Magura Launches New 29er Fork
By Trina Ortega and Brian Riepe
SEDONA, Ariz. — The Magura Direct employees work hard every year to host their annual press camp on the ultimate testing grounds (whether testing gear or fear) of Sedona, Arizona’s notoriously technical and demanding trails. That’s good news for us editors, who get to join the engineers and sales reps for some extraordinary trail riding on bikes spec’d out with the latest Magura brakes and forks. From the journalist’s perspective, it’s a heck of a lot of fun and epitomizes the phrase “working hard or hardly working.”
Before and after the singletrack adventures that take you in and out of washes, down sandstone benches, and contouring around grand desert towers are presentations about the company’s new products for 2013. So there are actually a few times during the trip when we have to put on our thinking caps.
Below is a peek at some of the new and cool stuff we saw from the German companies Magura (brakes and forks) and Uvex (helmets and sunglasses) distributed by the Illinois-based Magura Direct. Also at the camp, was Olney, Ill., industry partner, SKS (also a German company), which makes floor and frame pumps, fenders and multi-tools.
The headliner for 2013 is Magura’s TS (Team Suspension) 29er fork with 80 mm, 100 mm and 120 mm travel. The 29er models—the TS8 and the TS6—feature their new M15 thru-axle: a light and simple Torx 25 driven 15-mm thru axle with a durable steel end-cap and tapered compression fitting with self-securing threads. This makes additional clamps and levers unnecessary. Neatly tucked inside the thru axle is a tool for Torx T25 bolts, so you’re never without a means of tightening the axle. (Plus, this came in handy when we needed to readjust a brake lever out on the trail; the tool also fits most bolts in Magura’s MT hydraulic disc brake line.)
The TS8 forks are available with 80 mm and 100 mm travel, (which can be adjusted internally) and a fixed 120-mm model, which weighs in higher than its internally adjustable counterparts due to the longer stanchions, is also in the 2013 lineup.
Coming in at a lower pricepoint is the TS6 29er, weighing a bit more (1945 grams), with travel internally adjustable to 80, 100, and 120 mm. The design is the same, but the fork is heavier due to less machining of internal parts. Externally, the forks are designed identically.
With the exception of minor internal changes, much of the new TS6 and TS8 29er fork technology and features are carried over from the 2012 26er fork models. The 2013 fork line will share the new TS model designation with the 2012 150 mm travel Thor model simply becoming the TS8 150 mm model.
Notably, the M15 axle is currently only available on 29er models. Magura’s design engineer Stefan Pahl explains this is primarily because they still have a stock of the 2012 stanchion castings, which would go to waste if they switched immediately to the new axle design. As soon as those are gone, the 26-inch fork models will gain the new M15 axle.
Magura carried its Dynamic Lock Out (DLO) system into all the new TS forks (with the exception of the race-ready, lighter-weight “Albert SL” model), which allows the rider to turn the compression damping on or off with the click of a small dial to maintain sag or increase stiffness. All TS6 and TS8 models have rebound damping control. Magura forks also feature the company’s double arch fork brace, which Pahl says increases torsional stiffness and steering precision.
This year, Magura will begin its foray into the 650b market with the TS8 650B forks available with 120 mm, 140 mm, and 150 mm travel (by end of season 80 mm and 100 mm will also be available). The 650B fork is not an entirely new casting but rather shares the same stanchion casting as the 150 mm TS8 (previously the Thor). This is clearly a practicality point, saving Magura money in developing a new fork casting. The downside is somewhat limited tire compatibility, with 2.3-inch tire widths being the maximum size to fit in the 650B fork (depending on tire specs and models). If you have any doubt with a specific tire, Pahl points out that (due to the design of the fork) if a tire fits within the fork’s arch-brace, it will not rub on the fork crown when the fork is fully compressed.
Overall Magura’s fork line has some very appealing features and Mounted on Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29er, performed extremely well under the duress of Sedona’s rugged and dusty terrain. Due to their dedication to great design and perfect engineering, Magura is poised to take a small bite out of the market share dominated by Fox and Rock Shox.
Grease lubrication rather than an oil bath meant not a drop of leaky oil on the stanchions and a plush responsive feel on the trail. The quality and engineering is superb. Magura’s philosophy on fork adjustment is to keep it simple and light, with compression damping set at the factory. This is likely a good thing for most riders who’d rather not tinker with fine-tuning their fork before each ride but some riders may prefer a more personalized setting. When quizzed on future offering and improvements, Pahl hints that a longer travel, all-mountain model may be in the works and such a model could include additional compression adjustment options.
While not introducing any new off-road models in its brake lineup (it will be hard to improve on the MT models introduced in 2012) Magura announced that Specialized has joined the ranks (along with Pivot) of bike manufacturers that will spec its 2013 models with Magura’s MT brakes.
The company makes four models: the MT8, MT6, MT4 and MT2. The MT8s are known for being super lightweight and delivering high performance. Made of carbon body, carbon lever and carbon clamp, the weight is claimed to be 280 grams depending on the rotor size. One step down is the MT6 made up of a carbon body but aluminum clamps and levers. The MT4 features a clever “bipont” adjustment to position the lever. At roughly $120, the MT2 is a high-quality brake at a competitive price.
Reliable disc brakes are complicated and challenging to produce and Magura went to great lengths to test and design the MT brakes to perform the best by dissipating heat through 2 mm thick rotors and carefully machined calipers.
Nicely designed ergonomic levers, large pads, and perfectly machined rotors offer amazing modulated stopping power. The MT8 is the pinnacle model and is shockingly light. The “Carbotechture” lever and master cyclander saves them so much weight that Magura is able to use thicker rotors (for better performance) and still offer the lightest brakes available.
Notably the entire line shares the same internal technology so you get the same braking performance from the affordable MT2 as from the top of the line MT8. Magura also likes to point out that the MT4 still weighs less than Shimano’s XTR brake.
A nice new touch for 2013 is the available Shift Mix clamp adapter, which is compatible with SRAM’s Mix Master shifter mounts, eliminating extra clamps and streamlining the shifter/brake lever mount.
New Hydraulic Road Brakes – RT6 and RT8
One year ago Cervelo (known for their incredible TT and Triathalon bikes) approached Magura with the challenge of making hydraulic brakes to fit their TT bikes. Magura actually produced their first hydraulic road brake in 1993—maybe a little ahead of their time, weight and technology limitations kept these from going mainstream—but these are certainly a more refined and practical rendition.
Some may question the need for hydraulic road brakes but—especially for a TT or Triathlon bike—Magura and Cervelo are quick to demonstrate the benefits: less drag, and better brake modulation. Some notable facts:
- While the RT8 calipers weigh more than a comparably standard caliper, 1 meter of hydraulic line weighs less than 1 meter of cable and housing. This makes the RT8 competitive even for the weight conscious rider.
- Hydraulic line can be easily bent compared to cable and housing, allowing the housing to be routed through handlebars and frame for a more aerodynamic bike. In an aero test the RT8 reduced drag by 20 gram, which equals .2 seconds per kilometer (that's 36 seconds in a 180k ride).
- Hydraulic brakes offer far superior modulation and braking power.
Magura offer two models, the RT6 and RT8. Similar to the MT brakes, the RT6 offers the same performance in a slightly heavier package. For those who wish to add the RT brakes on their road bike with STI or SRAM shifter, a converter box will available in August.
We’d be remiss not to mention a few other things that stood out during the latest bike industry outing:
• SKS’s Raceblade Long Fenders — For those who want to ride or train their road bikes in the soggy months but don’t want to get drenched on the backend, SKS introduced its Raceblade Long fender in 2012. The end of each fender extends to below the hub axle. Unique to this fender is its nifty “clip connections” for quick mounting (kinda like a quick-release but easier given that you just press in a little clip with your thumb). The fender can be mounted to almost any racing bike and fit to the radius of the wheel by adjusting the length of the stays. The Raceblade Long fits 700c wheels with tires ranging in size from 18c-23c and weighs 461 grams. They’re available in black or silver.
• Despite having a swollen turned ankle, Specialized rep Brennan Marquez was in incredibly great spirits as he helped build up the Stumpjumper FSR and Camber bikes in both 26- and 29-inch models. It was heartbreaking to see Brennan have to sit out the rides. Most of us would’ve been grumpy, but he still bent over backward to outfit everyone with the right bikes.
• Incredible catering by John Finch, Janet Levy and Debbie (Sedona locals who know every inch of the trails). Homemade enchiladas, tender beef tenderloin, grilled salmon, perfectly sautéed green beans and asparagus, delectable cheesecake with more than a hint of lemon—we ate so much it was hard to lay down at night. A nice predicament to be in.
• As always, it’s good to catch up with the folks at Magura. Stephan Paul (a real live German engineer who travels overseas to be at the camp for a full week), Jeff Enlow (head of Magura Direct), Tony Ballantine, Jude Monica, Ruthie Matthes, Brent Winebarger, and Kenny Roberts not only love to ride, they know the Magura and Uvex gear inside and out. There’s much talk about trails and bike shops, accessories and components, even into the late-night hours over beers. But it’s also fun to catch up on the interesting tidbits that really make these folks special: Who was the target of a rifle-toting property owner during a ride. Who can quote lines from “Office Space” and “Spinal Tap.” Who has found new love or lost an old one. Who makes the bets pot of coffee, and who drinks cheap wine.
More Pictures to live vicariously through: