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Manitou Mezzer Pro Enduro Fork | A Guest Review

By Rob Hinds
manitou mezzer pro review irt dorado air spring
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The Manitou Mezzer Pro is a 37mm stanchion enduro mountain bike fork that stands out from the crowd with a reverse arch design. At $1,099 USD, it is a little more affordable than its competitors from Fox (Factory 38) and Rockshox (Zeb Ultimate). At its current sale price of $659.99 USD, it is vastly more affordable. Considering that alongside its relatively light chassis, and the raft of damping adjustments on offer, we deem it very much worthy of consideration.

Stepping in to test the Mezzer Pro is a guest reviewer, Rob Hinds. He was more than happy to put it through its paces while I (Jessie-May) was out of action due to injury.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of it, it is pertinent to introduce our tester…

rob hinds rider review manitou mara pro mezzer pro suspension
Our tester, Rob Hinds, tested the Manitou Mezzer PRO and Mara PRO suspension on a 2019 Marin Alpine Trail. Unfortunately, the Mara PRO with King Can tested had a compromised negative spring, and so we were unable to complete the review.
  • Name: Rob Hinds
  • Weight: 85 kg
  • Riding Style: Aggressive, Creative
  • Number of years riding: 25
  • Bike: 2019 Marin Alpine Trail
manitou mezzer pro review 160mm 29er enduro fork
The fender supplied with the Manitou Mezzer Pro is laughably small, and very flexible. Thankfully, Rob was able to run his with a zip-tied RRP Pro Guard, which is immeasurably superior.

Manitou Mezzer PRO Fork | An Overview

The Manitou Mezzer Pro fork is a 37mm stanchion affair, with a rather uncommon reverse arch design that makes it something of a head-turner. Our 160mm travel 29″ test fork weighed in at 2.2 kg with an uncut steerer. While that’s not as light as Manitou claim (2,032 grams), it is lighter than an equivalent Fox 38 Factory fork, or indeed the Rockshox Zeb Ultimate – its main competitors.

It goes one better than the abovementioned with its highly-adjustable air spring, too. The Dorado Air – originally developed for the USD DH fork – offers Infinite Rate Adjustment (IRT), wherein you have not one but two positive air springs that are independently adjustable. That allows the rider to dial-in mid-stroke support and end-stroke ramp with reduced compromise.

manitou mezzer pro review irt dorado air spring

The main chamber is pressurized via a valve on the underside of the fork leg, while the secondary IRT chamber is pressurized via a valve on top. The latter must be pressurized before the former.

During compression, the main chamber pressure increases. When its exceeds that of the secondary chamber, the piston is displaced to compress the secondary chamber. In this way, the fork’s mid-stroke support and end-stroke ramp can be tuned somewhat independently of one another.

On the damper side, there’s independent adjustment of high- and low-speed compression, as well as rebound. A secondary appeal of the Mezzer Pro is that you can adjust its travel length aftermarket without the need to purchase a new air spring. Travel lengths of 140-180mm are available over 10mm increments, requiring travel reducing spacers provided by Manitou, and a collection of tools that are commonly found in any bicycle workshop.

Rough Start

The first Manitou Mezzer Pro assigned to me for review developed bushing play after just nine hours ride time. This issue was raised with Manitou, who swiftly sent out a replacement fork. Indeed, quality control appears to be in line with much of the bicycle industry, but our issue was resolved with minimal faff.

“Bushing fitment is something we are always striving to improve our manufacturing process to find the best combination of low friction and durability.  If a rider has an issue this is something that is covered under our warranty, which is 2 years from the date of purchase for the original owner.  Like you experienced anyone having a potential issue can submit a warranty claim on our website to have their product evaluated for a warranty replacement”.

Phil Ott, Manitou Product Manager

Take Two

In contrast to that frustrating initial experience, my impressions of the replacement fork are wholly positive. Its performance is nothing short of terrific, even outwith the context of its unbeatable value.

“Wow. This fork is plush”. Such were my thoughts on my very first ride of the Mezzer Pro (both the first fork, and the replacement).

With Manitou’s signature reverse arch and 37mm stanchions this stealthy fork isn’t afraid of bombing. It is sufficiently stiff, delivering precise steering with no discernible flex or bushing binding even under heavy loading. Credit there to be partially apportioned to Manitou’s Hex Lock thru-axle designed to enhance torsional stiffness.

Manitou’s spring pressure recommendations were in the correct ball-park, and I didn’t feel the need to depart from those settings in any major way. I kept the ratio between the primary and secondary chamber consistent, but increased the pressure of both slightly to find the best overall support. The bottom-out resistance was superb, with so little harshness to speak of that I rarely noticed bottoming-out. On this point, the Mezzer Pro is smoother and more controlled than its competitors.

Ride Feedback

I went out of my way to set this fork up for failure, but every time it just took the hit with no drama, further cementing in my mind that the Mezzer Pro is a truly capable enduro mountain bike fork. It’s as sensitive as any other fork i’ve ridden, with no discernible breakaway resistance.

On the damper side, I ran the external adjustment dials relatively open. Its base setting is quite heavily damped, something I might be concerned about if I were a lighter rider requiring reduced pressure.

On steeper, slower speed trails featuring slow speed drops into big compressions. I did feel the fork was sitting a little low in its travel. In those scenarios, I likely would have benefited from running a little more compression damping, or even a little more pressure in the spring’s main chamber. However, with those same settings, the fork was simply superb on faster flow trails, more akin to what you might find in a bike park.

Elsewhere, my experience with the damper adjustments proved their effectiveness. They are easily operable on the trail, and have no quirks or drawbacks to speak of.

Parting Thoughts

Though it is hard to justify as an upgrade as such, the Manitou Mezzer Pro is certainly worthy for consideration to replace a Fox 36 or Fox 38 (Factory) or indeed a Rockshox Zeb or Lyrik (Ultimate).

Outwith the context of any QC issues which, in our experience were dealt with swiftly through Manitou’s warranty process, the Manitou Mezzer Pro is best described as a fork for life. It confidently stands its ground on performance, it is user-serviceable and rebuildable, and travel can be adjusted should you wish to transfer from bike to bike. From 140-180mm, its versatility makes it appropriate for anything from a Norco Optic right through to something like a Kavenz VHP16.

A well maintained Manitou Mezzer Pro could feasibly outlast many frames and wheels.

Pros

  • Manitou’s IRT means air spring can be tuned for mid-stroke and bottom-out support
  • Very smooth
  • Highly sensitive
  • Precise steering
  • Broad range of effective damping adjustments offered

Cons

  • First fork received developed bushing play early on
  • Ineffective and highly flexible fender

hayesbicycle.com/manitou

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JNH
JNH
8 months ago

2 failures out of 3 review units (2 forks 1shock) is brutal. Talk about after sales support all you want, but I’m not buying anything when the hand picked review models fail 2 out of 3 times.

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