The new Dorado is the best looking fork we’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. It’s instantly striking, and has a few special things worth taking note of.
The first is the price, which can’t really be ignored – all £2,400 of it – making the Dorado somewhat of a status fork for the immensely well-off.
Externally, huge two-layer carbon fibre stanchions make up the top part of the fork, clamped with forged aluminium crowns with holes for a direct-mount stem.
Sliding into the carbon uppers are 36mm hard anodised sliders and neat dropouts that house the Hex Lock axle for increased rigidity. Covering the sliders are plastic fenders, complete with brake hose routing.
Tucked inside the Dorado is a TPC+ damper with rebound adjustment and both high and low speed compression adjustments. Instead of using a coil spring, the Dorado runs on a twin chamber air spring. This operates between 50-90psi, and is pressurised via the valve on top of the fork leg. Another valve on the base of the fork is used for bleeding pressure out – the air must go through the twin chamber system. The Dorado also uses a hydraulic bottom-out circuit, and has adjustable travel – 180-203mm (7-8in).
It doesn’t take long to dial in the Dorado. Thanks to the simple air valve and smooth action of the compression and rebound dials, the fork feels surprisingly active from the minute you get your hands on it. Unlike other air spring designs we’ve ridden on downhill forks, the Manitou really does feel like a coil fork – it’s incredibly supple over smaller bumps and doesn’t feel too progressive or harsh.
Our initial concern with upside down fork designs is always the flex issue.The Dorado feels stiff fore and aft, but there’s noticeable torsional flex that heavier riders noticed under braking, and was notable through rough sections – especially when hitting square-edged hits at angles or slamming the bike into turns. But the flex there does allow the fork to track extremely well and offers a comfy ride.
All riders noted just how well big hits were absorbed. The hydraulic bottom out damper is very effective – no bottom-out stop, clunk or bang here – just a controlled end of travel with no feeling through the bars.
We’ll be riding these forks for the long-term, so we’ll update you on performance and how well the seals deal with UK conditions.