MRP Stage Fork - Review

Sep 24, 2014
by Jordan Carr  
Mountain Racing Products is widely known for their large range of chain guides, but they also have a long history as a suspension company under the White Brothers Cycling brand. That said; MRP has been working hard over the past year to introduce a range of new suspension items under the MRP banner, the first of which is the $969 USD Stage fork that is the topic of this review. With a manufacturing facility in Grand Junction, Colorado, MRP was able to capitalize on the established production and development processes of its White Brothers operation in order to streamline the creation of their first branded fork - and also has allowed them to focus on offering a great level of customer support from the get go. The Stage is aimed squarely at enduro and all-mountain disciplines - although, with travel options ranging from 120mm to 170mm, it could serve anything in the trailbike class - and the platform supports 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheel diameters. The Stage sports external adjustments for both rebound and compression, as well as an interesting 'Ramp Control' feature that allows riders to adjust the fork's spring curve near the end of its travel. MRP prides itself on the level of quality and support it provides customers, with each and every Stage fork undergoing a full dyno test before leaving the factory. The 150mm travel 29er Stage that we tested weighs 4.5lb (2.5kg), and comes with an MSRP of $969 USD.



MRP Stage Details:

• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
• Wheels supported: 26"/27.5"/29"
• Travel: 26" or 27.5'' 140mm - 170mm, 29" 120mm - 150mm (tested)
• External adjustments: rebound, compression, Ramp Control, air bleed valve
• Spring: air
• Stanchions: 34mm
• Steerer: tapered only
• Brake: 180mm post mount
• Axle: QTAPER 15mm
• Offsets: 26"/ 27.5" - 43mm, 29" - 51mm
• Weight: 4.5lbs (29")
• MSRP: $969 USD




Inside the Stage

A key feature touted by MRP is their EQUALair spring and the externally adjustable Ramp Control system that allows riders to fine tune the spring curve on the fly to suit specific terrain. Controlled via a 16-postion knob on top of the left leg, Ramp Control allows you to dictate the ending stroke spring curve - ie ramp of the fork. This feature is especially useful for riders who find themselves on widely varying terrain, and it should let them quickly tune the fork to any condition - no need to mess with internal volume adjustments. The Ramp Control adjustment is also truly independent from compression and rebound damper settings on the Stage. Within the Ramp Control knob sits a small bleed valve that allows for easy air chamber bleeding on the trail without the need for a shock pump, meaning that you can soften the fork up slightly while easily compensating by dialing in more bottom-out protection via the Ramp Control knob.

The Stage uses a sealed damper unit with a bladder compensator to separate its fluid from atmospheric contamination. The damper provides eight clicks of compression damping paired with an eighteen click, speed-sensitive rebound adjustment. A unique magnetic compression valving system allows the user to adjust the fork on the fly. Switching to full compression provides a nice pedaling platform, while turning it to full open makes for a supple ride. The magnetic compression valve means that full compression doesn't mean full-on lockout. When a sharp, square-edged hit is encountered, the valve will blow-off its seat and allow oil to flow as in the open position - theoretically providing the best of both worlds. The valve is also said to make the fork impervious to spiking, keeping harsh feedback to a minimum, even when riding through rough terrain while using a heavy compression setting.


On the Trail

We were fortunate to have a variety of terrain available to us when it was time to put the Stage through its paces, and since it was designed to be a competitive enduro and all-mountain fork, we rode it on everything from rocky, primitive terrain to new-school jump trails. This approach highlighted the tuning available with the Stage's Ramp Control feature, with days at varied bike park trails showing that turning the crown-mounted knob made a huge difference in how the fork performed. In fact, we actually found ourselves fiddling with this adjustment more than we expected to. Pointing the Stage into the unknown is where the fork really felt at home - with its early stroke suppleness and adjustable ramp-up, we were able to commit with confidence. The fork moved into its travel very smoothly from new, and the setup process was a cinch, thanks to the clever bleed valve atop the spring-side leg. Yes, you obviously still require a pump to increase the fork's spring rate, but the tiny button made dropping a few PSI at a go really easy.

MRP Stage Fork

The Stage's on the fly compression adjustment offers eight clicks of incremental compression damping, although adjustments were mainly noticeable in full open, half closed, and fully closed positions.



MRP Stage Fork

The bleed button at the center of the Ramp Control knob allows riders to drop incremental amounts of air from the Stage while on the trail, making setup and adjustment more user friendly than always fiddling with a shock pump to remove air. Ramp Control was a feature we found useful on those big days when we were moving over a variety of trail types, though we found a place for it quite regularly. Setup guidelines at the back of the fork give users a good place to start.



Working with air pressure and rebound initially, we were able to find our preferred settings that gave us a subtly plush early stroke that soaked up slower, bumpy terrain extremely well. The initial suppleness that we felt early on extended nicely to small bumps we encountered out on the trail, giving us a new confidence when picking our way up slow rocky climbs. We also appreciated the Stage's easy to use compression knob when things smoothed out a bit and we craved a stiffer platform. Turning the compression knob gave the fork just enough firmness to make hard out-of-the-saddle segments palatable, although we would have preferred a bit more drastic of an adjustment range overall. In the long term, the Stage performed well within our expectations each and every ride. Its adjustability offered a nice touch without being cumbersome for the less dial frenzy riders, but it allowed solid manipulation when the trail demanded it. Despite a few minor issues, the Stage is a solid example of a well-designed trail fork for riders looking for another option from the big names, and it kept us comfortable and in control no matter how rowdy the terrain became.


Issues

Initially, our early production fork had some issues with the axle sliding through the hub of our test bike. MRP was able to remedy the problem quickly and get us out on the Stage within a couple That said, the 15mm Q-Taper axle take some fiddling to get used to. Also, the tracks that guide the hub into the fork sliders were a touch too small, making wheel or roof rack installation a bit of headache. Each time we installed the front wheel, we had to take extra effort to make sure everything lined up properly so the axle would slide through. Though not a major issue, it was something we found a bit frustrating.

stage

Despite its simple nature, MRP's Q-taper axle system takes a while to get used to. While it functioned well, the first one hung up inside our test bike's front hub.



Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesWe spent the majority of the season riding the Stage, which speaks well for it. The Stage is a top-level offering with unique features that proved to be handy when on the trail. It provides supple, small bump compliance, while the Ramp Control feature allowed us to fine tune the spring rate on the fly - try that with any other fork. Despite some minor issues up front with the axle interface, MRP's Stage fork offered impressive suspension performance - a level that one would not expect from a relatively small player in the suspension game. - Jordan Carr


Mountain Racing Products

Must Read This Week

102 Comments

  • + 84
 Some dickish friends would be all over that air spring bleed valve.
  • + 13
 Sounds like you need some new friends mate!
  • + 71
 if your friends aren't constantly fucking with you, then you need new friends..mate
  • + 25
 You gotta draw the line at fucking with your bike lol
  • + 33
 a swift kick in the nuts solves that, and who doesn't like kicking their mate's in the nuts?
  • + 10
 f*cking with my rebound then pulling out the adjustment knob (thanks rockshox) and putting it in their pocket was bad enough, this opens a whole new level of dickery
  • + 27
 I wouldn't fuck around with a mate's set up.. I like to lean over and pull their brakes as I ride past though
  • + 2
 That's a fave of mine benji :-)
  • + 6
 I am all about the brake check, I mean what if they were working, I mean that would just be unsafe haha
  • + 7
 simple solution DONT TELL THEM WHAT IT DOES. And if they figure it out than there are many things to do to get even with them such as drop a ball bearing down their seat tube (took my buddy about a year to figure that one out)
  • + 6
 hot dog in seat tube..just saying
  • + 3
 crack an egg in the seat tube
  • + 30
 Sometimes I feel like I'm the only guy on an 1 1/8" straight steerer frame still. Le sigh. :'(
  • + 14
 Ditto, and a 20mm axle diehard as well
  • + 55
 Don't worry, you're probably also still the only guy who says "le sigh".
  • + 11
 I called the MRP crew and they will put whatever steerer tube you need for your bike - even offered to accommodate my 1" straight steerer tube.
  • - 11
flag defineindecline (Sep 24, 2014 at 10:10) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah, new to stop hanging around your mom so much.
  • + 3
 @RennyG I smell sarcasm
  • + 2
 Bahahahahaha! !! 1" STEERER! !!
  • + 9
 While not in the Stage, we offer straight 1-1/8th inch steerer tubes in our 32mm chassis fork and while rare, we can install a 1" steerer in the 32mm chassis as well. It is a custom order piece but we do them on occassion.
  • + 31
 Always great to see more competition
  • + 4
 Yeah, since xfusion, magura, dtswiss, DVO, MRP, RST, white brothers and suntour has started churning out quality forks, we all know the price of forks has been freefalling, right?
  • + 6
 You forgot about Bos, ya dingus.
  • + 4
 ...and Marzocchi !!
  • + 4
 and Formula and Manitou
  • + 24
 Pretty solid review on a great fork. I've been thrilled with my 170mm 26/27.5 version thus far. Coming off a RC2DH Lyrik I was expecting to be giving up a bit in terms of stiffness and high speed chunk but thats simply not the case. Buttery smooth and such a huge range of useful adjustability. Pairs up really well with Cane Creek's shocks. Im really glad i chose it over the Pike after a long period of indecision.

Coming from a Maxle setup I'll say this axle is just a little different. Once you've removed it a few times it's a piece of cake. On my production version the dropouts are machined nicely and getting the wheel slotted in is simple. If the axle/dropouts were truly an issue it would be a deal breaker for me as my bike travels in the trunk of the car with the wheel off so I'm literally removing and reinstalling it several times a week.

If you want to read more, here's a thread with some really good reviews of the fork from a knowledgeable source with a lot of time on a Pike to compare. This sold me on giving the Stage a try and couldn't be happier that it did.
forums.mtbr.com/shocks-suspension/mrp-stage-suspension-fork-918470.html
  • + 2
 Thanks for the link, Catch. really good review.
  • + 14
 I didn't realize mountain biking turned into such a fashion conscious group of nancy's! I don't spend much time looking at my fork while riding it. I've got a Stage and it's performance is better than any other trail fork I've ridden. At the end of the day it's how big the grin on your face is from shreddin' trail with friends.
  • + 12
 Does "MRP's Stage fork offered impressive suspension performance - a level that one would not expect from a relatively small player in the suspension game" mean this fork compares to the best from the big boys or??
  • + 12
 Beautiful fork. And it's made almost entirely in Colorado if I recall correctly.
  • + 10
 Hand assembled in Grand Junction.
  • + 7
 I think PinkBike have set the bar too high with some of their recent reviews. GT Sanction, Manitou Mattoc where really good! . This review was great but I didn't really get a feel for how the MRP compares to Pikes and 36'ers. When people are reading a review it's because they want to decide which fork to buy, so we need an idea of how they compare! PinkBike almost alway hit it out of the park for great content, and this is another winner but we want more!!!
  • + 7
 4.5 lb = 2 kg NOT 2.5kg!
I've been reading the whole article not understanding why would anyone consider a fork with such weight.
Then checked on MRP's website, turns out the claimed weight is 4.3lb for 26" (1.9 kg) and 4.4lb (2 kg) for 29".
Now that makes more sense!
  • + 3
 they probably meant 2,05 kg (it actually is 2,04117 kg)
  • + 9
 How about a marzocchi review? I saw big player's forks from RS, Fox.....Manitou. 380 and Moto would be great to read about!
  • + 10
 It looks cheap
  • + 9
 But probably performs like a dream
  • + 1
 That was also my thought, but I think that is just the sticker. If you took the stickers off the Pike or a 36, one might think the same thing.
  • + 4
 Do you still get their piss poor excuse for "customer service" ? I had a white bros fork that came without a service manual and apparently calling long distance from across the country and holding for 20 minutes (I kid you not,I timed it) gets you the answer of "are you a dealer?" Followed by a hang up. I removed the decals from my frame and fork that day. Screw them. Why spend money only to get turned away for basic service? Heaven forbid you need actual work performed. Avalanche is 20 minutes drive to the next town over and their service and products are top notch. No bull poop hang ups or excuses either. I'll keep my money in the east.
  • + 18
 Sorry about that, but I doubt it happened during the time White Brothers was owned by Mountain Racing Products. Our service tech Eric is about the nicest guy in the world and is routinely here late at night helping customers and rebuilding their ancient WB forks. I would venture to guess most of our service interactions are consumer direct - you're welcome to call us whether no matter where/how you bought the fork, even if you're just considering one!
  • + 2
 I have nothing but good to say about the service at White Brothers/MRP. Eric is awesome. Whether you want to service your fork yourself or are sending it in for service, you won't be disappointed. I had really fast response and their turn around time was really good as well. The groove is one of the best DH forks on the market. It is my personal favorite. Now that they bought out Elka I think they have the best suspension front and back. My bike was set up with an elka stage 5 and a groove 200 and it was awesome. They are really durable and don't have to be serviced very much at all. Seriously, if I was building a trail bike today this would be the first fork on my list, except for the 15mm axle part... but that is forgivable.
  • + 2
 You know, for once I might consider that. I'm usually as stubborn as a rusty nail but this time I'm actually considering doing more research. It was a while back and under different leadership. Smile
  • + 2
 @EastCoastDHer: I can vouch for Noah. Eric was super helpful to me when I sent them my Elka (MRP bought elka a bit back). I contacted him, and he replied to all my questions and told me what to do. Then, I forgot about it and a month later remembered, packed it up and shipped it out. I emailed Eric saying sorry for the delay and to let him know it was coming. I wouldn't have been offended if it took him awhile to get back to me because of how long I procrastinated shipping the shock. However, he emailed me back a few hours later, said it was no problem. Got and invoice, paid it and the shock was back to me within a few days.
  • + 4
 Looking good! I think this would be a rocking fork! All the adjustments seem great! RideOn!
  • + 3
 These things look so good in real life. It would be a tough choice for me, between the Stage and the Pike.. Too bad I can't afford either!
  • + 6
 is it 9spd compatible?
  • + 1
 The fork might be from a manufacturer that's new to the fork game. But if the fork can be ridden like this I think they've done a really good job and its up there with as a contender against the pike's.http://www.pinkbike.com/video/362607/
  • + 1
 White Bros
  • + 2
 yeah White Bros has been around since 96. Not new to the game, simply just a small player.
  • + 5
 More info on the Stage here: www.pinkbike.com/video/371626
  • + 3
 This fork is the good shit. Been rallying on the 650b one for a few months now...
  • + 1
 Adjustable ramp up feature ..brilliant. shame it just looks abit cheap. But thats probably not something that is hard for them to remedy in the future
  • + 2
 I would've liked to see if this fork is easily serviced at the shop or if it needs to be sent back to MRP. Just sayin'.
  • + 3
 Having said my one complaint, this fork is on my upgrade purchase list. The MRP video that Noah posted just solidified my choice.
  • + 7
 The fork is easily serviced by a local shop. Parts are readily available from us here at MRP. We can also service your fork. Our turn around is typically 2 business days. That said, the service intervals for the fork is very long. 200 hours for the damper. Wiper seal replacement is standard for the industry (my personal fork has about 125 hours on the dust wiper seals). We use treated seals that reduce stiction. Parts are available through your local shop. Travel change spacers, extra o-rings, and instructions are included. Travel change takes about 15 minutes.

Every fork and shock is hand built here in Grand Junction. Every fork gets sized bushings to give it that broken in feeling right off the bat. Every fork or shock also sees DYNO verification to ensure everything is properly working within our parameters.
  • + 2
 Excellent!
  • + 1
 No mention of the fact that there is threaded fender mounts on the back of the arch too. Something that was there before the new 36 had it...
  • + 3
 Am I the only one who think it looks ugly as sin?
  • + 3
 It somehow resembles an RST launch.....*Shiver*..........But anyway the Ramp control seems quite good. I would buy any good fork regardless how it looks
  • + 2
 Probably not but then you'd have to think the first generation fox's were ugly also by that logic, as they used the same shape brace to their lowers casting, as did Rockshox at one time.
  • + 0
 Yes, ugly as sin!!!
  • + 3
 The pic in the review is at a funny angle. Is this better? www.pinkbike.com/photo/11393286
  • + 1
 Wow the arch is tight to the stanchions in that pic
  • + 2
 Is there a 51 mm offset on the fork crown?
  • + 1
 29" offset is 51mm. The 26/27.5" model is 43mm.
  • + 2
 170mm and 34mm stanchions but not flexy. How do they do that?
  • + 5
 The crown is the key, much more so than 1mm in stanchion size compared to the competition using 35mm tubes. The old Travis with 34mm stanchions was pretty rigid, as was the Nixon with 32mm stanchions. They had solid crowns.
  • + 3
 Dual taper system on the axle makes a noticable difference as well.
  • + 2
 manufacturing tolerences.
  • + 0
 I bought into the Loop hype but have been underwhelmed since the get go on it. Can't seem to find the proper setup, prefer the cheapie RS fork on my girl's bike thus far!
  • + 0
 I should add it's the Aura damper. Dunno I'd take the risk with my $$ again on one of their products given the resale is well below the big names.
  • + 1
 I would like to know axle to crown heights on the various models/travel options.
  • + 1
 And Google helps... www.mrpbike.com/stage
  • + 1
 no electronics involved? who is going to buy that nowadays?
  • + 1
 Is there any european online retailer that have this fork for sale?
  • + 1
 Are these the same as White Industries fork?
  • + 4
 Yes, MRP has owned White Brothers since 2001 and announced last year that all their divisions (they also own Tamer, Powergrips and Kreitler) would have their products re-branded as MRP products.

www.mountainracingproducts.com/shop/#!/MRP/c/577533/offset=0&sort=normal
  • + 3
 While the White Brothers brand was merged into the MRP brand, that's where the similarities of old and new product stop. The new forks are completely new.
  • + 1
 @deeeight Only White Brothers was brought under the MRP name. Our other brands (Kreitler, Power Grips and Tamer) will continue on with their own names.
  • + 0
 Maybe it's just me but I'm really not digging these all black forks.
  • - 1
 I like how you can get a staight or tapered steerer. Not everyone has a tapered headtube you know.
  • + 0
 Who did MRP buy to get into the fork biz, Spinner?

Serious question...
  • + 4
 they owned white brothers, and they just switched the name over to mrp to start streamlining the products under one company. new forks from them though with white brothers experience.
  • + 1
 Ah, that makes sense. Cool, thanks for the info.
  • + 1
 What bike is this on?
  • + 2
 Fork was reviewed on a Trek Fuel EX 9 29er.
  • - 2
 Why they got to be black?
  • + 31
 Are you forkist?
  • + 4
 Watch your mouth sweetheart.
  • - 1
 malcom is that you?
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