Manitou's Marvel Pro and Real Custom Tuning - Eurobike 2011

Sep 5, 2011
by Mike Levy  
Manitou Eurobike 2011

Available in 100mm and 120mm travel options, Manitou's Marvel Pro is their top tier XC fork. Inside you'll find a damper that combines Manitou's proven TPC damper with the pedalling performance of the Absolute+ piston and shim configuration. TPC refers to the fork's Twin Piston Chamber - two pistons, one compression and one rebound, in a serviceable cartridge that lowers weight through oil volume. Manitou pioneered the two piston design in mountain bike suspension (later on developing the TPC+ system that uses a third floating piston as well) that you can now find inside of many other forks.

This is then combined with the Absolute+ damper to create a system that offers a firm pedalling platform early in its stroke, but that also opens up quickly to let the suspension work over the terrain. The 32mm stanchion Marvel Pro is available in both QR and 15mm axle versions. The fork's price of $699.99 USD price puts it well under the competitions high-end offerings, but only time on the trail will show how it compares in performance. Stay tuned, we have our names a Marvel Pro for testing.

Manitou Marvel Pro details:
• 100/120mm travel options
• ISO Air spring
• TPC Absolute+ damper
• Adjustable compression (to lockout), rebound and air spring
• 32mm stanctions
• QR15 hex thru-axle or 9mm QR lowers
• White or black lowers
• Tapered and straight 1 1/8th steerer options
• Weight: 3.5lbs
• MSRP: $699.99 USD (tapered steerer, QR15 axle)

Manitou s QR15 axle

15mm HexLock thru-axle: Manitou's QR15 HexLock thru-axle uses a 90 degree quick release lever to disengage the axle from the lowers. The silver dial adjusts the tension once the QR lever is tightened down. Adjust it once and it is set from then on in. The photo above clearly shows the axle's hex shaped clamping zone that resists twisting. The recessed dropouts on the Marvel are shaped so that the tension adjustment - the anodized grey aluminum dial assembly on the axle - sits mostly inside the lowers, with only the dial itself exposed. The opposite side uses threaded insert for the axle to tighten into that is also replaceable if damaged.

Manitou Eurobike 2011

Absolute+ damper: The compression damper ()above left() used within the Marvel Pro fork employs a digressive shim stack to provide a specific amount of low speed compression damping early in the stroke. This provides a firm pedalling feel at the top of the fork's travel to keep it from bobbing under power. The large black tube just above the piston is a closed cell foam compensator that does the same job as an IFP (internal floating piston), but without the added friction of an air spring seal, in that it compensates for changes in the oil volume as the rebound damper rod enters and exits the cartridge. Without it the fork would require an air gap in the cartridge, something that can lead to foaming oil and inconsistent damping.

How it works: A digressive damping curve means that once the oil pressure (which creates damping force) climbs high enough to engage the shim stack, the opening of the shims is drastic enough that any further increase in stroke velocity does not add any appreciable increase in damping force. This is differentiated from an orifice damper in which damping force climbs exponentially with stroke velocity, or a standard linear shim stack where damping force climbs linearly with increase in stroke velocity. This was first used on race cars and motorbikes to prevent chassis roll when braking or changing direction, but still allowing the suspension to absorb the ground below. It is accomplished by preloading one or more of the shims so that they are flexing in the opposite direction of the oil flow before entering the travel.

Manitou achieves this by shaping the compression piston (bottom right in the above photo) in such a way that the outside edge of the bottom shim rests on a raised lip and is flexed down - preloaded - by tightening the piston bolt. This preloading requires more oil force to flex the shim at first, giving the damper its platform feel. Once oil pressure (damping force) climbs to a level that matches the preload of the shim, the outer edge of the shim will lift off the lip, rapidly releasing that pressure. With the right shim stack, the system can handle high stroke velocities with little or no increase in damping force. The really neat thing with a digressive shim stack, and what Manitou have done on their Absolute+ damper, is the ability to actually tune the exact amount of damping force change that you want by altering the amount of preload and shim thickness in the very same way that you would tune a standard shim stack.

Manitou Eurobike 2011

True custom tuning: Manitou is bringing custom tuning to the masses in 2012 with their Absolute Plus Tuning Kit. Unlike the motocross world where riders can open up and alter their suspension, supplying shops and consumers with the means to alter their fork's damping by changing the shim stack has not been something that the mountain bike industry has embraced. While some may argue that the average consumer is likely to do more harm than good by messing about within their fork's damper, this certainly shouldn't keep those who know, or who want to know, from doing the job.

Thankfully, Manitou agrees. Not only does the Absolute Plus Tuning Kit come with all parts that are needed, including shims, pistons and other assorted bits, it also comes with a detailed booklet that provides a number of different shim stack suggestions and corresponding dyno charts to show you exactly what to expect. This allows you or your shop to explore nearly endless custom tunes in order to find the right setup for your style and terrain. We picture suspension nerds and wannabe suspension nerds everywhere jumping with joy right now.

Visit the Manitou website to see their entire lineup.


  • 29 0
 im glad at least one company is finally stepping up and selling valve shim kits and charts to the end user. as stated above, fox seems to think that their forks and shocks are too complicated for anyone but them to work on. everyone seems to have their own "special" valving design, but they all work on the exact same principal; shim stack, piston with different size/quantity holes, shim stack. what is so hard about removing a damping cartridge, taking off the shaft nut and changing out some shims? thank you manitou for realizing that we are not all retarded...
  • 1 0
 spot on
  • 9 0
 that or manitou have opened a whole new market of fixing the home mechanics feck ups Wink

(i see a lot of people taking this the wrong way and giving me negative props)
  • 1 0
 well the way i see it, this encourages the mechanically challenged (me) to have a go at some thing which i shouldnt. sure you guys go ahead but ive learnt my lesson the hard way...
  • 2 0
 I don't know about the damper side, but have you ever dealt with a TALAS cartridge? I would just leave that one in the hands of a fox tech if I ever have to do that again. What a freaking mess.
  • 26 0
 i just want the box full of pistons, theyre so pretty Smile could make chess set or summat with them...

But nice job manitou, been really stepping it up these past few years, back in the game!
  • 5 22
flag mtbtyrrell (Sep 5, 2011 at 5:12) (Below Threshold)
 i wish 20mm axles still existed.
  • 23 2
 i got a feeling they still do
  • 1 0
 Wow, this fork look dope!
  • 1 0
 +1 for Manitou. It's about time and hopefully everyone else follows suit. Improving our experience on the bikes is what it's all about and with this it will enable you to in the end improve your ride on various terrains and conditions.
  • 9 0
 True custom tuning: I knew this day would come. The fork looks awesome though, great to see Manitou back, a bit tired of RS or Fox dealing cards in the hype room, with BOS as luxurious rarity
  • 17 0
 Manitou has faith that their customers are intelligent enough to work on the fork themselves, and Manitou wants to be able to suply their customers with the ability to 100% custom tune a fork. That blows Foxs super secret send it back, your too dumb to touch it, attitude out of the water. Love Manitou for this.
  • 22 2
 I want that tuning kit! But only if they make transparent forks. Polycarbonate uppers from e13 - fk yea! Shiny anodized pistons, valves and shim sets with oil going through. Lowers would come with go-pro mount out of the box, so that people could film their custom valving at work. Fork Oils would come in different colours... ha! and led lights at the bottom of the fork, changing colour depending on size of the hit, from green to red. Kashima coating would get swept from looking-cool list right away
  • 9 0
 I would have never in a million years thought up wanting something like that. But you did. And now I want it. Congrats on another random thought.
  • 4 0
 BOS isn't that expensive, depending on the fork .. The DH/FR ones ok, very expensive, but the enduro one, Deville, goes for ALOT cheaper than a Fox ...
  • 4 0
 If I ever get DeVille on my bike I will learn to swear in French... It's fabulouuUUUS!!!
  • 1 0
 There ar emany other brands out there. Open your pinkbike minds...
  • 4 0
 Manitous biggest downfall was moving away from TPC+ damping trying to embrace this whole pedal platform fad. I'm glad they're sorting their stuff out. TPC+ was and is a fantastic damping system.

I used to custom tune my X-vert Supers back in the day (I say back in the day like it was a long time ago but 10 years isn't that long right?).
The compression unit was right there at the top of the fork just waiting to be played with. I even made a twin stage spring for the floating piston. I swear it made me 0.1 seconds faster :-D
  • 7 0
 Cool. Now make a bigger one that can compete with the 55, 36 and lyric please!!!
  • 3 0
 I'm still using a Travis SC 150mm TPC fork from 2006, it was a pre-production model and to this day super plush. Opened it once to change the oil in both chambers and still as good as new. Love the fork and happy to know the company is making efforts to get back on top of the suspenssion game.
  • 3 1
 how often do you ride?!? oil from 2006 should be like composted cat piss by now!
  • 1 0
 I got the fork in 2008 new, opened it last year in the spring and it wasn't bad at all and it's due now. I get 30-40 riding daqys on that fork per season. My Fox 40 however needs high maintenance and opened up twice per season.
  • 6 0
 Not liking the lack of a 20mm axle option.
  • 2 0
 That box of shims etc reminds of the good ol' days of different coloured polyurethane cylinders you'd plug together to get the right 'feel' to your elastomer forks. That was back in the days when the big argument was coil versus elastomer. That kit floats my boat. Kudos Manitou!
  • 1 0
 i hope this is a brilliant fork because manitou really needs a good few years to get them back in the game. lets hope excessise premature stantion wear and snapping pinch bolts (admittedly this was mostly idiots over tightening) is behind them. it seems very good value for money, the tpc is a gret idea and it looks bang up to date. you will have to prize me away from my fox's but maybe they can replace my rockshox...
  • 1 0
 We all remember a couple of years where Manitous had major issues with slider anodized and blowing cartridges... etc. One thing is for sure, they're getting back slowly but surely. I wasn't to sure about our team running Dorados this year, but after trying them out I thought they felt amazing and very progressive for an air fork. They ran reliably all year, with a minimum of maintenance. Had to replace the oil seals and wipers at the end of the season, which I think is standard for most forks. Good job guys, keep it up!
  • 3 0
 Its 15mm, but Manitou finally has a QR thru axle! Looks like a great fork! Cant wait to put one on a new bike build.
  • 1 0
 wha? Manitou has put 20mm axle on Gold Label and then Nixon back in 2005, when Fox was still flexing on 9mm QRs and 2 yrs before they came up with 15mm and fkd it for every owner of a decent wheelset wanting to upgrade his trail fork
  • 3 0
 QR = Quick Release. This is their first quick release thru axle, not first thru axle. Manitou has been using bolt on thru axles since the Sherman line in the early 2000s. They did have a QR axle on a few of the Travis and Nixon forks but it wasnt a very good design and was discontinued shortly after it came out.
  • 3 0
 Actually Manitou has been using bolt-on thru axles since the 1995 Manitou EFC-DH fork, which had a 12mm thru-axle.
  • 1 0
 True, I didnt think about that. Also the X Vert Carbon DC fork.
  • 3 0
 I really came into the biking scene about the same time as the 15mm qr started getting common (I won't say popular) I gotta say I don't see the problem. If the way you ride needs a 20mm then you probably need a burlier fork than these axles come on anyway. I know that was the case for me. I had a float rl 150 with the 15 and it flexed too much for my liking. it's not like the 15s come on forks with 35, 36 and 40mm stanchions. The 9mm days are ending and that is not a bad thing.
What you guys really need is a lyrik, or fox 36 that has the travel reduced to suit your needs. Sadly Manitou doesn't have anything to service that need. personally I'd like a to see a shorter lighter version of the Dorado.
  • 2 0
 The only problem with 15mm is that it saves less than 30g over 20mm standard. And that it creates more products that don't fit each other. 9mm QR saves over 100g in total, hub + fork. Don't expect 9mm to go away, having several standards is a much bigger win for the industry, than for the riders. It is also much easier to use 9mm for mass market as they are just simplier to produce and therefore cheaper. 15 and 20mm are just for us passionate people Wink

And Uturn Lyriks and Talas, I totaly agree but they are up to 1-2lb heavier by average than 32 forks, and that's a lot to most people.
  • 1 1
 It saves more than 30g. There is a distinct lack of cheap, light and reliable 20mm hubs but with 15mm they are lots more options. Rockshox was an early poo-poo'er of the new standard and so was Magura but both have adopted it extensively after claiming their maxle-like 20mm QR was so superior...

So if the actual fork makers can admit they were wrong...why can't people on pinkbike ?
  • 2 0
 well difference in weight between Revelation XX with 20 and 15 is 30g... lack of light and reliable 20mm hubs - what?
For instance 15mm xtr hub weighs 10g less than 20mm - how can they be any lighter? so ok sorry it's 40g...

RS jumped on because they can count money, not because it's any better. But they have some balls left so they still do 20mm axle versions because they know it's better
  • 3 0
 seeing how 20mm was the standard for 10 years, and 15mm has been out for 2 years, how can you say there's shortage of 20mm hubs? i want my whole fleet of bikes to have the same size stuff so i can mix parts and wheels if they break. 15mm= booooooo
  • 1 0
 I love people who selectively quote what is written when replying to back up their answer. I said...

"There is a distinct lack of cheap, light and reliable 20mm hubs"


"lack of light and reliable 20mm hubs "

XTR hubs are not particularly cheap. Deore XT still isn't particularly cheap but it definitely more reasonable to what most people use and of the centerlock front hub versions, the the 20mm is 236g while the 15mm version is 183g. As to the revelation XX or any of the XX model forks, cheap they are not either. 99% of riders don't use the very top of component offerings.
  • 1 0
 great news, it's about time this became more widely available. With the technology and adjustment ranges increasing this is an obvious step to make. now it's upto the rest of the brands to pick up the slack!
  • 4 0
 Cool points for Manitou!
  • 3 0
 Finally! Mtb forks goes tunning like MX!
  • 3 0
 Waiting for the Travis Single successor.
  • 3 0
 manitou rocks!!!
  • 1 0
 hell yea!
  • 1 1
 I wish it was 110 130 150mm adjust and I wish I did not buy my fox talas 2 months ago this fork seems way better. Seems!
  • 3 2
 i cant get over the backwards crown..... blah
  • 3 0
 Then don't buy it. End of the story.
  • 1 0
 im sure it functions beautifully though!
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