, we’ll have a rear shock and matching front fork,” he said. “In downhill, where you’re pushing things to the extreme, we have some really cool, outside-the-box product planned for those guys.”

Returning to lead the downhill unit this year is seven-time Colombian downhill national champion Marcelo Gutierrez. Competing at the top level in the World Cup and other elite DH events where bike performance is critical, and where results come down to fractions of a second, Gutierrez said he is looking forward to working with DVO.

“It’s great knowing they are going to be really focused on us,” said Gutierrez. “They have the engineering experience, and we have the riding and racing experience. Together, we should be able to create some amazing bikes.”

The downhill unit of the squad consists of Gutierrez, Irish national champion Jacob Dickson and American Eliot Jackson. Those three will focus on World Cups and other major DH events on their Glory Advanced race bikes. The downhill squad is coming off a strong season that saw Gutierrez land two World Cup podiums and win the Garbanzo DH event at Crankworx Whistler for the fifth year in a row.

The enduro squad also sees the return of some familiar faces. Australian Josh Carlson and Canadian Mckay Vezina will again focus on Enduro World Series events, competing on their Reign Advanced race bikes.

“The product they’re providing us already, straight out of the box, is phenomenal,” said Carlson. “The amount of adjustment, the feeling, it’s something that I’ve always been searching for since I’d come to mountain bikes from motocross a few years ago. I’m really excited to see the final outcome and it gives me more confidence heading into 2018.”

Joining Giant’s two global enduro athletes is Rae Morrison of New Zealand, who will once again represent the Liv women’s brand, racing her Liv Hail Advanced bike at EWS and other major enduro events.

In addition to the global riders, the 2018 Giant Factory Off-Road Team also includes a group of North American regional athletes led by veteran XC racer Carl Decker. Those racers will focus on a variety of major enduro, XC and gravel racing events in North America aboard their Anthem, XtCand TCX race bikes. Joining Decker on the regional squad are XC racers Stephan Davoust and Cole Paton, plus enduro racer and BMX Olympic medalist Mike Day.

“Each racer is different,” Martin said. “What they want from the suspension and how it relates to the bikes varies. There’s a lot of stuff going on with the bike design. You’ve got the kinematics and wheel base and then the individual aspect of the rider, how they ride, their position on the bike. So we’re going to be able to specifically dial in exactly the feel of the bike with regards to the suspension and make them go faster.”