Travel 80mm or 100mm (tested) / 30mm stanchions / Reverse arch lowers (V-brake option) / Snap Valve SPV damping / Air sprung / Semi-bath lubrication / Post mount / Colour — black only (in the UK) / Weight 3.26lb (195mm steerer)
Contact: Raw Experience 0131 4402010
Manitou has always been committed to racing and the R7 is an out-and-out XC race fork. In fact, it’s Manitou’s seventh generation lightweight XC design, hence the name.
Externally the fork has ultra-stiff magnesium lowers, which make for precise steering (given their weight) and a front wheel that stays straight under braking. Granted, you still get some fore-aft deflection at the hub, but it is nothing like as bad as a Rock Shox SID. To keep weight to a minimum the R7 gets a butted alloy steerer, hollow crown and bespoke stanchions; the 80mm version even has the excess fat trimmed off the upper legs. The downside of this is that you can’t swap between the travel options.
Internally the R7 uses a straightforward positive air spring and a titanium coil negative spring. With no fancy travel adjusters flowing air between the positive and negative chambers there is less to go wrong, and so far the R7 has proved reliable. The Platinum is the first R7 we’ve ridden that does not top out.
The right leg houses all the damping. A blue aluminium rebound adjuster at the bottom of the leg offers a limited, but useful, range of adjustment. At the top of the leg you must pressurise the Snap Valve SPV with the shock pump provided. Increasing the pressure ups the platform, making the fork harder to compress. It’s not however as straightforward as it sounds: for starters the SPV valve needs to be topped up every couple of rides to maintain the 30psi minimum and to confuse matters the damping goes some way to supporting the rider’s weight. This knock-on effect initially fooled us into running a lower than necessary spring rate, and we ended up increasing the pressure by more than 30 per cent on the first ride. Increasing the SPV pressure also affects the ride height of the fork, and with 100psi plus in the SPV chamber the fork is virtually at full extension. Basically, a bit of trial and error is involved in the set–up.
While the R7 is tuneable, it cannot double as a light trail fork as the platform is too pronounced. You can feel the Snap Valve opening on every hit. This feels like a loose headset and is similar to Fox’s Terralogic system, though it works in a different way. Upping the threshold goes some way toward reducing the tapping in the valve but that’s because it doesn’t open as often. If you’re less concerned with comfort and more worried about your threshold heart rate, this won’t be an issue, but on a long rides it gets annoying. That said, any racer who virtually locks their fork out by increasing the spring rate will find the Snap Valve a welcome addition, as there is travel available when it’s really needed. We won’t penalise the R7 Platinum for being race specific, so it get’s an eight.
MBR RATING: 8/10