In addition to the long travel TS8 suspension fork, Magura had something else up their sleeve. Something no one was expecting. The biggest news out of the Magura press camp was that Fox and Rock Shox aren’t the only ones that have been working on recent electronic suspension bits. Joining in on the e-suspension movement, Magura is bringing 3D accelerometers into the mix to offer a system that automatically locks out when your bike is pointed uphill.
We got the details and first rides on some prototype eLECT parts direct from the source. Lock it out, next.
By adding the eLECT to the line up, Magura now has 4 different compression dampers available – DLO 2 (Dynamic Lock Out 2 position), DLO3, the SL cartridge with no external compression adjustment, and the eLECT. Essentially an evolution of the Albert Select damper, the eLECT is an automatic lock out cartridge that is either on or off, with a non adjustable blow off built in for big hits. The damper itself is a fairly standard shim stack affair that uses rotating ports to cut off oil flow and lock out the fork. By using 3D accelerometers similar to what’s in a smartphone, the eLECT is able to detect tilt, and locks out the fork once a certain angle is reached. The angle of activation is able to be programmed by setting the bike on level ground, and holding the reset button to calibrate the sensors. If you want it to lock out sooner, with less of an incline you can calibrate the bike pointing down, or conversely make it lock out at a steeper angle by calibrating it with the bike pointing up. The angle at which the lock out functions is all a product of what angle the fork is calibrated at.
In order to help maintain control, and prevent damage the eLECT is equipped with a blow off, and a free fall detection mode that will detect a sizeable drop and unlock before impact. Ultimately though, the eLECT is primarily designed for XC and XC race where efficiency is the ultimate goal. During testing of the eLECT, Magura’s test rider went out on an hour loop with a manual lockout and used it 25 times. Then they went out on the same loop with the eLECT, which locked out 200 times highlighting the fact that a manual lockout just won’t be utilized as much as an auto lockout since you don’t have to take your hands from the bar.
The eLECT also detects when it is not moving, and goes to sleep with 5 minutes of inactivity to save battery life. After it detects the first impact after sleep mode, it will awake in 5 seconds. That’s not to be confused with how quickly the lockout works, which is a relatively quick 0.2 seconds.
Not only is the eLECT more advanced than their previous dampers, it’s also lighter. On our scale, the eLECT cartridge came in at 80g which is 13g lighter than claimed meaning it is up to 28g lighter than the comparable DLO2 cartridge not including the remote.
Power is provided to the fork unit through an internal li-ion battery that is rechargeable through a micro USB port located under the waterproof cap. There is a master on/off switch with an LED under the cap as well which is useful if you aren’t planning on riding for awhile, or if your bike will get bounced around while in storage. Run time is said to be 40 hours in automatic mode, and 60 hours in manual mode, and recharges in a few hours. If the battery dies while you are riding, the default setting for the damper is fully open so you can ride home to recharge. In order to calibrate the unit properly, it must be installed in the fork with the arrow pointing to the front of the bike, which signifies the front of the cartridge along with the small pin at the bottom. eLECT is a plug and play unit allowing for easy installation in any TS6 or TS8 fork.
While nothing is planned currently, the micro USB port provides an interesting possibility for the data hungry in the future. It may be possible to plug your fork into your laptop in the future and download metrics like the amount of travel used, number of lockouts, etc., though for now it’s simply for recharging.
The video above shows how the lockout mechanism engages, once the cartridge is tilted to a certain angle. Once the degree is reached, the cartridge is locked out in 0.2 seconds.
Functionally, there are two methods of use for the eLECT – full auto, or manual via the optional ANT+ remote mounted to the bar or directly mounted to any Magura brake clamp. The remote pictured above is a 3D printed prototype so it will look much more finished for production, but it illustrates the potential of rapid prototyping. After all, it allowed Magura to bring functional prototypes to camp to install them on our bikes to test, even if the first run of units hasn’t been completed. Pressing the button on the top of the fork activates the automatic mode, and pressing once on the remote activates manual mode. Pressing the remote again locks out the fork, with another press unlocking it. Pressing the fork button again at any time will reengage auto mode.
Unlike the cartridge, the remote is powered through a standard watch battery, and is paired to the cartridge like other ANT+ devices so you aren’t locking out your friend’s forks.
After riding the past few rides on a Specialized FSR Evo 29 equipped with a standard TS8 140mm DLO3, the damper cartridge was removed and the eLECT was installed in no time. We took off to ride Slim Shady, a trail with a bit of everything that I had already ridden a few times prior. At first, the cartridge took a bit of getting used to since it was just different for it to be locking out on its own – but it worked. Start to climb, and it would lock out. Free fall mode actually seemed to work, and the blow off valve seemed to work on the really big hits while climbing. Eventually, it faded away in my head and I was able to just focus on enjoying the trail.
There were a few sections of chunky climbs that locking out the fork probably wouldn’t help, so before those sections I switched to manual mode and kept the fork open. Switching back to auto mode was easy as a simple push of the fork button and it was back to normal. Reaction time of the lock out seems like it could be a bit faster, but that is being critical. While Strava probably isn’t the best performance indicator, I was surprised to see that I set PRs for the climbs on the eLECT, especially since this was my last ride of the camp, and frankly I was pretty tired. And it was hot.
Overall, I was impressed with how functional, simple, and effective the system proved to be. As long as the cost isn’t outrageous, I can see quite a few eLECTs in XC racing’s future.