Back in March, we started testing the Manitou Tower Pro fork, which lists for $549. Rated as an XC to All Mountain fork by Manitou, it has 120 mm of travel (tested version) and a 1.5 tapered steer tube. Check out the complete introduction here. Donn O spent the most time with this fork and he reports it has the best ride for an all mountain type fork that he has tested so far.
One thing that appealed to Donn, who is on the lighter end of the spectrum of 29erOnline riders, is that different weight springs are available to tune fork to rider weight. This fork has a much better ride for the lighter riders compared to air only forks. Forks that have both springs and air work better than forks with just air because the later has no way to increase small bump compliance without sending it off to a suspension specialist. In contrast, a spring allows a softer threshold to handle roots and air kicks in to take the big hits.
On a related note, he felt the fork might be over dampened for his body weight. He ran it full open 99% of the time - it felt pretty well, but why run at the extreme end of the adjustment? For someone his weight, lighter oil might decrease damping and improve the feel of this fork even more.
This fork is very active - it spends a lot of time in the mid range - it loads in the turns, which changes geometry to make it turn faster. This seem to be an advantage to using big, long travel forks; they compress in the turns for better turning but, when extended out, it slows the geometry for steady tracking in the high speed straights. The fork is super stiff with no flex or looseness in the turns, so it tracks well and glues the tire to the ground, so you don't lose traction. These are Donn's Preferences this can easily be counteracted by using the ABS+ knob on the Tower Pro's Right top leg.
The fork is plush on small hits (roots), has good feel on mid range hits, and is a tad soft on big hits. Compression damping could correct this, if it was adjustable without having to remove your hand from the handle bars( again the ability is there to correct this externally using the ABS+ knob on the top right leg.). On hard G outs the fork bottoms without the brutal clunk found in other forks - it has some kind of built in cushion
Overall, Don reports that this fork has the comfortable ride that he as been looking for, but not finding elsewhere - Manitou's plush, root absorbing design removes a substantial amount of impact stress from your hands, wrists, and forearms, making riding rough, rooty, rocky (purest, non bulldozed), natural trails much more bearable. This range of terrain is what All Mountain riding is all about. The Manitou Tower Pro does all that without sacrificing efficiency, allowing some fast lap times with this fork.
Video: Donn has a slow way of talking. If you don't like his slow way of talking you can 1) mute it,or 2) not watch it. Some of what Donn says is humor. If your not the type that can get into that sort of thing, these videos will not be for you. In addition the videos are long.
All that said,I still find that these videos are useful and fun. What Donn brings to 29eronline, is a strong, light weight (140 LBs) short rider with lots of experience. whats more, the videos show one of our primary test loops and the terrain we call XC. San Lee trail is a stop in the Maxxis South East race series. I hope you enjoy them.
Helmet cam Footage with stock Spring , Light rider
Helmet cam Footage soft Spring:
Really Long Video review:
Note, in this video Donn says the Tower Pro is a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 fork. Innocent mistake. It is a 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 Tapered steer tube fork.( 1.125 - 1.5 )
Coming Up, a heavy Riders view and a video on how to change springs.