IN THE RED | Magura Unleashes eLECT ‘Smart’ Lockout and Long-Travel 29er Forks in Sedona

Magura's Brent Winebarger puts the 2014 TS8 through its paces.

Magura’s Brent Winebarger puts the 2014 TS8 through its paces. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Magura Direct (aka Magura USA) recently debuted new forks and technology at its 9th annual Press Camp in Sedona, AZ, and The Link was along for the ride. The Magura crew set “campers” up on a fleet of Specialized test steeds comprised of 29er versions of the Camber and Stumpjumper EVO, then led us to some of Sedona’s finest singletrack—from fast and flowy, to tight and technical—to use and abuse the new gear.

eLECT Automatic Electronic Lockout

The eLECT system can be retrofitted to existing TS forks and features a Bluetooth remote and USB port for charging and data retrieval.

The eLECT system can be retrofitted to existing TS forks and features a Bluetooth remote and USB port for charging and—eventually—data retrieval. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Undoubtedly the star of the show in Sedona, the eLECT system marks Magura‘s entrance into the electronic arena when it comes to suspension. Inside the damping cartridge is a 3D accelerometer—just like the one in your smartphone—capable of sensing speed, direction, angle and inertia. The eLECT replaces the Albert Select damper, and the idea behind the accelerometer is that the fork locks out via an internal servo whenever the unit is angled beyond a certain preset pitch—i.e., climbing. The rider is capable of calibrating the pitch simply by setting the bike at the desired angle of lockout, whether it be flat ground or propping the front wheel up the nearest rock or resting woodland creature.

It works. Several campers took it for a spin and Magura claims that in testing, a racer who manually locked his fork out 25 times on average during the course of a 1-hour cross-country loop ran the eLECT, which recorded (more on that later) over 200 automatic lockouts—and each one happens in 0.2 seconds. That’s fine and dandy for strictly cross-country applications on smooth climbs and fireroads, but on the ledgy redrock of Sedona singletrack, an active fork during climbing is a good thing, no matter what kind of bike you ride. Lucky then, the system is able to be “disarmed” via a wireless Bluetooth remote mounted to the handlebar.

The Bluetooth Wireless remote keeps the system lightweight and tidy.

The Bluetooth wireless remote keeps the system lightweight and tidy. Photo by Don Stefanovich

The eLECT features an impact “blow-off” feature—essentially high-threshold damping—just in case you do encounter a larger hit, and a “free fall” feature that fully opens the system should you find yourself with any substantial air between your tires and the trail. When not in motion the system goes to sleep with five minutes of inactivity to save battery life. The first impact will awake it in five seconds—but Magura claims it can tell the difference between a trail impact, and traveling, whether on an airplane or your roof rack. It also comes in over 20 grams lighter than the existing DLO2 cartridge, and is just about right on par with the new DLO3 (more on that later).

The system operates on a standard watch battery, rechargeable via a USB port, which is apparently how Magura retrieved data during testing. While nothing is confirmed, software to do the same may later be available to consumers. Water and grit are kept at bay by a screw-on cap, which you can still see rotating as the servo locks the fork out. There is a master on/off switch under the cap as well. Run time is said to be 40 hours in automatic mode, and up to 60 hours in manual mode. If the battery dies while you are riding, the default setting for the damper is fully open. A full charge is said to be reached in a “few” hours.

eLECT would be welcome on some grueling climbs in Sedona, but the new DLO3 functioned well on varied terrain.

eLECT would be welcome on some grueling climbs in Sedona, but the new DLO3 functioned well on the varied—and often technical—terrain. Photo by Don Stefanovich

While there are obvious benefits for the most competitive and obsessive of cross-country racers in this initial offering, we see greater potential for the technology. A similar system linked to travel adjust rather than lockout on a longer-travel all-mountain/enduro fork intrigues us, and with any luck, will intrigue Magura in the near future.

 

2014 TS Forks and DLO3

The 2014 TS8 29 comes ashore in 140-millimeter mode, but is internally adjustable to 150 millimeters.

The 2014 TS8 29 comes ashore in 140-millimeter mode, but is internally adjustable to 150 millimeters. Photo by Don Stefanovich

We spent the majority of our time in Sedona aboard the 29-inch incarnation of the new DLO3-equipped TS8 fork. Both the TS8 and TS6 will come ashore with 140 millimeters of travel—which is rather substantial in the wagon-wheel world—but will be internally adjustable to 150 millimeters; impressive, considering just last year 29-inch travel topped out at 120 millimeters in the Magura line.

All TS (Team Suspension) forks will feature Magura‘s proprietary M15 through-axle system, dropout bumper protectors (handy for standing the bike without a front wheel in place) and come set for 180-millimeter rotors, and will readily accept up to 203-millimeter stoppers—but there is no going back to 160 on the new TS.

The 29-inch TS8 comes in at only 1,775 grams, and 27.5 (650b) and 26-inch versions are expected in the fall. MSRP is expected to be about $850.

For a trail fork, the TS8 makes fine landing gear.

For a trail fork, the TS8 makes fine landing gear. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Although admittedly initially skeptical at 140-millimeter travel 29ers being the right tool for the job, we never once wished for more travel, not matter how fast, steep or technical the trail turned. The TS8 felt plenty plush and bottomless over ledges, roots, undulating slickrock and small drops. Magura‘s new DLO3—the latest incarnation of its Dynamic Lock Out— features a fully open, firm and close (lockout with blow-off) setting similar to the FOX CTD system. We opted to leave the the DLO3 fully open for most of the trails in Sedona, where even the climbs feature plenty of uphill obstacles. With air pressure at the recommended setting, unwanted brake dive was never noticeable when fully open, but the fork offered plenty of small-bump sensitivity and did a fine job of smoothing things out even when hack line choices took us through rather than around the chunk. With Magura‘s dual-arch design (DAD), even the 32-millimeter stanchions never seemed to flinch.

Still dual-arch design, DLO3 controls, M15 through-axle and dropout bumpers make the TS8 a well-though out trail fork.

Stiff dual-arch design, DLO3 controls, M15 through-axle and dropout bumpers make the TS8 a well-thought out trail fork. Photo by Don Stefanovich

The DLO3 comes as part of an upgrade Magura is calling the “Performance Package,” which will be standard fare on 2014 TS forks. Food-grade silicone grease—already employed in the lowers on previous forks—now replaces oil in the upper air chambers. Teflon-infused aluminum bushings replace plastic as well. Adding or removing internal spacers allows for an adjustable spring rate, and is done easily thanks to a removable top cap. Other finishing touches include a removable T-25 Torx that does double duty as a leverage pin for removing the M15 axle and adjusting brakes and other components requiring the increasingly popular fitment. The rebound knob also sees a redesign making it more ergonomic.

 

The TS8 made short work of the trail, from the rough to the buff.

The TS8 made short work of the trail, from the rough to the buff. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Even with an admitted bias against 29-inch wheels and slim stanchions, the TS8 was a downright impressive trail fork, even on the often steep and technical Sedona trails—territory we would normally peg as decidedly all-mountain, and opt for a 34 if not 36-stanchioned fork if given a choice. The details and simplicity show that someone thought this fork through, and we wouldn’t hesitate to run it on any trail bike. Although, we must admit, the impressive combination of light weight, stiffness and long-travel performance in a 29er fork makes us wonder what Magura could bring to the table should it decide to return to the 160-millimeter all-mountain/enduro market.

by Don Stefanovich

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