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  1. #1
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    So What's Wrong With Manitou??

    In the interest of saving some cash, I built up my renovated Spot with an '05 Manitou Nixon Elite coil fork 115-145mm RTW and a Manitou 4-Way air. The Nixon was a screaming deal at $270 and the 4-Way came off the classifieds as new for $120. I've now ridden the set up for a couple of hundred miles on trails here in Colo. and for three pretty hard core days in Moab - I have to say I'm very impressed with the overall performance of both the fork and the shock.

    The fork is soft in the early part of it's travel, there's some bob on out of the saddle hammering, but the compensation is the incredible sensitivity to small hits, washboards and the like. It's a great ride on singletrack, rough ledges and cracks - just eats the stuff up - but it also avoids bottoming on biggger drops (big for me is maybe a 3 footer - even in CC units). The compression adjustment has little effect on 2/3 of the initial travel but kicks in once you start getting to the bottom of the stroke. For the price I have no complaints at all.

    Similar praise goes to the 4-Way air. It took a little while to dial in the two air settings and the canister setting, but after about an hour of tweaking on the trail, the shock just rocks. Buttery smooth on the small stutter hits, but also good performance on the drops. No packing up at all on high speed rough descents and the O-ring shows full travel but no bottoming out. It's comparable in feel to the RP3 (but not quite as controlled now that the Fox has been Pushed, but the RP3 is 6.5 x 1.5 so it's bound to have a tighter feel).

    I notice that everybody seems focused on the Fox, RS and Marzocchi units here (me too admittedly) but this little foray into the Manitou realm has been an eye opener - the stuff works great.

    Just curious if people have had bad experiences with Manitou stuff or what?
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  2. #2
    rr
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    I haven't tried a Manitou fork in awhile, the last one I had was back in 2000 and it was the 4" ti coil model, can't remember the name now. It was a great fork and very plush, especially at slower speeds. I tried the Fox forks next and now Zoke, the Zoke's have definitely been the stiffest forks I've tried but I can't say the damping is superior to the others. The TST feature on my marathon XC fork is the nicest compression adjuster I've used though, it works very nicely with the RP3 rear shock.

    Wasn't impressed with the Swinger rear shock and it stuck down, but Manitou was very easy to deal with and they sent me a brand new '06 3-way to replace it.

  3. #3
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    I was surprised at the difference between the 4-Way and the 3-Way. Although the 3-Way was the shorter travel model on the Burner, it definitely felt like more of race oriented firm platform shock. The 4-Way is completely different, way more plush. I guess it's the piggy back that makes the difference. It's puzzling, but you can pick these up barely used on the classifieds for really cheap - usually coming off an Intense bike. I thought these would be stop gap units until UGI struck and the money tree started shedding leaves - but I plan to ride them 'til they die.
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  4. #4
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    The Swingers have certainly been pretty trouble free, from a maintenance standpoint, compared to other shocks of the SPV persuasion (5th Element). I just disliked all the tinkering to get it to run right, but I think the shock itself was of nice quality. Liked the ride of the Fox Float better, though.

    I've had some bad experiences with old Manitou forks - who hasn't right? Just like the bad RS forks from years ago, I think that Manitou has improved their product over the last few years. Not as big of a leap as RS, but more incremental improvement. I'm still gun shy of buying a fork of theirs, as I am of RS. It's just hard to adjust to when a company produces such crap for a while, then starts to change it's tune. You want to wait a few years to see if it's all marketing BS, then buy when things have a had a chance to mature and the bugs get ironed out. Wasn't the Nixon frought with problems when it came out a few years ago?

    The fact that RS has started to put metal parts on their forks is a step in the right direction. That kind of build quality/rebuildability is probably why you see so many going for Fox and Marz lately. I still see alot of plastic on Manitou stuff still.

  5. #5
    MSH
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    agree with D-line...I have always had bad experience with Manitou (and RS for that matter). I finally had it after the '03 Black Super that I purchased from Speedgoat on closeout. Big mistake on my part...soft, soft , and way too soft. Even after changing to stiff springs that thing was still a freakin noodle. I'm no moose at anywhere from 180-195 lbs depending on time of year and beer intake. In any event, the only forks that I have been pleased with across the board every single time is Marzocchi. I only have experience with one Fox fork and that has been fairly positive. I don't think I will be giving Manitou a shot again anytime soon, although all the positive feedback on RS, as of late, has me thinking once I get this new Flux frame replacement.

    MSH

  6. #6
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    Manitou seems to have picked it up a bit.

    Can't speak to Manitou's rear shocks, but I've been a marzocchi guy for a while with forks and good reason. The ability to work on my fork is a big plus for those of us that want to be able to change seals or oil when necessary. Also, where we live, we're riding in muck 1/2 of the year and the other half usually consists of big singletrack climb and drops, some FR stuff and days of huge amts. of vert in the bike park (as much as 25k+ in a day). The 'zocchi stuff, while heavier has basically proven itself amongst our crew and people in the area to be reliable, durable and easy to maintain. The open bath system is almost idiot proof from a maintenance standpoint. Honestly, if you were to sit in line at the park and count the number of 'zocchi's, I'd bet it would be 50% (or more) of the bikes up there and for good reason.

    Fox makes a great product. I've had a Vanilla 125 fork of theirs that worked flawlessly and have several rear shocks that have work great (two of them are pushed though). I think, to a degree, Fox gets a hall pass from a lot of folks as they've had their issues with the RP3's, DHX air's and the TALAS 36 and with older TALAS forks too. It seems that they are excused from the usual quality control comments that some folks make about manipoo. If I were to spend $800 on a fork, I'd like to know that I'm able to get full travel, etc.

    Manitou, on the other hand, always seems to come out with a new damping system every year as they are blowing out last year's "latest-greatest" forks online. Their reliability has been questionable, no doubt, but has gotten better over the last year or two. On their longer forks, the spv concept has kind of fallen on it's face as folks that have a 6-7" fork aren't necessarily looking for a shock that pedals great at the sacrifice of small bump compliance.

    With that said, I picked up a Sherman Flick Plus at a screaming price on Jenson (TPC damping) over the winter and it's really nice and is reasonably light for a 150mm fork. I gotta say it's surpassed my expectations so far and the TPC feels great. I did add a firm spring because I was hucking it for a while, but I've decided to move it back to the stock spring for more trailbike feel (I'm only 165-170 with gear on).

    With a new big bike purchase this spring, I got a Travis 180 with their Intrinisic damping system. Prior to that, my two former big bike forks were an '03 Super T (arguably the best year made) and a 66RC. Despite the height, the 66RC was awesome and everything you'd expect of a 'zocchi and on par with the dual crown fork. Well, my new bike has a 1.5" headtube so I decided to go with the travis as the bike mfgr. really recommended I give it at try and I was looking for a shorter A2C fork. I also pinged Noel about one that he had on his V-tach and he confirmed it handled great for the time that he had on it so far.

    So far, the Travis is exceeding my expectations (perhaps they're too low?) and performing great. It's super plush over the fast little stuff, tracks well, handles mid-sized and big stuff with aplomb (but I haven't hit anything ridiculous yet) and it pedals really nicely. When I'm pedaling out of the saddle, I can feel the fork firm up and it doesn't bob at all. As soon as I hit the smallest bump, it opens up and is smooooth like buttah. I've yet to experience any issues with small bump degradation that folks with the Sherman Breakouts had over the past two seasons. Folks getting Highlines should seriously consider this fork, imo.

    In all honesty, both forks are so new that I'll be curious how they hold up. That's the ultimate question, right? How long will their products hold up to weekly use and abuse and continue to be reliable/durable? I'll be interested to see myself......so far, so good.

    Cheers,
    EBX

  7. #7
    PSI
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    IMO, if you like the performance and the price is right the only other thing you should look at if you have a good service center in your area.

  8. #8
    Mr.Secret
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    I agree with cutthroat on both the shocks and forks, it just takes a little more patience to dial them in but once they are they're as good as anything out there

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PSI
    IMO, if you like the performance and the price is right the only other thing you should look at if you have a good service center in your area.
    Yeah, but what about the impact on my snob poseur image? Isn't that the most important factor of all?
    Good comments from all of you - I too had pretty well sworn off Manitou after a bout with a squirelly Mars on my race bike and a few blown seals, but I'm coming back around - the Nixon has mostly metal bits on it, although the RTW dial is plastic. The new '06 and later stuff has gone full metal. Fox set the standard there. I recently installed a new R7 100mm fork on a friend's bike, and she literally raves about the improvement in handling - although she was on an old Noleen 80mm, so anything would feel better. I've probably jinxed myself with this post, but we'll see how the stuff holds up over the season.
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  10. #10
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    Manitou has been trying to fix SPV ever since they decided to use it as a damping system. Maybe it finally works now with intrinsic, but the whole idea was pretty dumb.

    "were going to decrease suspension performance by adding way too much low compression damping, and you will have to use a minimum pressure that will always make the fork work poorly compared to others".

    Their lubrication and sealing systems are not up to the par of others IMO, and the overal quality is still not there, in terms of a product that you want to last season after season.

    I have never seen manitou make products that I'd expect to be running in near perfect condition 3 or 4 years down the road. They also change their models way too fast. If you want to get a part for a manitou, good luck. They always change the models around so much that it's usually nearly impossible to get stuff for other forks, and if you have a new fork you have to wait untill they are going to stock any parts for it, and usually in both situations you can't get what you need.

    I've delt with manitou many times, called them up, compained about their "one page" instruction manual for their forks (because I thought it MIGHT be helpful to have a chart which AT LEAST tells the customer what fork he has and what adjustments it has), and so on. I've never been that impressed with em, they never go out of their way to get you anything, it's only when something is obviously wrong that they will fix it, like with the nixons and other forks that were flawed, but it's never "oh yeah, we'll send you that part out today", it's "we might have that in stock in a few weeks", and by a "few weeks" they always mean that after two months you should call and complain and then they'll tell you that it will be another two weeks (months) and the process goes on and on. I can't count how many times marzocchi has hooked our shop up and sent out parts for older forks and such. There's no comparission when dealing with the two companies, and the products are still different enough (construction/quality wise) that I'll never consider them untill they fix a lot of the issues. (like the damper rod on one of their forks that came on a new bike, it simply "screws" into the lowers, but it DOESN'T tighten, it just sits there, so you can turn it easily and unscrew it from the stanchions, and that's the way it was designed to be)
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  11. #11
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutthroat
    - the Nixon has mostly metal bits on it, although the RTW dial is plastic. The new '06 and later stuff has gone full metal. Fox set the standard there.
    Marzocchi set that standard back in 1996.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
    t66
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    yep

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Marzocchi set that standard back in 1996.
    Gotta agree w/Jayem. Since the first Bomber fork in 1996. MARZOCCHI RULES

  13. #13
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    lightweight 'Zoke?

    I've had a Manitou Skareb Super (not SPV, not as noodly as you'd think for a 3.3 lb fork, and worked well for cross country) and now have a Rockshox Reba (a lot stiffer than the Skareb but only 3.5 lbs and a whole lot more dialable). Neither gave/has given me any problems. A question for you Marzocchi fans: is there a 3.5 lb or under 'Zoke 4" fork for cross country use that's stiff, reliable, dialable etc? I've always had the impression Marazocchi specialized in big hit long travel forks so I never looked at them for a lightweight 4" fork.

    And to answer the original thread question: I have nothing against Manitou and have always had decent luck with them. Never had to go through their customer service because I never had problems.

  14. #14
    t66
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy
    I've had a Manitou Skareb Super (not SPV, not as noodly as you'd think for a 3.3 lb fork, and worked well for cross country) and now have a Rockshox Reba (a lot stiffer than the Skareb but only 3.5 lbs and a whole lot more dialable). Neither gave/has given me any problems. A question for you Marzocchi fans: is there a 3.5 lb or under 'Zoke 4" fork for cross country use that's stiff, reliable, dialable etc? I've always had the impression Marazocchi specialized in big hit long travel forks so I never looked at them for a lightweight 4" fork.

    And to answer the original thread question: I have nothing against Manitou and have always had decent luck with them. Never had to go through their customer service because I never had problems.
    Gram counters

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy
    A question for you Marzocchi fans: is there a 3.5 lb or under 'Zoke 4" fork for cross country use that's stiff, reliable, dialable etc? I've always had the impression Marazocchi specialized in big hit long travel forks so I never looked at them for a lightweight 4" fork.
    I don't know.

    I don't really consider sub 4lb forks to be XC capable.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    I think Manitou really took a hit in reputation with the early Nixon forks with the IT adjustment that did not work on many forks and the travel "fix" that lowered travel under 140mm. Combined with the plastic parts that they started using about the time the black line came out they kinda went out of favor.

    My first upgrade fork was a circa 2001 Manitou SXR which I always loved. I've since moved on to Fox and now back to Rock shox but still think the SXR with TPC handles well.

    They seem to be getting the quality control back in line but I think there are simply a lot of people on these boards who are not ready to give them another shot yet (myself included).

    It does hurt that they keep having a new platform every year....spv, spv evolve, intrinsic gets confusing. The refinements are good progress but they need to build their brand recognition for their platform. Just call it new and improved SPV Evolve Intrinsic TPC instead of renaming it each year.

  17. #17
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    I love my Sherman Firefly 135 on the Spot (converted to TPC -- SPV blows). Sometimes I love it for over 10 or 15 rides.

    Then it gets a little sticky (yes, I oil the foam rings). Then it starts to leak. Somewhere along the line there, the travel adjuster went out of adjustment for the fourth time, so I gave up on it.

    So then it goes back to Manitou, who cheerfully rebuild it for free, and send it back, then the cycle is repeated.

    Life's too short. Order an All Mountain 1 yesterday (will also be a good backup fork for the RFX if (when) the 36 Van needs some TLC from Fox, since it will adjust out to 150.
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  18. #18
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    Nothing

    I've had great luck with Manitou but I've only owned one SPV fork, an original SPV Minute 1 set up which I updated with SPV evolve (free from Manitou) and as a coil fork I have no problem whith it, much smoother than my buddies Minute 3 but about the same as another buddies Minute 2. I've not opened it up in over a year and a half and it's still working great (must do maintenance). I own a Flick and a Flick+ as well and those things are butter and trouble free. I had a 3 way air on my 5 Spot which was light but too progressive and when the rebound circut died they gave me a 4 way air to replace it and it's closer to a coil in both performance and weight and has never been a problem. I like SPV for rear shocks but the best atribute of an SPV fork is the anti dive benifit you get but it doe's make the ride harsher over stutters.

  19. #19
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    Funny

    Quote Originally Posted by string
    I think Manitou really took a hit in reputation with the early Nixon forks with the IT adjustment that did not work on many forks and the travel "fix" that lowered travel under 140mm. Combined with the plastic parts that they started using about the time the black line came out they kinda went out of favor.

    My first upgrade fork was a circa 2001 Manitou SXR which I always loved. I've since moved on to Fox and now back to Rock shox but still think the SXR with TPC handles well.

    They seem to be getting the quality control back in line but I think there are simply a lot of people on these boards who are not ready to give them another shot yet (myself included).

    It does hurt that they keep having a new platform every year....spv, spv evolve, intrinsic gets confusing. The refinements are good progress but they need to build their brand recognition for their platform. Just call it new and improved SPV Evolve Intrinsic TPC instead of renaming it each year.
    Yea that travel issue really hurt Manitou's rep probably due to the crashes that came from tires hittin crowns but Fox has had some similar issues with for instance the 36 Talas which is supposed to be a 150mm travel for but shows less than 145 between the crown and the sliders on the 3 I've seen which means metal to metal would be 5mm short; they just limited the travel to keep the tire safe without worrying about short changing the travel. Same with the old 125 Talas. I'd buy the new Talas which dosn't appear to have this issue but it's not worth dropping the $700 upgrade.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebxtreme
    With that said, I picked up a Sherman Flick Plus at a screaming price on Jenson (TPC damping) over the winter and it's really nice and is reasonably light for a 150mm fork. I gotta say it's surpassed my expectations so far and the TPC feels great. I did add a firm spring because I was hucking it for a while, but I've decided to move it back to the stock spring for more trailbike feel (I'm only 165-170 with gear on).
    I have to agree regarding the Flick Plus. I won one in a raffle last summer, and replaced my 36 Talas with it. I've been pleasantly surprised by the fork. It feels very good, certainly an improvement over the 36.

    I'm intrigued by the new Rock Shox forks. I imagine they will be stiffer than the Sherman, but I don't feel the need to rush out and buy one as soon as the come out. I'm slowly getting over the "early adopter" thing.

    I'm sure by posting this I've just signed the death sentence for my fork, and it will fail catastrophically on my next ride...

  21. #21
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    Elite is an OK design

    Quote Originally Posted by cutthroat
    In the interest of saving some cash, I built up my renovated Spot with an '05 Manitou Nixon Elite coil fork 115-145mm RTW and a Manitou 4-Way air. The Nixon was a screaming deal at $270
    ....
    Just curious if people have had bad experiences with Manitou stuff or what?
    I bought the '05 Elite new ($250 + tax and shipping). But it needed a special socket ($32 + tax) to change the spring ($20 + tax and shipping) to a firm to match my heavier than average ride weight. Still it's a good performing fork for a $312, a fair price for the quality, but not really any bargain for the only OK quality in stock form.

    A full bath design would be better since splash bath is a pain to maintain, even if it saves an ouch of weight. I really like the travel adjust range, more practical for "All Mountain" riding bikes with 5 - 6 inch travel than the shorter travel Pike U-Turn coil. It really works as a shorter travel fork at 4.5 inches as I need on my 4.5 rear travel bike for most riding, unlike a Marzocchi AM air vacuum drop for climbing only.

    The damping is conventional and custom tunable, no sealed cartrige. The compression damping is very mild even though there are too many clicks and full turns to count, but I like easy smooth acting compression, I'm not racing it and ride a very well balanced bike which needs no help from slow (firm) damping.

    Rebound is probably overdamped for most lighter riders. The stock blue oil is heavy weight, it must be at least 10 wt, at least it acts like heavier than 7.5 morecommon stock weight fork oil. Even for my heavy weight and firm spring rebound was adjusted to the full fast (soft) position. Changing to ATF was a noticable improvement. ATF acts like lighter weight than the stock oil, so is less rebound restrictive, producing an adjustment range I can set a little bit in, where the stock oil was too slow to allow. Lighter fork oil such as 5 wt should give light riders some adjustment if ATF doesn't improve it enough.

    There is no way to preload the spring with stock adjustment so it really doesn’t get full indicated travel unless the lowers are pulled away from the uppers. I'm thinking I can grind off the stop-lip from the plastic wind-down knob and screw it in another 5 mm past the stock stop to fix the design neglect.

    The finish work is cheesy compared to Fox or especially Marzocchi's stylish and sometimes polished all metal refinement.

    The reverse arch is a bad design, it catches dirt and mud. It must have been done for cantilever brake twist problems? Or maybe just looks? It doesn't make much sense for dirt use especially since disc is long been standard for real mountain bikes.

    It's an OK fork with potential to be modified and tuned into a very good fork.



    - ray

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