Manitou Absolute+ MTB Fork Upgrade

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Here’s something all you who own 2007 and newer Manitou forks are going to be extremely interested in hearing about. The best part? It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to upgrade your front suspension.

Just in time for the holidays, Manitou has released the new Absolute+ damper cartridge (MSRP $44.99 -$69.99 depending on fork model). The Absolute+ is basically a new damper unit that will give you 8 low speed compression levels and a shimable high speed compression circuit on your Manitou fork. It’s super simple to install and you can be up and running in just 15 minutes.

The Absolute+ unit is similar to a TPC damper but the Absolute+ allows you to change up both hi (called the Pro Stack) and low speed compression (called the Speed needle). Out of the box the Absolute+ is set up for the average rider, however if you find yourself riding super rough trails or are on the heavier side of the spectrum, (180+ lbs) you will need to re-shim the high speed compression unit for maximum performance (your local shop can help you out on this).

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A close look at the damper side by side to a TPC you can see a totally redesigned piston assembly.

In this article I will give you the low down on installation which will allow you to decide if you want to DIY or get a pro to do it for you. For this job you’ll need a few socket wrenches (20mm and 24mm) and one 2mm allen key. Pretty simple tool list, huh? You may want to consider changing the fork oil at the same time but it’s not necessary. Factory oil will work well with this damper unless you’re over 250 lbs. (in which case you’ll want a heavier oil).

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Installation

For most home mechanics, replacing the damper will take less time than reading this article. First, turn the TPC knob full open (soft, counterclockwise). Then with the 2mm allen wrench, remove the solitare screw that holds the adjuster knob on. After you remove that screw carefully remove the cap and remove the two detent bearings and springs. Once that step is done you can remove the damper cartridge by turning it counter-clockwise with a 20mm wrench until it is totally off. You can now compare the two damper cartridges.

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With the cartridge out you can either dump the oil and replace with fresh stuff or just check the level and top it off as necessary. Use a measuring tool like a vernier caliper or a simple tool cut out of cardboard with graduations on it and top off the level using the chart provided by Manitou. Each fork has a different recommended oil level so it’s important that you get the right amount (my Minute needs a level of 87mm for example).

Once you have the right oil level, you can insert the damper cartridge and torque to 45 – 55 in/lbs or 5.1 – 6.2 Nm. Carefully install the springs and then the bearing detentes (180 degrees appart). For this step, make sure you have the fork level, otherwise the detents will fall out. The final step is to install the cap with the allen screw; torque it down and then you’re ready to go.

Performance

On rocky trails with big drops I found the Absolute+ improved performance over the TPC unit that it replaced. For one thing the new control knob is easier to adjust and makes it much easier to identify settings at a glance. There are eight levels of control which offer distinct differences in slow speed compression. The shock worked equally well on washboard technical stuff and even the larger hits. One great thing I observed was how the fork didn’t feel like it was blowing through its travel too quickly on drops around the 4- 6 foot level.

For about $50 this upgrade is well worth the coin and will really improve the performance of your older 2007+ Manitou fork. Once you get the fork dialed in you will see that the separated circuits really do a great job controlling how your fork behaves.

Manitou has been doing a lot of work revamping their product line-up and beyond the Absolute+ they have several new and exciting products just around the corner. Thanks to the folks at Manitou for providing the Absolute+ damper for review.