MRP Stage 29er fork review
Chainguide gurus MRP took White Brothers’ Loop fork under their brand umbrella just over a year ago, but the Stage is their first ‘new build’ suspension unit. We took a first ride on it in May, and six more months of riding has proved it to be a tough contender with some unique adjustments.
Structurally, it uses a forged crown and fat-arched lowers that slide on substantial 34mm stanchions. The 29er version you see here (there’s a 26in/650b model too) comes in 120 to 150mm travel options (4.7 to 5.9in), with 10mm-at-a-time travel change achieved through internal spacer juggling. The wheel is secured with MRP’s QtapeR 15mm axle, which offers fast variable-angle security, though you need to keep it clean to stop it sticking.
Its weight is high at more than 2kg once it’s cut to fit, but a lot of that comes from the amount of lube and damping oil inside.
All MRP forks are fully tested and QC carded before they leave the factory, and this results in the Stage having super long 200-hour recommended service intervals. Our test fork is still feeling fresh after five months, even though we’ve not stripped it yet.
The large-volume negative spring combines with all that oil to create a super-supple start stroke. It soaks up roots and ripples, giving a tracking feel better than its average chassis stiffness (for a 34/35mm fork) would suggest.
xxxxx: Russell Burton
The fork’s travel is adjustable from 120 to 150mm
Seven compression damping settings (plus a light lockout mode) control initial sensitivity, with a magnetic blow-off valve stopping any spiking even if you properly slam it into something. There’s also a leg-top Ramp Control dial that allows independent deep-stroke damping adjustment. That means you can run the fork firm-starting and linear or – like we did – buttery at the top but with the damper adding mid-stroke control.
Set up like that, you’ve got excellent small-bump traction but enough support for scything turns or stopping braking dive. The trade-off is that we never got the full 140mm of travel.
The stroke you do get is impressive enough to make that incidental on an otherwise capable, controlled and minimal maintenance fork for those who prefer to ride rather than wrench after initial set-up is done.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.