We love what we do. That’s why we do it. That goes for most everyone in the bike industry. After a few days in Sedona for the 2009 Magura Product Launch, it’s evident the folks at Magura do as well -- but that’s not surprising either, as they are, after all, ‘The Passion People.’
If you’re a mountain biker and you haven’t yet been to Sedona, Arizona, you really should. Seriously. Put it on the list, and move it right up there toward the top. There are hundreds of miles of trails -- twisty, fast, smooth, technical, exposure, slick rock, red rock, sand -- you name it. The only thing any of them have in common is the robust vegetation lining the sides -- cacti, primitive shrubs, spiky grasses and rough trees. Trust us when we say you don’t want to mess with any of them. We clipped some at speed, and found ourselves covered in red sand before we got our hands off the bars. We think our smile was so damn big prior to our abrupt landing, it didn’t hurt. In fact, it’s only now as we write this, that we’re we noticing the bruising. After three days of non-stop riding, we never rode the same trail twice.
While every trail was a slice of heaven, the highlight of the riding was easily Hangover, a recently completed masterpiece (is it too early to deem it epic?) built by our guide, John and a handful of other local trailbuilders. 1000 hours went into this estimated eight miles of glorious, technical, narrow, exposed (hence the Hangover tag), snaking singletrack -- the ultimate testing ground for the Magura brakes and suspension. Rock piles littered on slick rock often defined the ‘trail,’ taking lines hardly imaginable to the naked eye. We wondered often who had the vision to begin with. Who saw these bluffs and said, ‘We can build a trail there?’ Chances are good that if you don’t know where Hangover is, you probably won’t find it on your own -- you might find pieces, but we recommend a guide to do it up right. It is an experience not to be slighted.
After riding Hangover, we were thankful for the 2009 Magura Marta SL disc brakes that were stock on our test mule. We spent plenty of time tugging at the snappy levers as we rode transitions better suited for a ladder. The Marta SL disc brakes ($319/wheel) have been completely redesigned for 2009 around the larger brake pad of the Louise. A new pivot in the lever provided the snappy feel, and the easy bleed port on the master cyclinder allows for the brake to be bled without requiring disassembly. The larger organic pads provided plenty of power and kept the heat in the rotor, not the caliper. Because of this we were able to modulate our braking to perfection, and never experienced any fade throughout the six hours on the bike that day. The Marta SL caliper is crafted from aluminum, and tips the scales at just 330g for the fully bled system -- caliper, lever, 160mm rotor, 700mm line, pads, and steel hardware -- the whole shabang. This impressed us, especially given the quality braking performance we’d welcome on any bike. And, no the larger pads are unfortunately not retrofittable.
But wait. There’s more!
While we weren’t able to ride it, we salivated at the sight of the new sub-300g Magura Marta SL Magnesium disc brake. The two sets in existence weren’t mounted to any of the test rigs, but the good folks at Magura promised that they’re every bit the brake as the Marta SL. Both share the design apart from two critical points that shave 35 grams from the system: 1/ the caliper and master cylinder are crafted from magnesium instead of aluminum, and 2/ the steel hardware of the Marta SL is replaced by titanium bits (clamp bolt, caliper bolts and six rotor bolts.) It’s finished in a stunning white with red accents that serve as a perfect complement to any Magura fork. Early birds take note -- we’ll have a handful of these brakes for sale ($369/wheel) in July. Once those few are gone, we don’t anticipate true availability until October.
The Magura Marta also received the same design changes (larger pad, easy bleed valve, etc.), though the carbon blade of the Marta SL has been replaced with an aluminum one.
Magura debuted three new forks in Sedona: the Durin SL (80 and 100mm), Durin Marathon 120 and Thor, a 140mm thru axle fork that’s both lightweight and adjustable travel. The 160mm Wotan and Menja (85, 100 or 130) forks carry over from 2008 to 2009. With forks now positioned at every 20mm increment between 80 and 160, this inevitably signals the end of the road for the Laurin model.
Over the course of the last year, we became big fans of the Durin fork -- it’s stiff as can be, lightweight, and provides great small bump sensitivity. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a damn fine looking fork either. For 2009, Magura brings the Durin SL to the race party, a 1350g (80mm) or 1380g (100mm) fork featuring their trademark Dual Arch Design (DAD) and 32mm stanchions for enhanced stiffness. It sheds approximately 100g from the current Durin by virtue of a new steerer (-30g), and a new Albert SL damper (-70g). The stock Albert SL damper has preset compression and a high threshold which is great for riders who like to hammer out of the saddle. The sacrifice, of course, comes in the form of small bump sensitivity as the stock damper is on the firm side. This, we’re told, can be addressed by swapping the cartridge at an additional charge, and about 15 minutes labor. We expect to find these on our shelves in late July, and should retail in the neighborhood of $939, though that’s far from official at this point.
To keep things clear, the current Durin fork becomes the Magura Durin Race going forward. It maintains the same DLO (Dynamic Lock Out) as the current iteration, but will receive the new lighter steerer found on the SL model. Magura states that it will tip the scales at 1420g (80mm) and 1450g (100mm). And, given our past experiences, their claimed weights have been nearly spot on, straight out of the box with uncut steerers.
Also new to the Durin family is the Magura Durin Marathon 120, a fork aimed at the endurance/marathon market. It receives the same casting as the Durin SL with different (longer) stanchions, crown, steerer, and Albert Select damping for manual or remote lockout. Threshold can be adjusted using the gold knob located atop the right fork leg. An option to configure the fork with the Flight Control remote allows the travel of the Durin Marathon ($899) to be adjusted from 80-120mm. Depending on the configuration, weights may vary between 1555-1585g (fixed or adjustable.) As is the case with all Magura forks, each of the Durins utilize lightweight, stable post mounts for disc brakes.
Staying true to their Nordic themed forks, the Magura Thor fork was also introduced. Thor is a competitively lightweight (1785g without axle) adjustable travel, thru-axle fork. Axle options include Magura’s proprietary ’60less’ axle (+90g, but 60g lighter than Maxle) which effectively eliminates the Maxle lever and instead requires the use of a small screwdriver or 5mm allen key to release, or Rock Shox Maxle (+150g), which we all know and love. The 60less axle does require the use of a small pinch bolt on the right leg -- just 3-4 Nm will do the trick. Thor’s travel is adjustable from 100mm – 140mm using the same Flight Control remote used on the Durin Marathon, and damping is again provided by the Albert Select damper with adjustments for threshold and rebound. Guides on the back of Thor make for clean brake line routing, and a chart displays suggested pressures for easy set-up. And Thor, which we should have at the end of July, uses a special post mount that allows for the installation of the brake caliper and 180mm rotor without the use of an adaptor (which effectively saves another 35g.) While it won’t accept rotors below 180mm, an adaptor will allow for a 203 to be installed.
Is it the end of July yet?
Magura USA, also the importer for Syntace products, had each of the test mules equipped with a Syntace Vector bar, F119 stem and P6 seatpost. Our initial impression was that the products were extremely well-engineered. The bar had a relaxed 12 degree sweep and 10mm rise which we found to be very comfortable. At 176g it’s lightweight, but Syntace approves it for DH use. It undergoes rigorous testing on their vaunted VR-3 (‘The Red Monster’) machine, which simulates different riding scenarios through metallically enhanced pneumatic arms. The bar is barend approved, as it is strategically reinforced at the ends, and in clamping areas -- stems, brake levers, and shifters all included. They are so confident in the bar’s strength, they’re offering a 10 year guarantee -- pretty impressive if you ask us. The oversized F119 stem is touted to be even stronger. Its 200 degree wrap of the bar offers enhanced security and a vice-like grip.
We’ll be testing these Syntace products over the next few months to see how they hold up over the long haul. Stay tuned.