By Montana Miller
For 2014, Magura has updated the dampers and air springs in its line of 29er forks. I recently had a chance to ride the 120mm travel TS8 and got one ride in on the new 140mm travel TS8 that can be streched to 150mm.
In addition to the new, electronically controlled eLECT cartridge we covered earlier this week, Magura has a new DLO3 damper, which is on all long-travel forks. It has an open, firm, and lockout setting, but no remote option. Both forks that I rode were equipped with the DLO3. All the compression settings are preset and can not be adjusted.
To make the forks ride progressively, Magura reduced the volume of the air springs. It will also be releasing plastic air spring spacers that will take up volume in the chamber, and increase the spring rate. Mechanics have always used grease to take up air volume and change the feel of a fork, but unlike slopping some grease in a chamber, the spacers will allow shops to tune the forks accurately.
To keep the forks sliding smooth, Magura has switched from 60cc suspension oil to food-safe meat slicer grease (it’s the purest stuff they could find). The bushings have also been updated from plastic to Teflon-coated aluminum, which allows for much tighter tolerances.
Instead of a Maxle-type thru-axle with a quick release lever, Magura uses a 15mm axle that bolts on with a T25 torx wrench. The fork includes a T25 wrench that’s held in the end of the axle by a small rubber o-ring. Unfortunately, a few times when I pulled the T25 out to unscrew the axle, the o-ring fell off the end of the tool, leaving me scratching around in the dust. Omitting the quick release lever saves weight, and since most multi-tools have a T25 anyway, I guess the O-ring problem could be solved by just leaving the Magura T25 at home.
My 120mm TS8 was set up on a Specialized Camber Pro. To get full travel, even in chunky, ledgy Sedona, I used about 10psi less than the suggested pressure on the fork leg. The fork rode high in its travel and very progressively.
There was no brake dive, and I never blew through the travel when I screwed up a roller or drop. The fork is tuned to have “trail feel,” which means that it rides a little stiff by design. It doesn’t erase small bumps. Instead it transmits some feedback to the handlebars.
I really liked that feature in bumpy, dust-covered corners. I could load the suspension into a turn, and still feel how much traction the front wheel had.
Once I got the air pressure right, I had no problem using all my travel on fast, chunky descents. With the 15mm thru-axle and dual arch, the fork tracked better than any other 32mm stanchion fork I’ve been on, and never felt overwhelmed.
The open setting on the fork felt evenly matched with the Climb setting on the Camber’s Fox rear shock. When I flipped the shock to descend, the back end of the bike felt far softer than the front. I only used the fork’s lockout setting on the road, and never really bothered with the firm compression setting. The fork rode stiffly enough set on open.
I only rode the 140mm TS8 for a few miles before a flat forced me to turn around, but my initial impression was that it felt a little too firm for the super-active rear end of the Specialized Stumpjumper that it was mounted on. I think it would feel better on a more efficient long travel bike, and would be awesome on a big travel hardtail like the Kona Honzo or Diamondback Mason.
I do most of my climbing out of the saddle and like a sharp firm ride, so I loved the TS8s. Riders who like a soft, pillowy ride might want to look elsewhere. Riding the TS8 was like running in a minimal trail shoe. It was light, connected to the ground, and easy to maneuver.
The 120mm TS8 is internally adjustable to 80/100/120mm and the 140mm TS8 can be internally adjusted up to 150mm.
Both forks have 32mm stanctions, 15mm thru-axles and dual arches, and post mounts for a 180mm rotor.
There’s one air chamber to fill, and an external rebound adjustment. Once you figure out the air pressure, it really is a set and forget fork. While the air spring spacers are a great idea, I’m not sure I’d want the fork to ride any more progressively. But that might just be because I don’t get rad enough.
Both forks will be available soon, and 650b forks will be available in September of this year.