While much of Magura’s 2013 suspension buzz surrounds their entry to the 29in market, we spent considerable time at their launch on the, updated, TS8R 150mm fork, which supports 26in and 650b/27.5in wheel sizes.
Magura boast their suspension’s ‘made in Germany’ production, and for years have adhered to a mantra of ‘stiff, light, easy’, which has sometimes been lost in the mountain bike industry’s jungle of technological jargon.
After spending two days on the latest iteration of Magura’s Thor, now TS8R, we came away both impressed and intrigued by this high-end suspension fork. Since we limited time on the new fork and because it uses non-conventional designs — namely grease lubrication versus an oil bath — we must qualify this ‘first ride review’ as such. This is a first impression, albeit a good one. We look forward to a longer-term test, in which we can assess the viability of Magura’s designs. We’ll reserve our final judgment after that test is concluded.
Ride and Handling: light, stiff, and easy — and you thought you had to pick one?
Magura’s updated for 2013 TS8R 150mm suspension seems to be perfectly designed for today’s contemporary trail market. DAD, its dual arch design, makes it noticeably stiff out on the trail, possibly one of the stiffest 32mm forks we’ve ridden lately.
The fork is legitimately light; we weighed a sample at 1,680g (3.7lbs) with its Maxle Lite through axle, which puts right in contention with the big players, who have claimed weights around 50g lighter to 20g heavier.
The TS8's crown is hollow forged, and quite sculpted
The TS8R is quite easy to use, too. Set your positive air pressure — Magura use an elastomer negative spring — rebound, and platform threshold, and you’re ready to ride.
So Magura’s fork seems to make good on their claim of ‘stiff, light and easy,’ but it’s the work they’ve done tuning the fork that captured our attention; namely the work they’ve done on the air spring curve. The new spring seems notably more progressive than either Fox or RockShox, which mixes quite well with today’s mid-range 150mm trail bikes.
We set our spring right in the middle of Magura’s recommended pressure range for our weight, and after a quick parking lot spin we felt it slightly soft, but good to ride. We had planned, in the back of our mind, to add pressure after a couple of hard bottom outs, but those bottom outs never came. So that’s really what hooked us on the new spring, it’s quite supple off the top, but really ramps very nicely to ward off any harsh bottom out. We also found the fork to ride relatively high in its travel, which we like in regards to handling.
Rebound control served us well, and the Albert Select + compression damper, was easy to use and offered a wide range of adjustment from firm lockout through heavily damped low-speed compression to almost no difference from the open setting. Our one gripe here: the damper engaged with a 30° — or so — rotation of the blue dial located at the top of the right leg; because it’s a dial, there’s not much indication besides the fork’s feel of what position it’s set. This is fine if you prefer a firm lockout, but if you prefer a light low-speed compression type feel, you may ride a few descents with it engaged.
The Albert Select + damper is easy to adjust and operate, but doesn't give clear indication as to its setting, save for the fork's feel
Construction and features: DAD one of the stiffest 32mm forks we’ve ridden, plus: Fork Meister Concept
Magura’s TS8 is updated; rather than all new, like the just launched TS8.
It combines the still new Fork Meister Concept, a grease lubrication system launched in 2012, with Magura’s most advanced damper, which is called Albert Select +.
After year’s of dealing with rider concerns over their weeping fork seals, Magura switched from a open bath to a grease lubrication system for their lower legs. The system doesn’t simply swap oil for grease, but features redesigned bushings and seals specifically designed for use with Magura’s Fork Meister grease, which is a food grade silicon lubricant. If we have any question about the integrity of this fork, it’s the Fork Meister Concept that we’d really like to assess through a long-term test.
Our fork legs stayed clean during our two days testing in Sedona, AZ
The Albert Select + damper is relatively straightforward. It’s a simple, open-to-platform adjustment with the ability to adjust the platform’s threshold.
The chassis uses Thor’s hollow forged crown and 32mm uppers. The 26in TS8 lower chassis, which also fits 650b/27.5in wheels, doesn’t support Magura’s new M15 tooled through-axle. That's not necessarily a drawback as it’s equipped with SRAM’s Maxle Lite tool-free 15mm through axle.
While we found the new tooled M15 axle easy to use, we've come to appreciate SRAM’s Maxle Lite axle as the best and easiest to use 15mm through-axle on the market.