Dorado Manitou Pro Forks

I decided to upgrade both the forks and headset from the Sur Ron stock parts. Unlike some others I experienced no headset issues like play or binding. Nope mine were fine. And the RST forks are very satisfactory for 85% of the riding I do. That entails street riding to run errands, fire roads, bike paths, OHV parks and trail riding. The only times I noticed less than good front end behavior was during high speed bumps or holding a line in fast bumpy corners. What that means is hitting something with a hard edge, or ‘high speed’ compression. Think of running into and over a curb or down a long flight of stairs. Those are the types of bumps considered ‘high speed.’ The result was a rather jarring hit through the handlebars, or holding a line in a bumpy corner without having to over compensate to remain on my line. If large bumps are present for an extended run (300+ yards) arm pump would set in for me.

How the forks appeared on AliExpress’ site.

In a former life I was a road racer. I had switched to Ohlins suspension on my RC51 and was overwhelmed by the difference GREAT suspension makes in a bike. In truth Ohlins suspension will spoil anyone who experiences the smoothness, the tracking through corners, etc. etc. Now paying 3-5k for racing forks is a different story when you’re in competition to win. No way was I going to fork over the cost of my total sur Ron on suspension for a bike I use for fun.

My former life. Turn 5 Laguna Seca.
I then became a trainer. Students were at turn 2 in the infield and those are illegal titanium knee sliders making all of those sparks. Which started the infield on fire! Thankfully there were fire extinguishers out there. My nickname from that day forward became “Sparky.”
Me and another coach, Ginny demonstrating how to approach turn 10 for the students. Uh yeah we got into trouble for fucking around, but what else was new?!

I looked at Ohlins DH MTB forks….way too pricey for what I need or will ever use to their full potential. I’m pragmatic and maybe in a prior life I would have purchased them.

But a fellow owner alerted me to an AliExpress deal on a set of forks called the Manitou Dorado Pros. I had never heard of them and in truth had never researched any forks for the Sur Ron. I was just happy that Luna had opted for the Killah RST forks after assessing them against the DNM (Do Not Mount was their joking way of referring to those forks) forks originally installed on the first Sur Rons. So for $642.27 USD including shipping for a pair of Pros I just could not pass it up. After doing extensive research on the forks, Downhill News’ review  finally convinced me to make the purchase. I have found their reviews to be very comprehensive, candid and fair.

The only other worry for me was AliExpress. Since this would be my very first purchase through what many say is “The Amazon of China” plunking down 600 bucks and change made me a tad nervous. So I entered my credit card info and kept an eye on my account. Just ten days later a package arrived all taped and wrapped securely. My forks had arrived!

The package as it arrived on my porch. Only ten days from order to delivery too!
Great that the forks came with a pump. My Rockshox did not and I had to purchase their pump separately.

During my research of the Dorado’s I had noted that they made a major change to their forks in 2014. The pair I was purchasing was listed as being manufactured in 2014 so I checked the date on the box as well as on the fork legs. Sure enough both legs, although manufactured on different dates, were manufactured in 2014.

July 8 2014 as the date of manufacture.

In the image below you can see the stock RST fork and how the spacers are placed along with their size. One below the top triple clamp and one under the bar mount. The distance from the top of the RST steering tube to the bottom bearing race is 8.25″

Stock handlebars, headset and RST forks.

You can see in the image below that I used the stock bottom spacer from the RST below the top triple clamp. I increased the size and number of spacers (with those I bought) between the top triple clamp and the bottom of the bar mount. This increased the height of my bars by 0.75″. I had previously replaced my stock bars with some that have a 3″ rise so in total my bars are 3.75″ higher than stock. Actually they are a bit higher than that because I reversed the stock handlebar mount which gave me another inch of height. I find that height just right for me when I’m standing on the pegs or pedals. BEFORE CUTTING ANY STEERING STEM MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE. If you fuck up, it’s expensive. And be sure to leave at least 3mm of space LOWER than the top of the bar mount. If not you won’t be able to tighten down the forks against the headset which will give you too much play in the headset.

So I’ve had a chance to do a cursory run with the Dorados. I can only say they are PLUSH in their ability to absorb both low and high speed bumps. Being able to set up static sag is super easy with an air sprung fork. I followed the advice of the Manitou manual for initial settings. I also noticed that a single click of either high speed/TPC (low speed) or rebound damping has a noticeable effect on handling.

Really straightforward setup. Something much appreciated especially compared to other forks complicated set up processes.

I have lots more to experiment with in a variety of situations. But at this point I will just say that I am not disappointed with the purchase. They feel much like my Ohlins did when I first installed them, incredible.

Manitou Dorado Pro Sag Adjustment

While attempting to adjust the amount of static sag in my Dorado’s using my Manitou air pump air suddenly escaped from the forks causing them to collapse to almost a fully retracted state. Yet the pressure gauge continued to measure 5 bars. I had contacted Hayes who manufactures Manitou forks.

When the pump is attached to the valve I am able to extend the forks to their full extension. Of course letting them go returns them to the aforementioned compressed state. When the pump is not attached I cannot extend the forks higher than 1/3 of the way.

Only about two inches of travel remained after the air escaped.
Still shows 5 bars of pressure.

The forks need to be unweighted when adding or removing air. Granted most people mount these forks on a 40 pound mountain bike, not a 110 pound electric dirt bike. Doing that allows both the negative and positive air chambers to fill easily when they are fully extended. Whew!

Always helps to read the instructions Mark! LOL

I have to say that replacing the RST forks with the Dorado’s was well worth the effort for the terrain in which I ride most often. No it’s NOT a small price even at the cost I obtained it for. But for me great suspension is worth the effort and cost. Not only are bumps that are sharp edged more controlled, but turns that are off camber take much less effort to hold a line. In addition, the ability to get on the pipe (oops no pipe on this bike!) earlier is pronounced over my RST forks. Also on long downhills that are rutted and choppy, the forks really shine. Arm pump is a thing of the past for me now on those bumpy descents. Loose surface turns are also much easier to navigate now. All in all these forks are really great for what and how I ride.

Everyone is different…..!

Downsides now? I’ve noticed the rear end can use better damping…..oh oh more money!


  1. Hi,

    very nice bike! could you do a post on your fenders? or point me in the right direction? couldn’t find them on your website. especially interested in your front fender setup with the inverted forks. looking for something similar.

    • Hi Niels, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I was baffled because I knew I had done a post about fenders. But in examining my website code I discovered that the pages were limited to 10 subjects! Live and learn! Had you used my search feature for Fenders, you would have found it. So thanks again. Here is the direct link to my Fender Page.

      May I ask how you happened onto my new website? Thanks again!

  2. Hi Mark, Thanks for the link! i found your site on the endless-sphere. regards, Niels

    • You’re very welcome and thank you for telling me how you found the site. Take care!

  3. DANG…they are all gone! 🙁 Wanted to snatch one too…no luck.

  4. I’ve read through both of your suspension posts, is the Dorado really in the same league as Ohlins?

    • Jair, I have not ridden on any mountain bike Ohlins forks so I cannot say definitively. But what I compare the Dorado’s to are my Ohlins race forks on my RC51. The high and low speed damping is very similar to those so in that context Yes I am saying they are in the same league. If I have the chance to ride a MTB or Sur Ron with the Ohlins I may change my mind. It’s just one person’s view. Yours may be different.

      • My only experience with Ohlins is on sportbikes as well. I had been considering using the forks from my KX100 parts bike as they are lightyears better than the RST but, as i’m sure you know, much more difficult to make work. I’d like a TTX rear but unfortunately my Ohlins guy is now a K-Tech guy… lol

        • I got my TTX22 off eBay 389.00 with the spring. I wanted different forks than the RSTs but that only happened after I pushed the bike beyond paved riding. Oh and having lots of experience on great tuned suspension.

          • If i can get it even remotely close to the WP parts on my KTM I will be thrilled. Do you still ride with Keigwins? Hows Blu?

          • Jair let us know if you do a conversion of the entire front end of the SR. I can see that there would be several advantages. Of course the forks, but the use of moto hubs and brakes would also be interesting. And if the weight would make an impact if any at all. When I asked about running a 21er many people told me that it would be too heavy, yet not one of them had ever run one on the SR.

            I stopped being one of their coaches about four years before the Keigwin’s sold the business to another company. I believe they allowed them to keep the name since it was well recognized here in California. I have such fond memories of the team and keep in touch with the Keigwins along with some of the original coaches, actually almost all of them. Who is Blu?

          • Keigwins did a trackday at my home track (Miller Motorsports park) about eight years ago, He was one of their coaches.
            I ride single track exclusively on my SR, I was a bit worried the front brake from the 100 would be a bit much! I use the rear brake far more where i’m riding.
            My biggest concern with the front swap is the length of the forks getting the geometry way out of wack. I may have to find a way to bring the rear up a bit as well.

          • Jair just a word of caution on the rear. I would advise against trying to raise the rear by way of the shock linkage. As it is the OEM spring barely clears the pivot arm so increasing the length of the shock in any way will foul that linkage arm. If you come up with a solution to actually raise the rear rather than just the seat let us know. It will help others here who want to do the same thing.

            Did Lance coach you that day? He and I use to like to race one another during the lunch breaks. Yeah we were competitive with one another! LOL

  5. Hi, thanks for putting together this this website! Wondering what the brake mount looks like for the Dorado? I know the older versions had a funky one, did this one come with an adapter?

    • My Dorados are the ones produced 2014 onward. They use the same caliper mounting attachments as the RST forks. No adapter needed. When I changed over from the 203mm rotor to a 225mm one I had to add spacers. But if you are using the normal 203mm ones no spacers are necessary.

  6. Hey Mark,

    Some great info on this page. Just a follow up on how you’ve been finding the dorado with the heavier front 21″ rim and tyre combo? Not too much flex/ It’s not twisting up from hard riding?

    • Hi Jimmy, happy you find the page useful. I have found the larger and heavier front rim/tire and the Dorados perfectly suited to my type of riding. I know that there are opinions that flex in forks ‘may’ be an issue, but I have not found that to be the case in handling. I’m certainly not doing Red Bull Rampage riding, but I’m doing what I would consider to be normal off road riding based on my motocross history. Thanks for asking.

      • Thanks for the reply Mark, have just orderd a set of Dorados thanks to your info.

        • Oooh I hope you like them as much as I do. I finally got to go for a ride today and so appreciated the buttery feeling of these forks. Holds a line like my old racebikes.

  7. Great info on the fork upgrade! I’ve also got the Sur Ron with RSTs and was looking around at upgrading and stumbled on your website. Only other specifically recommended forks I’ve seen are FOX 40s and those are around $1500, so these Dorados certainly look appealing to try. If I do go with the Dorados, are there any other parts needed to purchase to mount them up? Thanks

    • Hi Jason the only thing I’d recommend it to replace the OEM headset if you have one like mine, the loose ball bearing one. I know that Luna has a needle bearing one now. I chose to use the Cane Creek headset. Up to you. Other than that though no other mods are needed. I love my Dorados btw, so smooth and great damping characteristics, especially at high speed bumps.

      • Hi Mark, I was wondering how your Cane Creek headset is holding up? I have the needle bearing headset and it adds more than 10mm to the head tube. This makes the head tube too long to fit the Dorado correctly. It appears there is a tall triple clamp to fit longer head tubes but they are hard to come by so I was considering switching to the Cane Creek headset. Thanks for making such a great site.

        • Hey Micah, I have appreciated my Cane Creek headset ever since installing it onto the Bee. I’m not familiar with the needle bearing setup so I cannot speak to that configuration. 10mm seems like quite a bit. I can say that the Cane Creek fit my Bee as closely as the OEM headset, but of course is a much higher quality as a sealed bearing. The engineering of the headset is top notch. Just as a FYI when I tightened my headset down I did so with the front wheel off and ensured that I had ‘some’ bind moving the forks back and forth. I didn’t want the front end to flop from side to side. Adjusting it with the wheel off the bike gave me a better feel for the amount of bind I wanted on the headset.

  8. Are the forks you used (manitou dorado pro191-25215-c003) considered a 26″ fork? or a 27.5″ fork?
    Are they (manitou dorado pro191-25215-c003) capable of fitting a 21″ dirtbike wheel/tire combo?
    Are the Manitou Dorado Expert Forks you’ve linked to ebay above an improvement over the Manitou Pro forks you used? Will the Expert model forks install the same as your install of the Pro model forks?

    • Tommy:
      My Manitou Dorados are the 26″ Pro version, manufactured in 2004 when Manitou made the major change to the forks. I have no idea about the serial number you sighted, “manitou dorado pro191-25215-c003” but if you read my site you know that I run a 21er on the front. The Expert version of the forks are simply a bit heavier than the Pros, that is the ONLY difference. So yes, the Experts will install the same as the Pros.

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