The legendary Manitou Dorado inverted downhill fork is back

After somewhat of a hiatus, Manitou’s upside-down downhill fork returns to the market following a complete overhaul

Manitou Dorado Expert Pro Comp inverted downhill fork

Manitou has updated its legendary Dorado inverted fork for 2022, priced at £1,199.99 / $1,224.99 for the cheapest alloy model and rising to £1,699.99 / $1,799.99 for the Dorado Pro.

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The Manitou Dorado has been around for many years now and is one of the very few inverted forks that’s managed to stand the test of time.

It’s also had more than its fair share of success, most notably back in 2002 when it helped Aussie Chris Kovarik demolish the competition at the Fort William World Cup, where he won by a staggering 14 seconds.

However, as time went on, RockShox and Fox began to dominate the downhill suspension market and, slowly, fewer top racers were piloting bikes with the inverted carbon Dorado bolted to the front of their bikes.

These days, it’s exceptionally rare to see inverted forks in downhill racing, despite their benefits – a reduction in unsprung mass should help to boost sensitivity/reactivity and the seals and bushings are permanently lubricated.

This is primarily because creating an inverted fork that’s stiff enough for the rigours of downhill racing is exceptionally hard. Many of the big brands have had a crack at creating an upside-down fork over the years, but the battle to nail torsional stiffness has always been a stumbling block.

So has Manitou’s all-new Dorado rectified these issues and will we see it on a World Cup-winning bike any time soon? We might not be able to answer either of these questions right now, but we can give you the lowdown on the latest iteration.

Five things you need to know about the new Manitou Dorado fork

  • There are three new Dorado forks available: the Pro, Expert and Comp.
  • It works with 650b or 29in wheels, with different crowns offering different offsets depending on wheelsize.
  • The Pro model uses carbon upper tubes and weighs in at a claimed 2,970g.
  • Travel can be set at 180, 190 or 203mm.
  • The lower legs/stanchions that slide into the uppers have been beefed up to 37mm in a bid to boost stiffness

Manitou Dorado chassis construction

Manitou Dorado Expert Pro Comp inverted downhill fork
The Dorado comes in three build options.

Manitou is offering the Dorado in three different models: the Pro, Expert and Comp.

The Pro model, just like its predecessor, still uses broad carbon upper tubes, while the two cheaper versions are built using tapered aluminium tubes.

In a bid to boost that all-important stiffness, Manitou has beefed up the lower legs to 37mm – an increase of just 1mm on the previous version of the fork.

According to Manitou, it tested a number of different lower leg diameters (all the way up to 41mm) and found 37mm stanchions offered the best balance of stiffness and friction (bigger diameter legs can increase seal friction) while keeping the weight competitive.

When comparing the new Pro model fork to the out-going model, Manitou claims a 22 per cent boost in torsional stiffness, while the fore and aft stiffness jumps up by a claimed 27 per cent.

According to Manitou, the Expert and Comp (which uses aluminium upper tubes) is 20 per cent stiffer both fore and aft, and torsionally. Both models are also e-MTB certified.

Manitou Dorado Expert Pro Comp inverted downhill fork crown
The fork comes with two different crown options.

There are two different crown options available, with different offsets.

The flat crown, which has a 47mm offset, is designed to work best with 650b wheels and the 57mm offset drop crown is for 29in wheels.

Manitou says swapping crowns and altering offsets will be possible on certain frames, and provides details on which bikes this includes.

There’s also a marking located on the upper tubes around the lower crowns to help adjust upper tube positioning, depending on what wheels you’re using.

Each model of the Dorado now features Trail Side Relief (TSR) Bleed ports, which should allow you to easily release excess air built up inside the upper tubes – something that can happen when riding in the heat or at higher altitudes.

While the Pro model can be bled using the buttons on the top of each leg, the Expert and Comp forks use a threaded screw system.

Manitou Dorado Expert Pro Comp inverted downhill fork axle
The fork uses a 20mm front thru-axle.

Keeping the wheel secured safely in the Dorado is a new 20×110 mm floating axle. This should help ensure leg alignment remains spot on.

Manitou Dorado damping technology

Manitou Dorado Expert Pro Comp inverted downhill fork damper
Each spec level comes with its own damper.

Each of the three new Dorado forks come with different dampers.

The Pro model of the fork features the TPC+ (Twin Piston Cartridge) sealed damper unit. According to Manitou, the TPC+ damper is both velocity and position sensitive.

This means that the damping is lighter when the fork is riding higher in its travel and over smaller bumps. Deeper in the travel, the second TPC+ circuit is engaged, which increases the level of damping on offer, boosting support and helping the fork to resist bottoming out heavily.

There’s also an independent Hydraulic Bottom Out (HBO) circuit which further ramps up damping in the final 30mm of travel.

This fancy new cartridge uses a spring-backed IFP (independent floating piston) in a bid to properly minimise the lag between the fork transitioning from the compression to rebound phase.

In terms of adjustment, the Pro’s TPC+ damper features dials to alter rebound, as well as high- and low-speed compression damping.

The Expert version of the fork gets a similar damper to the TPC+ but “in a half cartridge format”, according to Manitou.

This doesn’t get quite the same level of sophistication as the fully sealed unit, but retains features such as the HBO circuit. Manitou says it has worked hard to improve everything from small bump compliance and damping consistency to better-designed indents in the adjuster dials.

As with the Pro, this version of the TPC+ damper offers high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping adjustment.

The Comp version of the fork features Manitou’s tried and tested ABS+ damper, which still features the HBO circuit, allowing you to adjust bottom-out force.

As an aside, all dampers are interchangeable, so if you do buy the cheaper Comp fork but decide you want to up its performance, you can purchase the fancier TPC+ cartridge and slot it right in.

Manitou Dorado spring technology

Both the Pro and Expert Dorado use the same Dorado Air spring.

Manitou claims the Dorado Air spring gives an incredibly consistent feel without any dead spots in the stroke. The brand puts this down to the use of its unique balancing valve, rather than the dimple system used by the likes of RockShox, which helps to equalise the positive and negative air chambers during inflation.

Manitou says changing the travel of the Dorado between 180, 190 or 203mm is incredibly easy once the air spring has been removed and provides all the instructions you’ll need to make the changes yourself.

If you feel the need to tune the spring rate further, the Pro model of the fork features the Infinite Rate Tune (IRT), which allows you to alter the air spring volume.

Manitou says the IRT is “essentially a secondary positive air spring that controls the middle and end stroke of the fork.” According to the brand, you should be able to ensure the fork feels sensitive and comfortable, but still offers support and bottom-out resistance when called upon.

Things are a touch different with the Expert, which uses the Incremental Volume Adjust (IVA) system instead.

It’s a very different story with the Comp version of the Dorado though, as this uses a coil rather than air spring. The spring itself is a steel number and Manitou is offering six different spring rates, so there should be something for almost everyone.

Manitou does offer the coil spring as an aftermarket option if you want to convert the Pro or Expert forks, though you’ll not be able to switch back to an air spring if you do make the change.

Manitou Dorado range overview

Manitou Dorado Comp

  • Price: £1,199.99 / $1,224.99
  • Wheelsize: 650b or 29in
  • Upper leg material: 6000 series aluminium
  • Lower leg material: 6000 series aluminium
  • Travel: 180, 190, 203mm
  • Offset: 47mm (flat crown)/57mm (drop crown)
  • Damper: ABS+ with HBO
  • Spring: Steel coil
  • Adjustments: Low-speed compression, rebound, spring preload and spring rate
  • Claimed weight: 3,565g

Manitou Dorado Expert

  • Price: £1,349.99 / $1,449.99
  • Wheelsize: 650b or 29in
  • Upper leg material: 6000 series aluminium
  • Lower leg material: 6000 series aluminium
  • Travel: 180, 190, 203mm
  • Offset: 47mm (flat crown)/57mm (drop crown)
  • Damper: TPC+ with HBO
  • Spring: Dorado Air with IVA
  • Adjustments: High- and low-speed compression, rebound, spring rate, spring volume
  • Claimed weight: 3,120g
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Dorado Pro

  • Price: £1,699.99 / $1,799.99
  • Wheelsize: 650b or 29in
  • Upper leg material: Carbon
  • Lower leg material: 6000 series aluminium
  • Travel: 180, 190, 203mm
  • Offset: 47mm (flat crowns)/57mm (drop crowns)
  • Damper: TPC+ Sealed Cartridge with HBO
  • Spring: Dorado Air with IRT
  • Adjustments: High- and low-speed compression, rebound, spring rate, spring volume
  • Claimed weight: 2,970g