When it comes to setting the damping on a mountain bike’s suspension fork, a bit of a compromise is involved. Set it too hard, and the wheel will bounce off of every little bump in the trail – set it too soft, however, and the shock will bottom out on the big hits. It is possible to manually adjust the damping on the fly, but that’s not necessarily something that all riders want to bother doing. Magura is now offering a solution, in the form of its self-adjusting eLECT electronic suspension system.
At the heart of the system is the thread-on eLECT module, which replaces the top-mounted adjustment cap/knob on existing Magura TS6 or TS8 R suspension forks. Users just unscrew the latter, and swap in the former. Among other things, the lightweight module contains a microprocessor, servo motor, 3D accelerometer, lithium-ion battery, and a micro USB port for recharging that battery.
The accelerometer not only detects when the wheel has hit a bump, but it also registers the size of that bump. Within milliseconds, the module responds by altering the suspension accordingly. It does so via a powered rotating shim on its underside, that engages the existing adjustment ports on the fork’s compression piston.
Not only does the accelerometer detect hits, but it also ascertains if the bike is on flat, uphill or downhill terrain. As long as the bike is on the flats or going downhill, the suspension remains open. If it’s going uphill, however, the fork is automatically locked rigid – this allows the rider’s pedaling energy to go more into moving the bike forward, as opposed to pumping the suspension up and down. That said, if the uphill trail gets bumpy, eLECT still allows the fork to respond.
Additionally, should the uphill trajectory culminate in a jump, the system is able to detect when the bike has entered free fall. It then opens up the suspension to allow for a soft landing, even if the bike itself is still angled upwards.
Should the rider wish to keep the fork at a given setting or otherwise override the automatic system, they can switch to manual control via a handlebar-mounted Bluetooth remote at any time. They can also set the incline angle at which the fork-locking function engages and disengages, if they’d rather keep the suspension open on the slight hills.
The module is removed from the bike for recharging, and reportedly offers 40 hours of run time per charge in automatic, or 60 hours in manual. Should the battery run out of juice mid-ride, the module will default to leaving the suspension open at a fixed setting.
While eLECT does offer some unique features, such as its ability to lock up the fork on inclines, it’s by no means the first electronic bicycle suspension system. The K2 Smart Shock was released in the late 90s, Cannondale unveiled its experimental Simon fork a few years ago, plus RockShox and Fox have both recently developed systems.
There’s currently no word or pricing or availability of eLECT.