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Magura’s eLECT raises the bar for electronic suspension control

Magura has set the bar higher with its new electronic suspension-control system, which automatically locks and unlocks the compression-damping circuit as it senses changes in terrain.

The eLECT compression-damping cartridge retrofits into existing Magura TS suspension forks and is recommended for cross-country applications. Despite all of the technology inside, it saves weight over Magura’s standard DLO cartridges and remotes.

Keys to the system are 3D accelerometers, a servo motor, and LED indicator lights. The accelerometers sense changes in the angle of the fork, just like the ones in your smart phone that tell it when to switch the screen display from horizontal to vertical. It reacts in 0.2 second, which certainly seems faster than my smart phone reacts; time will tell if at high speeds that’s fast enough for a fork, particularly when it comes to bump detection.

When the accelerometer indicates it’s time to switch from locked to unlocked mode, or vice versa, it activates a servo motor that rotates a shaft connected to the shim at the bottom of the cartridge. The shim rotates back or forth about 45 degrees or so — enough to close or open three oil ports.

There is an LED in the button atop the cartridge in the right fork leg as well as one in the remote, wireless (Bluetooth) handlebar button. The LED on the cartridge indicates when the unit has been switched on. It also indicates calibration; you calibrate it to know when the bike is level by holding the button down for three seconds. If you run the cartridge in manual mode, you lock or unlock the fork by pushing the handlebar button, which lights up appropriately.

Then when the bike tilts uphill, it locks out for the climb, and when it tilts down, it unlocks the compression damping circuit for descending. You can also calibrate it with the bike tilted up or down to get it to react earlier or later to climbs or descents.

You can pair the eLECT cartridge with another Bluetooth device (can the “Siri, lock out my fork” app be far behind?). A micro USB port atop the cartridge (under the button cap) is used to charge the lithium-ion battery or download the accelerometer information. Run time is purported to be 40 hours in automatic mode and 60 hours in remote-control mode. (The remote contains a non-rechargeable, replaceable watch battery.)

Magura Direct general manager Jeff Enlow says that eLECT turns on and off over 10 times as often as riders using remote lockout buttons tend to lock out their forks and that it’s so seamless that the rider doesn’t even notice.

After the small amount of test riding I was able to do in Sedona this past week, I would tend to agree. On smooth climbs, it always locked out without my noticing, and it was unlocked when I started hitting bumps on the descent.

The eLECT cartridge goes to sleep when not in use or when being transported in a vehicle. When one of the two test bikes was hung over the back of a pickup tailgate, the unit stayed off as the truck drove. As soon as the bike starts rolling, the system wakes up again, assuming it has been turned on (there is a tiny on-off switch next to the Micro USB port).

And even though the bike may be tilted up while landing a jump on the rear wheel, have no fear that it will be locked out upon landing. The “freefall mode” system detects a jump and automatically unlocks the fork, even when it is locked out for a climb. What about when hitting bumps when climbing? The cartridge and a mechanical blow-off circuit detect them and unlock the fork.

Magura claims that both the cartridge and the remote button are waterproof, though complete submersion is not recommended. The cartridge weighs 81 grams, and the remote switch is 12 grams. It will be available incorporated into some TS8 fork models or as a retrofit cartridge for TS8 or TS6 forks. Retail price has not yet been announced.