Testing Formula’s new Selva R fork and those funky Neopos volume spacers

by Wil Barrett 0

Two years ago, Formula introduced its first Boost compatible suspension fork called the Selva. We’ve tested and reviewed one already, and it’s an absolutely brilliant fork with a tonne of adjustability. Formula is keeping that Selva in the lineup, but it’ll now be called the Selva S. Coming in above that, is this new fork called the Selva R.

Formula has been drip-feeding us information about its new Selva R fork all year. Chipps was first shown a prototype at Bike Connection Winter back in February, but he wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Formula has since returned for the Summer edition of Bike Connection with a newer near-production version of the same fork, which I had the chance to spend a few days on. It isn’t ready for sale though – although Formula is showing off the new fork at Eurobike this week, it won’t be until later this year before you can get your hands on one.

So consider this a bit of an hors d’oeuvre at what’s to come from the Italian suspension manufacturer.

formula selva R fork
Formula’s new Selva R fork will sit above the existing Selva in the long travel fork line up. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

What’s Different?

Structurally, not a lot. The Selva R fork will use the same 35mm chassis as the current Selva, and it’ll also make use of the same sealed Drop-In damper cartridge with the steampunk compression dials at the top of the crown. You’ve got the same travel options (130-180mm), and 29in and 27.5in wheelsizes.

The main difference is in the air spring, and Formula reckons the added adjustability is going to be particularly appealing for racers and those who love suspension fettling. Rather than an air/coil spring, the Selva R will make use of a dual-air spring with an air positive and negative chamber. Unlike a modern Fox or RockShox fork though, these two air chambers are independently adjustable, so you can change the spring curve by altering pressure between the two. This will make it a slightly lighter fork too, but as of yet we don’t have confirmed weights from Formula.

formula selva R fork
The Selva R features 35mm stanchions and 130-160mm of travel. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

Formula Selva R Fork Features

  • Designed for all mountain riding and enduro racing
  • 27.5in and 29in options
  • Travel: 130-160mm (preset in 10mm increments)
  • Also available with 170-180mm travel on the ‘Extended’ 27.5in version
  • Dual air spring with independently adjustable positive and negative chambers
  • Includes 1 x Neopos spacer
  • Drop-In damper cartridge with Internal Floating Technology
  • Crown mounted lock out, bar option available
  • Damper adjustments: Low-speed compression (12 clicks), rebound (21 clicks), lockout, lockout threshold
  • Additional compression tuning via CTS Valves
  • Dropouts: 110x15mm Boost or 110x20mm Boost
  • ILS thru-axle
  • 1.5in tapered alloy steerer
  • Offset options: 46mm and 51mm
  • Price: TBC
formula selva R fork spring coil air
In the background is Formula’s current air/coil spring. In the foreground is the new air/air spring for the Selva R.

Setting Up

At Bike Connection Summer in Les Gets, I spent two days riding a 29er Alutech Tofane with 160mm of rear travel. It was from Formula’s own test fleet, so it was decked out with the Selva R fork with 160mm travel, a set of Linea G wheels, along with Formula’s ludicrously powerful Cura 4 brakes.

On the back side of the fork lowers, a handy setup guide gives you recommended air pressures for both chambers. For my 70kg riding weight, that meant 70psi in the silver valve (positive) and 90psi in the bronze valve (negative). Before you start inflation though, Formula recommends depressurising the negative chamber entirely first. From there you inflate the positive chamber, then inflate the negative chamber, compress the fork a few times to balance the chambers, and away you go.

formula selva R fork
The setup guide recommends higher pressures in the negative chamber.
formula selva R fork
Adjust the positive air spring up top (silver cap).
formula selva R fork
Then add air to the negative chamber via the valve under the bronze cap.

For damping adjustments, you’ve got rebound at the bottom of the right hand fork leg, and on top you’ve got a lockout lever, a black dial for adjusting the lockout threshold, and a blue dial for adjusting low-speed compression damping. Lurking underneath the top cap is Formula’s simple CTS (Compression Tuning System) module, which can be removed and swapped for different CTS valves, depending on hard or soft you want the fork to feel. It’s really easy to do – you don’t need to bleed the damper or really even get your hands dirty. Just unbolt the top cap with Formula’s own tool (included with the fork), remove the CTS valve, and bung in the new one. Tom did a great job of testing out the CTS valves on his Selva test fork, so head here for more info.

formula selva R fork
The Satellite damper controls at the top of the right hand fork leg. Photo: Luigi Stili / Bike Connection.
formula selva R fork damper
The damper is housed inside a sealed cartridge with an expandable bladder housing all of the oil.
formula selva R fork cts valve
If you really like fettling, there’s a load of adjustability with the CTS valves.

Seeing as I like a softer suspension feel, Formula took out the ‘Regular Medium’ CTS valve, and fitted the ‘Regular Soft’ valve. Externally, the Formula mechanics set me up with the rebound near halfway, and we left the compression damping (that’s the blue dial) wound out at full-open with zero clicks.

Neopos

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to adjusting damping and air pressures, there’s more spring fettling available with Formula’s Neopos spacer. This is basically a volume spacer made out of squishy silicone. Like any other volume spacer, it sits inside the positive air chamber to reduce the overall volume to increase progression. But there’s a little more to it than that.

formula selva R fork neopos spacer
These simple Neopos spacers are made of squishy silicone, so that they compress inside the fork’s air spring as the pressure increases.

Formula says it’s been working on Neopos since 2011. The engineers wanted a simple volume spacer system like RockShox and Fox, to allow users to modify the spring curve of their fork. Rather than using plastic tokens like those aforementioned brands, the idea came about to develop something made out of a soft material, which would compress under pressure.

Neopos is exactly that – it’s a squishy volume spacer that actually compresses when under pressure. It sits loose inside the air spring where it floats about, but because it’s so light and soft, it’s impossible to notice it bouncing about in there. As your fork compresses, and air pressure builds inside the air spring, the Neopos spacer compresses and gets smaller, helping to smooth out the end of the travel so you don’t end up with a really heavy ramp-up.

The Neopos spacer allows for a flatter spring curve towards the end of the travel.

The idea here is that you can increase the positive spring pressure to get crucial mid-stroke support, without ending up with a fork that gets really hard in the last 1/3rd of the travel as it ramps up – like it would with a traditional hard plastic volume spacer. In Formula’s words, it says the Neopos spacer helps to ‘Linearise’ the air spring behaviour, to get you more of a coil-like feel.

On top of that, the Neopos spacer has some other wizardry going on with how it compresses at various speeds. Under slow riding speeds, the spacer compresses gradually. At higher riding speeds with big, fast hits, the spacer compresses more quickly. However – and here’s the tricky part – it expands at exactly the same rate, regardless of the riding/rebound speed. This is where Formula says the Neopos changes the air spring behaviour like nothing else out there. Pretty big claims for a little piece of silicone hey?

formula selva R fork wil les gets linea g cura 4 alutech
I tested an Alutech Tofane equipped with the Selva R fork, Linea G wheels, and Cura 4 brakes. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

First Ride Impressions

Right, so I’m going to keep my first ride impressions fairly brief, since I only spent two days on the Selva R fork on completely new trails to me, on a bike I’d never ridden before. All the riding was lift-assisted at the Les Gets bikepark, though we did get a good mix of buffed-out bermy trails and more natural, rooty singletrack through the wooded Canyon section.

My experience with the Selva R was much like Tom’s experience with the current Selva. It’s a fantastic fork that feels smooth and controlled, and it provided a solid platform on the front of the big Alutech 29er.

formula selva R fork wil les gets linea g cura 4 alutech
Day 2 of Bike Connection was a lot wetter and more slippery on the roots. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

The first few runs were to get ride time on the fork in its stock configuration without any Neopos spacers, in order to get everything dialled in. I noticed I was a good ways off full travel, so we dropped the positive air pressure down 5psi to 65psi, and left the negative chamber at the recommended 90psi. Of note here is that the 29er version of the Selva has about 174mm of stanchion showing for the 160mm of actual travel – so even if your O-ring isn’t making its way to the top of the crown on the really big hits, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not using full travel.

With the change in pressure I started getting more travel out of the fork, and came within about 12mm of full travel. Given the trails we were riding though, this was to be expected.

formula selva R fork wil les gets linea g cura 4 alutech
There’s a tonne of adjustability in this fork, but I was particularly impressed by the Neopos volume spacer. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

The next step was to add a Neopos spacer and do exactly the same run again. I’ll admit I was totally skeptical, but within the first 100m of trail the difference with the squishy spacer was immediately noticeable. On mid-to-high-speed chatter, the sensation at the grips is one of comfort. The fork patters out those rattle-your-wrists vibrations in a similar way to a coil sprung fork.

Despite the spacer inside, I didn’t find I was limiting my usable travel – I was still getting around 145mm by the bottom of the run. However, because the fork was feeling smoother, I decided to add more compression damping to hold the fork a little higher in the travel. I set the blue dial halfway with 6/12 clicks. This helped to support the fork better on the high-speed banked corners of the Les Gets bikepark, so I could ride over the front wheel more heavily to push through each turn. By the end of the day, I felt totally confident in the fork’s behaviour.

formula selva R fork
We’ll need more test time on the Selva R fork, but there’s no denying this fork is going to please those who love to fettle. Photo: Roo Fowler / Bike Connection.

Overall

Formula is planning to release the Selva R later this year in November, and we’ll be getting one in for a thorough test to really play around with all of those settings.

My early experience with the Selva R was positive, but I’d like more time on it on familiar trails first before I make any serious conclusions. Do I think it’s going to be worth a premium over the existing Selva S? If you love fettling and find yourself regularly altering pressures and damper settings to get your suspension ‘just so’, then it probably will. For more set ‘n’ forget riders, I personally think the dual-air spring will be wasted on you, and you’ll likely be more than happy with the standard Selva S.

In the meantime, I managed to bring back a few Neopos spacers with me from Bike Connection. Although Formula has designed these spacers for use with the 35 and Selva forks, technically these spacers will sit inside any fork with at least 35mm diameter stanchions – such as a RockShox Pike, Lyrik or Yari, and even a Fox 36. We’re already testing them in a range of forks, so stand by for an in-depth review.


Disclosure

Bike Connection covered flights and accommodation for this trip.

Review Info

Brand:Formula
Product:Selva R
From:RideFormula.com
Price:TBC
Tested:by Wil for 2 days

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