Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by AJ Barlas
Magura has a long and storied history in mechanical engineering, hydraulic engineering and plastics. Best known for brakes, Magura has been working their way into suspension for the last handful of years. Magura’s initial offerings such as the Thor and Wotan were not as well-received as they would have hoped for. With the feedback they received, Magura took their damping platform back to the drawing board and have produced a new cartridge designed to excel in burly terrain and under aggressive riders. A new damping system, shim tuning and volume spacers are all intended to work harmoniously in the TS8 R 150. Claims of stiffer, lighter and easier had my inner armchair engineer keen to put a new product to the test.
TS8R 150 Fork Highlights
- 150-mm travel (internally adjustable from 120-150mm)
- 26 or 27.5-inch wheels
- 15-mm axle
- Tapered steer tube
- DLO3 cartridge (open, firm, lockout)
- Includes volume spacer tuning kit to adjust progressivity
- 7-inch post mount tabs
- Axle to crown length of 538-mm
- Weight: 3.71-pounds
- MSRP: $849
On the surface, the TS8 R looks very similar to the Thor fork that it replaced. The most identifiable feature of Magura’s fork lowers is the Double Arch Design (DAD for short) which is said to increase torsional rigidity and steering precision. Plastic guards under the lowers protect the fork from impacts and abrasions and the dials all turn smoothly with a consistent feel. The machining, integrated housing stoppers and finish of the fork are spot on.
I have to admit that when it comes to suspension, shaving grams is not my highest priority. I usually just assume that components fall within a few grams of their claimed weight and I focus on whether the product performs as advertised rather than what it weighs. Heck, I’d add weight to my bike (gasp) if it means that performance will improve. Either way, the TS8 R was noticeably lighter than the fork it replaced.
One of the features I was most intrigued by was the use of grease instead of an oil bath for lower leg lubrication. Magura has redesigned their bushings and seals to work with their Fork Meister lubricant, rather than the more common combination of grease and oil found in the majority of forks. The Fork Meister bushing/grease combination is supposed to reduce friction while keeping things simple for do-it-yourself mechanics. I had every intention of pulling the fork apart before the first ride to inspect grease levels, but the trails beckoned and rather than tinkering I went riding.
I set the fork up with 78psi, the higher end of the recommended range for my weight and about 25% sag. I set rebound 3 clicks away from open for a fairly quick rebound speed; there are 14 clicks of adjustment and a massive range between them. Then it was time to go find out what this fork was really made of.
On The Trail
How does a 32mm stanchion feel on a point and shoot trail bike? Most folks would argue that 32mm stanchions are less than ideal on burly terrain. I’m no heavy weight, but at 190-pounds I can feel the difference between a stiff fork and a noodle. Whether or not the DAD is the difference maker I can’t be sure, but what I am sure of is that the TS8 R took a solid beating and that I didn’t experience any undesirable tucking or twisting in the front end.
Previous Magura suspension offerings were accused of a lack of compression, mid-stroke wallow and diving under braking. The TS8 R uses Magura’s DLO3 damping system. In the ‘open’ setting I found that while the fork was more supple at lower speeds, there wasn’t enough support for my taste or terrain where the fork has to take on successive hits. It didn’t bottom out excessively, but it did ride fairly deep in the stroke. I eventually settled on 80psi, 3 clicks out for rebound and the ‘firm’ setting. These settings gave me about 18% sag. According to Magura, the ‘firm’ setting is intended for aggressive riding (see: firm damping, reduced low-speed sensitivity and more trail feedback). The TS8 R in general seems to cater to riders who prefer a fork that rides higher in its travel and high speed rather than a fork that caters first and foremost to comfort.
The entire range of travel was well managed and predictable. No harsh ramping, excessive bottom-outs or clunking despite my best efforts to exceed the fork’s capability. Seated technical climbing required firm hand pressure to be maintained on the front end to keep the wheel tracking smoothly while using the ‘firm’ and ‘closed’ settings, although it wasn’t unexpected considering that I set the fork up to perform during aggressive descents rather than to be efficient while climbing.
The ‘open’, ‘firm’ and ‘closed’ options on the DLO3 damper are well executed in terms of how each setting differs in compression damping. What the DLO3 lacks is the ability to fine tune your fork without pulling it apart. Riders that want as much adjustability as possible and fine tune their settings regularly might shy away from the TS8 R because they find the fork too simple. For riders that prefer to use recommended settings rather than minutely adjusting their suspension, the DLO3 cartridge does an outstanding job out of the box.
Things That Could Be Improved
The front axle requires a T25 tool for removal. Some folks will certainly prefer a tool-free system and may gripe about the additional time it takes to remove the front wheel. I personally prefer the simplicity of the front axle and I would imagine it is slightly lighter than the tool-free competition. Worth noting regardless of which side of the fence you’re on.
Small bump compliance is not the fork’s strongest trait. While it does absorb less significant trail chatter, there are other offerings on the market that seem to do it more effectively. Even in the ‘open’ setting, I found that things could be better. There are advantages such as simplicity and ease of maintenance with the grease only concept; however it may be that it's more of a challenge to create a suspension as supple as the more traditional oil bath. Magura have definitely addressed the issues around brake dive and mid-stroke wallow, although they have reduced the low speed comfort of the TS8 R in order to do so.
Most trail bikes are in the 140-160mm range and most fork offerings are adjustable within it. Riders with 160mm of rear travel are unlikely to consider this fork until it is available with 160mm of travel.
Long Term Durability
I managed to get on my bike pretty frequently over the few months that I’ve had the fork. We had a dusty start to the New Year, we saw a foot of snow and now we are back to typical Southwestern British Columbia conditions. I haven’t been given any indication that there might be durability issues down the line with the internals or the chassis. The lowers didn’t take any significant impacts during the test, nor did I do any crash testing. Regardless, the lowers shrugged off any scuffs and look as good as the day the TS8 R came out of the box. I eventually pulled the fork apart to find that the Fork Meister grease seems to have held up well, and it is worth noting that basic maintenance is indeed a very simple affair as Magura claims. Pull the lowers, clean and inspect, replenish the grease if needed and put the fork back together again. There is no messy oil bath to deal with, which is always a plus. Suspension action remains as smooth as day one, and I haven’t heard a creak or groan from the fork. I suspect that the plastic guards on the bottom of the lowers might break if they came to suffer a significant impact, but the business end and internals of the TS8 R 150 seem in it for the long haul.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Magura TS8 R 150 lives up to the stiffer, lighter, easier claims. It is better suited to riders that ride aggressively and want a supportive fork with plenty of trail feedback, rather than a fork that is geared towards comfort and cruising laps of your local flow trail. The DLO3 cartridge is a great platform with a straightforward yet solid tuning out of the box. Extras like the simplified maintenance and inclusion of volume spacers will further help the TS8 R to gain traction both literally and figuratively. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, reliable and predictable fork, especially at this price point, give the Magura TS8 R 150 some consideration.
For more information visit www.magura.com.
About The Reviewer
Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 8 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at www.straightshotblog.com.