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Tech Tuesday - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild

Feb 1, 2011
by Mike Levy  
This week's Tech Tuesday takes a closer look at rebuilding the Manitou Dorado. While the Dorado leads the pack in performance, a little love can go a long way in keeping things running smoother for longer.

Some pointers before you begin...

• While everyone has to start somewhere, and this isn't the most technically demanding job, it still isn't for everybody. If you have some doubts about being able to get it done, don't start. Likewise, you need every single tool listed below to do this task - no substitutes. If your fork needs some love but you don't feel up to the task, take it to your local shop to have the work done by the pros.
• Anytime that you are dealing with suspension, you need to be aware that there may be residual pressure within... even if you've let out all of the air. Take your time and wear eye protection to prevent injury.
• As always, clean your work area before beginning this job. An organized work area is an efficient work area and you'll be less likely to lose parts.
• Be sure to write down both your rebound and compression damping settings, as well as your air pressure, before taking things apart. This will save you setup time once you have the fork back on your bike.
• The easiest way to loosen the fork's top caps is to first back off the clamping bolts on the top crown and then crack the caps before loosening off the lower crown's bolts and removing the legs. While the top caps should never need to be overly tight, this method can still make the first step of this job much easier.
This is very important - too much oil in the fork will prevent it from attaining full travel and possibly damage the internals. Too little oil and your fork will suffer from inconsistent damping... get it right! Stoking the damper rod and rotating the leg while draining the oil will help to empty the leg.
• Take a few minutes when you have the fork apart to inspect the seals, stanchions, and internals for any damage that may be present.
• Stroking the damper rod while adding new oil will let it flow into the damper and is vital to attaining the correct oil height.
• Be sure to double check any and all bolts on the fork once you have everything back together and it on your bike. This includes crown bolts, caliper and axle bolts, and even the bolts holding on the leg guards.

A note about fork oil: The oil used for damping has very different demands than the oil that is best used for lubrication. The damping oil, in this case it is a 5w fluid, is designed to resist cavitation (foaming) as the piston and internals travel though it at a high rate of speed. Cavitation can cause inconsistent damping as the damper now has to deal with air in the oil. Lubrication oils, such as the the 5w full synthetic recommended in the Dorado, are made to resist shearing forces and let the parts slide as smoothly as possible. Yes, you can use damping oil for lubrication. No, it won't work as good. If you have a fork as nice as the Dorado, you're far better off taking the time to use the correct oil in the correct places.

If you've never worked on your Dorado before, you'll be doing yourself a big favor by taking a few minutes to read the manual found on the Manitou support page before watching the video below. Better yet, print it out and have it on hand in case you get lost. Even if you've done this job numerous times, it doesn't hurt to refresh your memory.

What's needed: hex key set, 12/13/36 mm wrenches (or an adjustable wrench), shock pump, 5w suspension fluid, 5w full synthetic semi-bath fluid (full synthetic 5w40 motor oil), drain tank (for old oil), eye protection and nitrile gloves.

Learn how to rebuild your Manitou Dorado:

Views: 32,415    Faves: 129    Comments: 9

Have you done this job? Want to add a tip or hint of your own? Put it down below!

Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
Technical Tuesday #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup

Visit Parktool.com to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 21 0
 I have the 2011 Dorado pro, and 2 bikes with 2005 Dorado MRD's. I have not felt flex in them when riding. The first generation was flexier with the 30mm lowers, but the 32 and 36mm lowers are fine. These forks service basically the same way as a sealed cartridge motocross fork. They are custom valveable like a motocross fork. I found the 2005 version overdamped and undersprung, but with the shim stacks, removing carefully selected shims resulted in a perfect ride. I find the 2011 5% better out of the box than the custom valved fork I have been tuning for the past 3 years. Almost every review I have read (excepting the manitou hater at NSMB) have raved about the performance and quality of this product. The only concerns have been the very first few units had a topout problem which has been fixed, and the price, which is the same as everyone elses top models. They only seem expensive if you are looking at the entry level forks from Rockshox or Marzocchi.
  • 3 0
 do a full rebuild video for a fox 40 please... (including damper)
  • 12 0
 Thanks for the how to Zac! Not that I own a dorado or anything, but it made a good breakfast video.

Good to know that you're back and apparently have time on your hands! Wink I'll see you soon bro.
  • 10 0
 To all you who think the Dorado Pro is expensive; why don't you take a second and look it up?

Boxxer World Cup Air $1700
Dorado Pro $1700
Fox 40 $1600
  • 16 0
 Because that would require effort and at least some intelligence. The kids would rather just cry and throw a fit.
  • 8 0
 Hey all. My favourite tool for the Top Caps is a 36mm Pedro's wrench, but most people do not have this particular size. The point of the Tech Tuesday series is to familiarize the willing participant with the 'processes' involved in what is being explained; The key thing is to get the user acquainted with the inner tooling and basic disassembly process involved in the overhaul. In many cases you will likely find there are possibly more well-suited or specific tools for a particular job, but in this particular case what you see is a compromise between what is needed and what was available for the shoot, while also considering what the most common tools are for the average home mechanic to get the job done. If anyone has and is willing to use a 36mm Socket exclusively for Dorado, you might want to consider 'squaring off' the socket (That is to say 'grind it down'... squarely... and safely) so that the radius typically found on sockets' inner lip edge does not round or damage the tooling on the top cap. In the race trailer, we often use adjustable wrenches as they can be quick and efficient when they are kept in good shape and are used in the correct manner. You're right though, you do have to be careful when using them. I actually serviced a Dorado one time and found that someone had used VICE GRIPS on the damper rod... now THAT'S gnarly!
  • 8 0
 Sweet! I am probably gonna be running a Dorado next year, thanks for preempting my need for this, keep posting the sweet tech tuesdays!
  • 9 0
 Super awesome overhaul! Zac was super smooth and very efficient in explaining lots of important details! RideOn!
  • 3 0
 Just wanted to post this in case someone runs into a similar problem with their newer Dorados. My dampener leg sprung a mysterious leak and oil was spraying all over the place while riding. The fork was last serviced at suspensionwerx in Vancouver and then taken home to Calgary. My theory is that the pressure/weather/elevation/general use caused the internal air to expand and increase in pressure which forced oil past the seal upon compression. After cracking the top cap, letting the leg burp, and putting fresh oil in; she works perfectly and there are no leaks.

This is also something to look at if you are running less than 50 PSI in your spring leg, it's probably because the pressure in the dampener leg has increased. I was running 30PSI in my spring leg and now I'm at 55PSI (I'm 165lbs). Slowly crack open your dampener leg top cap and let the air out, then try setting your air spring pressure again. This is nothing new though, burping forks is old school so you manitou haters can stuff it before you go telling the world that it's a major problem.
  • 1 0
 My suspension guy told be to open the spring side to bleed it just like a dirtbike. he said I don't have to release the air from the top though before. Or is it the dampener side? Any suggestions ?
  • 2 0
 The spring side is under high pressure, you need to bleed out the air through the valve first before opening it. My issue was the dampener side was under pressure, there is no valve to bleed on that side. Put your wrench on it and slowly open the top cap to burp it. DO NOT try to burp the air side like this.
  • 1 0
 Well, this comment is old but GOLD. Thanks mate, I had this problem and couldn't understand why as it was serviced recently. I just cracked open the damper side and a shitload of pressure got out. I'll do it more often from now Smile I knew about pressure build-ups in forks, but didn't make the connection with my oil spraying problem...
  • 2 0
 Awesome video Thank you!

I did notice the service manual currently on Manitou's site lists a 2 more additions of oil on the air side for a total of 40cc's plus a little more for step 2 that are not mentioned in the video. Maybe the procedure has been updated since 2011 when this video was made.
(Or maybe it does not matter)

Air Side:
2. Lube the air piston on the Compression Rod
Assembly with a small amount of Semi Bath oil
(5/40wt. Synthetic oil, P/N: 85-0023), and slide it
into the top of the inner leg. (FIG. 1)

3. Inject 10cc of Semi Bath oil (5/40wt. Synthetic
oil, P/N: 85-0023) into the inner leg on top
of the air piston

8. Inject 30cc of Semi Bath oil (5/40wt. Synthetic
oil, P/N: 85-0023) into the outer leg on top
of the inner leg. (FIG. 7)
  • 2 0
 thats right nkb ;-) in 12 years of mtb, the dorado is the best fork i become for my money. before i ride 1 year wirh the forty wc, 2 years 888 rc2x and other marzocchis, kowa,´boxxer... this new dorado is the best one. back to the roots!! Wink
  • 1 0
 become = werden, nicht bekommen ^^ bekommen = get Wink
  • 1 0
 sorry, your right. my english is really bad Wink
  • 1 0
 no you're english is good Wink you just got confused between german and english, which happened to me too at the beginning ^^ im not english, im french and lived in Luxembourg so i speak german Smile
  • 3 0
 which year? usd forks are allways a bit flexy. you dont feel it when you ride. the internals of the 2009-2011 dorados are really high quality and defenetly up to date. mikelevy.pinkbike.com/album/Manitou-Dorado
  • 1 0
 Good video...I do feel the same though about the use of an adjustable wrench. A socket and torque wrench would be best suited for the video as it would be shown how to do it correctly. Good video as it was explained nicely.
  • 2 1
 Agreed. Many at home "mechanics" who use the adjustable will slip and round the 36mm head. A socket would be the advisable thing to use!
  • 5 0
 legit new opening sequence!
  • 2 0
 i know the videos are boring but here you can see my old dorado mrd-x-works(everyone hate this fork) and my 2009 dorado:

www.pinkbike.com/video/93344 www.pinkbike.com/video/161571
  • 4 1
 Great vid, but why the heck does he use a "wrench" to remove the top caps on such an expensive fork? The chances of of denting them is much larger than when you use a socket.
  • 2 0
 love how similar it is to rebuilding a dirtbike fork. would make it easy to rebuild if I got one. plus you get a free rebuild at no charge if you buy one. Manitou was smart in making an aluminum one we can afford.
  • 5 0
 Mike looks different.
  • 3 0
 @ skippy. the dorado pro hava a fantastic price. this fork is cheaper than a forty.
  • 4 0
 this is a great thing that pb does ,love them ,thx
  • 3 0
 Hate the dorado, then ride it. If your not a closed minded fool you will love it and realize its amazing.
  • 3 0
 PLiz.... need service video to manitou EVOLVER ISX-6
  • 1 2
 O.K. This is whare I get a little flustered with manitou. I have an 05' set of dorado MRD. And they were fine until they started leaking. So I took em in for a full overhaul. When I came back, my mechanic told me to "buy another fork" This gets my attention...Why? Cause the bushings are shot, and the seals were toast. Peace of cake, just buy and install new ones. But no, bushings and seals don't exist anymore for these models forks, mabye cause theyre 6 years old. They installed new seals from another company, the only company that makes seals "that best fit the fork" They still leak. As for the bushings, same story. Doesn't really matter anyhow. I've got boXXer WC now.
  • 1 0
 you can buy the bushings for the 204-2005 dorado mrd in germany. no problem, mcg got a handfull.
  • 1 0
 what about seals?
  • 1 0
 Go to any bearing distributor, and bring your old seal. I have done this with many MX forks since the early 80's. The break-in is a bit longer than the manufacturer's seals, but once broken in, they work the same as the originals, and in some cases better. You can also try enduro seals. They have 32mm manitou seals, but I am not sure about dorado specific ones. Check their website.
  • 1 0
 I checked, I do have enduro seals on.
  • 1 0
 in my old dorado 2005, the dustseals are the original evil g, an the oil-seals are from marzocchi. fits perfect and you ca run with 50ml oil in both legs without leaking. sorry fo my english Wink
  • 1 0
 well...mabye I will hold on to them for now. I'm sure they can be rebuilt and used for somthing. Mabye a snow bike Smile
  • 1 0
 Wendys cup on the bench in the background! True mechanic's bench. Nice vid and I agree w kriiss above, why not use a socket on the top cap?
  • 3 0
 It will be nice to show how to rebuild MARZO RC3 Smile
  • 4 2
 why did zac choose oil height in the dampener opposed to volume? would it not make more sense to give a volume?
  • 3 2
 WTF!! You definitely DO NOT use a crescent wrench on $1500.00 fork. If you can buy the fork, you can buy a Box Wrench. Geez!
  • 3 0
 Great flow man.
  • 1 0
 hey i was just wondering if you could to a rockshox argyle 409 rebuild. Please
  • 1 0
 glad to see someone looking into the camera while talking...and to see that my comment got deleted again.. only on PB
  • 1 0
 Zac awesome tech tuesday brother! love mine, and im still really excited with the work you did to my travis (now travorado)
  • 1 0
 I'm rebuilding this fork and it is impossible to get the dust wipers out, any suggestions on what to do?
  • 1 0
 excelent! just what i need for my dorado :-)
  • 2 0
 Skippy888... what?
  • 2 0
 yeah right mike Wink
  • 2 0
 Nice work Zac!!!
  • 2 0
 easy enough
  • 1 0
 that seems way to simple, not that its a bad thing.
  • 1 0
 Great work i like both of your guises tips!!!
  • 1 0
 Torque figures? Yet not a torque wrench in sight.
  • 1 0
 Can I use a 5w30 oil or does the fork need the 5w40
  • 1 0
 yeah!!! chris!!!!!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
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