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Mountain Bike Fork Review: Manitou Match Comp
This is a review of the 2012 Manitou Match Comp Front fork. I needed another fork so I picked up a new Manitou match 130 mm fork (coils spring and QR) in white, which I did not know was available and I thought it deserved a thourough review. The fork usually retails for about $250 or so but I was able snatch up an original equipment (OE) take off for about $150 dollars. This fork went on a hardtail bike that I had a Rockshox Tora 302 120mm travel fork on, that I shifted over to a single speed. On a brief aside, The travel seemed like it might be big for its current bike but the geometry feels great, and the bike doesn't want to pop up at all on the uphills which I can grind hard thanks to the Absolute+ system.
My first impressions:
Pretty heavy. Not more so than my Tora however, I believe the weight quoted is a beefy 5+ lbs, heavy for even for an entry level coil spring. I'm not planning to race this bike, so I don't mind the weight on the front end. Plus if it performs well, I might throw it into few shorter races. I am sure that the 100mm ad 80mm travel forks are a little lighter, but I had to go for the big boy.
Slick looks. I dig the look, white, clean graphics, shiny knobs for the rebound and Absolute plus system, I really like how this fork looks. The black fork is just as nice, but the white matched my bike so I had to go for it.
The rebound knob is big and aluminum, ug. I actually prefer a plastic knob, I have lost a few aluminum ones before on the trail but never a plastic know, and the aluminum knobs scratch easily, it is a shiny blue though….for now.
Post mounts...love em, I hate putting on adapters for my brakes.
So I installed it and took it for a ride…..
My ride review:
Absolute plus absolutely rocks (har har)! Never rode a Manitou before and I love the adjustable damper system even though it doesn't adjust the travel by lowering the front of the bike. It adjusts the travel where you get less, without an adjustment on the angle. Some might prefer aTurnkey style system that allows you to set your angle for aggressive xc and then slack it back adjust it for some free riding . However, I personally think I prefer this to the turnkey on this bike since this is adjustable on the fly and the damper is definitely more adjustable and higher quality than my previous fork. Plus the lockout is ridiculously solid.
Great small bump compliance, the preload is actually very adjustable, rather than the 'only real soft or very hard ' you get from preload adjustment on most forks under $300.
Good smooth travel on the medium to bigger stuff, and the 32mm stanchions glide with only a slight noise. I also felt confident in the durability when hitting some small tabletops and kickers. I would not however. take this fork into any serious downhill or park situations, perhaps a thru axle would have been better for the jumps, but it is really an AM fork and I would be hesitant to drop anything over 5 or 6 feet, that had a rough exit. If you want a dirt jump fork, its best to buy a specialized one.
Stiff. Crazy stiff for a QR. Stiffer than the Tora, I can just throw this thing around and its not flexing at all, sweet.
Downsides... well not too much, definitely still a step below the top tier forks on the big stuff, and the real rocky sections. The highest preload setting also was not super hard, so I have a feeling that some bigger riders, might want a bit more resistance.
Ok so should I get one? Well, at $250 I don't think you are going to find much that beats this fork. It is suitable for mild free riding, but is too heavy for serious XC racing. Yet it is a huge step up from the entry level forks on the market. The extra money you'll spend on this fork over an entry level fork is not a lot (maybe 50 or 60 dollars) The damper is the same setup that Manitou uses on their more expensive Minute Forks, and the Match is rock solid, looks nice and rides beautifully. They successfully bridge the gap between near useless, stiff, and unreliable entry level coil spring forks and those that cost more than your rent for the next two months. If you are looking for a plush fork for a daily use bike /trainer that won't break the bank the Match is a sweet deal.