16 November 2008

bikefix Initial Review: Manitou Minute Elite Absolute 140

I wish all forks could feel this way. I love this fork. This is the epitome of how a fork should feel. Manitou forks have long had a very nice feel, but over the years the company has seemed to have some serious quality control issues. I don’t really know where the company stands now- I know it was bought by Hayes but I haven’t heard much since then. Regardless, the forks keep showing-up on the distributors’ websites so every once in awhile I order one and throw it on one of my bikes to see how it feels. The minute 140 I received replaced a Marzocchi (with 130mm travel) on my Rocky Mountain ETS-X which I felt needed just a bit more fork to tame the head angle, and give it (me) a bit more downhill confidence.

Manitou makes this fork in 3 different fixed travel configurations: 100mm, 120mm, and 140mm. Beyond the feel, I chose the Minute was its light weight. The 140mm travel version weighs a reasonable 3.65 lbs. and this appealed to me because it was going on a really light-weight bike. If you are considering upgrading a 5in fork, and want to lose some weight (who doesn't?) , the Minute Elite will likely save you at least 1/4lb over what it replaces.

The Minute felt great right out of the box, but it did start to leak oil out of the bottom of the right leg almost immediately. I ignored this for a while (in typical mountain biker fashion) but it didn’t want to fix itself. To the fork’s credit, the ride never suffered from this and when I took it to my local suspension master, he mentioned that it was probably just a faulty o-ring or a bolt that properly tightened at factory. Sure enough, a loose bolt was the culprit and I haven’t had a leak since. The rebound knob is easy to use and there is a good range of useful adjustment. The Compression damping is what they call absolute platform damping. Manitou no longer has any explanation for this on their website but it is a platform damping system that looks to have replaced the company's SPV system. Happily, the lever allows it to be turned off almost completely, and I never used it much. With the platform damper off, the fork's stroke is buttery smooth. The axle-to-crown length is 515mm which is about 10mm lower than a Fox Float 140, so this fork is a good choice for folks who might want to increase their front suspension travel without affecting their head angle too much.

Reliability will be the big issue and the most important hurdle that Manitou has to clear. The pre-sale Manitou was fantastic about returns (they really had to be), and that kept a core following that may now try the new forks. If customer service is still great, they will have a winner on their hands. Outside of a small leak, my Minute’s reliability has been quite good but I still have a lot of miles to put on before I can say for sure. Of course, loose bolts from the factory are never acceptable and if Dan hadn't been there to fix things, this fork would have gone back to Manitou for warranty repair. My fork is the standard quick release version but a 20mm Hex lock version is also available for $629. The quick-release version retails for $569.

Charlie

www.manitoumtb.com

6 comments:

Racerveza - Denny Yunk said...

Hey Charlie. Thanks for the writeup. I'm glad you're digging the fork, and that the leak was quickly remedied. We'll have a new website up soon, with detailed descriptions of our dampers. In a nutshell, Absolute is a platform damper (as was SPV), but the two are completely unalike from a mechanical point of view.

Ride safe,
Denny Yunk
Marketing Supervisor, Hayes Bicycle Group

Anonymous said...

Hi
Nice review of the Minute. I have a Revelation 426 Dual air that i like but feel like i would like a taller fork for my Yeti 575. I am interested in the Minute. I only have QR wheels. Does the Minute feel quite stiff compaired to the Revelation? I ride aggressive XC stuff. Do you think i would feel a difference changing to a Minute?
Which fork did you prefer?

Cheers
Tim

bikefix said...

Tim,

I'm not sure what the difference is on Axle to crown between those two forks but realistically it probably isn't going to be enough difference to justify the purchase. It might be better, but I say this because I ride the Minute (and all my forks) as soft as I can get away with so the front sag is greater than you might like. I haven't tried the Minute with higher pressures and it may not feel the same. If you are a follower of our site you will know my riding style and preferences (especially clear from my Fox 32 Talas review) and that could be a better judge for you of whether you will like the fork. From what you said about your riding I think a fork with firmer compression damping might be more what you are looking for. The Minute has a compression adjustment/platform so that might make it more what you want but that may not be the ride you are looking for. The Minute does not feel any stiffer or less stiff than the Revelation to me. FYI, I think Rock Shox is coming out with a Revelation with 140mm of travel for 2009. Also, the Pike is awesome too. Actually, most manufacturers are doing a great job right now. I would only stay away from Marzocchi as they have horrible customer service (and a couple quality/design issues too). If you live in New Mexico I would be happy to schedule a ride with you so you can try it firsthand. Let us know.

Charlie

bikefix said...

Tim,

If you have a 130mm Revalation (my favorite fork for the past year or so), the Minute won't be substantially taller- their axle-crown measurements are similar, though Charlie makes a good point about the platform-damped Minute possibly sitting higher in its travel. I'd second his recommendation that you look at an adjustable-travel Pike (assuming that you like your Revelation's suspension action)- there are plenty of deals to be had on these.

marc

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I live in the UK so can't try your manitou out. I had a Pike on my last bike and it was awesome, just heavy (coil version). 09 Revelation (or 2010 the way the months shoot on!) would be a good option. Although girlfriend says i cant upgarde fork as i've only had current fork for about a year. Fair point, and it still works well.

Keep up the good reviews

Cheers
Tim

bikefix said...

Tim,

Perhaps if you threw in a bit extra around the house and promised to sell your old fork...

I we appreciate the feedback and hope that you're riding warm & dry!

marc