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Review - Magura TS8R 150 Fork
The Magura TS8R 150 Fix is a 150mm or 5.9" travel fork, which works with 27.5"/650B and 26" wheel sizes. It weighs in at a light 1675 grams (3.7 lbs), comes with their Albert Select+ or DLO damping and a 15mm Maxle lite axle. The fork is meant for All Mountain or Enduro riding, and offers a plush ride, and utilizes a dual-arch for improved stiffness, rigidity, better steering and increased control.
Magura has a new line of forks for the 2013 season, with a plethora of sizes, models and travel options. The TS (Team Suspension) series includes their first ever 29er, with travel options of 80, 100 and 120mm, a 27.5" with 100, 120 and 150mm, and 26" with 80, 100, 120 and 150mm. There is a slew of versions for the forks with multiple features, including the entry level TS6, and the higher-end TS8 SL and TS8 R. The TS6 uses heavier internal parts and isn't as machined as the TS8, and replaces many of the aluminum portions with steel, and although the changes decrease the cost and increases the weight, the performance remains the same as their more expensive brethren. The forks retail from $600 to $850, depending model and options, which are pretty reasonable in today's market.
The TS forks have been developed based on their SLE concept (Stiffer, Lighter, Easier), which means optimum stiffness at the lowest possible weight, extremely low maintenance, and an easy setup.
Much of the fork's stiffness comes from their unique DAD or Double Arch Design and 32mm stanchions, which provides torsional rigidity and a low rate of twist, for exceptional steering and handling, with minimal flex. The forks are easier to maintain since it uses modular internal parts, such as a separate compression or rebound circuit, and the design is fairly basic for simplified service. It uses an elastomer negative spring, which has excellent durability since it's in a closed system and doesn't interact with any oil and grease.
Magura utilizes their Fork Master Concept (FMC) on the TS line, so they can manufacture forks with a sensitive response. They accomplish this with full surface bushings that have a larger area for less wear, durable, tight and low stiction seals, and the ultra smooth stanchions with very little roughness, and they all work in concert with their new Fork Meister Grease (FMG). The switch to grease instead of oil, and its inherent thickness, mean less leakage past the seals, no cavitation and less stiction, since a minute amount adheres to the pores of the stanchions.
They have three different compression damping options depending on the model chosen, either the DLO or Dynamic Lock Out, which has a blow-off for added traction and comfort, the Albert SL, which has a fixed compression, or the Albert Select+ (tested), which has a platform compression damping with a tunable threshold.
The Albert Select+ has an On/Off switch (blue dial) for platform compression damping, which sits on top of the right fork leg. In the Off position, the fork is fully open, and when On, the platform damping is engaged. It has a micro adjustment knob (the gold knob), which allows finer tuning of the engaged platform from firm to supple. You'll have to hold onto the outer blue dial when setting the threshold knob, else they'll both turn together. Outside of minute changes of the compression damping, you have air and rebound adjustments, and there is a handy decal chart on the right fork leg with the appropriate air pressure for your body weight.
The 27.5" fork comes in a slew of options, covering the gamut of the TS6 to the TS8 models, with 100, 120 and 150mm of travel, their DAD arch, Albert Select+ or DLO damping, 7" PM disc mounts, 15 mm axle (Maxle lite or TA), and 1 1/8" or tapered steerer. The 26" and 27.5" use the same lowers, which is basically the remnants of the 2012 Thor. If a tire fits within the confines of the DAD, then it won't bump against the crown and can be safely used. Magura has a tire compatibility chart for the fork (see end of article), though larger and taller 27.5" tires will scrape the bottom of the arch and aren't very feasible to use.
Testing Rig and Terrain
I tested the TS8R 150 Fix with Albert Select+, a tapered steerer and 15mm Maxle lite axle. Testing was performed on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air rear shock, and multiple 26" and 27.5" wheels and tires. I am 5’9?, weigh in at 155 lbs, and I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are required and intricate follow-through, and full commitment is advised.
Out with the old Thor, and in with the new TS8 150! What a pleasant surprise this fork has been, it's simple and light, offers excellent plushness, great compliance and stiffness, and it can play rough or mellow.
The fork has good stiffness and strength, and you can definitely feel the brutally strong DAD system, which provides superb steering response and control, and a flex-free drive through any heinous terrain it was tossed into. It's not as stout as 36mm stanchions, but it's on par with the 34mm and 35mm models of the competition. Unfortunately, the DAD can become a dust and dirt magnet, and tends to hold debris on the top cups of the arch and funnel's things down towards the wipers.
The air pressure, which is located on the top of the left leg, could be tweaked to give a plethora of riding experience, from a firm X-Country setting to a plush All Mountain feel. I really liked that I could drop the pressure low enough to cause a change for my svelte 155 lbs body, and I got excellent plushness with a good platform, and I could actually extract most all the travel. I didn't miss the usual compression tuning capabilities, and having just the air pressure and rebound for adjustments was more than adequate during my testing and riding. Magura has done an excellent job of engineering usable and functional compression damping and spring curves into the fork.
The bottom of each fork leg has highly functional protective caps (red is rebound knob), which allow the fork to rest on the ground without any damage when the front wheel is removed. The default PM 7" disc mount was a nice feature since most All Mountain riders use a 180mm rotor in the front, and this saves having to slap on an adapter.
It was a fairly easy fork to tune, and once the air pressure and rebound were set; it didn't require further tweaking (set and forget). I ended up with about nine clicks of rebound, and three turns of the platform knob. Depending on the terrain I was riding, I might fluctuate the pressure up and down, though I usually ended up with around 30% sag.
The fork pounced its way down ugly rock gardens, ledges and slabs, and even an occasional huck without any undue stress, and it retained composure, precise steering and stability at any speed outside of Mach 1. Since it made the front end light, it was really easy to launch the bike into space, and it only required a slight tweak of the bars to get it up into the air. It climbed like a XC demon and kept the front end plastered to the ground, and when asked to jam in and out of berms and corners, it didn't washout, dive or lose control. If the air pressure was kept high enough, I never felt any fork diving issues, even under heavy braking and when dropping into heinous and steep terrain. I engaged the Albert Select+ whenever I was on fire roads or ultra smooth singletrack, as it kept any energy loss down to a minimum on terrain that didn't require much travel. I got pretty proficient at engaging the Albert Select+ on the fly, but it was still a tricky endeavor.
I liked the subdued and understated white and black color scheme of the TS series, and was impressed with the usual superb German craftsmanship of the forks.
The overall feel of the TS8R 150 Fix felt vastly improved from its predecessor (a.k.a. The Thor), and the improved seals, surface bushings, and slippery stanchions, give a silky-smooth stroke without any noticeable notchiness or stiction. Those new improvements along with other internal changes, offered an incredible ride, with plushness and resiliency, while still retaining a rock-solid platform and stability. The DAD gives the front end excellent control, response and steering, and its synergy with the rest of the internals kept the wheel plastered to the ground, with great traction and braking, whether you're climbing, cornering or dropping into gnarly terrain. It has some nice features, like the PM 7" disc mount, the protective caps on the bottom of the fork legs and an air pressure vs. body weight chart decal on the stanchion. If you pushed the fork to high speeds, it lost some composure, and though it was plenty stiff, it still wasn't a 36mm fork. Large and tall 27.5" tire will fit, but tend to scrape the bottom of the arch, so they're not feasible to use, and I'd like to see some increased spacing so that any tire will work (Note: Magura is working on new 27.5" lowers).
The TS8R 150 Fix has simple tuning, excellent plushness, great stiffness, is light and reasonably priced, which all combine for a very sweet fork.
Magura TS fork and 650B Tire Compatibility
TS8 R 150 Fix 27.5"/650B Specs:
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