First Look: Manitou Mattoc Fork

Manitou hasn’t had a top level 160mm fork in a number of years, but for 2014 the company is coming out swinging with the introduction of the Mattoc, their high end, air sprung all-mountain fork. In development for almost two years, the fork has 34mm stanchions and will be available with 140, 150 or 160mm of travel for 26” and 27.5” bikes, with an additional 170mm option available for 26ers. External adjustments include low and high speed compression damping, hydraulic bottom out, and low speed rebound.

Manitou Mattoc Details:
Intended use: all-mountain/enduro
26”/27.5″ travel: 140, 150, or 160mm
170mm available for 26″ only
34mm stanchion tubes
Dorado air sprung
HSC, LSC, rebound, and hydraulic bottom out adjustments
Tapered steerer
15mm HexLock thru axle
Weight: 1877g (Pro), 1990g (Expert)

What makes the Mattoc especially enticing is its use of technology borrowed from Manitou’s Dorado downhill fork, a fork heralded for its plush feel and excellent adjustability. Like the Dorado, the Mattoc uses independent oil seals and dust wipers to reduce the chance of leakage or blow outs, and a hydraulic bottom out adjuster that controls the last 32mm of the fork’s stoke separately from the other compression settings. The Mattoc also uses the Dorado’s large volume, low pressure air spring, which is designed to be moderately progressive throughout its stroke for a controlled, bottomless feel.

A look at the fork’s internals reveals a number of well thought out features in the Mattoc’s new Multi Control Compression (MC²) damper, particularly the way that the high speed compression (HSC) damping is adjusted. When the external HSC dial is turned it adds more preload to an internal shim, accomplishing the same feat that adding a thicker shim would do, but without the need to pull apart the fork. Low speed compression (LSC) damping is changed via a tapered needle oil system – turning the external knob alters the volume of an orifice, changing the fork’s damping characteristics. There is also the option to add on a handlebar mounted remote to change the LSC on the fly.

A closer look at the Mattoc’s MC² compression damper. The far left portion is the hydraulic bottom out control, and just to the right of it, above the o-ring and below the silver ports, is the high speed compression shim. Low speed compression is altered via a needle valve inside the damper.

The Mattoc’s shim-based rebound damping is adjusted by turning the dial located on the bottom of the right leg. Turning the rebound dial controls a taper needle oil system, with different shim stacks available from Manitou for riders that want to fine tune the fork’s rebound damping. This high level of tuneability should make the Mattoc especially appealing to garage tinkerers, a fact that Manitou took into consideration when designing the fork. They wanted a fork that the end user could rebuild at home, reducing the downtime that occurs when sending a fork away to be serviced.

The Mattoc’s compression and bottom out resistance control dials are at the top of the fork, and the air valve and rebound adjust are at the bottom. The Mattoc uses Manitou’s signature reverse arch, and has separate oil seals and dust wipers.

The Mattoc Pro weighs in at a claimed 1877 grams, and the Expert is reportedly 1990 grams. The weight difference comes from the Pro’s use of a cartridge based rebound damper. The Mattoc Pro will retail for $860, with the Expert’s price still to be determined. There will also be an even lower priced Comp model that uses a different air spring. White and black color options will be offered as well.

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