The finest praise that can be heaped on to anything automatic is that it performs its intended duty as designed and wholly in the background, invisible to its user and requiring no thought or action aside from turning it on. In this sense, the Magura TS8 eLECT 100 29 fork squarely hits its mark with an impressively intelligent lockout that works just as we'd want it to. Unfortunately, the rest of the fork could use some work.
As promised, Magura's eLECT automatic electronic compression damper works just as intended, operating silently in the background to provide a firm lockout on flat ground and when climbing, a fully open system on descents, and a quick reaction time whenever you encounter a bump in any of those situations. The transition between locked and open is virtually imperceptible, too, and it's an impressively smart system that will even prep itself for a landing after a jump – although like many auto-lockout systems, it isn't always entirely predictable like when preloading for a launch or pumping a berm, for example.
Magura's eLECT electronic damper works in the background, locking out on the flat or when up hills; opening up on downhills or when it detects a bump
Magura introduced the eLECT system last year. Back then, we expressed concerns with the claimed 0.2-second reaction time, which seemed like it could potentially be too slow to effectively squelch that first impact. Those concerns were unfounded, however, as BikeRadar testers on both sides of the Atlantic found the system to react with ample speed.
The eLECT damper can also be tweaked to suit your personal preferences. Magura normally suggests that the system be calibrated on flat ground, but alternatively, you can execute the process on an incline or decline to fine-tune when the damper is open or closed. We did most of our testing on a singlespeed 29er, for example, and went with a firmer calibration that was locked out more often on flat ground than typical.
As we've typically found with Magura suspension forks, the surrounding structure is fantastic with much better chassis stiffness than the 32mm stanchions might suggest. There are also lots of neat details, such as rubber bumpers to protect the bottom of the legs when the front wheel is removed, and a handy T25 Torx hidden inside the thru-axle – which can also be used for other parts like disc rotors and cockpit controls.
Dual arches give the 32mm chassis outstanding torsional stiffness
Weight is competitive as well: our sample came in at 1,642g (3.62lb) with an uncut tapered steerer, plus another 46g (0.10lb) for the slick 15mm through-axle.
What goes on inside the chassis could use some refinement, however. The suspension action is disappointingly behind the times with a high breakaway threshold that isn't very supple on smaller bumps and a relatively linear spring rate that tends to quickly blow through the available 100mm of travel. Overall, it feels a little dead and mushy, not unlike forks from a decade ago – which perhaps shouldn't be surprising considering that Magura continues to insist on using a MCU foam rubber slug as a negative spring instead of a proper coil or self-compensating air chamber, plus the bushings are lubricated with grease instead of a more slippery oil bath.
Clever details include rubber bumpers that protect the bottom of the legs when the front wheel is removed, plus a built-in removable T25 Torx wrench for the bolt-on thru-axle
Magura could stand to refine the eLECT's user interface, too. As is, the system uses just a single, one-color LED to indicate all of the various functions and settings, including calibration, power on/off, and auto vs manual modes. A multi-toned emitter or at least some sort of more easily deciphered combination of flashes would be much welcome here. On the positive side, though, battery life seemed to be just about spot-on with Magura's claimed 40 hours of run time in automatic mode – and when the USB-rechargeable battery dies, the fork simply reverts to the fully open mode.
One final dig at Magura's TS8 100 eLECT 29 fork is the staggering price. The complete fork sells for a whopping US$1,400 / £1,349 and while the eLECT damper is offered as a standalone upgrade for owners of current compatible Magura forks, the cost is just under half of a complete fork so there's little motivation to do so.