EB13: First Look! Manitou Mattoc – Long Travel Enduro Suspension Fork Finally Hammered Out

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

It’s been a long time since Manitou’s had anything truly groundbreaking. They’ve done a few good things, like a 650B Dorado and such, but they’ve been noticeably absent from the mid/long travel trail segment.

They made a good correlation to their history. They’ll be the first to admit that when Hayes bought the brad in 2005, it was in pretty bad shape. It suffered from poor quality and other troubles. But they asked how many of us had been injured mountain biking? Then asked if that made us want to quit riding? The short answer is “hell no” and so they’ve been working steadily to get to this point. From 2005 to 2007 they basically had to stop the bleeding. From 2007 to 2010, they had to get their innovation systems in place. From then until now, they’ve been testing and refining so they could kick off an all new innovation cycle.

Introducing the Mattoc…

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

It’s a 140/150/160mm travel all-mountain fork for both 26″ and 27.5″, plus a 170mm option for the 26″ models. Stanchions are 34mm, and it uses their existing hollow crown and reverse arch.

Suspension engineer Nick Pye says they really wanted to bring the performance of their Dorado into an All Mountain fork. To do that, they borrowed and modified the tech there and developed a new compression damping system.

Two models will be available, a Pro and Expert, with the top level Pro using a lighter cartridge based rebound damper. That change saves roughly 113g without noticeably changing performance.

Claimed weights are 1877g (Pro) and
1990g (Expert). That for both wheel sizes since they both use the same chassis and stanchions. The crowns simply get a different offset. Height differences are handled internally. Because of this, you’ll get more tire clearance on the 26″, up to a 2.5. The 650B can take a 2.4.

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

It gets an all-new MC2 damper (Multi Compression Control) puts both high and low speed compression knobs on the crown. The low speed lever (red, bottom) adjusts how the fork feels during things like hard berm turns, G-outs and standing pedaling. It’s also going to make it feel sort of like a platform if you close it down.

The high speed dial gives you control over the first bit of travel to keep it floating over the chatter. The high speed adjustment is the middle (black) knob. When you dial it down, it loads more pressure on the shim stack, which makes the oil work a bit harder to push through. Dial both high and low speed all the way back and you get a very firm fork. It’s not a lockout, but it’s headed in that direction, Pye says they didn’t want to put a true lockout on a fork intended for this kind of abuse.

While some brands are moving to a closed bladder oil reservoir, Manitou wanted to make it more user (shop) serviceable. The benefit of a bladder is that it keeps a little pressure on the system, helping oil flow back through the ports during rebound. Their solution was to use a closed cell foam cylinder around the compression piston. As oil is pushed through the shim stack and out into the semi-open bath, it compresses the foam. The foam naturally wants to expand, so it pushes back against the oil (just a bit) to help it back into the compression circuit.

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

On the Pro level (middle and top), that entire assembly gets smaller with less oil volume. I asked if that caused potential heat build up issues because there’s less oil and Pye responded “no, because unlike a bladder system, their oil is constantly cycled past the outside chassis, which dissipates heat rapidly.”

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

The small hole shows through to the low speed compression needle. That hole is directly above (to the left in the pic) the high speed shim stack.

2014 Manitou Mattoc long travel mountain bike fork

Hydraulic Bottom Out comes from the Dorado and allows them to change the spring rate throughout the travel. It maintains a very linear rate until the last 32mm of travel, then it gets more progressive to avoid harsh bottom out. There’s also a rubber bottom out bumper to prevent total smack down. The benefit to this system is that you can adjust your compression damping however you like without affecting the last bit of travel, which can be adjusted through the little silver dial on the very top of the knob stack.

In the pic above, the bottom piece ends up sliding over the top piece. As the for compresses, the gray part slides over the top of the other one at the end of the stroke. At that point, oil must initially flow through the three ports to slow things down. When that starts to run its course, there’s a spring loaded ball that covers a port inside the chamber. Eventually, it’ll blow through, letting the last bit of oil through, and the resistance on that ball is what the silver knob adjusts.

Dual Chamber Dorado Air handles the actual suspension. It’s their way of saying there’s a poppet valve between the positive and negative air chambers to equalize them instantly when you’re setting it up. How? Threading the shock pump on opens the poppet, and then it closes when the pump is removed, keeping your settings equal.

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It’s all finished off with their class leading QR15 thru axle. Brake mounts are designed for a minimum 180 rotor.

They’re in the final stages of testing and development with several riders around the world on different terrain. Full production should start in December for delivery early 2014.

Pricing target is $850 for the Pro, and Expert should should be equally competitive while providing the performance expected of a modern “enduro” style fork. It’s actually worth noting that Manitou didn’t use the word “enduro” a single time during the entire presentation.

Why not a 29er? Timing and resources were a limiting factor, but we’re pretty sure it’ll come.

Comments

beenup - 08/29/13 - 11:57am

Wow the red is amazing!

krasse-banny-911 - 08/29/13 - 12:14pm

Red is hot! 15mm and tapered only are not…

Rohan - 08/29/13 - 12:35pm

Yes the red is hot , but not for you and me, since it will only be available in black and white. Please manufacturers stop teasing products in colors not available to the general public. Or at least give us some custom color options.

Ted - 08/29/13 - 12:36pm

They had me until the gaud aweful red and 15mm only. 20mm provides a superior clamping interface at no weight penalty.

Fragglepussthechaste - 08/29/13 - 12:37pm

Can we please stop marketing everything “enduro” now?

dougal - 08/29/13 - 12:47pm

4.12 lbs for a 160mm fork with 34 mm stanchions is not bad. Is it better than my 2007 Nixon?

beenup - 08/29/13 - 12:49pm

I agree other 15mm axles would provide less clamping interface. From the looks of the HEXlock interface Manitou uses, it would be stiffer then most 20mm.

chasejj - 08/29/13 - 12:54pm

I know this is speculative , but given the dearth of REAL objective evaluation of equipment in this industry. ‘I would choose a bladder designed fork as it is proven technology. The closed cell foam chamber at the end of the day is a cost cutting solution (along with 15mm & tapered only) that gives me some doubts as I run 20mm only. Everything else looks well designed .

Luiggi - 08/29/13 - 12:56pm

I din’t get quite well how do the dials on top of the right leg work… red is for low speed compression, black for high speed… And how about the little goldish one in the middle?

Steve M - 08/29/13 - 1:06pm

After looking at the fork brace they should have called it the ‘brass knuckle’

dedge - 08/29/13 - 1:11pm

@Luiggi : “you can adjust your compression damping however you like without affecting the last bit of travel, which can be adjusted through the little silver dial on the very top of the knob stack”
Top silver knob is for the Bottom Out hydraulic setting.

beenup - 08/29/13 - 1:58pm

I’m pretty sure the closed cell foam has been used in all of Manitous ABS+ dampers for the last 4+ years.

JimmyJ - 08/29/13 - 2:42pm

Manitou has used the closed cell foam for several years. Overall, the fork looks like it could be a winner. It would have been great to see a QR 20mm hex axle but I will take it!

Mindless - 08/29/13 - 4:28pm

Why, oh why 15mm. 20mm worked just fine.

greg - 08/29/13 - 5:21pm

clever bit about the shock pump opening the port between air chambers.
nothing wrong with closed cell foam. slightly harder to bleed since air can get trapped around it, but that’s it.

Matt - 08/29/13 - 5:49pm

That red compression knob is the same knob used in the Milo remote. You can see the channel for the cable and the threads for the set screw… i wonder if remote lockout or quick platform adust will be an option?

Mr. P - 08/29/13 - 6:46pm

Nice! Looking forward to a ride review.

Samuel J. Greear - 08/29/13 - 8:32pm

Wooooo, more junk that is going to break inside of a year!

Typo - 08/29/13 - 10:46pm

“hayes bought the BRAD”?

Typo - 08/29/13 - 10:49pm

“that when Hayes bought the BRAD in 2005″

MissedThePoint - 08/30/13 - 3:33am

That red looks like hot pink to me. Maybe it’ll match all the faded red ano on people’s bikes, who are old enough to like the good old manitou forks.

uzurpator - 08/30/13 - 3:59am

I can’t wait to get my paws on one of these. But I concur, that colors would be nice. Even limited editions. I’d get orange one as soon as it was available :)

Tim - 08/30/13 - 5:04am

15mm = gross. Wonder when they’ll get back to touting 20mm for increased rigidity over 15mm.

MNL - 08/30/13 - 10:28am

Can’t wait to try it!

IvanMTB - 08/30/13 - 8:15pm

Looking forward to see 29-er version. Always was big fan of Manitou forks.

Cheers!
I.

Reformed Roadie - 08/31/13 - 4:38pm

@Tim – the same time they come back with the super new 26″ wheel size.

Roberto Z - 09/03/13 - 6:21pm

I like the fork, but I don’t know if I would take it before a Pike. I prefer wider stanchions (35 vs 34). About the 15mm, I think that’s common for this type of fork. It’s marketing and more legal friendly size, and I don’t think that we’ll see new forks for this type of riding of 20mm.

Performance wise? 20mm is stiffer and I guess weight difference is neglible or non existant over a 15mm… but, marketwise, since it was designed for DH, it sounds ‘heavy’ to the more trailike riders, and that it was something special that shimano/fox designed. Impresion is everything in what you buy.. or most of us buy. Legaly safe? Well, if someone makes a wheelset that’s designed to be as light as possible for only trail use, even if they put in red and caps the desired use, some downhiller could buy it only because it’s light and has the 20mm, which is downhill rigth? and then break it on a fall that the wheelset was not designed for, and , lawsuit comming up…

Mindless - 09/05/13 - 1:40am

I want a red fork.

D Man - 09/05/13 - 3:14pm

Looks like a great fork, but that air valve handing down at the bottom of the fork leg is just begging to get knocked off or damaged. I hope they move it or protect it better before production

D Man - 09/05/13 - 3:25pm

Does anyone else think that the air valve at the botton of the fork leg is likely to be damaged?

dougal - 09/06/13 - 9:24am

“D Man – 09/05/13 – 3:25pm
Does anyone else think that the air valve at the botton of the fork leg is likely to be damaged?”

No. Manitou forks have had them for years without any issue.

MulletRacer - 12/02/13 - 11:06pm

I have never ridden a Manitou, but this fork looks sweet.
So does the Pike and the 350NCR. However, they all weight the same, the pike is the least adjustable, NCR in the middle, and the Mattoc as the most adjustable.

And considering the price, its almost a no brainer.

I should be in the market for a similar fork in about 7-8 months.
Excited to read some hands on reviews.

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