Did you ride a fat bike during the snowy winter months? Our customer James just joined the club. Here in this review, James takes us through his Manitou Mastodon Pro fork. With 140mm of travel, the Mastodon will keep you charging the trails all year round. If you'd like to hear more check out the review below!
I'd like to share my thoughts on the Manitou Mastodon Comp Extended and Mastodon Pro Standard forks. Thanks to my indecisive fat bike build I have time on both forks. I used these forks on a Kona Wozo. Originally I picked the extended version of the fork because it has the clearance to run pretty much any fat tire that exists. I realized during my first ride that the 26x4.4 Schwalbe Jumbo Jim would be the largest tire I would run. I also realized that the Mastodon is a really nice trail fork that would be even better with a little more travel. So back to World Wide Cyclery I go and order the Mastodon Pro Standard. The standard version has all the clearance I need, weighs considerably less than the extended version, and adds a high-speed compression adjustment.
When the Mastodon Pro arrived the first thing I did was change the travel from 120mm to 140mm. Manitou has a toolkit available that makes changing the travel easy to do. Now that the travel was correct I moved onto another crucial step, removing the red decals from the fork. Manitou provides an alternative matte gray decal set with the fork that look really nice. With the fresh decals applied I was ready to install the fork and have test ride.
The shakedown run with the new 140mm fork was my first time riding in the snow. It was also my first time crashing in the snow. It happens to us all, right? I could instantly feel that going to the lighter weight and longer travel version of this fork was a good choice. I found just under 20% sag works well if you ride aggressively. It’s plush at the beginning of the travel, has a supportive mid-stroke, and ramps up nicely at the end. The rebound adjustment works very well, as does the low-speed compression. The high speed compression adjustment on the Pro model is good, just not what I’m used to. It does what it is supposed to, just later in the stroke. It also takes a really sharp impact before you can feel the adjustments you’ve made. For example on my DVO Diamond fork when an adjustment is made to the high-speed compression I can feel the difference by just standing over the bike and pushing down on the bars quickly with decent force. The Mastodon doesn’t feel this way at all. Turn the dial and it feels like nothing changed just by pushing into the bars. You have to get on the trails and take some hits then a definite difference can be felt.
Once I had the fork dialed in I decided to do a familiar 12 mile trail network. I hit every line and obstacle the same as I would when on my full suspension bike. Just moving down mild to moderate sections of trail the front tire stayed glued to the ground. The first feature is a loose downhill with a g-out into a berm. No problems. The fork stayed composed on the way down then settled into the mid-stroke through the g-out and the berm. Next, a small table jump. I had a smooth landing using about 75% of the travel. A few switchbacks later I come to a section that’s basically a pump track in the forest. Pumping through this section went well. The fork has enough mid stroke support to gain a little speed while pumping. Onto a couple steep climbs. The bike climbed well considering the snow cover. I really didn’t feel the need to lock out the fork. After the climb is a flowing downhill. The bike felt good with no quirks in the handling. The trail continues with more of the same type features and everything went great. I didn’t encounter any harsh bottoming of the fork but did end up using almost all the travel which tells me it’s adjusted properly. The temperature was only around 14 degrees but had no impact on the performance of the fork. All in all it was a fun day of trail riding.
I have to say that I am extremely happy with this fork. It’s on par with my DVO Diamond and RockShox Pike. The people that will really appreciate this fork are the ones who want to ride their fat bikes as hard as they ride their trail bikes or enduros. You just need to decide which version of the fork meets your needs. If you want to run the absolute fattest tires available then get the extended version. If you're going to run the more “traditional size” fat tires get the standard version. If you have the extra money to spend step up to the Pro. If not you will still be more than happy with the Comp.