Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Ian Collins
After a promising looking product launch from Manitou, we were anxious to get our hands on their newest offering, the Mattoc fork. Aimed at the All Mountain side of the sport, we were excited to learn that the Mattoc borrowed some tech from its big brother, the Dorado, and features the well received DH Dual Chamber Air cartridge and the HBO feature on the compression side of things. With Manitou's somewhat shaky history and relatively recent success with the re-release of the Dorado DH fork, we really had no idea where the Mattoc would stack up, but we were definitely very excited to give it a good bashing around to find out.
Being used to forks that need a significant break in period, we were surprised at how smooth the fork felt right out of the box. There was minimal stiction on the initial new fork squish test in the living room, and once we mounted it on the bike we felt zero stiction at all. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Manitou's QR15 Hexlock axle system, but we managed to let it confuse us for a minute or two. Once we figured out that it functions more like a traditional quick-release skewer than say, Fox's QR15 axle, the Hexlock system clamped up just fine and felt pretty darn stiff to boot.
Manitou Mattoc Pro Highlights
- Weight: 1877g
- Travel: 140, 150, 160, 170 (26” only)
- Spring: DH Air (Dorado)
- Bottom out: Adjustable HBO (Hydraulic Bottom Out) and Rubber Bumper
- Steerer: 1.5” Taper
- Crown: Forged Deep Bore Hollow
- Crown Finish: Color Matched
- Offset: 41mm (26”) / 44mm (27.5”)
- Compression Damping: TPC Technology MC²-In Leg
- Rebound Damping: Adjustable TPC Cartridge
- Adjustments: Air, Compression (High Speed and TPC+), Hydraulic Bottom Out, Rebound
- Stanchion Diameter: 34mm
- Stanchion Material: 7050 Butted Aluminum
- Available wheel sizes: 26”, 27.5”
- Brake: Post Mount 180mm
- Axle: QR15
- Axle to Crown: 525 / 535 / 545 / 555 (26”) OR535 / 545 / 555 (27.5”)
On The Trail
We started our testing of the Mattoc with the LSC (low speed compression) adjustment all the way out and immediately knew this was not our ideal setup. Ramping up the LSC as the ride continued, we finally reached maximum LSC before we were satisfied with the fork's support. Worried this would result in a harsh ride, much to our surprise and the joy of our hands, this wasn't the case; the Mattoc tracked well in the stutters and never spiked nor felt harsh during rough, successive mid-sized hits.
One of the features that really shined on this fork was the HBO adjustment. HBO is a position sensitive compression adjustment that allows you to control the last 32mm of travel independently of your high and low speed settings. This allowed us to set the fork up for a wide range of trail types. From lots of climbing to chunky DH style trails with bigger hits, we were able to keep the fork's settings pretty consistent despite a variety of trail conditions. That translated to less guess work from trail to trail and less time fiddling with settings between tracks and during rides.
Manitou addressed their previous issues with a long axle to crown length due to their reverse-arch design; the Mattoc's A2C measurement is now right around all its competitors. Even so, it should be noted that on steeper climbs, the fork can wander a bit and lacks a travel adjust setting that might normally dial that out. While not a deal breaker at all given the fork's intended purpose, if it's a feature you're specifically seeking you should know it's not an option offered in the Mattoc range.
In regards to rebound, Manitou has made available multiple shim configurations if you're unhappy with the range or feel provided in the factory installed stack. We had no issues with the rebound as it was straight from Manitou after adjusting it to our preference.
Long Term Durability
Having been on the Mattoc for the past 6 weeks we haven't noticed any early signs of durability issues. The seals have held up well in a variety of riding conditions, some being far from ideal. We did notice mud and debris tends to collect where the reverse-arch meets the lowers, but as stated above, the seals/dust-wipers have continued to function properly.
Things That Could Be Improved
Our only gripe with the Mattoc is pretty minor in the big picture. Due to the reverse-arch design, traditional cable routing of the front brake line isn't possible; well, it is possible, but can pinch your line at full travel and is not recommended. It may be just an aesthetic thing and probably the OCD side of being a bike mechanic coming out, but still irks this tester to see that cable routing.
Manitou also neglected to make a 29er version of the Mattoc, so if you're on big wheels, you're out of luck if you want to run this fork. Why Manitou decided not to produce a 29er version is a mystery to us, as it seems more aggressive mid to long travel 29er bikes are gaining traction.
What's The Bottom Line?
We're happy to report that Manitou has another great fork in their lineup. Borrowing features from the DH line has helped create a great option for riders who pedal up to earn their descents. The Mattoc's adjustments allow for a wide range of terrain to be handled with minimal tinkering of the dials and keeping all the important dials externally adjustable should appeal both to users who enjoy fiddling with their set-up and those who enjoy a set and forget type of fork.
Visit www.manitoumtb.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing CAT 1 but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session. He is currently a student at UCSD and a wrench at a local bike shop.