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  1. #1
    Nemophilist
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    Manitou Tower Pro Fork for Clydesdales - Techical

    Hey All;

    I thought I would post regarding this product and the efforts I have been making to dial it in for my out-of-the-norm needs. Further, I wanted to add more than the review platform offers, and get it out there in the main forum so that everyone might see it. You can reference my review here;

    Manitou Tower Pro 29er Forks Reviews

    (Edit: TM's Tower tuning guide link http://www.jonesparkchronicles.com/ManitouTowerPro.html )

    As things stand now, I am still working to get this fork to function well for someone my size (6'5"/240), riding the terrain that I do, without much success to date. The bottom line on most suspension products is that they simply do not offer a spring stiff enough for someone my size. Spring rate is the basis on which all other suspension function operates, and if it is not ideal, then nothing else will work right either. In fact, every other fork I have ever had has offered the same problem. In some cases, like my old Manitou Minute 1 or Fox Vanilla RLC, the combination of adjustments offered coupled with the bike in question allowed me to "work around" this basic deficiency and come up with a nice plush ride that was not burdened by excessive dive. This has not been the case with my new Niner RIP9 with the Tower Pro fork.

    The Extra-firm spring is still far too soft. Adding air pressure never quite gets the job done, and offers a fairly non-linear progression from one extreme to the other; a plush ride but not enough dive control to far too stiff and harsh in the mid travel, with very little in between. Going from 100psi to 10-20psi more throws it over that threshold; solving the dive problem at the expense of the plush ride. I've exhausted all the adjustment and tuning parts that were generally available. What to do?

    Well, on the advice of a review comment, I contacted Manitou by e-mail. At the risk of flooding them with all sorts of e-mails, the result has been that I got a direct response from and have been corresponding for the last month or so with the Chief Engineer of the suspension division. The Big Cheese at Manitou has taken a personal interest in my plight, and has been INCREDIBLY generous with technical information and advice. In a time when it is so very hard to get support for many of the things we do with the products we buy, and in an age of small companies getting gobbled up and folded into larger groups, I find this personal touch and interest quite amazing, and very heartening.

    What I can tell you right now is that Manitou LISTENS to us. They were aware of my less than perfect review already, and wanted to help. They have products in the pipeline that are going to address my specific issue, and others that will help we users with an incredible array of technical information, and a superbly complete tuning kit to optimize the damping circuits. These guys are serious about us on the user end!

    As of now, it is going to be a few months before the heavier-yet spring kit is available. In the interim, we had discussed adding some preload to the spring to fully activate it sooner in the suspension stroke. I installed a thick washer under the existing spring perch washer/bolt on the lower spring spacer rod, which increased its effective length by 4mm. I had previously settled on 120psi in the air chamber (10psi over the max suggestion!), but set the pressure at 90psi for this test ride. I seemed to notice a subtle change.

    There seemed to be "more there." The ride was plush, but it seemed as though the fork was a little less prone to diving or blowing through all of its travel as it had before. I was also riding with a click or two less compression damping, and all of this suggests to me that the preload increase improved the situation, and that further, we are on the right track with the heavier spring due out soon.

    I got a very gracious care package in the mail the other day that, among other things, contained a longer drive rod (goes between the spring and air piston, inside the fork stanchion) that will increase spring preload to 6.8mm as a means of offering some more suspension rate and dive control. I am very eager to test this increased preload and see if it confirms the subtle effect I thought I felt with only 4mm of preload from my previous mod. I also got some nice fork and semi bath oil, and some damping shims. Another idea is to increase the amount of semi bath oil from 5cc to 10cc, which will give a bit more firmness to the air piston motion. Beyond that, if the spring theory holds true, I am hoping the damping "shim stack" as supplied will then work as it supposed to. If not, I am going to have to decipher the incredible amount of technical information in print that was e-mailed to me. Pages and pages of shim stack variations with supporting dyno graphs to show the effect relative to other arrangements. This gets TECHNICAL!

    I hope this treatise proves useful to others out there. Look for further updates along the way as I twiddle with it. Quite frankly, I have been very disappointed that I have not been able to fall in love with this new bike of mine. Through this post I also want to give a shout out to a company (Manitou) through an employee ("anonymous," for now) that have gone out of their way to help me to enjoy my new bike the way I had hoped to. I truly feel this is a good product at a great price, and getting this kind of support to tailor it for my needs is really B-itchin!!

    As I signed one of my e-mails;

    John Hajny
    Manitou Field Test Engineer
    Clydesdale Components Group

    (For the record, I have no connection to the company, other than owning their product)
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  2. #2
    the mountian is within
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    Very true-they are there for ya! On the expert model-the xtra-firm is well,XTRA FIRM...we got one in for a fork...too stiff for a 250lb rider with no air. They sent a firm-no cost to set it up. It works great-20lb air and the firm spring. The Pro is different-but when you get dialed-it will amaze you! Such nice forks for the money. They are my shops go to fork for builds and upgrades.
    i own a bikeshop in WV thetruewheelwv.com

  3. #3
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    I would ask Manitou to swap the internals from an Expert model & run the stiffest coil then add air for preload. I weigh 50lb. less than you and hate single fill air forks.

  4. #4
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    Please keep us updated when you get the new spring. I'm 260 # and will be in the market for a new fork after Christmas. I have nothing but good things to say about my current Minute fork, so the Tower is on my short list. Glad to hear Manitou is treating you as a valued customer

  5. #5
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    I ran into similar problems with my Tower Pro. I'm not quite as heavy as you are though and the extra-firm spring kit is working well for me...I'm weighing about 210 pounds though.

  6. #6
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    I had the X-firm spring and ~100 psi in the chamber, and my Minute/Tower fork would still dive like crazy with my 185 lbs. I also had four forks in a row, sent directly from Manitou, all with bad CSAs that would start to make horrible noises in a matter of months.

    By the second fork, I didn't even have to pay to ship it out to them. Their CS is good, but it can't make up for a bad product.

    The latest, brand-new Tower fork they sent me is currently for sale.

  7. #7
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    http://www.manitoumtb.com/assets/Ser...e%20Manual.pdf

    Here's a link to the 2011 Service Manual.

  8. #8
    beautiful jackass
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    Does anyone know where an illustrated walkthrough is for changing the springs on these forks? I ordered a firm kit a long time ago, but I've been too nervous to install it.

  9. #9
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    Been on my Tower Pro since March '11 with no issues. Swap to X-Firm spring was easy peasy and only took like 10 min. I weigh 200 to 210 depending on the day and am running an 80mm Pro version. This is easily one of the best forks I have owned....and almost prefer it due to the simplicity and quality of the damping. Between the XFirm and ABS+.....I can get to settings that work.

    Hopefully you guys can get your issues worked out......good luck.

  10. #10
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    Donkey: I found a thread on here somewhere that went through the spring swap. I can seem to find it now....but there was a post that really helped me. Truth is that this fork is super easy to work on because the spring is not swimming in oil. There is a certain amount of oil in the same leg as the spring but if you took the advice(like I did) from the guy in the post, it will save you the trouble of having to deal with replacing said oil.

    Look for the Tower Pro manual on the Manitou site. You will see how to remove the lowers to access spring. But, before you pull the bolts out of the bottoms of the lowers, invert the fork enough (easier if you have a repair stand) so that the oil runs back down toward the crown. Then, replace the bolts with tapered rubber stoppers(I picked up some in the drawers at Home Depot) and reinvert the fork to normal position and let it sit long enough for the oil to run back into lowers. With the rubber plugs snug enough, the oil will not leak out the hole at the bottom of each leg. Remove the lowers, rods, and spring. Make your swap, and reinstall rods, then just reinstall the lowers making sure the oil doesn't have a chance to leak out, by flipping the fork accordingly. Once the seals are back over the stachions, you can again invert the fork so it's easier to reinstall the bolts on eace leg. Presto, no need to measure any bit of oil. (It's a minimal amout of oil anyway, just for lubrication purposes) All the damping oil is in a separate chamber in the upper portion of the opposite leg.

    Took me all of 15 minutes or so. Hope this helps.

  11. #11
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    I have been running the Minute Pro 140mm (yes, I still run 26" wheels so please don;t flame me) on my trail bike and after making some tuning mods to the damper the performance was night and day! That combined with the X-firm spring has the fork tuned perfectly for my style of riding. I live in Vancouver, BC and we deal with a lot of steep terrain and big rocks and roots.

    Trail Maker, I have found that for bigger guys and aggressive riding that the linear tunes are the way to go. You get a nice ramp up at the end of the stroke without getting the spiking from having to run too much platform. I went for the most aggressive linear tune (eliminates the platform and makes the damper more like TPC) that gives the highest ending stroke damping level from the tunes offered. I have not missed the platform setting at all since i can just max the damper to reduce bobbing while pedaling.

    Let me know what you think if you try it.

    Good luck!

  12. #12
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    Bottom line suspension forks are designed around a 170lb rider. X-firm spring kits usually max out @ a rider weight of about 220lb. Only forks that I know of that handled heavier riders, w/ some degree of proper operation, were older dual coil Marz. forks w/ dual coils and air assist. The only 29er fork I can think of that might be Clyde friendly would be a Reba Dual Air.

  13. #13
    JB
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    I'm around 215 geared up, and I run the firm spring with only 50 psi air and find it perfect! Not sure why your fork is so far off mark?

  14. #14
    dru
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    I just put a Tower Expert on my Salsa. I'm loving it so far and it's not even broken in yet. The fork, like the Pro is super easy to work on so don't be intimidated. Since I'm paranoid I decided to check the semi bath oil levels on mine (6 hours riding time) since there really is next to nothing to start with. I'd guess there was a little more than half of what should have been there. Looks like the factory skimped out a bit.

    If you take yours apart have a look at the quantity and condition of the semi bath oil instead of trying to use stoppers and such to prevent the 16cc from leaking out of each leg. Clean the dust wipers and the foam rings, if dirty. Clean out the lower legs if you need to. When you refill, soak the be-jesus out of the foam rings, drain out the excess and then add the 16 cc to each side before pushing the lowers fully on. A quart of full synthetic 5w-40 costs ~$10 and will provide you about 1 million semi-bath changes.

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

  15. #15
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    Tower Pro on my Niner, it's got an X-firm spring kit and I currently weigh around 225. It's worked pretty well for me at this point, but I do wish it was firmer. I'm really interested in a stiffer spring. I'll be following this one.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by keen View Post
    Bottom line suspension forks are designed around a 170lb rider. X-firm spring kits usually max out @ a rider weight of about 220lb. Only forks that I know of that handled heavier riders, w/ some degree of proper operation, were older dual coil Marz. forks w/ dual coils and air assist. The only 29er fork I can think of that might be Clyde friendly would be a Reba Dual Air.
    I've been riding a 2010 Reba Team since April. At 255 lbs, it always feels soft and divey. I actually preferred the RS Tora 318 I had on my old bike.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluestatevirgin View Post
    I've been riding a 2010 Reba Team since April. At 255 lbs, it always feels soft and divey. I actually preferred the RS Tora 318 I had on my old bike.
    I currently have a 2010 Reba and weigh 200lb. My buddy weighs 235lb w/ the same fork. In order to combat a "soft divey" condition you need to run the positive @ least 15psi higher than the negative. Tuning for equal pressures might work for your average weight rider.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by keen View Post
    I currently have a 2010 Reba and weigh 200lb. My buddy weighs 235lb w/ the same fork. In order to combat a "soft divey" condition you need to run the positive @ least 15psi higher than the negative. Tuning for equal pressures might work for your average weight rider.
    Tried that. Helped some. Guess I just like a super-firm travel. I got some advice on another thread regarding setting the positive pressure, emptying the negative, then airing up the negative in stages. I'll try that. Also going to increase the bath oil levels. However, I also got one of the Rebas with the offsett lowers from fleabay. I had the wheel dished to compensate, but sooner or later I'm buying a new fork. Messing with suspension tuning is not particularly fun for me. If I can't find an acceptable clyde fork, I'm going rigid. Awaiting news from this post, and to hear what Manitou might have coming in the future.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluestatevirgin View Post
    Tried that. Helped some. Guess I just like a super-firm travel. I got some advice on another thread regarding setting the positive pressure, emptying the negative, then airing up the negative in stages. I'll try that. Also going to increase the bath oil levels. However, I also got one of the Rebas with the offsett lowers from fleabay. I had the wheel dished to compensate, but sooner or later I'm buying a new fork. Messing with suspension tuning is not particularly fun for me. If I can't find an acceptable clyde fork, I'm going rigid. Awaiting news from this post, and to hear what Manitou might have coming in the future.
    You should be able to easily firm the fork up by running higher positive pressures & lower neg. You can't adjust the damper oil level it isn't an open bath fork - it will just hydra lock.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by one incredible donkey View Post
    Does anyone know where an illustrated walkthrough is for changing the springs on these forks? I ordered a firm kit a long time ago, but I've been too nervous to install it.
    It's really simple, take a look at Manitou's service section on the site. There are step by step directions on there. I haven't been able to find any video's.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by keen View Post
    You should be able to easily firm the fork up by running higher positive pressures & lower neg. You can't adjust the damper oil level it isn't an open bath fork - it will just hydra lock.
    Thanks. I'll keep working towards a solution.

  22. #22
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    Trailmaker - Glad that Manitou has been so responsive with you. Like I said before, I was able to get a quick reply from them and even recently got a call from the engineer that helped me out asking if I had changed the spring in mine (which I actually just did to the firm) and how I was like it. Talked with him quickly on the phone and he was saying that he rides the Tower Pro 100mm as well with the firm spring and is a bit lighter than me but runs around 40psi in his. I have found that if I run around 70psi I can leave the fork completely unlocked and get no bob when standing to climb on my HT. But when descending I feel that somewhere between 40 and 50psi is what gives the least amount of trail chatter/feedback. All in all I am completely satisfied with my purchase of the Tower Pro and will look into Hayes other products (the parent company of Manitou) for other things such as brakes, bars, etc.

    Seriously, since building my bike and asking LOTS of questions of different companies there have only been two that have followed up by phone; GEAX and Manitou. Both calls were from engineers to follow up on questions I had asked previously and received some sort of email response from already. That is what I call customer service.
    Inbred 29r (Purple People Eater)
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  23. #23
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    I might be one of the larger riders on the Manitou Expert at 290#, but I have had good luck with the firm spring kit offered by Manitou. I spoke with a rep prior to purchasing the fork, and it was suggested I purchase the Expert because it utilizes a spring w/ air assist, whereas the Pro is Air w/ spring assist.

    I have honestly not had a chance to play with psi, preload, or shim stack setups as when I have the chance to ride.....I gotta get out and ride. But I do plan on playing around with it more as time goes on.

    I will say that I do have a lot of pedal bob when climbing, and purchased a lock-out to combat that problem, which has worked great!! I will not say the pedal bob is 100% the forks problem, as I am sure I don't have very good climbing technique. I also get a fair amount of brake dive, but I have a 203mm rotor on front w/ xtr's. Some riders may consider the 203mm overkill for the typical xc rider, but that is because they are not trying to bring a schoolbus to a stop in short order.

    I do think there would be a decent market segment for equipment for the larger rider. But there needs to be better support regarding setups and guidelines for those who need it. There are 10k different threads that apply to 90% of the riders, but the larger guys are kinda s.o.l. when it comes to anything outside the normal weight range.

    Manitou was the only solution that I found for someone my size, so as long as they have their foot in the door, they should devote everything they can for the larger rider. Seeing as how they should have a larger budget (being owned by a larger company) they should be able to throw some $$ to r&d.

    DO IT!!!

  24. #24
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    I am 250lbs, most likely 260lbs geared up. I run a firm and around 100psi with 3 to 4 clicks of compression and have been very happy with my fork. I have the same setup up on my SS and Fully. Fully is 100mm of travel, and then SS is 80mm of travel.

    That being said, when I got the firm spring I did not know they made an extra firm spring. Something to think about, and drop the air pressure.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Manitou Tower Pro Fork for Clydesdales - Techical-imag0083-3.jpg  


  25. #25
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    It was some time ago that I had to deal with Manitou over a fork issue. I too can say that I was treated with the best customer service that one could hope for! My mid-priced TPC spring/elastomer fork cracked at the brake-arch/outer leg junction. I sent it back after talking with a very respectful sales associate and was "given" a brand new fork with better internals than the one that broke...AND it was "Mango", a hot color option back in the day!

    The Manitou people treated me very good and I'm glad to see they're still backing their customers. Just because of their customer service I will buy one of their forks over the others,(not that I've had problems with anyone else).

    I'm putting together a 29er KMonkey and if I don't like "rigid" I'll be buying a Manitou...any suggestions?
    Only if I got paid to hang out in my garage and tweak on my bikes...

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