In this review, one of our fat bike customers, Troy Carter swaps out his Rockshox Bluto for a Manitou Mastodon Pro fork. Troy seems to be impressed with the Mastodon's performance, tunability, and serviceability. Check it out!
Fat bike forks are simply not as popular as skinny tire forks, which leave only a handful of choices when looking for one. The Mastodon is one of the latest to come out and the initial reviews seemed to be positive. Because of this, I decided to give it a try. Until now, I’ve been riding a 120mm Bluto which has since been swapped out. The upgrade itself went perfectly smooth, as expected, with the Manitou fork bolting right up to the bike with no issues and looking great.
For starters, I decided to leave the fork in the stock 120mm configuration to get to know it and see how it felt compared to my old fork. The Manitou Mastodon Pro can be adjusted for more travel, tire clearance, different dampening settings, and more or less progressive spring settings. With the out-of-the-box setup, the fork was an immediate improvement for my riding. I noticed it particularly when the trail got more intense, like popping over logs, rocks, and obstacles on the trail. The fork is the stiffest fat bike fork I’ve ridden, it soaks up the small stuff nicely and takes the big hits much better than my previous Bluto fork. For a 240lb guy, that’s important because I can put some abuse through a fork! The Mastodon Pro really does have much less flex, though it still moves around, its acceptable and probably wouldn’t be noticeable by many lighter riders.
Adjusting the fork was pretty straightforward, this is great for those who prefer to set it and forget it. The fork came with a basic setup guide for the damper settings and air spring. This helped me find a starting point that was very close to my needs. I started on the low side of the air spring pressure and it was buttery smooth, but I still could easily bottom the fork out. After a couple rides, I adjusted the IVA to get a more progressive spring and the fork started to come to life for me and gave me way more confidence to push a bit harder than I had in the past. The IVA is super easy to use too, just drop the air pressure, pull the valve out of the left leg, re-arrange the spacers as needed, and reassemble. In two minutes you’ve got it done and you’re off to ride again. For me, this made a big improvement to the way I ride and with my weight, I can see how this can be adjusted to suit anyone.
Manitou has also provided very good, detailed manuals with color pictures and simple directions and tips for adjusting and maintaining your fork on their website. That’s a big plus for me and anyone who is mechanical enough to work on their own bike.
I’m very happy with this fork and Worldwide Cyclery so far. It’s the best fork for the money you can put on your fat bike right now and it’s served me very well in the month I’ve been riding it. From -5° temps to wet and rainy slippery rides it’s been fantastic. This will be the go-to fork for serious fat bikes.
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