The new Manitou range just pitched up here at WMB and we'll be delving into the details in the next issue of the mag. I slapped the new top of the line MRD (Manitou Racing developments) R7 straight onto the front of my longterm test Tomac Carbide XC full susser and took it for a shakedown ride through the local singletrack to get a feel for the new 2008 'Hayes edition' model.
Out with the old
Previously, Answer-made R7's were light and reasonably reliable. They appeared regularly on the front of World Cup winning XC rigs. Downsides were in their hit and miss QC (my last pair of Answer-made R7's still have a mystery rattle - despite repeated strip downs) and a stock action that was supple if a bit too linear for many riders.
In with the new
Hayes certainly haven't thrown the baby out with the bathwater, and their new R7 looks much like the last one. No bad thing as it's a handsome fork. Mag lowers, alloy stanchions hollow allow crown and alloy steerer give it class leading weight.
Stiffness is good, though the SID we rode in the US last month felt stiffer. The Noble Air system which uses a single dropout mounted air valve to charge positive and negative air chambers works well. The five position Absolute damping adjuster on the top of the right hand leg isn't brilliantly calibrated. Position one (fully open) is very plush, position two is as one but with a solid dose of platform - a good XC race setting, three and four seem to be the same - practically locked out with blow off, while five feels fully rigid. If you ask us position three gets lost. Position two should be position three and position two should be position three. Still with me?
In the works
Anyhow, we're still evaluating the performance and will bring the full story to bear as soon as we can. Of course what we're really waiting for is a chance to test the new R7 head to head with the new SID, DTSwiss and Marzocchi Corsa models to find out who the XC race fork meisters really are.