Travel Options: 110 to 150 mm in 10 mm increments (internally adjustable)
Wheel Sizes: 27.5’’ and 29’’
Available Offset Options: 37 mm and 44 mm (27.5’’); 44 mm (29’’)
Stanchions: 34 mm
- Mattoc Comp: 2,020 g
- Mattoc Expert: 1,760 g
- Mattoc Pro: 1,750 g
- Mattoc Comp: $600
- Mattoc Expert: $825
- Mattoc Pro: $1,050
The Manitou Mattoc had been around for a very long time, and while the prior-generation fork had gone through a number of smaller updates over the years, Manitou’s mid-travel Trail fork hadn’t had a full redesign in quite some time. But that’s all changed because Manitou has launched a new iteration of the Mattoc with changes to just about every part of the fork, including a new chassis, new dampers, tweaked spring designs, and more.
The new Mattoc retains the reverse-arch lowers and 34 mm stanchions of its predecessor, but the chassis is all new and Manitou says that it’s 30% stiffer than the prior iteration. The axle is, unsurprisingly, a 110 x 15 mm Boost design, with a post-mount brake mount for a 160 mm rotor (maximum allowable rotor size isn’t stated) and a 1.5’’ tapered steerer tube. Tire clearance is stated at an ample 67 mm (2.64 in) wide. The prior-generation Mattoc routed the brake hose down the back side of the fork leg, but the new one adds a more conventional (and in my opinion, cleaner) bolt-on guide on the front of the non-drive-side leg, with a zip tie anchor on the arch sticking around for adherents to Manitou’s older setup.
Manitou is talking a big game about the versatility of the Mattoc, saying that it’s light enough for XC race use, but beefy enough for “light enduro” duty; at a claimed weight of 1,750 g (Mattoc Pro 29’’), it’s lighter than a Fox 34 Grip2 (1,890 g) and RockShox Pike (1,943 g) so it’ll be interesting to see how the Mattoc fares under more aggressive riding in particular. The burlier Manitou Mezzer is impressively stout for its weight, which perhaps bodes well, but we’ll just have to get on a Mattoc (supposedly soon) to find out more.
As per usual for Manitou, the Mattoc is available in three different versions with different spring, damper, and chassis designs. And while the Comp, Expert, and Pro versions differ substantially in terms of their internals, most of the parts can be swapped between the various Mattoc trim levels — and the Circus and Mastodon dirt jump and fat bike forks as well — to upgrade a lower-tier fork or just customize a given fork as desired.
Mattoc Comp ($600):
- Chassis: 6000-Series Aluminum stanchions
- Spring: Expert Air w/ IVA
- Damper: ABS+ (adjustable rebound and low-speed compression)
Mattoc Expert ($825):
- Chassis: 7000-Series Aluminum stanchions
- Spring: Expert Air w/ IVA
- Damper: Open cartridge TPC (adjustable rebound, three-position compression w/ Open Mode low-speed compression adjustment)
Mattoc Pro ($1,050):
- Chassis: 7000-Series Aluminum stanchions
- Spring: Dorado Air w/ IRT
- Damper: Sealed cartridge MC2 with hydraulic bottom-out (adjustable rebound, high- and low-speed compression)
The Mattoc Pro gets a shiny polished silver crown, while the Expert chassis is a bit less flashy in black, but functionally identical. The Comp version uses straight-wall 6000-series aluminum stanchions in place of the butted 7000-series ones on the higher-end models, which contributes to a stated ~260 g weight penalty for that version; we’d assume that not all of that weight difference is coming from the stanchions (the dampers also differ) but Manitou doesn’t break out those details.
The Mattoc is available for 29’’ wheels with 44 mm of offset, or in a 27.5’’ version with your choice of 37 or 44 mm offset. Manitou is quick to point out that not only are some adults better served by 27.5’’ wheels (and there are still some great mid-travel bikes that come with them) but also that offering a 27.5’’ version of the Mattoc gives them a high-end option for a lot of larger-sized kids bikes, too. Manitou also has a new Junit fork out alongside the Mattoc, which is a high-end offering for 24’’ and 26’’ wheel options for smaller kids’ bikes — a market niche that the bigger players have been ignoring, and is cool to see being filled.
At 542 mm axle-to-crown height for the 29’’ version configured with 130 mm of travel, the Mattoc is right in line with the Fox 34 (544 mm) and RockShox Pike (541 mm); the 27.5’’ version of the Mattoc is 20 mm shorter than the 29er at a given travel setting, and changing the travel, of course, changes the axle-to-crown height in the same 10 mm increments as the travel change itself. Manitou also offers a bolt-on fender for the Mattoc. The Pro and Expert versions also feature Manitou’s “Trail Side Relief” bleeders to vent built-up air pressure in the lowers.
Manitou offers two different air spring versions in the Mattoc, with the top-tier Mattoc Pro getting their IRT air spring, and the Expert and Comp using the same IVA one. All are internally adjustable from 110 to 150 mm of travel in 10 mm increments by adding or removing spacers to the air shaft (which are included with the fork). Manitou says that the spacers have been revised to better compensate for the resulting changes in negative spring volume than in the prior-generation Mattoc, but the system is conceptually similar to that fork (and the Mezzer).
IRT Air (Mattoc Pro)
The IRT air spring used in the Mattoc Pro is conceptually very similar to that used in the Mezzer and Dorado Pro but lightly reconfigured for the smaller Mattoc chassis. In short, it’s a dual-positive air spring design, the likes of which we’ve seen in a bunch of forks from Manitou, Ohlins, and EXT over the years, as well as EXT’s new Aria rear shock.
The way it works is fairly straightforward. Like most modern air-sprung forks, there’s a main positive air chamber with a negative chamber opposing it. Instead of using a dimple machined into the stanchion to equalize pressure between the two at top-out, the IRT spring equalizes pressures between the main and negative chambers when a shock pump is attached to the valve, but the end result is conceptually similar. Manitou argues that their system makes for a slightly more supportive fork since there’s no “flat spot” in the spring curve while the main air piston moves over the equalization dimple; it also allows for Manitou’s spacer-based system of changing travel, which isn’t possible in forks that use a dimple for negative chamber equalization.
[If you could use a refresher on what all that stuff about positive and negative springs means, check out the “Design” section of our Vorsprung Secus review, which covers the subject in detail.]
That’s all pretty normal, but then Manitou stacks a second positive air spring chamber, called the IRT (for “Infinite Rate Tune”), on top of the main air spring. The IRT chamber is filled by a second valve at the top of the fork leg and should be pressurized before the main chamber to ensure a consistent and repeatable setup.
The IRT chamber is pressurized to a substantially higher pressure than that of the main spring, and they’re separated by a floating piston that slides on a shaft, which limits how far into the fork leg the piston can move. When the fork starts to compress from top-out, only the main chamber compresses initially, until its pressure builds to equal that of the IRT chamber. At that point, the piston separating the two begins to slide, compressing the IRT chamber in proportion to the main one, so that their pressures remain equal.
This means that, from that inflection point forward, the main and IRT chambers effectively behave as one larger one, and the spring rate then ramps up more slowly due to that larger total air volume. The idea is to make an air spring that offers increased midstroke support, due to the more aggressive ramp-up of the main chamber earlier in the stroke, without making the spring continue to ramp up as aggressively, making it difficult to use full travel, or resulting in harshness as the spring rate ramps up to the moon. And by varying the relative pressure in the main and IRT chambers, you can change where in the fork’s stroke that inflection point occurs, and thereby make significant changes to the overall shape of the spring curve, and with it, the fork’s feel and performance.
The prior-generation Mattoc received an update that included an optional IRT spring part way through its run, but we never reviewed that particular iteration. We have, however, been quite impressed with the IRT spring in both the Mezzer Pro and Dorado Pro, and are looking forward to seeing how it pans out in a shorter-travel configuration.
IVA Air (Mattoc Expert & Mattoc Comp)
The IVA (“Incremental Volume Adjust”) spring used in the Mattoc Expert and Comp is a bit more conventional — while it uses the same system for changing travel and equalizing negative spring pressure as the IRT spring in the Pro, the IVA version replaces the IRT assembly with a static piston that allows for the adjustment of the total positive spring volume, similar to more typical air volume spacers. Instead of adding or removing volume spacers to change the air spring volume and therefore the total amount of progression, the IVA piston can be set to one of three positions to produce different spring volumes. The result is functionally identical to that of normal volume spacers; IVA is just a different way of implementing the same idea without needing to add or remove parts.
In the Mezzer and Dorado, the main piston in the IRT and IVA springs is actually identical, so you only need to swap in the upper IRT assembly — which can be done in just a few minutes, without removing the fork lowers — to convert an IVA-equipped fork to an IRT one. We’d assume the same is true for the Mattoc, especially given what Manitou is saying about the modularity of the new fork, but we’ll confirm with them and report back.
Though the Mattoc Expert and Comp share spring designs, all three tiers of the Mattoc get different dampers. And to reiterate, the different dampers can be swapped between the various Mattoc trim levels as desired.
MC2 w/ HBO (Mattoc Pro)
The MC2 damper used in the top-tier Mattoc Pro is a slimmed-down version of the damper used in the Mezzer Pro Enduro fork — a sealed-cartridge design that uses a bladder for oil-volume compensation, with a pressure-relief valve to keep the damper intact if it gets overfilled. The MC2 damper has independently adjustable low- and high-speed compression, plus adjustable rebound. It also features a hydraulic bottom-out circuit that adds additional speed-sensitive compression damping in the final 30 mm of travel to help control and mitigate hard bottom-out events.
Manitou says that the sealed design helps with consistency over longer descents that put more heat into the damper, though it does make service a little more complicated since an additional step of bleeding all the air out of the damper is required. The MC2 damper in the Mezzer is quite straightforward to work on, though, and Manitou includes two bleed ports on it to connect syringes to make the job easy; we’d assume they’ve done the same on the Mattoc but will need to wait for our test fork to show up (we’re told it’ll be soon) to crack it open and find out.
VTT-6 (Mattoc Expert)
The Mattoc Expert gets a substantially different damper design — the open-bath VTT-6 offering, which features adjustable rebound plus a three-position compression lever with “Open,” “Trail,” and “Lock” modes, plus a finer low-speed compression adjuster for the “Open” mode. The VTT-6 damper also forgoes the hydraulic bottom-out circuit from the MC2 one in the Mattoc Pro.
ABS+ (Mattoc Comp)
The base Mattoc Comp gets a simpler open-bath damper with adjustable rebound and compression. It uses an entirely different design from the other Mattoc dampers, though the base Mezzer Comp and Dorado Comp both use a version of the same design, just reconfigured for their respective chassis.
Bottom Line (For Now)
We’ve been big fans of Manitou’s Mezzer Pro for quite some time now, so it’s exciting to see the lighter-duty Mattoc get updated with a whole lot of the same features and technology, just in a slimmer, lighter package. We’ve got a Mattoc Pro on the way for review, so stay tuned for much more to come soon.
1 comment on “2023 Manitou Mattoc”
Nice write up. I’d take the Pro/Expert chassis with the ABS+ damper, which is superior for anybody shy of Richie Rude, and so darn simple.