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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a long ass review. I've devided it into a couple sections: Manitou support in helping me get it set up, my ride style, tuning options, and the ride.Skip to the end if you don't want to read it all.

After a long period I've finally had some ride time on my evolver so I thought I'd give a bit of a more specific review. It was a bit tumultuous getting it setup, but once I did it was golden.

Manitou's CS
First I ordered the wrong size - needed 8.75x2.75 and got 9x2.75. Didn't come with any bushings. I was hoping to get it setup on my bike for sea otter (got it a week before), but the Hayes/Manitou tent only had one size that I needed so I couldn't get it on my bike on time for the race to replace the roco TST coil I had, but that was fine.

Got back home, got a hold of the right bushings (Manitou hooked it up fat and sent them out for free) got the shock on my bike, and was pumped. After about 3 weeks of having the shock I finally had it on my bike. First impression was that the bike was sitting really really high in its travel and suddenly I could barely reach the ground. The shock felt pretty good I guess, but felt pretty funny (at this point I wasn't aware I had the wrong i2i) in terms of the height. Just assumed it was the new shock. I was having trouble with the bottom out though - I was getting about 80% of the travel, and then it would just totally come to a halt. It was not a comfortable smooth stop, it didn't feel like it was ramping up, but it didn't feel like metal on metal or anything..

Got it out on one DH ride shuttled a couple times on a sunday, and had a great time. Great small bump absorbtion and pedaled amazingly. It was pretty cool through about 80% of the travel. Then it sucked! That Tuesday, I finished my papers/midterms and broke my wrist riding home from the bars drunk!

With time to spare, I called up Manitou, sent it back, and 2 weeks later I get it back. Yet again, they hooked it up fat - without even me asking them for it (I discovered it was the wrong size half way through its time being sent back. I was able to get full travel by removing all air from the main chamber and slowly compressing the shock - it wasn't an incompatibility with the frame) they sent me a shock with the proper i2i. Got it on my bike and started setting it up. I could not be happier with Manitou CS. Every time I talked to them they were extremely helpful and hooked me up huge. Totally stoked to be running their products.

My ride style
Anyway, now that I finally had the shock on, I could start setting up in earnest. I'm running a giant glory 0 large, I'm 6'1" and 170 lbs geared. I'm what's generally referred to as a "hack" and ride like a plow. After about 2 weeks riding with a recovering broken wrist my wheels are showing chips and small flat spots with about 33psi in my 2ply tires.

My setup
I like to run my suspension setup with tons of LSC and as low HSC as I can get away with, as well as a very quick rebound. I like it to be very linear through the entire stroke, with very little ramping up near the end. This shock has not disappointed. The tuneability on it is pretty amazing.. You get the obvious LSC/HSC controls, but you can alter the intensity of the compression a lot more then the adjuster knobs would seem to give you. Basically you get a piggy back reservoir that you can pump full of air. You put more air in it to get a stronger compression and remove air to get less. Running it at about 50psi you get about no compression. You can crank it up all the way and feel it a bit, but its pretty minimal. It has a pretty weak midstroke at 50psi. Manitou suggests that for changing the air in the piggy back, you set the compression settings to 0. I found that I could alter the feel of the midstroke support without changing the LSC or HSC feel too much by playing with comp settings and then putting air into the piggy back. By doing that you get a weaker midstroke, and by setting to 0 and then adding you get a stronger midstroke. Pretty fun to play around with that, and it especially shines when you compare it to a DHX A. You can alter the progressiveness of the stroke with the bottom out adjuster they give you without significantly effecting the feel of the compression. Pretty neat. Its all fairly noticeable changes - turning the knobs makes a very evident different in the ride.

The Ride
After playing with my settings for awhile, I've gotten to where I want it to be. It pedals amazingly, but doesn't feel overly harsh over the little stuff. I've et the BO to the 2nd setting so its ramps up slightly near the end of the stroke, it's a pretty sweet setup. It is way smoother then the TST I had, pedals much better, and doesn't feel overly harsh on slow or high speed tech stuff. After 8 runs at N*, I did notice that it started feeling a little different then initially, although that could have just been exhaustion. It wasn't a big deal, it still felt pretty good, it just felt like there wasn't quite as much comp damping, and the rebound sped up a little bit.

The bike is way more stable in the travel now, and this is a very tunable shock - you can set it up however you want, and its fairly easy to understand and feel. It really shines on bikes that don't need a lot of comp, like maestro, DW, VPP, canfield, etc. If you need to run a lot of comp, its there for you, but I don't feel it will feel any better or worse then a well tuned coil shock, just slightly lighter. On a fairly linear low comp damping bike, its amazing, just blows everything else out of the water - although I don't have real ride time on things like the CCDB and AVY, so I can't speak for those, but I will never use a DHX, vivid, or roco (after ride time on those) after riding this. I think I'll be riding on air shocks from here on out. This is the first air shock that I've really been blown away with and felt was totally suitable for DH (although the rocco A feels pretty darn good, I just don't like the feel or tuning options of em).

I will be using Air from here on out and probably Manitou. I'm pretty stoked by their service, and the shock feels great. If you have any questions, or see me riding it at N* and wanna play on it a little, hit me up. I'm on a sweeted out glory 0.
 

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mtbr platinum member
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That is a fantastic review of this shock. I have the same shock on an '05 Six Pack (7.5 x 2.0) and agree with the majority of your review. The only thing that I wish that I could improve is the fact that I can't bottom the shock no matter what I do with the settings. I've messed with the settings extensively and I'm only able to get about 85-90% travel, even casing jumps or landing drops. If I deflate the main chamber, I can bottom the shock, but not under normal use with anywhere between 25-40% sag. From what I gather from Manitou CS, the 7.5x2.0 size is not a twin-tube (larger air chamber), and therefore the main air chamber's spring rate might be ramping more quickly than if it had a larger twin-tube air chamber. Manitou CS has not been successful in determining if they can sell me a twin tube air chamber separately (or if they are even made).

You are spot on about the effectiveness of the adjustments though. Nice work.
 

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noMAD man
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12,227 Posts
I've been singing the praises of this shock for well over a year now. I just don't think there is another air shock on the market that rivals this one. William, glad to hear you're enjoying yours. It sounds like you've spent the time properly learning and setting up the shock for your application. Good work.

bikerx, I've also been wondering if one could change the IFP depth in the piggyback in your application to attain full travel. This occured to me during the rebuild of my Swinger 4-Way Air that I run on a Bullit. The depth guage tool was marked for 2.0, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75, and 3.0. I was wondering if manipulating the depth would change the travel characteristics. I'm just thinking out loud here, and I realize this isn't an easy mod...just wondering. In reality it sounds like the dual tube setup might be the easiest and maybe best solution if it's applicable to your shock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
haha TNC, it was actually after reading what you wrote that I decided to get one - totally pumped about it, thanks for taking the time to post - without it i'd still be on coil thinking air shocks were about the same as carbon bikes - you'd never see em in downhill.

I'm 0/2 now that GT just came out with a carbon DHi!

but anyway, good to see yours is still going strong! have you had to do any rebuilds on yours? if so, how much work is involved? I work at a shop and I'm pretty mechanically inclined I got tools and the means, but i'm also pretty lazy and I have an extra shock if I ever need to rebuild...
 

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noMAD man
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12,227 Posts
I haven't done any service on the ISX-6. The 4-Way Air that I rebuilt was about 3 years old, and frankly it was still working fine...just figured it was time for a damping oil change. I had to get 3 special tools from Manitou through our shop to rebuild the shock. The tools were extremely reasonably priced, to my surprise. The special tools can be used on other shocks in the lineup, even the coil models. I bought a rebuild kit for the Evolver when I ordered the Swinger kit. Both kits were less than $20 each at full retail. The 4-Way rebuild went relatively easy. There were lots of steps in the process with a bunch of o-rings, quad seals, and such, but still a basic step-by-step process. The tech instructions on their site were very good, and I just printed them out. The one set of instructions covered all Swingers and Evolver shocks, both coil and air. I have rebuilt dirt motor shocks like Kayaba and Showa, and I think many of these MTB shocks are a little more complicated...but it's still not complicated rocket science.
 
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