The Manitou R7 has been one of the lightest, most cost-effective race fork families for years but it’s short on travel, and steering isn’t hugely accurate. Reliability has been good on long-term sets though.
The narrow stance rear brace structure with 30mm stanchions plugged into a steep shouldered crown creates a light fork for the money (the 80mm version is 40g lighter than the 1,412g 100mm version tested here).
However, the R7 twists more than any other fork we've tested this year, both on the trail and on our bender rig. There’s also lots of flex under braking, which makes steering and line choice approximate rather than accurate and creates an uneasy front end in technical sections.
Although it binds and chokes if you’re turning or anchoring hard, the stroke is reasonably smooth over small to mid-size bumps. The ABS+ damping spikes on higher shaft speed/square-edged impacts though, and it ramps up noticeably at 85mm. We didn’t get more than 90mm out of the 100mm stroke.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.