We recently took a trip to Bad Wildbad, Germany for a couple of days of riding with Magura’s new bits and bobs. Bad Wildbad is a spa town, known for its hot springs and the bathing therein, but for our purposes the presence of an en-suite mountain – Sommerberg – complete with handy funicular railway was the useful bit. Sommerberg has the various trails of the Bad Wildbad bike park upon its rocky, pine-laden slopes. The park has a few trails, although as it turned out they weren’t necessarily the ones you’d choose for trying out the particular fork that we were there to ride.
Allow us to elaborate. Magura’s big new thing for 2009 is the Thor, a 140mm travel, 20mm through-axle equipped, 1.8kg (3.9lb) all-mountain fork pitched squarely at the market that RockShox’s Pike has pretty much made its own (and that the same company’s 2009 Revelation also seeks to occupy). We’ve discussed the Thor’s features at some length before, so we won’t go through it all again. There are a couple of things we hadn’t picked up on from the early press material, though. As well as the standard Maxle through-axle set-up, there’s the option of Magura’s own 60less axle. This threads in to the left-hand fork leg in the same way as the Maxle, but doesn’t feature a quick-release – instead there’s a pinch-bolt on the right-hand fork leg. Using the 60less saves an entirely unsurprising 60g over the Maxle.
The Thor also features cable stops on the crown to mount up to two bar-mounted remote levers. Magura fitted a Thor to the Marin Wolf Ridge we sent them with a lever operating the Flight Control Remote travel adjust system. We’re familiar with this from the splendid Wotan – press lever, push down on fork, release lever and it locks down to 100mm travel. Press the lever again and unweight the front and it pops back out to 140mm. The lever is a tidy moulded nylon gizmo which we managed to position in a fairly convenient location (and then managed to snap off in a crash).
A lever could also be mounted for the Albert Select+ platform damping control. There are two elements to this – the gold clicker sets how much platforminess there is when the circuit is switched on, and the big blue knob switches it in or out. Thanks to the aforementioned funicular, we didn’t have to do much climbing, so the blue knob stayed resolutely off.
The remaining adjustments concern rebound damping and, of course, air pressure. The latter took a couple of runs to get right – initially we were running too soft, which didn’t actually lead to much in the way of unpleasant bottoming but caused the fork to wallow around the middle of the travel down steps and under braking. Whacking a bit more air in improved matters considerably without apparently affecting small-bump performance.
We’re going to have to reserve final judgement until we’ve got some hours in on local trails (and the test Thor has only just got back to the UK with the Wolf Ridge attached to it), though. First impressions are good, with a stout feel that belies the fork’s low weight and performance that’s very “Wotan-lite”. The Bad Wildbad trails don’t have much in common with most UK environments, though – we’ll keep you posted on how the fork performs domestically.
Other bits at the launch included the new Marta SL disc brakes, with Easy Bleed Technology, one-piece forged calipers and weights from 335g upwards (or down to 295g for the Marta SL Magnesium). They held up impressively well to the accelerate/brake/accelerate/brake cycle of Bad Wildbad’s switchback-laden trails.
Also kicking about, but as yet unridden by us, was the all-air MX rear shock. Apparently the Wolf Ridge had an “inappropriate kinematic” so the MX didn’t find its way on to our test bike. The shock uses a flexible air bladder, with air doing both springing and damping. Air damping has been tried before a few times (Englund’s Total Air cartridges, Cane Creek Cloud Nine shocks) but the flexible bladder thing is new to bicycles*. The MX isn’t going to be available aftermarket – Magura’s going for OE spec with it. Riders at the launch who did have an MX on their bikes were giving mixed feedback, with many finding it a bit swift on rebound, but experience has shown us that surprising numbers of people don’t actually set things up on launches, so it’s another wait-and-see for this one. The low-maintenance promises are certainly quite appealing.
Final bit of Magura news is of a pair of new Durin variants to run alongside the Durin Race that we tested recently. The Durin SL ditches the lockout and runs a non-adjustable compression damping cartridge, sneaking in just under the 3lb barrier in 80mm form as a result. There’s also the Durin Marathon, available in either fixed 120mm or 120/80mm versions which both come in at under 3.5lb.
It’s all looking like good stuff, and the addition of the Thor has plugged the obvious gap in Magura’s fork line-up. Tests of the new gear soon – in the meantime take a look at www.magura.com for further details.* Yes, we know about that Firestone truck suspension bladder that Merlin used on a prototype about 16 years ago