Manitou Mattoc Pro Long Term Review

by 3

James Vincent checks out the Manitou Mattoc Pro Boost fork – how does it stand up to the competition?

Another month, another set of suspension forks for review. No fancy linkages on these ones though, just standard telescoping tubes, stanchions, bushings and a not so standard reverse arch. But what’s so special about these Manitou Mattoc Pro Boost forks, and why should you choose to stick a pair of these in your headtube over a ubiquitous Rockshox Pike or Fox 34, or a more esoteric offering from Cane Creek, Ohlins or DT Swiss?

Manitou Mattoc Pro 3

Well, for starters, Manitou has been around since mountain biking was in its infancy and the founder, Doug Bradbury, made his first set of forks way back in 1989. Things went a little quiet in the mid 2000’s, but with a recent release of some heavy hitting enduro forks, Manitou look to be back in a big way.

The Mattoc Pro is a very well featured fork, boasting a specification that puts it firmly in the top tier but without the associated price premium, retailing for £750. This puts it just above a Rockshox Revelation RCT3 (£675), but quite considerably below a Pike RCT3 (£929) or Fox 34 Performance Elite (£859).

Manitou Mattoc Pro 3

Features

  • Trail/all mountain suspension fork
  • 34mm diameter stanchions
  • 27.5in (tested), 27.5+, 29 & 29+ sizes available
  • 160mm travel (internally adjustable between 140-170mm)
  • Dorado Air Spring
  • Independent mid and end stroke control
  • Hydraulic Bottom Out Control, Rubber Bumper
  • 1.5” tapered steerer
  • 44mm offset
  • MC2 Compression Damping (high and low speed)
  • TPC Rebound Damping
  • Hexlock bolt through axle
  • 180mm postmount, max rotor size 203mm
180mm direct post mount brake, with a maximum rotor size of 203mm

The Mattoc Pro chassis uses 34mm diameter stanchions, and Manitou’s patented rear facing arch. Several companies have used a reverse arch in the past, notably Pace and DT Swiss, although DT Swiss has mixed things up and decided to go with a forward arch on their latest fork, the F35. Aside from looking unique (and a little disconcerting to begin with), there is one benefit of a reverse arch, namely equivalent stiffness (to a forward facing arch) but with less weight. Manitou also claims that the reverse arch offers greater protection to seals, but with pretty much everyone running a mudguard these days, that claim doesn’t carry quite so much weight. Talking of which, around the rear of the arch is a huge bolt on mudguard with easily enough clearance for 2.8” tyres.

Huge bolt on mud guard with plenty of clearance for 2.8″ tyres

The wheel is held firmly in place using Manitou’s unique Hexlock bolt through axle design – once you get used to carrying the required 6mm hex key with you at all times, it’s a bomber system and I reckon it plays a large part in the high stiffness of the fork.

Keep your 6mm hex key handy for the Hex Lock axle.

Internals

Onto the internals, and the Mattoc Pro borrows its air spring from the renowned Dorado DH fork, curiously filled from the bottom of the fork, rather than the usual top cap. The reason for this is the inclusion of the Infinite Rate Tune (IRT) cartridge that sits up top, and works in a similar way to removable tokens in other forks. Increase air pressure in the IRT, and the fork ramps up towards the end of its stroke. Conversely, reduce air pressure for a more linear feel. This comes with a couple of benefits – it’s adjustable out on the trail with no need to partially disassemble the air spring to change the volume, and as the name says, it’s infinitely adjustable.

The main air spring valve is located at the foot of the left leg to make room for the IRT valve at the other end.
Not the air valve for the main chamber, but the Infinite Rate Tune (IRT) top cap.

As tested, the fork has 160mm of travel, but is internally adjustable (by a reasonably competent home mechanic) from 140mm to 170mm in 10mm increments by moving a couple of spacers around.

Moving over to the damping circuits, and being the top spec Pro model, the Mattoc gets adjustable rebound AND compression. Rebound is dialled in with a blue knob at the bottom of the right leg, while the compression knobs are found at the top of the right leg. The MC2 cartridge gives high and low speed compression control, and there’s an additional bonus adjustment in the form of the Hydraulic Bottom Out (HBO) control. This is a feature usually reserved for high end dampers, and really lets you dial in the feel of the last 30mm of travel.

Adjustable high and low speed compression, plus the Hydraulic Bottom Out (HBO) Control.
Adjustable rebound

On the Trail

Throw the Mattoc down your favourite technical descent, and in an instant you can forget any misconceptions you might have about Manitou being on a second tier down from Fox and Rockshox. The Mattoc Pro 3 is an incredibly capable, controlled, stiff and smooth fork.

Rare air

A combination of the Manitou’s reverse arch and bolt through axle makes for an incredibly stiff chassis, affording you with a ton of grip and control to the front wheel. The difference between it and the old Pike I removed to do the test was apparent. Picking lines through steep, technical rock gardens is noticeably easier, and previously elusive endo-turns become an achievable reality thanks to the more direct front end and great mid stroke support. 

Eventually you get used to not having an arch to look at

The fork doesn’t bind under compression so remains supple throughout its stroke. There’s very little stiction and the fork moves easily into the first part of its travel, doing a great job of soaking up small trail buzz and chatter. With such a smooth initial stroke, I would expect the fork to be prone to diving under braking, but it doesn’t. Which is nice. Unless of course you reduce pressure in the IRT, thus making the fork more linear.

Someone get this guy gloves.

This was the first time I’d ever encountered an adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out control and on the face of it, doesn’t seem to do much – working on the final 30mm of the forks travel, it’s an independent damping circuit that controls the fork bottom out. I ran it at both extremes of the dial and at various points in between, and due to the relatively subtle way it works, I didn’t really notice a huge difference whilst riding. Having said that, when I got to the end of back to back runs, the O-ring would be in a different position depending on where the dial was set, so it must be doing something. As it seems daft to have 160mm of travel and not use it all, I just ended up leaving the HBO control wide open. I must add, that I’m generally a set and forget kinda rider, whereas this sort of fine tuning will most likely appeal to those who prefer tweaking their forks to the nth degree.

Maybe there weren’t any coordinating gloves to match the outfit?

Aside from this, the damping on the Mattoc is everything you could ever want it to be – it’s fantastically smooth and controlled. Even repeated hits on the roughest tracks here in the north Lakes didn’t faze the fork, and on lengthy descents my hands and forearms were much fresher than they had any right to be.

34mm stanchions, a reverse arch and that huge mudguard protecting the seals and your face from flying debris

Any issues

Annoyingly, the first set of forks I received from Hotlines developed a very severe level of front to back play within the first ride – so bad it was obvious while riding along, leading me to think I had a loose headset or brake caliper. Further inspection showed it to be coming from the right leg, with play visible at the seal – this was most likely a bushing issue. Hotlines were very quick to get a new fork to me, and apparently this issue would have been covered under warranty – if you have a Mattoc with excessive play, then it might be worth getting them checked out. The second set I received has been a lot better, although there is still a little play in the fork when rocking the bike back and forth with the front brake locked. I’ve tested these forks over a longer period of time than normal because I wanted to ensure that the play wouldn’t get worse, and I’m happy to report that after more than 6 months hard riding, the play isn’t noticeable when out on the trail and hasn’t gotten worse over time.

My only other niggle is that the compression damping knobs are a bit tricky to turn precisely – move one, and they both move. I tried loosening the bolt that holds them in place, but it didn’t make much difference. Oh well.

Overall

For the price, the Mattoc Pro is a great fork. Compared to a Rockshox Pike or Fox 36, it is incredibly good value with an RRP of £750, and thanks to the lower profile of the brand, they seem to be popping up discounted pretty heavily too, making them even more attractive. But ultimately that’s all completely irrelevant if they don’t perform. Fortunately, the Mattoc does perform, and it performs very well indeed. It’s stiff, supple, buttery, well supported (insert additional cliché of choice here), and is infinitely adjustable right out of the box without having to buy additional cartridges or tokens. Demanding riders might still want the extra 1% on offer from a super high end fork, but for the majority of riders the Mattoc definitely deserves to be on your list.

Review Info

Brand: Manitou
Product: Mattoc Pro 3 Boost
From: Hotlines.co.uk
Price: £750
Tested: by James Vincent for 6 months

Discover more from Singletrack World Magazine

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

Having ridden bikes for as long as he can remember, James takes a certain twisted pleasure in carrying his bike to the most inaccessible locations he can find, before attempting to ride back down again, preferably with both feet on the pedals. After seeing the light on a recent road trip to Austria, James walked away from the stresses of running a design agency, picked up a camera and is several years deep into a mid life crisis that shows no sign of abating. As a photographer, he enjoys nothing more than climbing trees and asking others to follow his sketchy lines while expecting them to make it look as natural and stylish as possible. He has come to realise this is infinitely more fun than being tied to a desk, and is in no hurry to go back.

More posts from James

Comments (3)

    Nooooo shhh if people find out how good these forks are then CRC will stop putting them on sale :D

    My Mattoc Pro 2 is incredible, and was £350 from CRC, with the IRT installed it’s even better and a breeze to service at home.

    stevelol: you are so right! O bought a non-Boost last year €300! Best Fork i ever had, and the Service is also better than from other Companies…

    Great fork and as stated well supported from Manitou. But yeah they are rubbish ;-)

Comments Closed