Sedona, AZ — Magura has been around the suspension game for quite a while, but they’ve never been more relevant than now. With most brands figuring out ways to make suspension more complex, Magura’s models are refreshingly simple. You’ll find Magura’s suspension motto printed on the side of each fork leg; Stiff, Light, Easy. For 2014, Magura made small but noticeable improvements to the fork line. Here’s a look at what to expect as well as my impressions from hammering around Sedona for two days.
Sedona, Arizona is the perfect place to test out suspension products. Like my native San Luis Obispo, California, the terrain is varied. You get slick rock to sand and everything in between. The majority of the riding is loose over hard with a fair amount of large rocks thrown in to keep you from relaxing too much. The trail network is large with the ability to piece together 30-mile rides without ever overlapping. Add to that some of the most beautiful vistas in the country. If you’re a mountain biker, it’s going to be a good time.
Magura makes essentially 2 models, a TS6 (or Team Suspension 6) and a TS8. Magura likes to say they don’t make a cheap fork, and that’s true – the only difference between the two forks is the damper and preload rods are made of steel in the TS6, and aluminum in the TS8. This simple difference is enough to make the TS8 about a half-pound lighter, but everything else is exactly the same.
For 2014, Magura redesigned the internals to make the forks more supple. A lubrication switch was made to extremely slippery food grade silicone grease made by Castrol for the dust wipers. New PTFE impregnated aluminum bushings are not only supposed to increase suppleness but also durability.
2014 also brings a long awaited 140/150mm travel 29″ fork to the line up. The fork is internally adjustable between the travel ranges with no extra parts required. You’d be forgiven for thinking 150mm of travel and 32mm stanchions don’t belong in the same sentence, but Magura does a few things that make their forks more than adequately stiff. The more obvious is the DAD or Duel Arch Design lowers. Suffice it to say, it’s for real and it works. The forks are torsionally much stiffer than other 32s and comparable to larger diameter competitor’s models. Secondly, the switch to grease allowed Magura to position the upper bushing much higher in the lowers. Whereas a Rock Shox (or Fox, or everyone else actually) fork has a dust wiper, a foam ring, and often times a second internal oil seal all taking up real estate and forcing the position of the upper bushing lower in the Lowers (stay with me), the Magura forks only have a dust seal, so Magura’s upper bushings are placed as much as 10mm higher in the lowers than the competition. This greatly increases the stiffness under braking. A new compression damper called DLO3 replaces the DLO2 damper. The new damper has 3 positions, open, firm, and locked out. Lastly, Magura has made spacers available that will press into the underside of the Air chamber top cap and there by reduce the air volume of the air chamber. This was initially designed for lighter weight riders, but could also be used for someone who just wanted an extremely progressive fork.
One thing I discovered about the forks was that they ride high in their travel, even in the open setting, and that is on purpose. Before Magura designed the TS series, their forks were purposefully super linear. However market feedback caused them to change to a more progressive spring rate curve. This makes the fork a joy to ride because you can run the fork at a lower pressure than you might in a competitor’s, and get a super supple beginning stroke that resists bottoming out on mid sized hits. I lowered my fork pressure twice over the course of four rides in the Sedona desert and still never bottomed it out. Brake dive is non-existent. The Firm setting on the DLO3 damper essentially gets rid of the suppleness and allows the fork to ride similar to a platform setting found on other suspension forks. The Lock Out setting is exactly what it sounds like. I never ended up using it, because bob is so well controlled in the firm setting that it just wasn’t a need for me, but it’s nice to have the option. All the 2014 Magura 29er forks come with post mount tabs set for a 180mm brake rotor without the use of adaptors. This of course makes 160mm rotor setups an unavailable option. TS8 forks used to only be available in white, but will be available in Black as well for 2014. The TS6 model remains black only.
Overall, I was very impressed with the forks. I never felt they weren’t stiff enough (I rode a 29er 140mm model TS8) or supple enough, although I would like to spend more time to gauge the small bump compliance against their competitor’s offerings in a more back to back comparison. The compression damper in the open setting seemed to be spot on. The new damper made it easy enough to find the right ride for the trail. Again, a longer test period would be ideal, but first impressions are very good. Lastly, I had the chance to see the rebuild process and I almost believe that my two and a half year old could do it. A well engineered product is generally easy to work on and Magura forks definitely fit this description. Stiff, light, easy. It’s hard to argue with that.