The addition of the Thor to Magura’s fork line-up fills an obvious gap between the German brand’s 130mm QR-axled forks like the Menja and the mighty 160mm through-axle Wotan. At 140mm of travel, with a Maxle 20mm through-axle but under 2kg on the scales, it looks like a strong competitor for the likes of RockShox’s 2009 Revelation or Fox’s QR15 forks.
At a whisker under 4lb the Thor is a decent weight for what it is – it’s a whole pound lighter than the RockShox Pike we took off, and that’s down to more than the Pike’s coil spring. Starting at the top, we have the usual (but quite slimline) 6082-T6 forged aluminium crown holding 32mm stanchions. The lowers use Magura’s distinctive Dual Arch Design which does what it says on the tin – a pair of arches, one front and one rear. Whether the touted stiffness benefits are real or not, it’s a feature that certainly stands out.
At the bottom end the Thor follows the lead of its bigger brother Wotan with SRAM’s Maxle quick-release through-axle setup, although it gets the newer, slightly more user-friendly Maxle 360 axle. There’s also an interesting option in the shape of a single pinch bolt on the right-hand leg. If you like, you can ditch the Maxle, fit Magura’s own through-axle and use the pinch bolt to hold it in place. You lose the convenience of a quick release, but you also lose 60g. Your call. The left leg has a post-mount for the brake. It’s worth noting that it’s a 180mm mount – bolt a PM caliper straight to it and it’ll be aligned for a 180mm rotor. That means that you can’t run a 160, but the fork is capable of taking up to 210.
Inside there’s an air spring in the left leg and oil damping in the right. The Thor uses the same Flight Control Remote travel adjust system as the Wotan. Push the lever, compress the fork and release the lever and the Thor sits at 100mm travel – short enough to deliver useful uphill weight distribution/steeper head angle benefits but not so short that your pedals bounce off the trail. To reextend the fork you need to push the lever and unweight the front wheel, which is as good an excuse as any to brush up on your wheelie skills.
The right-hand leg has a rebound damping dial at the bottom and the Albert Select+ platform/compression damping dial at the top. This has two parts. The blue outer dial turns the damping circuit on or off, while the inner gold knob sets how firm it is, from “not very” to “pretty much locked out”. If there’s any room left on your handlebars there’s an optional remote lever to drive the Albert Select too.
Setup ought to be straightforward, with just one air valve, a rebound dial and the Albert Select compression damping that you initially just turn off. There’s a table of air pressures for rider weights on the fork leg and everything – what could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out to be fiddlier than it ought to be. For a start, the numbers on the fork leg seem to us to be substantially too small – try them and you’re on the bumpers at the first glimpse of a pebble. Use sag and trial and error as your guide, though, and you can find the sweet spot, although it’s very much a “spot” – we found that the Thor offered quite a small air pressure window in which ideal performance was to be found.
Also complicating matters is the self-charging negative air spring and the Flight Control Remote travel lockdown. To ensure that the negative air chamber gets enough pressure, you need to occasionally press the FCR bar lever (or, if you’ve, um, managed to snap that off in a crash, turn the dial atop the left fork leg) while inflating the fork. And if you need to let air out, you need to activate the FCR (without actually compressing the fork) while so doing, otherwise only the positive air chamber loses pressure.
Once you’ve got it sorted, though (write the pressure down when you’ve found it…), the Thor fair rips. Despite the low weight, you’re not giving up anything in stiffness, and the action is very smooth indeed. You really do need to watch that air pressure, though – a little low and all the travel runs away, a little high and it sits up too much. Obviously the same is true of all air forks, but the Thor seems particularly sensitive to it.
Our only other performance niggle is that our sample fork has a slight top-out knock. It’s lessened considerably by following the lever-pushing recommendations in the manual but has never gone away entirely. That said, we’ve ridden more recent units that haven’t done it at all, and it doesn’t affect performance beyond psychologically. The lockdown is pretty useful (although on the other hand, since that mishap with the bar lever we haven’t actually missed having it). It’s certainly holding up well – we’ve been running this one for six months with no other issues.