Review, photos and videos by Lee Lau

Introduction:

The 2012 Magura Durin Marathon fork marries lightness, stiffness and performance in a 120mm travel package. Such a light fork (3.45lbs tested) has no business having such incredible downhill ability. Adjustments are simple (the Durin allows compression, preload (via an air-spring, and rebound to be adjusted) and relatively easy to finetune.

Video of the Magura Durin in action Here.

-Summary-

Physical attributes
  • XC//trail air sprung fork
  • Double crown design to add stiffness
  • 32 mm stanchion tubes
  • Standard (and new for 2011) tapered, steerer tube options
  • 9mm safety dropouts (angled forwards 45 degrees)
  • Post-mount brake for 160mm rotors direct-mounted (will take up to 210mm/8.5" discs; but come on!!!)
  • Total weight: 3.45 lbs. (with standard steerer, no remote lockout, fixed 120mm travel)
Adjustability
  • No height adjustment in tested fork (fixed 120mm travel)
  • Rebound adjustment on lower right leg
  • Albert Select+ compression adjustment on right leg (Improved shim configuration for more low-speed compression - therefore less fork dive without compromising plushness)
  • DLO/Dynamic Lockout option - one twist of the blue knob on the right leg and your fork is locked out for all but a smidgen of travel.; for roadrides to trailhead I suppose
  • Air sprung adjustment on left leg
Note that there is a height-adjustable Durin with an option for a remote control lever (RCL) option mounted on the handlebar

 



Well-used Magura Durin after some 30 days of riding - uppers feature the distinctive double arch which make for a stiff fork. An air - valve on top of this left leg (not pictured)sets the air spring; I played around with air spring settings and eventually set my air spring at about 5psi more than recommended by Magura.





-Useful links-


1. Excellent Magura Community with dedicated suspension board

2. Magura air fork service manual with diagrams and instructions and photos

3. Magura service videos on the Magura site (annual service and periodic service - this is for the Thor series but is also applicable to Durin)

 



Durin right leg features the knurled adjustment knobs for the Albert Select compression. The gold inner knob tunes the compression damping threshold and fine tunes compression. Blue knob switches compression on/off. Not pictured on the lower legs are the rebound knob and 9mm dropouts



Testing the Durin in North Vancouver, BC


Lee Lau's biases

I am 5' 11", 160 lbs and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I've also made many bike trips to Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and Ontario (for example) so I've had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

I've ridden all manner of front suspension. In the xc/trail genre, I've owned or had extensive experience with the Rock Shox Reba, F29 and Fox Talas 120.

 



Magura Durin features details such as a nice tidy brake hose holder and post mounts for disc brakes (160mmm disc used here)

 

Setup, installation and Ride impressions

Installation

I would expect nothing less than tight tolerances out of a German made suspension fork. Precision means that the Durin is a breeze to install. An integrated brake cable guide on the lowers is a nice touch for cable routing. The post mount 160mm front rotor I used goes on the Durin without the need to fiddle with adapters. The safety dropouts are a bit finicky and you'll have to undo your wheel's quick release quite a bit to get the wheel on/off. It would be nice to see a 20mm option on the Durin. The 2012 version will sport a 15mm quick release but personally I feel that is an unnecessary panacea and would prefer to see either 9mm or 20mm dropouts and view 15mm as a compromise.



Air pressure valve on the top of the left leg and a handy-dandy air pressure chart on the bottom of that same leg (not pictured) makes getting initial settings a snap.

 


Setup & the re-designed air-spring

Setup is also relatively easy. An air pressure chart conveniently stickered on the left fork leg presents recommended settings. As with my previous experience with Magura forks (namely Thor) I run a bit more pressure than usually recommended although I stuck with recommended compression (60psi of air spring; 6 clicks of compression in). I will note that small changes in the air spring resulted in large differences in how the fork felt so do not feel afraid to experiment.

Rebound adjustments make a good deal of difference on the Durin so again, do not hesitate to fiddle with rebound adjustments. Compression adjustments via the gold Albert Select (AS) knob also make a lot of difference with a few twists of the dial. The DLO locks out your fork for climbing roads or smooth surfaces. There'll be a little bit of give when DLO is engaged so you won't be riding an entirely rigid fork but as soon as you go downhill you'll be quickly reminded that DLO is engaged as small bump compliance will be basically nil.

My minor quibble is that the anodized knurled aluminium knobs are a bit hard to turn and are also hard on the fingers if you're bare-handed so making adjustments while you're riding along is not that easy. The fix to this is to ensure that you adjust your fork before you ride!

 



Compression damping curves for Magura Durin. A few turns on that gold knob makes quite a difference!

 

Setup & the re-designed air-spring (cont'd)

According to Magura, the 2012 Durin uses a far more progressive air spring than previous Durin's. This is accomplished by:
  • reducing the air spring chamber in size and volume so the spring curve rate is more progressive (see graph below - damper/spring force increases as the fork reaches the end of its travel. Conversely spring force is low at the initial rate of travel.)
  • the compression stack has been re-valved so that the Durin stays higher in its travel and resists diving under a rider's weight
Accordingly this years Magura Durin has increased small bump sensitivity while riding higher in its travel. The plushness of initial travel does not negatively affect the progressiveness of the fork's travel through mid-stroke and the ramp-up of spring rate at the bottom of travel. This translates into a fork that eats up small hits, supports the rider in medium hits, resists blowing through travel as it uses up all its travel and resists diving through all its useable travel when diving into a steep section or under heavy braking. If this sounds too good to be true read on and see the pictures and video...

 



Rampaging North Shore singletrack while testing the Magura Durin

 


Riding

The Durin is well matched to a light bike. But the light bike must also be stiff. I stuck it on a Rocky Mountain Element 2007 which is on a bit of the portly side for a light xc type of ride at 26lbs. I did not miss the travel adjust and the Durin replaced a Fox Talas 100/120mm travel fork which I almost always rode in the higher setting.

The Durin revealed my bike's shortcomings. Once stiff, my Element has now reached venerable floppy status after 4 years of hard use in challenging terrain. The Durin's stiffness and precision in tracking through technical rock and root gardens contrasted with the wandering somewhat flexy end of my poor used/abused Rocky. If downhillers bought 120mm front forks, I would go as far as to say that the Magura Durin is a downhiller's xc fork. At the risk of losing journalistic objectivity, the Durin was remarkable in its ability to resist torsional flexing and I frequently had to remind myself that I was "only" on a 120mm travel fork as I would nose into steeps, careen into terrible run-outs and heave on the bars to unweight and throw the front end to a new direction. Of course, the Magura Durin is by no means a free-ride fork and I obviously found its limits when pushing big terrain. However, within its useable envelope (and again I stress that Durin's useable range is much much greater than one would expect out a short-ish travel front fork) the Magura Durin is a stiff, predictable, instrument of trail dissection. Once the Magura Durin is tuned to one's own proclivities, it's attributes of not suffering from excessive brake dive and excellent progressive travel characteristics also make the Durin exceptionally capable in fast terrain where a fork is subjected to multiple hits.

In short, the Magura Durin is the best fork I've had the privilege of using in this class. It is ridiculously stiff; has meaningful compression adjustments; small bump sensitivity; resists diving; and ability to handle multiple fast small hits.

For reference, I used the fork on Vancouver's North Shore but mainly on the more xc trails; in Squamish and in Whistler (on the valley trails, not the bikepark).



The Durin handled a technical move dropping down multiple root balls followed by an immediate hard turn without deflecting. Definitely not a XC noodle for glorified bike paths.



The Durin's DLO aids when climbing; although for this rocky rather technical climb I relied on the Durin's ability to sit high in its travel and did not engage DLO


Magura Durin recap


Pros:
  • Torsional stiffness
  • Ridiculously superior progressive travel characteristics you normally see in much longer travel forks
  • Distinctive good looks
  • Plush; you get the full 120mm travel
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to tune
Cons:
  • Bit of a pain to get the front wheel on and off with the safety dropouts (yes - I'm reaching for something negative to say)
See the Magura site for more information about specifications. The MSRP for the Magura Durin in the tested 2012 model (fixed travel, non taper steer, Albert Select compression option) is US $799 ($ 839 with lockout) or $965 and $1000 CAD respectively.

Video of the Magura Durin in action