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Manitou might not be a household name like RockShox or Fox Shox but they do manage to produce a very competitive product and a cult following to back their designs. The Mattoc Comp has held a standard for riders looking for that extra little bit of love from their suspension when it comes to gnarly and chunky terrain. In this review, "New Doug" as we will call him, breaks down his new Manitou Mattoc Comp fork. For those customers looking for information on fork tunability with shim stack adjustments, travel adjustments, and air spring volume changes. The Manitou Mattoc is a highly tunable and price-friendly offering. Check it out!
There are a lot of great choices today for suspension. However, most of these are designed with an aggressive, 180lb, male rider in mind. Some forks simply don’t work as well for lighter or less aggressive riders like my wife. The fork that came on her Furtado is nice, but she is just not heavy enough for the base tune. She can have a fork that is wollowy but uses most of its travel (poorly) or a fork that is good in the first 50mm and then very harsh in the next 50mm (and never use the final 30mm). We were never happy with the results on the fork, and the Mattoc had a reputation for being very good out of the box yet very easy to tune and service. There are two versions of the Mattoc for 2018: Pro and Comp. Both use boost spacing and have the same options for travel and wheel size. The main differences are materials, air spring, and damper. This review will cover the Comp version.
The Comp uses a heavier alloy for the lowers and stanchions. It also uses a steel shaft for the air system which adds a bit of weight. All said it's about half a pound or 220 grams extra weight. Not a huge difference, and is still competitive with comparable forks. The air spring in the Comp model used to be different and not very well regarded. For 2018, they now use the much-praised Dorado Air system from the Pro model. The only difference is the already mentioned steel shaft (an alloy in the Pro). The Dorado Air allows for easy travel changes (15 minutes and no specialized tools are required…more on that later) via 10mm spacers. Tuning your air spring and spring rate is very easy. The IVA (Internal Volume Adjust) system uses spacers to adjust the size of the air chamber. If you prefer to have a positive and negative chamber you can upgrade to the IRT (Infinite Rate Tune) for $75. It is a simple drop-in upgrade.
The Damper used in the Comp is the Absolute+. The new damper in the Pro model is “better”, but the ABS+ is still highly regarded and offers excellent tuning options. It has a wide range of low-speed compression damping. One slight ding against the Comp version, high-speed compression (HSC) is not externally tunable. I know riders from 130 pounds to 220 pounds who ride are quite happy with the base HSC. If you are a tuner you can adjust the HSC. The ABS+ cartridge is easily removed. Unscrew it from the top cap and pull it out. That’s it. From there you can adjust the shim stack. Tuning a shim stack is the best way to tune your fork. It is also a highly complex science that can make your fork feel awesome, or like garbage. Fortunately, Manitou has some great resources that give some shim stack options and Dyno charts for different kinds of riding. There is also a thriving community of Mattoc users/tuners that would be happy to help.
So how does it ride? In a word: Plush. It soaks up the small stuff and has a great initial feel. Many refer to it as having a plush “Cadilac” feel to it. When it gets deeper into the travel it maintains this plush feel and does not feel harsh or “Spike”. The HSC ramps up nicely on this fork. It gives adequate damping without feeling wollowy or harsh. The LSC has a wide range that allows for a fork that is super responsive for fast downhill action and can be dialed up to a nice stiff platform for those fire road climbs. It transitions nicely from LSC to HSC without a harshness that some forks have before HSC blowoff. Technical jargon aside how did the fork change her riding? When she would ride rock gardens she always felt like she just held on and had little control over where the front wheel went. Now the fork soaks it all up and she is able to hold her line. The LSC tuning range is very nice to have. We ride a mix of terrain and it almost always has a long fire road climb to grind out. The HSC tune feels good, but we will experiment with a lighter and more progressive tune (pull one of the mid-sized shims). Bottom line, the fork give her bike a whole new feel. She now has more confidence and comfort on the rough stuff. This leads to more fun and more riding with my best mountain bike buddy.
"If you read this far, you might be the type to open up the fork and tune or service it. Doing the work is pretty easy. They do sell a tool kit for $60, but you don’t need that. You can use any 8mm deep socket. You will just need a Dremel to grind it down to about 11mm OD to fit into the lower leg’s small opening. A Park FR5 will work nicely for removing the cartridges. You compress the piston and it fits. Lastly, you need a 24mm socket for the top caps. Any 24mm socket CAN be used. But a flat ground option is much better. I like the Park kit that is $60 and comes with all the common sizes you may need for Fox, RS, Manitou, and DVO. With these three tools, you can have the fork apart in 20 minutes, clean it, tune it, change travel, etc. It goes back together very easily. It’s by far one of the easiest forks on the market to turn or service. The Mattoc comp is one of the best options out there right now. The Pro is better, sure, but for the difference in price, this is a hard value to beat. If you want external HSC, the dual-chamber Air, and hydraulic bottom out then the Pro is the way to go." - New Doug