MAGURA ´14 TS8R forks – Ride Impressions: by Grannygear & c_g
During the MAGURA Press Camp in Sedona both of us spent quite a few hours on the 140mm version of the TS8R – Grannygear’s mounted to a Specialized Stumpy FSR Expert EVO and c_g mostly on his personal bike, the Cube Stereo SHPC. While we both had less than stellar experiences with our TS8R forks back in 2012 (here) this time the trail time in Sedona left us with some very good impressions of the updated fork’s attributes, in fact we were so positively impressed that we gladly took up the offer to extend our two day ride time with them into a full length review – c_g on his 140mm version and Grannygear on a 120mm version.
We found the TS8R had a tendency to ride high in its travel, not sinking into its middle travel in trail chatter or diving harshly under braking. We never had any complaints on ledgy climbs, bigger rollers or jarring hits as the 140mm fork sucked that up very well with only some impact into the bars.
The philosophy of Magura’s engineers is to retain “trail feel” and not have the fork be so supple that you lose the connection between trail and pilot. In that I think they hit the target 100% and we liked it very much in the slow to medium speeds and techy nature of Sedona.
Here are some of these attributes (divided up by Grannygear and c_g):
Grannygear: For my part I ran the DLO3 in ‘firm’ mode for quite some time in the first extended ride (with the FSR´s shock in ProPedal as well). That felt balanced and the fork barely bobbed on out of saddle efforts. On the flip side of that long ride, I opened up the fork and rear shock and found there was a marginal difference for me in fork action, enough so that I left it open for the rest of the time and thought that was fine. If I was back home on a smoother climb I might have flipped it to firm or closed perhaps. It moves with little hesitation or stiction though, but I suspect that the compression damping is still on the aggressive side.
c_g: I am more of a seated climber and as such found the TS8R to be perfectly stable even under the most aggressive efforts. Only when I got out of the saddle for extended climbing, did I ever feel the need to turn the DLO3 into the middle ‘firm’ setting (=platform). When the going got rough, I pretty much agree with GG that it gave a very high level of control in any terrain and speed. Going down rough and fast sections and in some technical trails I found it to ride great – not the same level of suppleness and sensitivity like say the FOX F34 or the new ROCK SHOX Pike I rode recently, but very good in its own way. I really liked the ride for the great control.
Grannygear: On the one ride where speeds increased and bumps were coming faster and more in succession, like multiple edge hits on slick rock, I thought the fork was a bit harsh. I dropped a few PSI and that helped a lot and I noted I still was not getting all the travel without hitting a pretty good impact. I think I could have gone down another 5 PSI and gotten even better performance. However, I bet that this fork will not be the killer app for those wishing to erase all signs of fast, repeated trail impacts at speed. But at the Sedona press camp, on those trails … well, I think the new 140 TSR8 was a great choice as it did not dive into its travel when dropping off very steep ledges and did not hobby horse around on steep climbs. I actually prefer a firmer overall suspension set up but I do not want to get beat up either. The 2014 140 fork did just that for me and I think I could have tweaked it to a better set-up over time. Perhaps even less PSI and an air volume reducer spacer? I do still wonder if the ‘open’ setting should not be more so as I found the difference between open and firm to be minimal.
c_g: Air pressure was an interesting thing with the new 2014 MAGURA TS8R 140 mm fork. When it was initially set up to my weight I immediately felt it too direct and harsh. So in the course of my first 3 hours of riding, I dropped the air pressure to a level almost 1.4 bar lower than recommended. Then I found it to be almost as supple as the above mentioned F34 forks, but also had the fork dive about 35% into its travel when seated level. Too much for my liking, so I added about 0.5 bar, giving me a decent 85% travel consumption during regular riding while saving the last part for really hard hits (I know because I tried and then was happy for this characteristic). The MAGURA Tech and I discussed the option of adding some suppleness by increasing progression by reducing the air volume (remember this is part of the 2014 performance package), but we never followed through, so the final verdict needs to remain open for the full review.
Grannygear: On the braking side, I had a set of MT6 brakes on there with 180mm rotors F/R. I still was not getting the same amount of power out of them as say a Shimano XT or XTR, but the nature of the trails there in Sedona were all about progressiveness and modulation over raw power … and they sure delivered in this aspect. Three trail moments stand out in my mind regarding the brakes. The first two times were very tricky moves on steep or broken rock that required a high level of braking control and very, very precise modulation and a controlled application of power. Both times the modulation of the Magura brakes was stellar and I deftly pulled off both tricky moves.
The third time was a section where I wanted to drift the back end around the corners with playful ‘pops’ of the rear brake. There I missed the way that something like a Shimano brake goes from unlocked to locked up with just a bit more lever force and an unweight of the bike. Compared to the harder hitting and more light switch feel of a Formula or maybe even Shimano (although I think Shimano is the braking standard right now) the very smooth Maguras have a good thing going for the right application but they do not come out the gate with an impression of raw power. They are also priced well, light, and use mineral oil instead of DOT brake fluid and I like that. I did not get them on a fast and steep extended run where I might have missed the ultimate power disparity even more, but since this is the same basic brake I rode last year on another test bike over a 30+ mile descent, I did not have any big issues with hauling the bike down from speed in that instance. The Maguras also were dead quiet the entire time and that was very nice. My time on the Magura products was a overall positive experience and the testing will move into longer term with the forks and brakes through the 2013 summer season.
c_g: I have had the opportunity to ride a set of MAGURA MT8 disc brakes during the press event and I agree with everything Granngear said above. Some may remember that my set of MT8s had a bit of a bad end (here), but riding them on the trails in Sedona (including the highly technical Hi-Line and Hangover trails) I soon forgot about that incident and simply enjoyed its great modulation. Indeed, locking them up takes a bit more finger force, but I was never really lacking power to get me down even the gnarliest sections. Overall I always felt perfectly well served with the MT8s and seeing MAGURA followed through with the exchange program, I don´t see any reason you shouldn’t either.
Saving the best for last: Maybe the best of all was not the gear or the trails of Sedona, but the people. Good people. Folks like super star Ruthie Matthes, who can still lay down some clean and mean lines on difficult trails. Here she is in a typical ‘I may be retired, but I can still hurt you‘ gunfighter stance, getting ready to draw down on some unlucky rider [insert Clint Eastwood "do you feel lucky, punk?" line here]. She won.
THANKS to MAGURA for hosting the event and having both of us there!!
Grannygear & c_g
Note: Our impressions resulted from actual experiences and the samples provided for review and testing at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review, and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.