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The MRP Stage has been around for a couple of years and has seen some minor revisions for 2017. It comes standard with a host of external settings, and tweaking the fork to your liking can be done using compression, rebound, air pressure (dual air), and ramp control. In terms of weight, it is a bit heavier than the Fox 34 and RockShox Pike, on par with the Fox 36, and a bit lighter than the RockShox Lyrik.

Features

  • 27.5" Travel: 140*, 150, 160, or 170mm
  • 29" Travel: 120*, 130, 140, or 150mm
  • Weight: 1.95kg. for 26/27.5"; 2.0kg for 29"
  • Axle-to-Crown Height: 553mm for 170mm 26" / 27.5", 558mm for 150mm 29"
  • Spring System: EQUALair
  • External Adjustments: Air spring pressure, 8-position compression, Ramp Control, rebound
  • Internal Adjustments: Travel
  • Steerer Options: Tapered (1.5 - 1.125")
  • Offset: 43mm (26/27.5"), 51mm (29")
  • Brake Mount: 180mm PM
  • Wheel Size: 26”, 27.5”, 29”
  • Axle: QTAPER 15mm
  • RRP: R 14,700


* not a standard option, but internally adjustable to this travel with included spacers.

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Ramp Control


MRP's Ramp Control gives you on-the-fly ability to adjust the air spring's end-of-stroke curve. Part high-speed compression damping, part bottom-out control, Ramp Control is completely independent of your damper or air spring pressure settings. All MRP forks feature super-supple small-bump compliance, but with Ramp Control you can set your fork up to be super plush but still resist bottoming.

The Ramp Control unit is located within the air spring assembly and adjusted via a 16-position knob on the top of the spring-side fork leg.

Compression


The compression adjustment knob is located on the top of the damper-side fork leg. There are 8 positions of adjustment. As you turn the dial clockwise, you are adding compression damping or slowing the fork's compression stroke. It is an adjustment that is subtle, and often overlooked, but can make a big difference on how your fork performs. Aggressive riders tend to like more compression damping because it provides a firmer, more positive feel. Comfort-oriented, less aggressive riders tend to like less because it allows more small bump sensitivity. Compression damping should not be confused with spring rate (air pressure). They are very different adjustments and while adding compression damping may make the fork feel "stiffer", it is not changing the spring rate.

On The Trail


First things first, the MRP takes some time to get dialled. Just to be clear, that's not because the fork is difficult to set to your liking, its simply down to the fact that there are so many external settings that can be adjusted, and the impact that those have on each other. Fortunately, MRP has some videos on YouTube and a guide based on weight and the type of rider that you are that is quite good and helps to get the base tuning in place before playing around to dial it to your preference.

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Once I got the base tune sorted, I started playing around with other settings to get a feel for how they impacted the fork's on the trail performance. What was interesting to experience was the ability to quickly and easily adjust the fork's feel to a specific trail section. Once I got confident with dialing in some extra Ramp Control on the fly and then turning it back again a bit for other sections. It is however not something I did very often as I prefer to focus on the pure enjoyment side of riding and that for me means tuning out to numbers and dials and just getting on with the riding part.

For the most part, I settled on a combination of settings very close to factory recommendations. This proved to be good all-round and yield a fork that was plush with enough ramp up to give a controlled feeling.

The trickiest bit for me was adjusting and fine-tuning air pressure as the positive and negative air is adjusted independently and needs to be balanced in feel and performance. That means one has to find a balance point in terms of feel and then apply that through the range. On a single air fork you can drop some air, take a short ride and get a feel for the change in pressure, but with the dual air you may have to change the positive to negative ratio a bit as you go along. This is not as quick and easy task as turning a dial.

What amplified this a little bit was the Fox X2 shock with all its external settings. On a bike like the Knolly Warden that meant getting the base settings of the fork and shock right and then work and re-work on each until they felt great front and rear, but also balanced on the bike for maximum speed, traction and fun. Once dialled and up to speed, the MRP Stage was super impressive with the performance gain worth the time it took to dial. I should maybe stress that I am not talking about months or weeks, but rather three or four rides that were dedicated to setting up the fork with trail sections sessioned to give me a better reference of changes made.

Small bump compliance is excellent with the front wheel sticking to the ground like it is nobody's business. For a plush fork that's not shy to use full travel, it does well not to slosh needlessly when pedalling to the top of the trail. On the Warden, I was happy to climb with the fork wide open and only use the pedal lever on the Fox X2 to aid climbing. This also helped to keep the rear up which in turn helps to keep weight on the front wheel which keeps it from wandering on steep sections.

Fast, steep, downhill sections are what the Stage lives for, and it rewards hard riding in buckets. With the Knolly Warden up to speed, the MRP Stage shone coping exceptionally well with anything that came its way. I'm sure I'm not fast or aggressive enough to bend this fork, but there were no signs of any flex. It would be interesting to get a feel for this fork on today's breed of 170mm enduro bikes, but set to 160mm on the 155mm Knolly Warden Carbon it was as stiff as it needs to be without feeling harsh or too rigid when pushed hard.

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Verdict


MRP has been dropping some great tech and products and has managed to produce some very impressive forks, shocks, and other suspension parts. The MRP Stage has proven itself more than capable enough to play with the big boys and is a solid alternative for those looking for the absolute maximum from their fork.