We just got our hands on some nifty little internal documents showing that for 2011, Manitou has completely revamped their classic R7 to drop about 40g, improve stiffness and load bearing and make it look much slicker. The new casting brings the R7 down to 2.95lb to 3.05lb, making it one of the lightest fully featured XC forks on the market. Follow up calls ensued:
“Basically, our R7 tooling was worn out and rather than just redo the same thing, we figured we’d use this opportunity to redesign the fork,” says Rich Travis, Manitou’s Product Manager. “So we used FEA design to improve load tolerances and drop weight, and while we were at it we improved mud clearance and made it look better, too.
“If it had only been for the U.S. market, we may have just killed it. The R7 sells really well in Europe (around 10,000 pieces per year), but in the U.S. people are now mainly looking at forks with 32mm stanchions.”
And to address that market, for the past year, Manitou has been working on a new XC fork that has 32mm stanchions and “radically different looking lowers” that’s going to be called the Marvel. It’ll feature 100mm and 120mm travel options, a tapered steerer tube and a new, proprietary 15mm thru axle design.
A Marvel Expert will be OEM focused with 9mm QR and could be shown as early as this fall, but for aftermarket early next year will be the real deal. Travis wouldn’t commit to any timeline but said a 29er version was likely in the works.
Flip past the break for more comparison photos of the new R7 casting…
We’ve been testing Manitou’s current R7 in both 26″ and 29er form all Summer and can honestly say that they’re great forks. They’re way stiffer compared to older 28mm stanchion forks, and even among current 32mm ones, they’re adequately stiff for XC racing and trail riding. A full review of both are in the short term review queue, but if you’re in the immediate market for a new fork, you wouldn’t be disappointed by them…the action is smooth with good external rebound and compression adjustment. This new casting should make them even better and give XC racers an extremely lightweight option that doesn’t skimp on performance.
Click any of the pics to enlarge.