The best 160 mm MTB fork you can buy

Best Value: Manitou Mattoc Pro 558 Review

The Manitou Mattoc Pro certainly looks distinctive in the flesh with its odd reverse arch and confident Ferrari-red colour scheme. The 160 mm fork uses the Dorado Air spring and the MC₂ damper, which allows control over both low- and high-speed compression, and also an adjustable hydraulic bottom-out bumper which controls the end of the stroke during big hits. Our model came with a very simple and effective Hexlock SL 15 mm thru axle, which was clean and very easy to use. The 34 mm stanchions and narrow stance keep the weight down to 1920 g; although this results in some flex during fast boulder-smashing runs, never once did we feel out of control. The distinctive reverse arch design is a unique touch, but the cable routing it demands is not ideal. The fork comes as standard fitted an IVA (incremental volume adjust) system fitted to the air spring that allows tuning using tokens, but we were also supplied with the optional IRT (Infinite Rate Tune) system which uses air pressure to boost both mid-stroke support and end-stroke progression.

We were all keen to try the Mattoc fork, but initial ride impressions on the standard IVA-equipped fork were average at best. The fork gave up its mid-travel too easily on hard rock gardens and felt a little unsupportive, only marginally improved with tokens. However, fitting the optional IRT system simply transformed the fork; like fitting a V8 into a family hatchback, we discovered blistering performance. Mid-stroke support was boosted and the fork felt extremely confidence-inspiring, recovering from fast repetitive impacts with speed and poise. The hydraulic bottom-out keeps the fork quiet at full extension and the refined damping keeps the action well controlled. Through high speed berms the ride was beautifully supportive and we felt like we could hit the craziest lines with confidence.