Pinkbike spotted Kona’s Matt Slaven riding an Abra Cadabra all-mountain bike outfitted with a tiny air-sprung damper in place of the standard-issue coil spring and plastic bumper stack that normally actuates the suspension’s Magic Link. The trick looking aluminum damper is in the testing stages, so sayeth Kona, but Slaven, who has been testing the air-spring system, was all fired up on its adjustability and seamless feel.
Magic Link 101
Matt Slaven's Kona Abra Cadabra was leaning against the wall in the Pinkbike Tower when we spotted something different tucked into its lower suspension linkage.
If you are unfamiliar with the Magic Link, it’s an innovative design that allows the rear suspension to automatically increase its travel from 100-millimeters of firm action, to 160 millimeters of soft cushion as the terrain demands it. Many all-mountain type rear suspension designs offer long or short-travel shock mount positions. Kona’s Magic link performs exactly the same function, except that it automatically switches between the two travel options.
Kona says that the black-anodized aluminum air-spring is an early prototype, but its dedicated hardware and finished looks hint that the standard Magic Link's coil-spring actuation system will soon be replaced.
The swingarm pivots on the “Magic Link” which also forms the lower shock mount. Chain tension created by pedaling pulls the swingarm forward on the Magic Link, which drives the shock into the short-travel position. Bump forces pull the swingarm rearwards, which rocks the Magic Link into the long-travel position. Kona’s standard-issue Magic Link system uses an adjustable coil spring to return the Magic Link to the default, short-travel position. Preloading the spring determines how easily the Magic Link transitions to long-travel mode in response to impacts.
The tiny damper controls how quickly the swingarm driven Magic Link can switch from long travel to short travel suspension modes. More air pressure means the Magic Link will tend to stay forward in the short travel mode.
The new air-spring does away with the complicated looking coil spring assembly and offers infinite adjustability to Kona Magic Link riders. A red dial is marked ‘rebound’ on the forward end of the diminutive damper. Hydraulic damping in the tiny air shock ensures that the transition to and from suspension modes will occur even more seamlessly than with the stock coil-spring set up.
Pinkbike’s Take on the Air-Actuated Magic Link:
The addition of rebound damping to the Magic Link actuator allows the rider to tune how readily the system returns to short-travel mode after a big impact. More rebound damping keeps the suspension in long-travel mode momentarily, so the suspension can be ready for another big hit.
Kona insists that the air-spring system is still a long way from production, but we think it will appear sooner than 2013 – perhaps a mid-season 2012 release. It brings the Magic Link system one-spring-does-all adjustment and the air spring looks far better than the functional-but-funky coil spring design. As Matt Slaven said, “It’s the Magic Link’s Missing link. We are pushing Kona to ride the new system and will report the news the moment we do.Pinkbike thinks that the air damper is exactly what Kona's Magic Link system needs. Any thoughts on Kona's prototype setup?