MAGURA TS8R 29″er Suspension Fork: Final Review – by Grannygear and c_g
OK, another test is drawing to an end – the MAGURA TS8R the first 29″er fork offering
by MAGURA has had a double opportunity to prove itself – one 120 mm version had been ridden by our Grannygear on his SPECIALIZED Camber and one 100mm fork by c_g on two different bikes.
For the details and the testing intro see here. For our combined Mid-Term report see here.
Grannygear´s Experiences & Impressions:
I am left with some strong impressions of the TS8R 120mm Magura 29″er fork and while most are good, one or two are not so good. Here we go. The fork is light at 1729g/3.8lbs with cut steerer, star nut, 15mm through axle axle and axle tool. I rarely had any feelings of pushing the fork around or of vagueness due to flex and it is good looking too. It never leaked or squeaked or tweaked to one side and it gave me no troubles which is just what we come to expect from a modern suspension fork. I took it apart to lube it up and it was a ten minute job. Very straightforward.
The DLO2 damper is an on-off type of deal and worked well enough although I really would like to make that top knob easier to grab and turn, especially as gloves get thicker into wintertime. I also never really came to fully appreciate the odd 15mm through axle…well, not really a quick release, more of a “Slow Release” front axle set-up. If my fingers were cold or I did not have gloves on, that pointy little tool was difficult to extract from the axle end, but it did a good job of tightening or loosening the axle once it was used. The axle never came loose when riding as the design wedges the axle in place when tightened.
It is very sensitive to air pressure settings and even a couple of pounds was noticeable. I actually came to like it better at the higher end of what was proper for my weight…typically 70psi…although 65psi was good too. But at 65psi it began to run deep in sag and I think I was getting too far into the spring curve before I wanted too. Even in the open setting for compression damping, the fork did not wallow around when standing and climbing. That was nice as I tend to do that a lot…single speeds ruin ya…but the flip side seems to be an overall harsh feel to the fork on trail.
To me it comes across as what I would call a ‘Euro tuned’ fork in that, in the past, I have seen less concern for supple suspension on the ‘other side of the pond’. That may be unfair and even wrong, but I think I would have not minded so much if this was in a 100mm guise on a racing hard tail…it would feel balanced to me. But on the Camber, it never was in sync with the FSR back end and I never got what I expected out of a trail bike fork as far as taking the sting out of the trail hits. Sharp hits both small and medium would just transmit too much shock up into the handlebar.
Magura, give me a more open compression setting or give me the ability to tune the fork myself with factory kits or something. Do this and it would be a much better product for a 120mm trail bike. As well, this is not a travel adjustable fork, so 120mm is 120mm is 120mm which may or may not be important to you, but it does limit the usefulness if you change bikes often and like to swap parts around.
I could live with the too smooth knob and the quirky axle deal, but not the ride. Change that factor just a bit and I would be hard pressed to ever take this fork off.
Like I had already stated in my Mid Term post – this fork is a direct crisp feeling suspension piece. This showed very well on extended rides when ridden on my BERGAMONT Revox hard tail. On the full suspension BMC FS01 where I have been riding it for the last few weeks it was a different story and it felt a lot better. Once dialed in (which can be a bit elaborate due to the narrow pressure sweet spot, mentioned above) it felt like a really good match for the 100mm rear of the BMC. Like before, the MAGURA TS8R was not the most sensitive fork, but when ridden aggressively on this bike it was able to show me some very good qualities – good bump absorption, hardly any dive on steps and drops and a very controlled feel on anything medium sized and bigger. When ridden leisurely or touring style, though it again felt over dampened and slow … but by far not as strongly as on the hard tail.
When I get talking about the specific character of the MAGURA TS8R it is important to note that MAGURA, by design, has reduced any possibility to tune the fork down to the bare minimum – air pressure (by one valve) and rebound adjustment, that is it. Following MAGURA’s new philosophy of „Stiff, Light, Simple“ there is not a whole lot to be dialed – this will serve many riders seeking simplicity really well, but with the lack of adjustability it is bound to upset others.
Considering the „Simple“, it was surprising to see how the air pressure required a very precise set-up, (likely due to a small air spring volume) – even if you are just slightly off you get either a too stiff or a wallowing deep fork. This leaves the MAGURA TS8R with only one usable characteristic which primarily decreases its appeal to touring folks and riders seeking maximum control – here I see some potential lost by the factory tune and lack of tune-ability. For aggressive riders it works really well.
The issue with the dragging remote lockout plastic lever was easily solved by mounting an updated lever (the one that is going to appear on the production forks) and this one has worked flawlessly ever since. Talking about the lock out on the TS8R – I feel it is important primarily for those riders hammering really hard and that spend a lot of time out of the saddle. For my riding style, (and occasional out of the saddle efforts), I found myself using it infrequently because as it is, the TS8R already is exceptionally stable.
Grannygear already mentioned the simplicity of the fork – which is great. I love it when things are easily serviceable. Stiffness and steering precision always had been top notch. By its double arch design the chassis did provide plenty of control … and the 15mm through axle sure had its share in this as well.
Just like Grannygear, I am not a fan of requiring a separate tool for the axle, but I had another incident that taught me that the storage within the axle isn´t 100% fool proof either. On a night ride we had a repair out on the trail and when done we were not able to fix the tool within the axle securely anymore. It was only when MAGURA had sent us a replacement tool that we found out why: The tool is held in place by a little O-ring and somehow during this nightly action we must have lost this little rubber ring (despite it being held pretty securely in a circular groove). After that we ran the tool trouble free stowed away in the axle, but we always had an eye on it so we wouldn’t accidentally loose it.
I asked some folks at MAGURA why they went for this specific through axle type (with the external Torx T25 key to open and close) and the answer had been: „We choose this way deliberately. By its axial preload of this design the stiffness of the complete system is at a significantly elevated level … our axle weighs considerably less and brings noticeable more stiffness than anything else out there.“
For me – I´d much rather accept the few grams extra for a fixed axle lever (like ROCK SHOX or FOX) and not worry about the separate tool. But this may be me only and I sure cannot ague that it was lacking stiffness .
All put together I really did like the MAGURA TS8R as a competition oriented suspension fork. When ridden aggressively XC style it performs exactly like it should, but its weak spot is that it lacks comfort for those riders seeking to minimize fatigue … and without any option for modification (internally or externally) it lacks versatility. To me the MAGURA TS8R is a single minded fork, that favors being ridden aggressively and competitively. Considering the very good stiffness /precision and the low weight I would clearly recommend it to those competitive riders seeking a race day fork.
(… and maybe the others will get their plusher 29″er fork next season … maybe)
Grannygear & c_g
Note: Magura sent the TS8R forks over for testing and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review, and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.