While at Magura’s Sedona press camp this week we were shown magic. Suspension magic.
Magura announced that in 2014 it will offer the TS series of forks with an electronic lockout, something called eLECT. The lock-out isn’t just an electronically-controlled servo. It has a Garmin ANT+ enabled remote. Even beyond that, it is automatic. Controlled by 3D accelerometers (like those found in your smartphone that tell it which way to orient the display, play games or work as an angle finder) the fork will lockout when it moves into a predetermined pitch. For example, it can be calibrated so that when you start to climb and the angle of the bike changes, the fork will lockout. The position can be adjusted by the rider with one button to engage the lockout when suitable for the terrain, race course or rider preference.
The 3D accelerometers detect the movement and tell the servo motor to turn the forks internals to lockout. If you wish to override it then the optional Bluetooth remote switch can be used. The system has a reaction time of 0.2 seconds, is lighter than Di2 (no cabling on the eLECT), uses a standard watch battery that is recharged via mini-USB and is waterproof enough for washing or riding in wet conditions.
Magura had this to say about the new science:
“Locked or unlocked, when it matters: The intelligent eLECT module from MAGURA senses the riding situation, second by second, meter for meter. Due to the effectiveness of the 3D-acceleration sensor any changes to the inclination or impacts are immediately registered.”
Magura also said that during testing it found a rider would use a remote lockout 25 times during a one hour loop. However, the eLECT system would engage 200 times for the same rider on the same loop.
It is smart and I can see why some smart guy would think about putting 3D accelerometers in a fork for this purpose, however, I’m not quite sure I see the reason for it. Not yet at least.
I only had chance to ride the system for a very short while and it worked flawlessly. It was set so that on flat ground it was ‘open’ but on any little inclination it locked out. It was fast to lock and unlock. But I also have reservations.
On an undulating piece of singletrack there seems to some negatives to having a fork lock and unlock like this. It locked while climbing up short technical pitches where having suspension is a definite benefit. It also locked while going up transitions that led to quick turns and locked when lifting the wheel over objects, resulting in a harsh feeling when the wheel returned to the ground.
Now that I’ve lodged that criticism, I can see some reasons FOR the system. It could be good for riders who don’t want to or are unable to think about locking and unlocking their suspension. It might be good for lengthy fire road cross-country races when there is already too much to think about…
But don’t take my word for it, this is just my half-witted opinion. Maybe I’m an idiot; perhaps a bit of a Luddite. In the future this technology will be commonplace on all bikes and this is just a glimpse at what lies ahead when a USB cable runs from our bottom right into the bike’s brain. We won’t ride the bike anymore, we will just be the motor powering the cranks. That is, unless electric bikes really do take over…