Manitou Magnum Pro.

I was introduced to mountainbiking back around 1985-86 I think. Back then we had no real way of knowing anything as social media wasn't invented yet. Hell, neither was the internet. I think there may have been a magazine you could buy, but funnily enough I was mountainbiking before I actually knew it was a sport. As far as I was concerned I bought this dodgy road bike with ape hanger bars andsuper wide 1.95” tyres with little knobs on them, and you could ride it along the walking tracks along the ridge behind my house in Eastbourne, Wellington. After a few years of this a riding buddy came back from the States with a Rockshox suspension fork. It was steel, had a spring in it, no damping and had a massive 50mm of travel and boy did it make him go quick down hill.

I just had to have one but then some other crowd came along with a machined aluminium version with rubber bumpers instead of a spring (way better ‘cause the rubber rebounded a tad slower) and it was called a Manitou. And my life changed for good and ever since I have been compelled to buy the best suspension available on the planet (that I can afford).

Manitou dominated the fork market for a few years after that Manitou One. Soon there was a Two, then a Three, Then holy Mother Of Oil, an oil damped version. And when it came to damping Manitou ruled the roost and it was the fork of choice as it offered unparalled terrain tracking until they went a little too far and started offering pedal platforms that kept blowing up and offered a harsh ride with lots of trail chatter.

In the years that followed and we all got into rear shockers, that nasty pedal platform was still there, but their dampers still offered a superior ride. Unfortunately they went mass marketing with budget units too soon, and Manitou nearly became a fork for the Warehouse bike brand (I exaggerate slightly) and they were mainly found on cheap bikes or Pro’s bikes.

Then they nearly went to the wall, and yet somehow they have rebounded (get it) back and are trying desperately to get back into the high end market. It’s not easy when the two main brands, Fox and Rockshox have their best forks ever made dominating across the board and new players like DVO and Ohlins are bouncing ahead of the game. So what are Manitou to do? There’s only one thing they can do Build a better fork than the others.

And they seem to be heading in the right direction and I have met a few people lately who believe they have done so already.

You'd be hard pressed to find a sexier knob setup than this.

Meet the Manitou Magnum Pro. I know this suspension nut down in Alexandra. Well, we chat frequently, I have never met him, but already has me paying attention to what he has to say. You see, he is a bike nutter. He is also an engineer. He fixes bicycle suspension for a living and offers upgrades and shock mounting kits custom made to work with better tolerances than anything on the market. He is Dougal from Shockcraft Suspension, and when he told me he had picked up the Manitou distribution for New Zealand I had a quiet chuckle to myself. Then I realised he has been around bikes just as long as me and is at least 15 times more intelligent and if he saw sense in becoming the NZ Manitou agent then I better pull my head out of my 1990’s ass and pay a little more attention.

The air spring is borrowed from their high end Dorado DH fork. Under that knob is a volume spacer unit where you just click in and out a few spacers to get it dialled. They all live in there permanently, it just depends where you click them in, so you can set it up away from the workshop.

So after a couple of calls I had a Manitou McLeod shock in the back of my Hightower and a few weeks later a brand new Magnum Pro 275+ fork up front. With beautifully machined Hi/Lo compression switches controlling a spring loaded twin pistoned shim stack, along with hydraulic bottom out, an adjustable ride height positive/negative air chamber, air volume spacers and a shimmed rebound port, inside 34mm stanchions held in place by a hex axle I knew I was in for a good time and I haven’t been let down yet.

The axle has a hex shape at the end to lock into the lowers and prevent torsion flex.The axle head stays in the fork, so you can't lose it. Rebound knob in the usual place.

34mm stanchions and it weighs about 2015 grams with more tuning features than a grand piano. no I haven't got the fork on backwards...Manitou run their arches at the rear.

What really sets this Magnum apart is the ride tuning. High speed adjustment means you can set different levels of force required to "blow off" the pedal platform. Separately you can fine tune your low speed to prevent the fork diving and bobbing. It means you can have a DH soft fork that doesn't bob when pedaling or dive when cornering, or ramp up the blow off to have a strong hitting fork for big hits etc. It hurts my head just thinking about it. Manitou have some pretty good explanations on their site, with graphs and such to help you out...They just gave me a migraine. Here's a couple of statements....

High Speed Adjust works like Incremental Platform Adjust (IPA) Provides a range of blow-off thresholds to satisfy any requirement. With Low Speed set to at MAX, increase the IPA to provide the desired platform. Then forget it, and use the LS knob for differing trail conditions

To create PLATFORM, the Low Speed needle must be CLOSED (MAX). The High Speed, or Incremental Platform Adjuster, needs to be set high enough to feel the blow-off. When HS/IPA is MIN, or close to MIN, the blow off is zero or very small. When the HS is MIN, the fork behaves like a DH fork, even when Low Speed is MAX.

I would not hesitate to hand over good cash to equip any trail bike with a Magnum Pro up front and a McLeod out back. Especially when it matches your bike like this.

What I can tell you is this fork rides like you want it too. Firm/soft/linear/progressive/fast-slow compression blah blah blah. I've ridden it in nearly every trail type possible and it has no weaknessess. It excels in high speed choppy terrain with no compression spiking what so ever. 

What is interesting is that this fork is a 275+ and is tuned to accomodate the softer ride that Plus offers. The 29er version is slightly different in that it has a slightly longer offset crown. I ran it with 29 wheels only with no issues, just a super smooth and controlled ride. What more could you ask for. Oh and it's boost spacing only.

My only gripe is that the 140mm max travel is 10mm shorter than what I'm used to and I've had to get used to that lower front end on my ride. 

Best you go have a look at the Manitou site and look at the graphs etc. and get an expert to explain how it works. Or even better give Dougal a call at Shockcraft. He can explain it in real mans terms (I should have taped my converstaions with him because I'm back in la la land really).