I've been running MRP Stage forks on various bikes over the past 18 months, so I thought I'd share my impressions of the performance. In the recent times I had been running a Pike 27.5 RCT3 and 29er fork, so can provide a good comparison with the Stage forks. In the past I've also used various Rockshox Reba, SID and Revelation forks. I've dabbled with Fox forks over the years but have to admit that I've never got the small bump response and full travel from the forks. Replacement seals for Fox forks cost twice as much as other forks here in Australia too, which doesn't encourage me to purchase them.
I have been running a 140mm travel Stage on my 29er Lenz Behemoth 5" travel bike, and in the past few months have moved it across to my Chromag Rootdown 29er hardtail.
I have been running a 27.5 170mm travel stage on my Banshee Rune 160mm travel bike and more recently on my Knolly Delirium 27.5 170mm bike.
The first thing I've noticed about the Stage is that it is stiff laterally. It gives up a little weight to the equivalent travel Pike fork, but on the positive side the travel in the Stage is internally adjustable with spacers, while for the Pike an entirely new replacement air spring is required when changing travel. The Stage is therefore more versatile in terms of moving to different styles of bike. Also, the weight of the Stage fork stays the same whether it is in short or long travel mode, so the 170mm version of the fork is actually lightweight compared to its competitors!
The next immediate thing is that the Stage sits higher in its initial travel than the Pike. This can be positive or negative depending on your cockpit setup. But keep in mind that for the 27.5 Stage fork, the axle to crown length is approx 10mm shorter for the equivalent travel Pike fork. So with the Stage, you can effectively run a 10mm longer fork than the Pike and have the same ride height.
Both forks have a good level of damping adjustability, but the approach is different for each fork.
With the Pike, low and high speed damping adjustment is provided at the top of the fork, and a high speed rebound adjuster at the bottom. The charger damper works extremely well in all situations with a wide range of adjustability. I did need to bleed the damper after 12 months use when I had lost all compression damping functionality. Oil had leaked out of the damper requiring a top up as well as air removal.
For the Stage fork, low speed compression is controlled by a dial on the top of the fork, and high speed rebound via an adjuster at the bottom. High speed compression is controlled using a unique "ramp up" adjuster dial at the top of the left leg. This proved to be a handy way of adjusting bottom out on big hits on the fly. On the Pike, bottom out control is tuned using tokens that must be installed in the air spring side of the fork before hitting the trail.
Another attribute unique to the Stage fork is the small air check valve at the top of the left leg to let some air out of the fork in the fly if needed. I have only used this feature during fork setup and haven't needed to touch it after that.
With regards to performance, the adjustability of the Stage, with the ability to run lower air pressure for small bump sensitivity, and the ramp up dial to tune big hit bottom outs, has proven to be a close winner over the Pike.
Ease of maintenance and servicing is about the same for both forks. Service videos are readily available for both forks, and replacement parts are reasonably priced.
Over the long term, I've had no durability issues with either fork. On my recent 5 week trip to Whistler, I ran the 170mm Stage fork on my Knolly Delirium, and gave it a good hammering over 12 days in the bike park and many technical backcountry rides. I also had my Lenz Behemoth with Pike 140mm fork with me for longer less technical rides, and it performed equally as well.
Overall, both the Stage and Pike forks are reliable, excellent performers. What the Stage gives up in weight is paid back in ease of tune-ability. Pike forks can probably be found cheaper than the Stage, but the personal customer service provided by the MRP crew in Colorado when responding to my queries about the fork is also valuable.
Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing an MRP fork.