- Magura Wotan
The Magura Wotan is Magura’s first proper entry in the all-mountain/freeride fork market. It announced a fork called the Thor a couple of years back, but the complex all-carbon design couldn’t be economically manufactured and the project was dropped. The Wotan shares many of the same features, though.
Magura’s Dual Arch Design has become an instantly-recognisable trademark, and the Wotan certainly has a highly distinctive look. From the top, there’s a cold-forged 6082-T6 aluminium fork crown, complete with integrated cable stops for the various remote lever options (of which more later). Plugged in to the crown is a pair of sturdy 36mm diameter stanchions, upon which the double-arched sliders, um, slide.
While the front and rear arch combo is what tends to draw the eye, there’s interesting stuff going on down the bottom of the fork too. First, the brake mount is an 8in-specific postmount – our 203mm Saint brake bolted straight on without needing any additional adaptor, which looks a whole lot cleaner and means two fewer bolts to check. And rather than a straight bolt-up through-axle, Magura has licensed the Maxle QR system from SRAM, so you get the stiffness and security benefits of a 20mm through-axle but you can still get the wheel in and out with a minimum of faff.
More cleverness can be found inside the fork, with the Wotan having remarkably feature-packed guts. It’s an air-sprung fork, which saves a bit of weight (although it’s slightly moot on this kind of fork) but more importantly is highly adjustable. It also makes Magura’s excellent Flight Control Remote system possible. The standard travel of the Wotan is a healthy 160mm (6.3in), but if you find that that makes your bike a bit vague in the singletrack or wandery on climbs, just hit the bar-mounted lever, pump the fork and release. It’ll come back up shorter, but still yielding 120mm of proper travel. It’s a bit more progressive so you don’t bottom it out, but it’s still supple off the top and you end up with a sensible amount of sag in both settings. There’s certainly no reason why you couldn’t use it at 120mm most of the time, only unleashing the full 160 for special occasions, if your frame feels like that’s the sort of thing it needs.
The remote lever itself is a dinky little CNC item, lovely and minimalist but we think must have been designed around (unsurprisingly) Magura brake levers and SRAM shifters – trying to fit it in amongst Shimano controls without the lever itself or its associated cable fouling anything would drive Ghandi to violence. We’re not too worried by that, though – for a start, it can be done and, more importantly, this is a 2007 fork and the 2008 models on sale soon will have a redesigned and more versatile lever so it’s all a bit moot really.
We mentioned earlier that there are two cable stops built in to the fork crown. One is for the Flight Control Remote lever, while the other can be used (as an optional upgrade) to drive the almost equally handy Albert Select platform damping. On the standard fork, the control dial has an on/off outer ring and an inner adjuster. The adjuster determines how “platformy” the fork is when the system is engaged – if the dial is set to “off” then it’s fully open and super-sensitive.
Out on the trails the Wotan is fantastic. It’s stiff as you like in all directions and behaves itself at all parts of the stroke. It’s hard to detect any compromises here – it’s super-supple over the little stuff, swallows the big stuff without burping, ploughs through everything else with nonchalance and stays stable under braking. The various adjustments make it extremely versatile. At 2.5kg (5.5lb) the weight is nothing special but it’s not outrageous. Oh, and it comes with a neat mini pump complete with recommended pressures printed on the side – handy.
So what about the competition? Fox’s 36 TALAS is significantly lighter and has similar travel flexibility, but (until the 2008 models come along) lacks a QR through-axle. You’ll have to go to the frighteningly expensive 36RC2 to get adjustable low-speed compression damping to do a similar job to Magura’s Albert Select, too. And the RockShox Lyric is both more expensive and seems to have suffered from reliability problems in its comparable 2-Step incarnation. So the Wotan looks pretty competitive, although we’ll have to wait and see how Marzocchi’s new 55 shapes up.
Open Gallery5 Images
Positives: Great performance, well thought out feature set, distinctive looks
Negatives: Quite expensive, but then all forks in this category seem to be
Verdict: The Wotan is a top-notch bit of kit. It’s got lots of features, and they’re all actually useful and well thought-out. Performance is at least as good as anything else out there, they look great and so far they’ve been reliable. Magura deserves to succeed with this one.