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  1. #1
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    MRP Stage Suspension Fork

    So...

    I ordered a new Stage from the used-to-be-licensed White Brothers, now MRP. First off, I like the new graphics. Which is important.

    Stage ? MRP

    The fork is a few weeks out but I learned some info that I thought people would be interested in.

    Spring
    MRP is using air spring tech from the old Englund Total Air stuff, which they own. The utilize an additional air reservoir to tune the feel of the spring. I remember installing the Englund stuff in Judys back in the 1990s and it was amazing stuff back then. That's good.

    Damper
    They moved most of the existing Loop tech over into the new 34mm platform. The Loops that I've been on and serviced have been pretty straight-forward and easy to deal with. I'm not sure I've felt the 'eliminating the possibility of spiking' but I'm excited to check it out.

    I SPECIFICALLY asked about the Pike, of course, as well as mid-stroke support. My daily-driver is a 275 Revelation RCT3, which I think is a really great fork. My damper is usually run open or in the trail position with the LSC backed all the way out. I find the transition from those two settings too steep. The 'low' LSC setting is just too spiky. Not a big deal on most of my local trails but not ideal for back-country sketch and high-speed stuff. I understand that the mid-stroke support is outstanding, allowing me to run the spring soft, like I like, but without the anti-dive of the RCT3 LSC. That is good and will mean the world to me when things get nutty, which they do in Harrisonburg, Fredneck, Snowshoe and Mtn Creek. I'm a one-bike guy.

    Color
    It's black.

    Travel
    140-170 internal, lowers-dropping adjustable.

    I should see the fork in 2-3 weeks and will report back after a first ride if I don't forget.

    It was a really big deal for me to not buy a Pike so I'm putting a lot of pressure on this fork to perform. I've sold a few Pikes in the last few weeks. This MAY be the new 140-160mm standard. MRP sure thinks so, and that's a good sign to start.

    mk
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  2. #2
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    UPDATE

    Fork came in yesterday with dyno sign-off card. A 4"x5" card accompanied the fork which has all of the adjustments, ranges and descriptions of each on it. I'm a stickler for technical writing and I would say that this is some of the best. Clear, easy to understand and well laid out. Very well done.

    The fork feels amazing. It is damn-near stiction free. The first centimeter of travel requires about 2 lbs of force. It's so supple off the top it's scary. The ramp control has a huge affect on the bottom half of the stroke. One click doesn't make a huge difference but two does. There are 16 total. It says so right on my card!

    The compression damper set to max breaks away with no spiking. It's hard to believe. It's not what I'm used to at all with Fox or RockShox 'lockouts.' It's more likely to sag into the travel when tooling around. And it doesn't really keep you at the top of the stroke like others. That's hardly something that I care about on a fork but thought I would mention it. I buy a fork for the scary parts of riding, not the sections that require a lockout.

    Now that the Ramp Control allows you to essentially change the size of your air spring chamber, and therefore the spring rate (kinda), I see the useful nature of this adjustment. Instead of a set-and-forget air volume adjustment, you can really change how the fork feels on big hits while keeping the fork supple for the chatter.

    Rebound is rebound. It works. It gets way too slow for most so you know it works. It gets really fast when you back it out so there you go.

    I just rode a Pike on Sunday and really enjoyed it. It's really a great fork and I think the Stage may be just as good in terms of suppleness, stiffness and quality of travel. If that is the case (riding this weekend to test), then I would say that MRP has really pulled a rabbit out of their hat. For some, the Ramp Control will be a better adjustment than the bottomless tokens on the Pike. Same goes for the compression damper.

    I'm really happy with it out of the box. For comparison, I have a Fox 40, BoXXer WC, 36, 34, 32, Pike, Revelation and Lyrik in the shop right now. Most are new-ish and all have been serviced in the past few weeks and the Stage feels as good as any of them and better than most.

    So yeah. Wow.

    mk
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  3. #3
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    Interesting that the 29in versions tops out at 150mm instead of the originally mooted 170mm, as 'fun' as a 170mm single crown 29er fork would be I'm glad MRP saw sense there!

  4. #4
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    Yeah, I'm not sure of all the different assemblies they have for the various forks. I know my 275 fork can rock out at 170mm, which is nice.

    29@150 is good but 160 would be more better. I know their aren't many 29 160mm bikes out there but the Enduro sure is a good one!

    mk
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    The compression damper set to max...more likely to sag into the travel when tooling around. And it doesn't really keep you at the top of the stroke like others.
    if it's like the Loop damper, there should be a "Trim" adjustment under a plastic cap in the center of the compression lever...this allows you to increase the platform as much as you like.
    whatever...

  6. #6
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    Would love to see the charts they sent you if you can post them up!

    Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Here's the owner's manual: http://static.squarespace.com/static...rint_draft.pdf

    I just showed the card to some customers and misplaced it. Let me track it down and I'll post a pic.

    mk
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    I know their aren't many 29 160mm bikes out there but the Enduro sure is a good one!
    I think there needs to be a change in design before 160mm 29er forks get anywhere. I mean if people want to ride single crown, 15mm axle forks that are taller than a set of Boxxers then go ahead, I'll be at the bottom with a video camera...

  9. #9
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    I'm having a custom hard tail 29er built right now with a MRP 120mm Loop on it. They guy building it talked me into it and said he is such a fan of the MRP fork that if I rode it for 2-3 months and didn't like it he would buy it back from me. Putting your money where your mouth is is a pretty good endorsement.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    I think there needs to be a change in design before 160mm 29er forks get anywhere. I mean if people want to ride single crown, 15mm axle forks that are taller than a set of Boxxers then go ahead, I'll be at the bottom with a video camera...
    1.5 steerers are a big part of it. Fore-aft flex is the biggest issue on these, but the tapered steerer makes some big inroads.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  11. #11
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    Hi Guys,

    Just a comment on a point in the middle there somewhere - the Stage 29 was never targeted at 170. The Stage 27.5 does go to that travel. The 29er has always been a max travel of 150, from initial planning to production.

    Oh, and Steadtite - there is no trim adjustment on this version of damper. It's similar to the earlier Loop model "Aura" damper, but not identical. This is also true of the new MRP Loop Trail models, which share the new damper format (as well as ramp control) with the Stage model.

    Scott
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  12. #12
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    I rode the Pike again last night (160mm on the Enduro 29) and it's a great fork. The damper settings aren't as discreet as I like but there's very little spike on that damper.

    Due to a variety of self-inflicted issues (smashed thumb, frame swap) I still haven't ridden the Stage officially. Maiden voyage will be next week. Likely Monday after close.

    mk
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  13. #13
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    FINALLY got out on my first ride last night. Ended up throwing all my parts on a 2015 Stump FSR Evo Carbon 650b/275 frame for no reason.

    I'll post up the long version but here's the TLDR version: wow.

    If it's not the best fork I've ever ridden, it's as good as the best.

    More to come.

    mk
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  14. #14
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    MRP Stage - Fork Ride Impressions
    Over the past two years, I have spent a ton of time on Revelation, SiD, BoXXer, Lyrik, Totem, TALAS 32, Float 32 and 36 forks. Eric from MRP told me that their goal for the Stage was a Pike-killer. Everyone agrees that the Pike is one of the best forks ever made if not *the* best. Just the assertion that this fork could be better piqued my interest enough to order one. (MSRP $965)

    Some background. MRP has been producing forks as White Brothers for a few years now. The Stage represents their first MRP-branded model. It's designed to be an all mountain/enduro fork for 26, 275 and 29 with travel from 130mm up to 170mm (26/275, 150mm for 29r). Stage ? MRP

    Two weeks later, after hand-assembly and dyno-testing in Grand Junction, my fork arrived. It felt amazing just leaning on it. I mounted it up and took it for a spin on my favorite local trails. I was able to carry more speed with more confidence with less wincing than ever before. I've never been called a 'cautious descender' before. I'll throw myself off of almost anything without looking so the fact that this makes me feel more confident is special. And that's about the highest compliment I can give a product.

    The damper ended up three clicks off of full-compression and produced a slight 'Shatner-in-Airplane II-door-opening' noise. I found it odd that I could hear the noise but couldn't feel it it in my hands. I'm very used to the spikey nature of the RCT3 damper on my Revelation. I can honestly say that I can feel no spike on the compression circuit. That's what MRP told me and they are not kidding. I'm running the rebound three clicks from full-fast. No top-out noise and complete control.

    The air spring loads from the bottom of the fork. There is a bleed port on top of the fork. Odd, but who cares? I work on suspension so I'm used to Lefty's as well as older RockShox Dual Air forks so that downward-facing valve didn't bother me. I was excited to check out the ramp control. MRP owns Englund Air and if you are old, you'll remember those cartridges as the #1 upgrade for the original RockShox Judy forks. They worked well back then and work great now. The Ramp Control changes the last 40% of the stroke from linear and buttery to all rampy and stiff. There's 16 clicks so I guaranty that you'll mess with this setting for a while. The initial 60% of the stroke stays linear and seriously plush. I ran it full linear and loved it.

    I used 140 of the 160mm of travel on my ride with some 3-footers to flat, gaps as well as plenty of chundery, narrow, high-speed singletrack. We have a few chutes with rocky, steep ruts and I didn't even blink throwing myself into them.

    The fork tracks amazingly well, holds a line, responds to input at the handlebar and is plenty light. The only thing I would say is that the full-firm setting on the compression damper might not be enough for people coming off of CTD, XX, RC or RCT3 dampers. I would describe it as a 'downhiller's lockout'. I have absolutely no issues with it and it fits perfectly with the enduro/all mountain design direction of this fork.

    I've ridden all of the trails that are local to MRP in Junction/Fruita. They video they shot for the fork is on Lunch Loops, basically downtown GJ. It's chunky and technical there. I think we can trust these guys to pull off a quality product. Since this is a first-ride impression, there's no way for me to verify the 200 hour (!) service interval on this fork. The damper is based on the Aura unit in the White Brothers forks. I have worked on those and they are robust and easy to deal with.

    If you are looking for a fork with a bit more character and some out of the box thinking, the Stage must be on your short list. If you have a Pike and love it, you have to check out this fork. I don't feel comfortable calling this the best fork I've ever ridden based on one ride, but I can see that being a true statement if this fork is as good as I think it is. At this point, it would have to fail catastrophically to ruin my positive feelings.

    Forks/bikes I've ridden in the last month: Demo 8/BoXXer RC, Enduro 29/Pike RC, 2010 Stump FSR Expert carbon 275 mutt/Revelation RCT3 with carbon crown/steerer.

    Current ride: 2015 Stump FSR Evo carbon 650b/275 with MRP Stage @160mm, XX1.

    I hope this helps y'all.

    mk
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  15. #15
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    Thanks for the detailed review.
    I've had the Pike on my Yeti sb95a for about ~9 months maybe. I think it's great, but the MRP Stage sure is interesting and something I'll consider next time around.

  16. #16
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    Continuing the update/review...

    I dragged my arse up and down the Shenandoah mountains on Sunday for 100 miles on a Enduro 29 with a Pike strapped to the front of it. There's about 14,000 feet of descending in that event including a ton of 20- and 30-mph single track descents. Narrowback, Wolf Ridge, Dowel's, Brailey, Chestnut...

    I have a soft spot in my heart for RockShox and really want this Pike to be The One.

    After riding on those same trails a few weeks back I was excited to rail them on 29s. The Enduro is the perfect Stokesville bike.

    At the end of the day, I realize the true strength of that Stage is the air spring. The travel is just better. There's no other way around it. Both dampers are fantastic with no fade but there's just more travel available on the Stage.

    So there you go. For my customers, I will absolutely buy back a Stage fork from them if they decide they like the Pike better. That's about the strongest endorsement I can give.

    The only drawback to the Stage is really rider-based. If you don't ride aggressively, I fear that that damper and performance characteristics would be lost. If you are looking for a stiffer chassis to help you learn to go faster, either fork will blow your mind. If you are passionate about hauling the mail down hills as fast as humanly possible, I think the Stage is a significantly better fork.

    I hope this helps.

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  17. #17
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    Another positive review at TwentyNineinches:
    MRP "Stage" 29 Fork: Final Review

  18. #18
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    I have a few bones to pick with that review...

    The axle is just as easy if not easier to get right than the RS or Fox versions. It's WAY easier to change the timing on where you throw the 'qr' lever on the MRP fork because you can spin the axle nut. I see a lot of chewed up RS Maxle's because people over-tighten them AND have trouble taking them out. The end of the Maxle where you unscrew the qr lever is too sharp and small to push hard against.

    They also mentioned the 'hiss' coming from the Ramp Control. I think they are talking about the damper side. The damper does make noise occasionally, especially in certain settings/impacts. It doesn't bother me at all but I'm pretty sure it's not the Ramp Control or air spring.

    And I also think he's wrong about the beginning stroke being affected by the Ramp Control. I'm not exactly sure but I'm pretty sure that this is not the case. The ramp control specifically and by design only affects the end of the stroke. Again, I may be mistaken but on my fork, the first 60% or so of the travel remains equally plush on full ramp vs. zero ramp clicks.

    I also thinks it's crazy to review a fork and not mess around with the damper! He focused on what I see as the magic part of the fork (air spring/Ramp Control) but you HAVE to say something about the damper! Makes me think he doesn't understand it too much but I may be overly critical on that front.

    Reading the 'Mid Term' report now...

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  19. #19
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    This is how I understand ramp control. It's a separate air chamber, with a one way check valve, that the main positive chamber slowly "bleeds" into so a big quick hit, like a drop to flat, causes the spring to be progressive as the secondary chamber doesn't have time to equalize vs on repeated mid size hits the spring acts more linearly.

    Trail builder- you should take some pics of the damper if you can. I don't understand how the compression damper functions. seems like it provides effectively no HSC. Just LSC with a magnetic blow off. The ramp control is effectively it's HSC. It's a very interesting dynamic when compared with other forks.

  20. #20
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    After reading the 'Mid Term' update I can see that he messed with the damper a bit more. Good stuff.

    I think he's got the right attitude on the damper. Firm enough but not a lock out. I'm not surprised he didn't notice much difference in the compression settings either. I had the same issue at lower speeds. This fork is certainly more comfortable at mach speeds. I think it's clearly built that way. The faster you go the more you realize what the fork can do and the more the compression damper shows its true colors. I think that is a drawback, to be sure, but when you are going so fast you get scared, you know it's doing the most for you...

    I wish there was more info on this fork out there. I think it's so good that I'm starting to think there's something wrong with me.

    mk
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  21. #21
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    Croakies, That is an accurate general statement/understanding of the Ramp Control system. It provides dynamic isolation between the chambers, but not static isolation. And "static" applies to low frequency shaft speed events. During high shaft speed events, the Ramp Control provides adjustable isolation of the ramp chamber from the main air spring chamber, effectively making the main air spring chamber smaller. But during low shaft speed events, the isolation is much less prevalent, so the air spring behaves more like the full (combined) chamber volumes.

    If you have any experience in electronics, it behaves like a coil in a circuit.
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  22. #22
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    I had a nice stereo in my car in high school. That's my electronics background.

    I cruised into most of the shops in Junction last time I was out there with RockShox but missed Palisade. Next time...

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  23. #23
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    Hi trailbildr.....after your great review I'm thinking of buying this fork, but before doing so, I would like to make sure that there are spare parts available out there. I have found no dealer to order wiper seals or any internal part of the fork. I did not find either any instructions, pictures, videos, etc, about the basic maintenance of the fork. For instance, how to adjust the internal travel of the fork. I really would like to use the fork with the maximum possible travel (170 mm). Did you try that travel in your fork? Were you able to find any maintenance information of the fork? in my opinion this is simply unacceptable.....and finally....could you please confirm the actual weight of the fork??? thanks a lot !!!

  24. #24
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    Like most products, you have to find a local shop who *can* support you, besides having the will to do so. Buy the fork locally, ask them to order a set of seals along with the fork and ask them to email MRP to get all of the tech docs.

    It's not a significant departure from White Brothers stuff that MRP made so I think you can be confident that they are here to support the product. If you are concerned about that, buy a Pike and enjoy!

    I didn't weigh the fork. I'm running it at 160mm for 275 wheels.

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  25. #25
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    I see spare parts, tech resources, setup instructions, etc all listed on their site at MRP. I suspect they'll also have the full Stage service instructions up soon as they do for all their models. If necessary they are also very easy to reach by phone and you'll get a real person that knows what they are talking about.

    I just ordered up a Stage and should have it in hand later this week. It will replace a 170mm RC2DH coil Lyrik that I've been really happy with for the past couple seasons on my Chilcotin. It's going to likely get one shakedown ride and then get thrown straight into 3 big days in Moab so I'll find out pretty quick if it can fill the big shoes of the Lyrik for me. I'll certainly report back on my findings. Thanks for the thorough reviews trailbildr, it's really helped out making a decision on this one.
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