Tools for the job:
Manitou Black Suspension
Set up and Service
The Manitou Black Suspension Fork has been a very common and much loved fork for the past few years. It appeared on most bike ranges on OEM models. It has now been preceded by newer forks with new technology, however there are still many of you running these forks, so were here to help...
Service guides for the entire Black range are available to download here:
1. Getting inside
If you need to get inside the fork to either change the spring, service the oil piston or change the damping oil you will first have to remove the forkís adjuster dials. To get to the spring first remove the preload adjuster knob on top of the leg with a 2mm Allen key (anti-clockwise), you can then pull off the knob.
2. Removing preload cap
Next use a 20mm socket to remove the preload cap on the left Ė as youíre sat on the bike. This is plastic so take care not to damage it. With the adjuster assembly removed the spring stack is now accessible. Consult the manual for the correct weight spring to match your actual weight.
1. Checking oil level
The damping oil is situated in the right leg of the fork. Itís important to get the level right or the fork will not work correctly and may even damage the fork. Check the oil level with the fork in its longest travel setting, then remove the compression assembly located in the top of the right leg with the 20mm sockets. Take care not to round off the plastic cap. An O-ring seals the cap to the fork - take care not to damage this, especially on assembly.
2. Black fork oil levels
FORK MODEL/OIL LEVEL
SPORT 80/100 115-125mm in 100mm travel
SPORT 100/120 115-125mm in 120mm travel
SPORT W/TPC+ 100/120 86-91mm in 120mm travel
COMP 80/100 115-125mm in 100mm travel
COMP 100/120 115-125mm in 120mm travel
COMP W/TPC+ 100/120 86-91mm in 120mm travel
ELITE 80/100 115-125mm in 100mm travel
ELITE 100/120 115-125mm in 120mm travel
ELITE W/TPC+ 100/120 86-91mm in 120mm travel
ELITE AIR 115-125mm travel
SUPER AIR 80/100 105-110mm in 100mm travel
SUPER AIR 100/120 105-110mm in 120mm travel
SUPER AIR W/TPC+ 100/120 86-91mm in 120mm travel
3. Oil change
Itís recommended to change the damping oil every six months, especially under extreme riding conditions. Do this outside or in your garage. Remove the cap from the top of the right fork leg using the 20mm socket (see left). Grasp the cap and pull out the compression damping assembly. Itís a tight fit so rocking it slightly from side to side will help it on its way. Once removed pour the oil into an empty container and dispose of it correctly Ė this doesnít mean pouring it down the sink!
4. Final measurement
While holding the fork over the tub stroke the fork legs a few times to displace the oil that settles under the rebound piston. Give the damping assembly a wipe clean with a rag. Manitou recommends five weight (5WT) fork oil. Add the oil to the correct level (see table on left), but not all at once. Cover the leg opening and stroke the fork up and down a few times before making final measurements, to ensure all the oil flows under rebound piston. A spoke makes a good dip stick for measuring oil height.
1. Remove bottom dials
All Black forks feature Manitouís Microlube system Ė a grease port which allows for easy maintaining and greasing of the lower bushings. Thereís a temptation, especially in the UK, to over fill the lowers with grease. This can severely effect the forkís performance and even blow the seals. Itís advisable to remove the lower every 4-6 month and clean them. With the fork in the longest travel setting remove the rebound damping knob with a 2mm Allen key in an anti-clockwise direction.
2. Remove the RTA adjuster
On forks with the Rapid Travel Adjust (RTA) travel system you need to remove the RTA knob, again with a 2mm Allen key. Note how the parts of the RTA knob sit on the fork, theyíre arranged so they can only go back in a certain order. When replacing them make sure the dial on the RTA knob points to the longest travel setting. Position the fork over a container to catch any oil and remove the bolt using an 11mm socket.
3. Releasing fork lowers
Use an 8mm Allen key to remove the bolt in the other leg. NOTE Ė THIS LOOSENS IN A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION (as you look at the bolt). That 8mm bolt is very soft so if you do turn it the wrong way it will split. This is quite a common accident but donít worry, you wonít damage the lowers and new bolts are readily available (call Raw 0131 440 2010 for advice). Pull the lowers from the forkís stanchions (see picture inset) and be ready to catch any grease in a strategically placed pot.
4. Cleaning the fork lowers
Thoroughly clean the inside of the lowers, a mix of degreaser and hot water works really well. Pay particular attention to the Evil Genius Seals. Wipe them clean with a cloth ensuring all oil and debris is removed. Once clean slide the lowers back onto the stanchions. Re-install all the bolts, tightening each one snugly, and replace the rebound adjuster and RTA knobs. With the fork grease gun inject 15 squirts into each leg. Only use Manitouís Prep M lube by Motorex thatís specifically designed for forks.
1. Air piston lubrication
On the air sprung forks, Black Elite Sir and Black Super Air, itís important to ensure the air piston is kept lubricated. To check this remove the air cap (anti-clockwise) on the left leg. Release the air pressure from the fork and use a 20mm socket to remove the Schrader valve assembly (anti-clockwise, just like step 3). You should now be able to see the top of the air piston. If no oil is visible pour approximately 3cc of 20-50W motor oil directly into the open leg.
1. Measuring sag
First off you need to measure the distance from the top of the seal on the lowers to the bottom of the crown. 101mm = 80mm travel, 121mm = 100mm travel, 141mm = 120mm travel. To work out sag: before sitting on the bike measure the distance from the top of the bike to the bottom of the crown steerer junction, sit on the bike and get a mate to measure the same distance. Subtract the two to find the sag: 80mm travel = 12-16mm sag, 100mm travel = 18-24mm sag, 120mm travel = 25-28mm sag
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