See all of our Project 24 posts here!
It’s been nearly a decade time since I’ve owned a suspension fork that could claim (with a straight face) to be anywhere in the neighborhood of 3lb. Somehow, after letting go of V-brakes and aluminum hardtails, I became attached to the idea of small bump compliance and, uh, front wheels receiving eventually messages from the handlebar. Not that race-oriented forks haven’t evolved in the intervening years, but my riding style has changed form NORBA-style sprints to longer, more epic days and events. Though I’ve participated in at least one 24-hour race every year since giving up my SID and ShokPost, I’ve never built a bike specifically with that sort of riding in mind. Project 24 was just such a build, and I knew that finding a suspension fork to match my preference for suppleness and steering precision could present a challenge. Enter Magura’s 2011 Durin 100 Race.
Still made in Germany, Magura’s suspension line features the company’s unique Dual Arch Design, which splits the usual fork arch into two, one forward of the legs and one behind. Are two arches better than one? At 140lb, it’s hard for me to say- a fork has to be pretty flexy for me to complain (see 2001 SID, above)- but the 3.11lb (with a straight 9in steerer, 3.17lb tapered) Durin certainly exceeded my expectations. That’s not to say that I couldn’t wring out some flex- I was able to get the front brake on our Project 24 bike to rub when working the bike hard on standing climbs- but the fork seemed to track just fine and brake setup, hub stiffness, and QR strength all come into play there.
Beyond that, the Durin is a relatively simple fork. The touch points consist of very nicely machined and substantial-feeling lockout and rebound damper adusting knobs. Adjustments are clearly labeled and there’s even an air pressure guide (with a handy spot for noting the owner’s preferred pressure) on the left leg. For 2011 (our test fork had 2010 decals but 2011 internals), Magura have reduced the volume of the air spring in order to make the fork a bit more progressive as well as made internal revisions in order to improve cold weather performance. Though I’m not sure about previous years’ forks’ performance, I can attest that the 2011 Durin Race does not seem to be overly affected by temperatures and remained pretty consistent between 25 and 65 degrees F. At the low spring pressures required for my body weight (50-60psi), I could actually still do with a bit more progressiveness in the fork’s travel. Once broken in and set at 60psi, I found that small bumps would largely disappear without the fork ever bottoming harshly. Magura have long had stiction under control and the Durin was no exception- it’s one smooth fork. Out of the saddle, though, there was a bit more movement than a lot of riders will want and the bike did tend to dive a bit in really steep, rough sections. I didn’t have the time to try the usual fix- adding a few cc of the appropriate oil to the air chamber. Bigger riders, with correspondingly higher air pressures, should be happy with the spring rate- but light riders might want to experiment with oil levels.
Beyond that, the Durin was awesome. The fork is one of the most active suspension forks I’ve ridden- more so than many trail forks. The damper is unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with the Magura’s ability to deal with high speed bumps- something that I found especially welcome on an afternoon filled 35mph tailwind-assisted sections of washboard. While some well-regarded forks’ dampers don’t respond to or recover from high-speed bumps fast enough, the Durin never once felt overwhelmed by rough terrain, and that’s something that I didn’t expect to say about anyone’s 3lb, 4in travel race fork.
While it may not be the stiffest platform out there- and would probably benefit from a 15mm thru axle option- the Durin is an impressively stiff fork, especially when its weight is taken into consideration. The suspension is right there with the best I’ve ridden and the air chamber is easily accessible to anyone who’d like to fiddle with the spring curve. Our early-production fork did have some internal scoring that caused air loss, but that was easily and quickly fixed under warranty. A remote lockout lever is available for those who would prefer one. I really think that lighter (100-150lb) riders, who thanks to stiction tend to have a hard time getting many suspension forks to work well on smaller bumps, will appreciate the Durn R more than anyone else. They, and anyone else who is looking for an active fork but isn’t looking to go to a 5in (or longer) travel platform should be well served by the Magura. $799 from your friendly local bike shop.