Hello, my name is: Travis (2 impressions on one fork)

Jan 4, 2007
by Mike Levy  
Next to purchasing an entirely new bike, bolting on some new suspension has got to be the biggest change you can make to your regular routine. And when you think about it there actually is not that many choices when deciding on a new long travel super fork. Unless you get off the beaten path, you really only have four or five names to choose from. Each of these forks brings something a little different to the table. The key is to do your homework before buying. When I was trying to pick a new fork for my own bike I had a hard time finding any sort of info on [L=http://www.answerproducts.com]Manitou’s Travis[/L]. Since I like a bit of mystery I thought I’d give one a go and let everyone know how it performs.
-KaKah!While the Travis Ti may not have the fashionable air spring that a World Cup Boxxer runs (or the new air 888 for ’07), it does have a super sexy and less finicky titanium spring stuffed down into that left leg. For sure there are some pluses to an air sprung fork, like weight and the ability to fine tune your spring rate, but for me the jury is still out on air in long travel forks. The Ti spring in the Travis manages to drop a considerable amount of heft over its steel brothers and is a proven and reliable way to hold the bike up.
At 7.2 lbs it isn’t the lightest fork around but there are certainly heavier.

I was impressed with Manitou’s attention to detail. Props to them for sporting all 5mm clamp hardware on both crowns and the sweet intergrated stem. The fork on my bike does not run the newer No Tool Hex Axle. Instead it uses a more traditional pinch bolt system, but Manitou is looking after all the ham fisted wrench spinners out there by threading the two 4mm pinch bolts on each side into replaceable steel inserts. The IS2- intergrated stem is a nice piece of work also. It uses a similar system to that of the older Dorado stem but with tighter tolerances to eliminate the twisting that the original had when you went down hard. It is height adjustable via spacers underneath and you can run either a 25.4 or an oversize 31.8 bar. Another nice touch is how the 25.4 bar shim is actually concentric so you can get super precise if you are picky about such things. You can also choose a 45mm or 65mm reach. Black 34mm butted stanctions look badass on my ’06 model although I’ve heard they may be returning to a more traditional color for 2007. You have your choice of white or black lowers. You also need to know that the lowers are 8” disc post mount only.

The <i>very</i> adjustable intergrated stem

The very adjustable intergrated stem


But its what’s on the inside that counts right? I had my choice of TPC+ internals or Manitou’s new Intrinsic damping system with either 7” of stroke or the the big boy 8” travel setup. I chose the TPC+ guts to go inside the 7” fork because I’m just a little boy and it means a touch lower bar height. TPC+ has been used inside Manitou’s high end forks for years now and I was stoked to compare it to the latest and greatest from other players. TPC is short for Twin Piston Chamber and the “+” means that there is a third and floating piston that creates a position sensitive fork. As the fork cycles through the first of its travel or on more low speed hits the third piston is free to float up or down. On harder/faster impacts or deeper into the travel the piston will rise up, closing an oil path and forcing the oil through more shims thus creating more damping force. What all that jumble means for the rider is a fork that is both sensitive to smaller bumps but still manages to keep from bottoming its travel needlessly hard.

Rebound and TPC+ assembly

Rebound and TPC+ assembly


Once bolted on the bike I was stoked to find that the bar height was very reasonable, lower than a lot of other forks I could be using. The bar height was no doubt helped by my choice of the 7” version. I know that the new trend is for 8” front ends but it seems like a little much. 1” can transform a bike from nimble but able to handle what comes its way, to a rig that feels like a monster truck. I installed my 25.4 Pro Taper bars in the 45mm reach position as most riders on this fork will.

Out of the box my Travis was a touch stickier then most new forks. She just didn’t feel smooth and there was a lot of initial friction, much more then other out of the box forks. There is a sticker on my lowers clearly stating that it will need a break-in period before it will feel smooth. This proved to be the case as there was a dramatic improvement in sensitivity after only a few rides. Within a few weeks (20ish runs) the Travis was butter smooth. Not as active as some of its competition but very smooth none the less. I know there a lot of riders out there that swear by their 888’s and how sensitive they are but that feeling has never been something that I’ve been able to get used to, it all feels a little wishy washy to me. The Travis might not feel as effortless to move in the parking lot but unlike a lot riders, I don’t care how they feel in the car park. Once up to speed the big black Manitou fork felt very “planted” and predictable. I would say that the Travis uses its travel much more efficiently then other forks. Even though it is not as active as other forks it didn’t transmit any more nastiness then a more supple fork would have. It reacts to the ground and absorbs what it needs to but you will not find yourself blowing through your travel just because you grabbed a handful of front brake. There is more low speed damping compared to other big forks, this keeps the fork higher up in its stroke so that when you do need all that travel it is still there. It also keeps the bike level when coming hard into corners, a level and predictable bike is a fast bike. Despite the TPC+ system the travel felt very linear to me on the trail, with not alot progressivness to it. I did manage to bottom hard a few times, which is fine. If you never bottom then your fork is too stiff. With the stock Ti spring and changing the high speed compression to 2 turns from full in the hard bottoming was kept to a minimum, and while I still bottomed on the hardest hits of the ride it was more of soft bottom then anything. I did play a lot with the rebound but as usual I reverted back to my “way slower then anyone else” setting. With the stock 2.5wt oil I only had the anodized blue rebound knob 1 turn from full in. I won’t lie to you, with a setup that rebounds this slow it does take a little more effort to clear certain jumps and you won’t exactly be getting the pop of lips of a faster setting but it turns your bike into a ground sticking speed machine that will not surprise you. These extreme settings only added to the planted and confidence inspiring ride that the Travis can give with a more traditional setup.

Sweet fork

Sweet fork


After spending a fair bit of time with the stock 2.5wt oil and both adj. knobs nearly bottomed, I decided to rebuild the system with a heavier 5wt. oil. As predicted, I was able to back out my rebound and compression knobs but the overall feel of the fork became less active then I liked so I reverted back to the original oil soon after. Just like the famed Dorado, the Travis uses a cartridge damping system. This makes for very easy cleaning as you are able to drop the lowers without having to rebuild the entire damping assembly. I have been on my fork for over 6 months and have only replaced the lubrication oil once (during the damper rebuild) and even then it was not necessary. After the break in period it has remained nearly frictionless for the entire time I have had it. The smooth action is no doubt aided by how stiff the fork is. I am only 170lbs so I’m not the greatest at picking out the noodles but I’m confident in how precise it is.

One point that did concern me before I even rode the fork in anger was that even though it has a cartridge damping, Manitou did not feel the need to use some sort of compensator (IFP, puck ect.) to keep the oil from foaming. An IFP (internal floating piston) separates the damping oil from the air in the system, as the damping rod is pushed into the cartridge body the IFP compresses the air or spring on the opposite side. This does two things, first it helps the fork ramp up as it compresses and second, since the oil is under pressure from the IFP and there is no air on the oil side of the system there can be nearly zero foaming. All this means no loss in damping during rough or long sections of trail. This is used by nearly every rear shock sold today.

Travis loves to fly

Travis loves to fly


So after all my fretting and managing to convince myself as to how it couldn’t work that great without a compensator of some sort, I admitted to myself that I was wrong. My local hill is relatively groomed but I did manage to sneak in about 10 full Whistler days this summer on the Travis, most of those being top to bottom Garbonzo runs down rooty and natural trails. If it is going to fade or foam it was going to do it here. And it didn’t, nothing but predictable. I think this is due to the small volume in the cartridge and in turn, the small amount of air in it. There simply isn’t enough room for things to get all shook up. Despite the fork working great without it, an IFP is being added to the design mid ’07 and it will be retrofitable to ’06 Travis forks also. This should add more progressivity to the stroke which will be another plus.

After 6 months on my Travis I am still very happy with it. If you happen to give one the ‘ol squish test in a shop don’t be put off by it not being the smoothest fork on the floor, once it breaks in it becomes very smooth but with zero bushing play. I also like the fact that it is probably the least common forks of all the big names available, even though it has some advantages over other forks and is hundreds of dollars cheaper. Add to that how easy it is to service and the proven TPC+ damping and you have a winner.

Tyler:

Tyler: "I wish I had a Travis"


Check out www.answerproducts.com or your local shop for more info!

-KaKah!




Manitou 8” Travis TPC



Time of use:
Summer and Fall 2006
250+ Bike Park runs
4-7 rides a week

Rider Info:
185lbs.
Mounted on a Trek Session 10.

Settings:

Flat upper crown with integrated stem. Set at 22.75” axle to crown.
Firm spring. Rebound: all the way out – HS Compression: 1/3 in.
2.5wt oil in TPC damper.

Maintenance:
Replaced leg oil (not damper oil) halfway through the summer. Kept seal area as clean as possible. Stored bike upside down to allow the bushings to be constantly lubricated.

Ride impressions:

Smooth, smooth, smooth. Very supple initial stroke. Makes good use of its travel: the fork stays high. No diving. This characteristic allows the bike to stay level in rough terrain. Keeps the rider’s weight centered and not “pulled” towards the front of the bike. Most of the other forks I’ve used have required a stiffer set-up to create this same effect. The Travis can be set-up slightly softer and still have the capacity to not dive through its travel. Because the Travis sits higher in its travel, bar height can be lowered to gain control and precision, without feeling “pitched forward” over multiple hits.

With a minimum ride height of 22.25”, the Travis is the lowest (axle to crown) 8” fork on the market.


Stiffness has never been an issue. Very good tire clearance. Crowns use 5 mm hardware. Top crown bolts face the front of the bike and allow for better knee clearance. Integrated stem is clean: easy to use, comes with different spacers to adjust bar height, and two sets of shims to allow the use of standard or oversized bars.

Although the TPC cartridge has clearly a progressive feel to it, the single cartridge nature of the Travis does not allow it to have the bottom out resistance of a dual cartridge, open bath fork. Under full compression the Travis does not clank loudly or feel harsh, but there is a noticeable “thud” and the rider can tell that every 203mm of the fork’s travel has been utilized. For 07, Manitou uses an air-backed IFP on the Travis (internal floating piston) that will allow the fork to have a much better end-stroke ramp up. Much like a shim stack rear shock (Manitou Swinger X series, Revox ISX, Marzocchi Rocco), the 07 Travis will have an air valve that allows one to adjust the air gap at the top of the fork or in other words, its progression rate.


All service, tuning and warranties are handled by OGC, right here in Vancouver. Impossible to quantify how valuable it is to have prompt, professional service and parts availability within driving distance.

At just under 7.5lbs, if the new air-backed IFP works as promised, the 07 Travis will, in my opinion, have no shortcomings.

For further information on the Travis, other Manitou products or a list of dealers please contact OGC (604) 324-6900


-Arthur Gaillot


36 Comments

  • - 1
 another stout article good read dude, one thing that fork reviews never cover wherever they are is how your rear suspension greatly affects how your front works.IE; I thought 888s were heavy but when I upgraded my frame they felt much lighter and responsive w/ a good rear set up keep it up!
  • + 1
 So keep paying for crap technology and ride on "water" fork its your choice, but some other people looking for good forks not just cheep like marz, with great possibility settings, Manitou never let me down so i trust this factory.
  • + 1
 wow can I borrow your time machine PaTis? Any issue 7 years old in bike tech has been solved many times over, oh and by the way Marzochi might as well be made next RST these days...probably are haha
  • + 1
 Maybe its time machine but still riding good compare to new bikes, and i enjoy ride on it. Is this not the most important ?
  • + 1
 I was referring to the age of this article, not your bike.......
  • + 0
 Great review guys! Lots of information in there, but I as an end user really want to see a few more detailed pics of the product next time. Looking forward to more reviews in 2007 from you guys.
  • - 1
 Love the review. I have a short travel manitou fork - the 2006 R7 super. And just like the travis, it works mighty fine but... it's trashy. I mean, they don't even bother to assemble those forks properly these days. The company just boasts of their new design but in fact the quality of their products is really low. Why do I say that? My fork leaks air. I can bet that if the travis had air assist ar an air spring instead of the titanium one it would leak air too. But it should be no wonder as the manitous come from the same factory as the RSTs :-> Wonder if the manitou guys ever ride their own stuff...?
  • - 2
 are you kiddin me?They manufacture those things along side RST?Ive never been impressed w/ their forks and that would explain the lack of detail work in their products.Look at 888s there is attention to detail even in the aestetics,looks can be decieving but I only ride Marzochis because they have never let me down,including my still used 2002 Shivers!
  • + 0
 Things are not that easy in the XC domain, fork preferences change. Recently there was a time when everyone wanted to go light and fast. Marzocchi failed to keep up. And somehow everybody started to ride SIDs and Skarebs... until they started breaking down. However, riders started to have second thoughts and now they accept pushing more weight (1600g - oh, that's so unbearable...) if it means reliability, functionality, stiffness - all the features that a good fork should have. Manitou wanted to have all this but they failed at product quality (and a bit on functionality). So after the R7 my choice will be Fox X or Marzocchi Marathon... or maybe I'll just switch to enduro/all mountain and stick with the allmighty M forever ;-)
  • + 1
 Manitou never was from RST factory, so i have no idea where you guys read this bullsh***
  • + 1
 The picture of "Travis likes to Fly" Is not in Canada, thats in the U.S at the Red Bull site..
  • + 0
 yeah the forks are pretty nice. a set of white ones at my local shop, $700 its pretty amazing because you can get some DJ forks for around the same.
  • + 0
 i have a travis and blew the shi$% out of it, i have a someone sending it in to get fixxed for free tho. got it new for 600 bucks!
  • + 0
 Everyone riding those around the Okanagan was blowing the s h i t outta them..........hopefully they fixed the issues for 07!!!!!!!!
  • + 0
 yeah no kidding id never ride a travis after what ive seen! But good article
  • + 1
 I du no guys you trying to troll or what but now we have 2014 and im still riding mine 2006 manitou travis with no issue?
  • + 1
 cool review. very detailed and helpful.
  • + 0
 if you store your bike upside down doesnt that create problems for the brakes aka air bubbles???
  • - 1
 yeah the review was good , but i still think that the travis forks more look like plastic than metal ... they look like they would brake off when you dont hold it ...
  • + 0
 diddnt manitou have a fork that kept breaking at the bottom crown? i'll just stick with my junior if u dont mind.
  • + 0
 Art. It's Ty. We need to have a beer sometime. I think you have my #, if not, you know hoe to get it.

TTYL
  • + 0
 OGC is not doing Manitou anymore. Something to keep in mind for potential buyers.
  • + 1
 really nice
  • - 2
 Manitou forks are not made in the same factory as RST and exisiting distrbutors will continue in 2007...

www.hayesdiscbrake.com/news_latest.shtml
  • + 0
 nice write up AG.... OGC will be doing the work until Feb 28 for Manitou.
  • + 1
 thats cool
  • - 1
 great review...it helped me alot...i no now im sticking with my...888's Razz all the way
  • + 1
 so you have to change them asap Wink
  • - 3
 to me it looks like they cheaped out on the crowns...and for the stickyness at first i want a fork i can huck with 1st day....888's all the way
  • + 0
 my names travis
  • + 0
 really , mine too !!!!!!!
  • - 1
 they should review the intrinsic version, better than TPC imo
  • + 1
 with TPC+ travis is more sensitive on intrinsic more linear, in my opinion TPC+ is better becouse travis is the most linear working fork i have seen Smile
  • - 2
 manitou sucks. go rockshox
  • + 1
 im never change my travis...
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