Fork Shootout – Magura Thor vs Manitou Minute Elite Absolute

by Brian Mullin on August 16, 2009

I am deep in the depths of the 20mm fork shootout between the new Magura Thor and the Manitou Minute Elite Absolute 140mm forks. I have spent a couple of weeks on the Manitou and around a week on the Magura. Here is my Mojo with the Magura Thor.

Here is some of the terrain I do the bashing and testing on. This is the Stupid trail on my home turf of the Mt. Herman trail system in Monument Colorado. A great flowing and technical singletrack goat trail. Been doing some Scrub Oak trimming lately since the trail was getting over grown.

Here is the Mojo with the Manitou Minute Elite Absolute.
I started out riding the riding and testing the Manitou first since it arrived in the mail before the Thor. It was an easy install putting the fork on and I didn’t have any issues. Tim at Balanced Rock Bike and Ski helped install the fork, thanks buddy for the great assistance! I was a bit unsure of how tall to leave the stack height for the handlebars/stem since the fork site a bit taller then my Manitou MRD (130mm) or my Fox Float RL. I am still experimenting with that, I might even try a shorter stem for grins and see how that works.

Axle-to-crown measurement:

Manitou Minute Elite Absolute 515mm
Magura Thor 520mm


Manitou Elite 20mm – 1849.4 grams
Magura Thor 20mm (with their 60 less bolt on axle) – 1855 grams

Thor 60 less axle with pinch bolt – 81.3 grams
Thor Maxle axle – 140.4 grams

Hope Pro II hub 20mm with a ZTR 355 rim – 735.1 grams

The Mojo setup:

Ibis Mojo Frame
DT Swiss XR Carbon Rear Shock
Easton Monkeylite SL Handlebar
KCNC SC Wing 110 stem
Magura Marta SL Brake -180/160
Stans 355/Hope 20mm hubs Front Wheelset
Stans 355/AC hubs Rear Wheelset
Schwalbe Alberts 2.25 Front and Rear
KCNC Skewer rear
Sram PG-980 11-32 Cassette
06 XTR Front Derailleur
XTR Shadow Rear Derailleur
Sram Attack Twist Shifter
06 XTR Crankset 22/32 Blackspire/Blackspire bashguard
KMC X10SL Gold Chain
KCNC Ti Pro Light Seatpost
Selle Italia TT Flite saddle
Shimano XTR Pedals
ESI Chunky Grips (cut)
Alligator derailluer cables
Alligator I-Links Housing

Installing the wheel – Manitou
Installing the wheel was pretty easy, just insert the 20mm axle which has two hexagon shaped bumps on it which mesh up into the fork and then thread on a 5mm button headed nut. Next you have four 5mm pinch bolts that you clamp the axle down with (I will post pictures of this operation). It’s a quick and fast process. I did notice that the pinch bolts like to loosen up some so I am going to locktite them a bit.

Riding impresssions – Manitou
The Manitou has a bit of stiction and starts out a bit stiff on small bumps. For medium bumps it works just fine but where it really shines is the very linear feel from just above small bump to monster stuff and boy oh boy does it go deep and it remains very plush that entire way. At slow speeds it can get some fork dive but if you add a click or two from the Absolute adjuster and it goes away.

On my second or third ride I got a clunking noise. I spoke with the Manitou rep and he said that “The noise you describe is something we’re aware of. It’s unique to the Absolute damper in non-MRD forks. The sound occurs when the Absolute spring returns to its closed position. It occurs in all but the fully-open position. There is no detrimental effect to the fork’s performance, but it’s admittedly annoying.
We have developed a service kit, which should be available in a couple weeks. We’ve also incorporated the change into new forks.”

So I have continued to ride the fork and it has been fine except for the noise. No adverse issues with the suspension. This is one very plush fork that makes diving down tough rock gardens a joy. It also works in synergy with my DT Swiss rear shock. It climbs fairly well but you need to watch the fork dive in rough terrain and like I said a touch of the Absolute adjuster helps a bunch. It also was pretty sweet in trial like technical moves. The plushness sometimes made it more difficult in loose rocky climbs.

 Installing the wheel – Magura

Once the Thor arrived from Magura and I  had some free time I installed the fork but ran into a glitch when I put the brake on. I had to get a new brake caliper because my Magura Marta SL brake was an IS with a 180mm PM adapter and it was way to tall (it only touched the very edge of the 180mm rotor) so I found out from Magura that you need a true 180mm PM caliper. In fact the Thor only works with 180mm and 203mm rotors, 160mm will not work with this fork. I ordered the new caliper and after the usual messy pain in the butt bleeding I got it installed. I first tested with the Magura 60 less 20mm axle instead of the Maxle. I inserted the 20mm axle and it thread onto the opposite side of the fork there are 4 holes on the axles end to use a hex key or a screwdriver to tighten the axle down a bit more . Then using a 5mm hex key I tightened down the one pinch bolt (I will post pictures showing this operation). The pinch bolt is actually a bit more complex then it seems, the bolt has a nut at one end and then another piece and together they cradle the axle and make a small U shaped holder that squeezes the axle to hold it in place, very ingenious. I will try and make a picture to make better sense of the idea. It takes no time at all to install the thing but it does require a 5mm hex.

Riding impresssions – Magura
The Thor seems to sit up higher in the saddle compared to the Manitou but it is a small bump wizard and acts very much like the Fox forks in that regard. It is very nice and smooth on the usual singletrack trails. One thing that I am still getting used to is that the Thor has a very strong rebound spring. If you push the shock down it rockets back up. When climbing up a lot of terrain that really helps a bunch and makes the fork stick like glue on the ground. I did have a couple of spots where that caused me issues, especially in this one section where I had to ride some close together tree roots, I rarely ever miss that section and it took me 3 tries to get it, with the Manitou I just rode right through it, with the Thor I had to watch the line. When I came to my tough test rock garden the Thor did just fine but it was a bit harsher then the Manitou. It is not as linear nor as plush as the Manitou but the double brace does stiffen it up and that’s noticeable. This is one tough fork. It did seem to not blend as well with the DT Swiss rear shock so I am going to swap out to the RP23 and see how they work together, since that might not be the case.

So the Thor is a bit stiffer, has wonderful small bump compliance, mostly climbs better, turns on a dime and seems so far to be a bit tougher. The Thor’s rebound spring takes some getting used to and large bumps are a bit harsher plus in occasional spots the fork gets a bit confused. The Manitou is plusher and shines on the big nasty terrain, it goes much deeper into it’s travel and is more linear. The Manitou has a bit of fork dive and sometimes has issues on loose climbs and has a mechanical issue that is supposed to now be resolved by a kit.

Testing is continuing. I am getting the Maxle for the Thor so I will test it with that next.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Hine January 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

This is great info – thanks. I’m shopping forks for a Mojo SL, currently using a PIKE 409. It works great with no fancy adjustments, but I think its like 5.5 lbs.

Jim Hine
Boise, ID


Les April 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Damn that’s a nice bike!

I’ve always loved Ibis from the very first moment I saw one… especially the bow Ti.


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