Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Manitou ISX-6

The mysterious Manitou ISX-6. Why mysterios? Because no one really knows how it works or how you tune it - well outside Manitou. You see, Manitou has been tight lipped about information that's otherwise normally freely available online. So that leaves the end user in a unwanted game of guessing, and googling for information and experiences from other users. None of it is official.
The Manitou ISX-6 rear shock comes with independent high and low speed compression damping adjustments, rebound adjustment, volume control (which controls spring rate near the end of travel), and spring rate (air pressure). These are all the controls you need for everything from stuttery, rutted, rocky trails to big drops that would normally cause your bike’s rear end to bottom out.
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Ok, so how is the performance? Thing is that all this doesnt work in harmony together.
High speed and low speed compression are barely noticeable from its low-high setting, rebound is ok, but its easy to adjust either too much, or too little. Speaking of rebound, it feels like its loosing its "power" when you return from mid or end stroke, like if you prejump something, that results in a bike thats less "pop-able" good for some riders, bad for others I guess - I didnt like it. The volume control works great tho', and has a good use if you like to tune the end stroke a bit. Speaking of end stroke, this shock makes good use of it, just like the midstroke, this shock takes some effort to blast through it, making this shock effective even when sagged deep - good for those DH sessions, make no mistake tho' a coil will do the job better.

The ISX-6 is useable for trail riding, but there are better shocks for this.
(click to enlarge)
Let it loose in a bikepark, and enjoy its performance. It wont beat a coil tho'
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I have been on 4 different shocks in 2010, but after aprrox 4-5 months of effective trailtime on the ISX-6, the shock finally failed. Big disappointment, this is an high end and expensive shock, and it really shouldn't fail this fast. After a medium sized drop at 1.5m (4-5 feet) to a good transition, my ISX-6 rearshock made a "pop"-sound and all air blew out of it(!). Adding more air did nothing - the shock was dead. Here you see how the shocks sits in its travel when I sit on the bike. Indicators on the picture show how much travel I have left.
(click to enlarge)

I was about to score this shock 3/6, but since it failed after only 4-5 months of effective use, I cant give it more than a zero, this failure is unacceptable. The Manitou ISX-6 is an expensive way to partially enjoy good midstroke and end stroke support.
(click to enlarge)

The good:
-Bottom out resistance adjuster works well.
-Can be sagged deep without blowing through the rest of the travel
-Acceptable midstroke

The bad:
-Low/High speed compression dials have little effect
-Rebound is not consistent
-No real online support
-Difficult to tune for efficient trail riding.
-It ultimately failed

Score: 0/6


  1. I´ve got the Coil version and problem w/ compressions are the same :-/ There´s not enough service centers for Xfusions, heard about worries w/ RS vivid´s..there´s a question what to ride on

  2. LSC and HSC adjustment will only have effect if the IFP pressure is set high enough, too low pressure and the oil will only slush around in the main chamber.

    Same goes for rebound.

    The seals of the air can do benefit from a little oil every now and then, especially with frequent use. 3ml of sticky gearbox oil every 3 months into the main air chamber (with a pump, or simply remove the valve core) will benefit all air shocks.

    Your shock didn`t *fail*, you simply blew the air seal, probably because it was dried out.

  3. Thanks for clearing that up, I would love to service my shocks every 3 months, but I lack the proper education to do that.

  4. OK, here`s education for you:
    Go to the drugstore, buy a 10ml syringe. Drop into Wallgrens, buy a Schrader valve core remover and some oil, then go home and locate the two-wheeled vehicle with knobby tires. Locate the black aluminum cap that you usually have to remove to add air pressure, release the pressure, stick the tool into it and unscrew, remove, add 2-3ml of oil, screw back, and add pressure, voilà, your 3-month-service

  5. : ) I see what you did there, thanks man!