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Manitou Unveils Lighter XC Fork & Shock, Plus Retro Mattoc

manitou xc suspension on a racers bike riding over roots.
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With their suspension lining up at the World Cup XCO races again, Manitou needed a modern XC fork and shock for the Rockrider Ford Team riders.

The new Manitou R8 and Mara are it, offering an updated take on their dampers, lowers, and air springs for the front and rear of the bike. Let’s start with the fork…

Manitou R8 suspension fork

manitou R8 xc suspension forks.
All photos courtesy of Manitou / HBG.

Built around their 34mm stanchion platform and signature reverse arch, the new R8 comes in at a claimed 1450-1480g. They claim the rear arch is stiffer than a comparable front arch, or lighter than one with equal stiffness…a win either way. And now they have bolt-on fender mounts and pressure-relief bleed screws, too.

The uppers (stanchions) are Hyperlite, a lightweight alloy design borrowed from sister brand Answer, with deeply bored cutouts and external machining on the crown to save weight.

At the bottom, the new Hexlock SL-R is their lightest-ever thru axle at just 25g.

closeup details of manitou R8 xc suspension forks.

Internally, a new XC-tuned Dorado air spring is a bit lighter, but keeps the ability to change travel at home in 10mm increments, from 80mm up to 120mm. The adjustments change both positive and negative air volumes in tandem, so the ride quality is consistent no matter how you set it up without needing to buy an entirely new air spring just to change the travel, which is how many of their competitors’ forks work. A new XC version of their IVA volume adjustment lets you tune the air spring, too.

The damper is also new. It’s an XC-specific VTT Pro-X that’s lighter and has a unique three piston/three position adjustment. Unlike other dampers that make adjustments to the same high- and low-speed circuits, Manitou’s multi-piston design lets them have distinct settings in all three modes – firm, trail, and open.

In Firm mode, it’s basically locked out, with its own piston essentially closing off both circuits. In the middle position, a second piston adjusts both high- and low-speed circuits to create a supportive platform that can still absorb the terrain. In the open position, a third piston lets you independently adjust low-speed compression damping to your liking while high-speed is opened up to be more responsive to big hits.

Basically, it’s kinda-liking having external controls for both, but with three mostly pre-set settings that adjust both high- and low-speed compression with a single knob. There’s also an 18-click rebound adjustment on the bottom.

manitou ace-deuce remote lockout lever.

Available in 29er only with 44mm offset, boost spacing, and an option for remote lockout lever. Speaking of, they have a new Ace/Deuce lockout lever with three paddles, one for fork and shock lockouts, one to release the lockout, and one for dropper seatposts. What’s cool is that you can stack them however you like, putting suspension or dropper controls on top or bottom.

Manitou Mara air shock goes XC to Enduro

mara xc shock on a mountain bike.

The new Mara shocks come in three varieties – Inline, Inline with King Can, and Piggy Back. All three get new, more durable air piston architecture and are easy to tune with positive and negative volume spacers that need no special tools to install.

Inside, a new compression piston and updated shim stacks improve small bump compliance. Mid-stroke support is adjustable using external compression adjustments and the volume spacers.

All three also use their Balance Groove, which is essentially a check valve that automatically equalizes positive and negative air pressure, same as pretty much every fork out there except Cane Creek’s Helm.

manitou mara xc and trail air shocks for mountain bikes.

For XC bikes, the slim Mara Pro IL XC inline shock (above, left) has a new Lite Can air can, which has lower total volume for a firmer, more efficient ride quality. That makes it ramp harder, but for XC racers, it also keeps it from wallowing around under hard pedaling and sprints.

cutaway view of manitou king can air can.

For trail bikes, the new King Can oversized air can adds more volume with an outer sleeve. It’s found on the Mara IL Pro & Comp (inline) and Mara Pro PB (piggy back), giving you options for longer travel bikes, all the way to DH and park riding.

The Mara Pro PB adds a two-position switch that lets you quickly toggle between two pre-set modes – Work (for climbing) and Party (for descending). Work mode uses one damping circuit, and Party uses another that you can tune with external high- and low-speed adjustments.

There’s also a fourth Mara Pro PB DH that loses the Work/Party switch since it’s aimed at lift-served riding with no climbing.

Manitou Mattoc LE

Pining for the glory days? Back when you had one fork for everything from XC to DH?

For a limited time you can get a fully modern Manitou Mattoc trail fork in the black and silver finish that the legends rode, except it’s for 29″ wheels, not 26″.

Claimed weight is 1750g and it comes preset at 140mm travel but can be easily adjusted from 110mm to 150mm. It comes with their Hexlock SL2 thru axle, Dorado Air system, and IRT dual-positive air spring adjustment that lets you separately tune the mid- and end-stroke ramp.

HayesBicycle.com

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Trenton
Trenton
4 days ago

Story time: at sea otter this year I was chilling with the homies over at hudski where we saw this interesting guy carrying a case that looked like a shot gun case. So we yelled Hey! What’s in that case? So he came over. Opened the case , and this fork was in the case. And some shocks, and some hubs. It was an interesting moment in time.

Jason DW
Jason DW
4 days ago

Are any of the updates to the Mara retro-fitable to the old Mara?

E x
E x
4 days ago

Is hex lock sl-r axle able to replace a hexlock so-2 axle?

Nick
Nick
4 days ago
Reply to  E x

Yes

Nick
Nick
4 days ago

*sister brand ProTaper – as AnswerBMX is different and AnswerMTB hasn’t been around since 2018…

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
4 days ago

“…except it’s for 29″ wheels, not 26″”
AND a lot less dependent on elastomers for cushion! 🙂

Dave
Dave
3 days ago

I bought the retro version and it’s super sharp looking. The best fork I’ve ever owned in 35 years of riding mtb. I had to buy it because I never got a chance to own the OG when it was out. My only complaint is the axle. I take my front wheel off often and without a quick release lever it is a pita

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