Update: Jan. 27, 2014
We are delighted to report that Mtbr is one of the first folks in North America to test the production version of the Magura eLECT forks. The eLECT is essentially a brain that sets a pedaling platform on the fork when you’re climbing and opens it up when descending. It does this by sensing the pitch angle of the fork and thus the trail. The angle when it starts to go in lockout is user configurable thus the rider can set it for any climb or just steep climbs for example.
“What about hits when climbing? Or perhaps landing a jump with the nose up?” The eLECT damper has a blow-off valve and it should activate open up the fork when impacted. It’s all very interesting technology and Mtbr is excited to try it out on our home trails in Santa Cruz, CA.
At best this could be an excellent tool for XC riding and even trail riding. At worst, it is a slick wireless remote feature to lock and unlock a fork on demand. The automatic feature can always be disabled and the the remote can be used just for locking and unlocking the fork. Remote lockouts are cool for many riders but we’re fairly certain that no one digs the extra cabling required.
Stay tuned for our impressions and long term test results.
First Report: May 31, 2013
Magura announced the eLECT automatic fork adjuster for their TS forks at the Sedona press camp this week. It’s comprised of a DLO² damper with electronic ON-OFF and blow-off uses a 3D accelerometer and a handlebar mounted ANT+ remote. Magura has four different compressions dampers now, the DLO2 (Dynamic Lock Out 2 position), the DLO3 (Dynamic Lock Out 3 position), the SL (fixed compression) and the new eLECT. Basically, the eELCT is an automatic lock out cartridge that is either on or off, with a non adjustable blow off for larger impact, the latter because the shim stack is factory set. 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. It was pretty cool to hold the damper in your hand and tilt it slightly and feel it vibrate as it went into a lock out mode. The unit is oriented towards the cross country rider where performance and efficiency are paramount, but it can be used by longer travel forks if desired, since the damper is plug-able into any of their TS forks.
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.