It can sometimes be challenging accessing the 160mm club when it’s guarded so menacingly by two big players, the Fox 36 and RockShox Pike. Two ‘go to’ favourites that are often hard to ignore.

But both of these forks can still be hit and miss on some matters. The Fox demands a high entry price for its alleged exclusivity, and the latter’s dancing can often be a touch weak, although now the RockShox Lyrik has stepped in there are yet more options.

The Manitou Mattoc Pro has the physical presence of a well built fork, slightly leaner than some 160mm forks with its 34mm stanchions, but at sub 2kg puts it very much head to head and in Fox 36 and Rockshox Pike territory. Available in travel options ranging from 140mm through to 170mm at 10mm increments and two crown offsets of 41mm or 44mm. Internally, there’s plenty going on – Dorado air, HBO and MC squared tech is all packed into the legs.

‘The big question then, does the Manitou Mattoc hold its ground over other 160mm forks?’

With Manitou’s distinctive ‘Reverse arch’ sitting low, stiffness in check and wheel access is a breeze with the 6mm Hexlock axle which has now replaced the quick release lever on earlier versions. A tapered steerer, 180mm post-mount brake bosses and evil genius seals complete the picture.

Some people talk of the Manitou Mattoc as having a great coil like feel and we can report that the progressive nature of this fork’s action is bang on. On the charge the Mattoc allows for good chassis balance never over-using its travel, the fork holding its shape, and therefore the bike’s stability, exceptionally well. It doesn’t quite have the sensitivity in the initial part of the travel as a Pike, but what it did do was take the harder impacts without any feedback, and we’d take that, as grip was never an issue.

Being of 34mm stanchions (compared to 35mm and 36mm on the Rockshox and Fox) we expected a touch more flex from the Mattoc but the reality is a fork that muscles up to the job exceptionally well and on no occasion in testing did the fork feel underpowered or afraid to take on the challenge.

The bottom line is that it’s a very simple fork on high and low speed compression – 4 clicks each, and the hydraulic bottom out. Rebound has ten. Some riders might be after something a bit more ‘tuneable’ as they put it, with a ton more clicks but we feel many other riders will find a happy compromise and ease of use with what’s on offer.

The big question then, does the Manitou Mattoc hold its ground over other 160mm forks? With no overrated external travel adjust and no volume reducing spacers to worry about it the Mattoc scores from the outset. Good progression, accurate steering and a realistic flex/stiffness balance result in an impressive overall performance. This is a lot of fork for that money.

PRICE: £619.99 (Pro)

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Selected for Dirt 100 2017

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