Magura USAIf there is one event that I would never miss in a typical year, it would be the fun-fest that Magura USA hosts in Sedona, AZ.  Living for a few days right at a trailhead out near Bell Rock, the red dirt and rocks are right at our back porch.  It really is a kick-back couple of days of riding, eating, SWAG-ing (is that a word?), and reconnecting with great folks…oh, and there is some business mixed in there as well.

Magura USA sedona

Not a bad back yard, eh?

This year it was co-hosted by Intense Cycles, with Jeff Steber, the owner, there in person to oversee things.  That allowed us to ride some very capable bikes and test some of the new MaguraTrail Carbon brakes, designed with a 4 piston caliper in front and a 2 piston caliper in the rear, along with the new Magura Vyron wireless dropper post.  My ride was the Intense Carbine 29er, a 160/140 Enduro/Trailbike thing, which was certainly more qualified than I for the techy trails of Sedona.

IMG_4289

Along with Magura and Intense, there was Lightweight, maker of very, very high end roadie bits and pieces, Rotor, SKS, Lake shoes, Bosch (E-Bikes), SQ Lab, and some bits and pieces from Kali Protectives and such.

Sedona is a love/hate relationship for me.  I love the overall beauty and the large trail network but hate the way those trails make me feel.  To be more specific, the trails there, or at least many of them, and it seems, the particular ones we ride at Press Camp, are at a level of technical difficulty that is far above anything I have at home.  Ledges after ledges…drops after drops…narrow, rocky trails that one would take care just to walk over.  Names like Highline.  Hangover.  Even the innocuous sounding Slim Shady trail is a bit of a shock at first.  After a couple of days, I am in the groove and running down most of this with a good deal of grace, and if this type of riding was the norm for me, I would be a bit more inoculated.  But some of it is just simply beyond me. my abilities, or my sensibilities, and always would be. Love to be there…hate to ride there.  It’s a puzzlement.

Magura USA Sedona

Me.

Magura USA Sedona

Not me.

Still and all, I would not miss it for the world, although a quick hitting virus had me shivering on the couch under the covers just two days before I was to leave for Sedona.  I figured that worst case I could hang out and eat and nap and hear about cool bike stuff, even if I could not ride.  Good drugs and God’s grace allowed me to ride, although on the first day I felt like death warmed over.  So, what did I see and experience?  To that, then.


Magura: 4 + 2 = 3 and one less cable to deal with.

Magura USA

Tibor, the most fun German person I have ever met, talks about why 2 + 4 = 3

The Carbine I was riding had the Trail Carbon brakes with the combo of a 4 piston front caliper and a 2 piston rear caliper. From the press release:

Today at the Sea Otter Classic, Magura introduced their MT Trail Carbon brake. The brake offers a perfect balance of power [business] in the front with a 4-piston caliper and nimbleness [party] in the back with a 2-piston caliper. The brake was developed to accommodate the Trail/All Mountain rider who wants the power of a DH brake with the lightweight attributes of a XC brake.

Test results, feedback and numerous best-of test awards of Magura’s MT8 cross-country brake and MT7

gravity-assisted/enduro brake led Magura engineers to the develop the MT Trail as the perfect all ’round solution. The new brake is perfectly suited for 120-160 mm travel bikes with 27.5, B+ or 29 inch tire sizes,

Weighing in at 332 g, the MT Trail Carbon is 15% lighter than the MT7 and only 5% heavier than the MT8. The weight is optimized thanks to Magura’s Carbolay carbon levers and Carbotecture SL brake lever housing.

The MT Trail Carbon has a crisp deep black carbon lever/master design and polished chrome on the brakes calipers. The Storm HC rotors are offered in 203/180/160 mm.

In addition, Magura’s Shiftmix clamp helps to optimize your controls. Shift and brake lever are mounted to the bar with this one-clamp system, saving weight and gaining space. Magura offers Shiftmix for both SRAM or Shimano shifters.

I also had a chance to try the Vyron wireless dropper post which uses much of the technology from the eLECT wireless remote suspension control that is an option on Magura forks and rear shocks.  c_g has both of these items, the brakes and the seatpost, in for a full test, so I will just give my quick impressions.

Magura_MT_TrailCarbonThe brakes, for the most part, just did what you would expect them to do…be mostly invisible.  To that, I mean, that I really seldom thought about them, and that is a good thing.  I did note one thing, but it only happened a couple of times.  I would grab the rear brake with a quick ‘pop’ on the lever, expecting to be able to quickly lock the wheel or have it drag a bit just to correct the line I was on, and the rear brake would give me a bit less ‘bite’ then I expected.  One ride is hardly a review and a well used demo bike is quite suspect as a viable test experience.  Combine that with the baptism by fire of a strange-to-me bike and a difficult trail…well, it’s hard to draw any conclusions. But the idea has merit…4 piston in front and 2 piston at the rear…and is the way many of the Magura tech guys had been running their personal bikes for some time now.

Magura USA Sedona Vyron

The remote does not belong on the seatpost…duh. Just sayin’

The Vyron post was something that I have a stronger impression about.  First of all, it is clean and neat, with only a small remote ‘pod’ rubber banded to the handlebar to control the post (although RC from Pink Bike did crash and lose his remote off the bar and had to hike back uphill to retrieve it).  There are no wires or cables or hoses, so the post is easy to remove out of the bike, allowing you to transport easily or remove it for theft worries, as well as moving it from bike to bike, etc.

Magura USA Sedona VyronThe remote weighs next to nothing and the battery and control on the post itself are barely bigger than a ‘normal’ dropper post and its associated hardware.  Its slick looking and the charging port is plugged for dirt and moisture, although out and out submersion might be an issue.  I will let c_g fill in details in his reports, but this is what I noted as I used it:

  • The remote is a bit dodgy to use, as the main button for the dropper, that being the middle, round one, is small and black, so it barely stands out to the eye and is difficult to feel on the trail, especially with gloves on.  The other two ‘arrow’ buttons run the fork or shock is so equipped. I would prefer a single, bigger button in a bright color for the remote.  The post goes to sleep if you leave it alone for a bit, like when you take a break or park the bike, but wakes up with a nudge.  The remote, however, only wakes up when you hit the button, so you have to remember to wake up the remote after stopping or the first button push only says “wakey wakey”, not “let me drop the post, please”.  This happened to me once, preventing me from having the post where I wanted it for a fast approaching obstacle.  The other issue is the interface between the brain, the thumb, your butt, and the post.  With a mechanical dropper, be it cable or hydro, when you press the lever/button for the release, the post is immediately free to move and when you release that lever/button, the post is immediately locked in place, wherever that might be.  It is intuitive and easy to understand.  Even your backside can do it. Depress…move post with butt/legs…un-depress…post is in place.  Then to get it back to full ride height, you would release the post and allow it to rise up.  But with the Vyron, there is a small time lag between when you hit the remote’s button and when the post’s motor releases the post, allowing it to move.  It is not much, but it is not immediate.  And the same delay applies to the time you need to have the post ‘in place’ before it locks back up again.  So it is like this:  Grab saddle with thighs, butt, etc.  Press remote button/release button.  Wait a half a second or so. Move post to new position. Hold that new position very briefly (or the post will rise back up).  Ride on with post dropped.  It takes some getting used to.
  • I killed one post.  Not sure what happened, but it developed some pogo-ing issues when fully extended that allowed the saddle to drop when weighted. Now what I had done was lift the bike a couple of times by the saddle with the post dropped a bit, say if I was trying to scramble down or up some obstacle.  I was told that this is a dropper post no-no and that it can affect the seals, pulling air into places it should not be.  I was also told, by another Magura person, that this should not bother anything.  Dunno.  I know that I have never had one brand of dropper post that did not need servicing within the first or second season due to a malfunction.  Take this for what it is worth.  Maybe I broke it with my lifting, maybe it just failed.  Not sure.
  • Now, besides all that, it is pretty cool, and if routing is an issue or easy removal is important to you, the Vyron is a solution.

Lake Shoes: When all you do is make shoes.

The men from Lake Shoes.

The men from Lake Shoes.

Lake is a high end shoe company, but there is a place for what they do in this world of cycling. Look at some of the ‘Firsts’ that Lake can claim:

  • First mountain bike shoe offered by a cycling shoe manufacturer.

  • First heat moldable cycling shoe (CX400) , enabling the consumer to mold the heal counter to their own feet by the simple use of a home oven.

  • First and only winter cycling boot (MXZ300) to dominate the market for over a decade

  • First and only Cyclocross Specific Cycling Shoe (MX331 Cross)

  • Most cycling shoe manufacturers offer limited lasts for their entire shoe offering, Lake offers 11 Lasts thus enabling us to fit all shapes and sizes of feet.

That last bit about the…Lasts…that is a biggy.  The Last is the basic form the shoes are made around and determines the fit of the shoe.  You can have different shoe sizes and just one Last.  So if you are wide or slim or just odd, you may require a better fitting Last along with a custom insert.  Ever heard someone say, “XX brand shoes fit me best”?   That is what we are talking about here.  Lake can do both, offering various Lasts AND moldable heel cups AND inserts.  11 Lasts is pretty impressive. I am a very ‘normal’ foot shape and size, so I am not a challenge to fit.  We have two sets of shoes (shown below) heading to us for review, one very high end racing type shoe, and one a more trail oriented, but still premium shoe.

Lake shoes MX228

Lake shoes mx168


Rotor UNO:  No wires…no shifting cables…just one tiny hose.

Rotor’s UNO is a road only product at this point, although the chainrings can be used where ever, and the road disc brakes are a Magura based product.  I only mention all this as it occurred to me that this has fine MTB potential.  No wire cables and housings to contaminate.  No batteries to go dead or servos to die.  No delicate wires, although there is a 3mm hydro line to worry about.  Still, this seems like a robust system for moving that derailleur from cog to cog.  The actual shifting/indexing mechanism is all in the rear der, so it should be more accurate than a mechanical, lever based indexing system, with all that drag and cable routing to foul things up.  The hydraulic system really is more of a ‘switch’ than an actuator.  Can’t say that I completely understand all that, but using it felt very much like SRAM’s Doubletap, which is what I use on the road and gravel bikes.  So it felt intuitive to me and seemed to work very well in the brief time I was on it.

Very interesting.

Rotor Uno

Cover off, showing the innards of the UNO rear der.


SKS:  Aired up and covered up.

Fenders (Mud Guards for your folks over the pond) and air pumps are what makes SKS tick.  A week does not go by where I do not use that super cool Airchecker digital gauge.

SKS TL HeadThis time they showed us a new pump head that is retrofittable to most all the floor pumps, the TL Head.  Incorporating a CO2/Quick Fill cartridge into the pump allow you to have a better chance at seating a stubborn tubeless tire without using an air compressor.  There are pumps now that have a pressure chamber that you charge with the pump, then dump it into the tire, giving you that same rush of air.  This is another approach to that issue.

SKS S GuardThe S Guard (is guards your ‘S’…get it?  Wink..wink) is like the the popular Ass Savers dealie, a simple and flexible clip-on fender that gives you a chance of keeping you plumbers crack from getting spackled shut from trail mud.  Less ‘skunk stripe’ is a good thing.

The Anywhere Adapter is very cool, although I have not tried to use one yet.  Using super strong velcro-like straps and a rubber wedgie (with a screw mount for cages, etc), this simple strap would be great for hanging tubes or pumps or whatever to your bike.  Or, as the pic shows, anything that one might need (and some that you don’t).

anywhere strap SKS

anywhere strap SKS


SQ Lab: saddles and grips, mostly.

And the saddles are quite unique.  I brought one home to try out after riding on one for part of a day.  I am intrigued, but reserving any kudos till I get more time on it.  I will say that it likely had the most pressure relief for the perineal and/or prostate area that I have ever felt in a saddle.

SQ Lab

SQ Lab

It has a variable elastomer wedgie deal for more comfort, allowing the saddle to rock slightly as you pedal.

More on that in the review.


Kali Protectives provided us with some helmet samples, one road and one MTB.  We will be reviewing those as well, but so far they have been quite comfy and secure.  I wore the Maraka XC for both days of riding in Sedona and loved it.

You really need the best helmet you can afford.  It is not a place to skimp.

maraka helmet

Maraka XC

phenom helmet

Phenom


Other merriment.

Bosch had an ebike race on the local golf course, and it was quite the spectacle.  The Editors were the rabbits and there were chasers, ala ‘The Running Man’ movie.  Get caught and you are out of the running for the cash prize.  This was no picnic either, with some pretty big drops (if you were brave enough to sky it out) and enough hills to make you work really hard to get any advantage.  One racer quipped that it gives you 400 watts till you get to 20mph, then when the motor cuts off, it takes another 400 watts of your own to get up to 21mph.  Funny.  A journalist from Road Bike Action won the day with a sprint finish over second place.

They have refined the drive system with an MTB specific motor unit now. E-MTBs are here, like it or not.

Bosch Ebike

Bosch Ebike

Bosch Ebike


Thanks to all the vendors that made this year’s Magura USA camp such a great time. Same time next year?

Magura USA Sedona


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Note: The products shown here were provided at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.