First Look: Magura eLECT suspension

Components

Magura eLECT Front Rear

What is it?

The eLECT suspension is an automatic lockout system. Just like the Fox Terralogic fork and Specialized Brain that have come before it, eLECT aims to lock out your fork when you’re climbing and fully open it when you’re descending. How does it do it? Well, it is all based on fork angle. You set the fork angle where you want it to lock out (slightly climbing) and anything from there and up will be locked out and anything pointed down from it will be fully open.

That is the core but there’s a lot more fancy technology beyond that. On a big impact, it will blow off and open the system no matter the fork angle. And in free fall, like a jump, it will fully open. There’s also a very fancy wireless remote switch that can control the system. So at the minimum, this is the best remote lockout suspension available. At most, it locks and unlocks for you and you just ride faster.

This year, they have tied the rear shock to the front fork brain so now you have a unified full suspension experience. Everything the fork does, the rear will mirror. Of course both can be controlled by the remote.

YouTube Preview ImageVideo: Magura Technical Service Manager Jude Monica shows us how the wireless system works.

The details

Magura‘s eLECT automatic fork adjuster for their TS forks uses a 3D accelerometer, and a handlebar mounted Ant+ remote. The eELCT is an automatic lock out cartridge that is either on or off, with a non adjustable blow off for larger impact. The 3D accelerometer in the damper is just like what your smartphone or video game controller uses, and will lock out the fork in 0.2 seconds when it’s detected orientation reaches a preset pitch angle, or it’s impacted.

Magura eLECT Rear

Magura has now added a rear shock with the eLECT technology to their lineup. The eLECT fork and rear shock work in tandem in the automated mode, with the fork acting as the main brain for controlling the pitch lockout sensing and feeding that information to the rear.

Magura eLECT Remote

The new handlebar remote wirelessly communicates to the fork and shock, allowing you to select manual open or closed for either unit, or the automated mode for both of together. For safety and control, it has a blow off and a free fall detection if big drops are encountered and will unlock the fork and shock before impact, and if anything electronically malfunctions, the dampers revert to the open mode.

Ride impressions by Francis Cebedo

So Magura USA GM, Jeff Enlow came to me before the day’s ride on Chuck Wagon trail of Sedona, AZ and offered me a ride on the new eLECT damper with automatic lockout. “Ahh, the life of a tester,” I thought. It can be very exciting and/or dangerous at times. These were unfamiliar trails to me and I was about to put my ‘front lockout’ faith in prototype technology. And just for kicks, I wanted to leave it in full lockout mode all day.

I already had a Specialized Camber bike set up from the day before with a Magura TS8 120 mm travel fork. The beauty of this technology is its a modular damper that can be installed in any TS fork and I watched Jude Monica replace my damper cartridge and put in the eLECT in a matter of minutes.

My instructions were very simple: Press the fork button 3 seconds to calibrate the fork ‘open’ position and this will activate the automatic lockout mode. Or press the remote to lock out or unlock the fork and put it in remote manual mode.

I calibrated the fork to be fully open on level ground and that put the fork in full active mode. At about a 2% grade or higher, I tested the fork several times and it was indeed locked out. We had a rolling road climb to get to the trailhead and the fork locked and unlocked perfectly and gave me a bit of an edge as I climbed out of saddle. “That’s fine. But what about when I’m climbing at speed and a big Sedona rock attacks my locked out front fork?” I thought. Would I be stopped dead cold and pitched over the bars?

So the ride went on in the rolling singletrack and the fork was wide open on the descents. There was no knocking or delay similar to the Specialized Brain Shock or Fox Teralogic forks that I’ve used before. On a few short climbs, I pushed down on the fork and it was indeed locked out. I never sensed the locking or unlocking action of the fork. It was completely seamless.

Finally, I found myself in several rocky climbs and stair-step tech climbs. On the slow techy climbs, I sensed that my front fork was locked out but when the ledges came, I never really bumped them. I had the front end light as I lifted the bar a bit and powered through the tech climbs. I never really used the front fork as a bump stop to get over single or double obstacles on climbs.

Later, I went through a dip in the rocky trails at high speed and I hit short rocky climbs. This was the situation I feared as I thought the front might lock out when I needed to get over an obstacle at the other side of the dip. But then again, it was a non-issue. The fork did not seem to lock out on those situations.

Finally, I went through about a 3% climb and it was strewn with babyhead rocks. On this climb, I could feel the fork locked out and it did remain locked as I hit the rocks. This was a disadvantage and I need to do more pulling and body english to get through the rocky climb. With this in mind, I stopped and tilted the bike a bit to simulate a 3% grade and I recalibrated the front fork. This put the fork in the wide-open position for these climbs and it locked out on the steeper climbs. This worked but it obviously made the fork lock out less.

So we did about a three hour ride and I rocked it in full automatic lockout mode. The experience was seamless as the technology never interfered with my ride. At the minimum, I could have used it as a wireless remote lockout system but I never had to resort to that. It seemed like it would be a good complement to my Specialized Epic at home as that has an automatic lockout in the rear but not in the front.

So I was left thinking that for this user market that appreciates lockout forks, remote cable lockouts and remote electronic lockouts, this was darn good technology. If this was version one, I could only imagine what could be developed as engineers used the accelerometer more to detect impacts. Also, a bike computer or iphone could be connected to adjust thresholds, reaction times and damping modes. The flexibility of the system is encouraging. But the best revelation on this test ride was how simple the technology was and how little it interfered with the ride.

For more information visit www.magura.com

First Look: Magura eLECT suspension Gallery
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Magura eLECT Front Rear

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Magura eLECT Rear

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Magura eLECT Remote

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Peguinpower says:

    valve it right, then you won’t need those bells and whistles.

    • Dr Dog says:

      No Fork or Shock can meet the extreme diverse responses of varied terrain with simple hydraulic valving. Either a human (CTD-Nude), an IC (accelero-angle meter eLect), or simple mechanical (gravity/valve brain) is required to give some adjustment for each type of terrain requirement.

  • John says:

    K2/Noleen spent a few million developing this once upon a time too. After three decades of riding and racing MTB’s and blowing all my money on bigger and fancier suspension, I just tried a fatbike. Never will I whizz money down the suspension drain again. All the thousand dollar computerized shocks in the world still won’t give you the traction & control of a simple, low-pressure, undampened pneumatic fat tire.

  • JimmyDee says:

    Lots of genuinely uneducated opines here. “All you need is good valving”. It doesn’t take much to prove that valving is not sufficient to provide a clean, low energy-loss pedaling experience for those of us who don’t rely on trucks and ski-lifts.

    Valving is at its least effective when faced with high pressure, low speed forces like pedaling. Every pedaling platform shock I have ever seen is still squishy as hell for any serious pedaling like north shore technical stuff.

    Just because one person doesn’t change the settings, doesn’t mean that valving actually functions differently. It just means that that one person doesn’t pay enough attention to know what’s going on while he rides.

    Also, fat bikes are nice, but it’s not the same as suspension that can be locked out at the flick of a switch. I have a Cdale Perp1 with a custom *true* lockout rear coil shock. I can ride around town like it’s a hardtail. Or hit that switch and instantly transform into full on squishy mode. I can even do this mid-drop if I’m feeling like an idiot. To do something like that on a fat bike would require getting off and changing the air pressure. Not a big deal when lowering pressure. Not as convenient when raising it…

    A fat bike also has HUGE extremely heavy wheels. I’ve seen pro riders trying to get the front end up on those things and it’s hard as hell. I’m no pro rider and I can’t get much height on the front end, even throwing all my weight back. So much for control.

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