Words: Travis Engel
Photos: Van Swae
We put a lot of trust in our shocks. And they deliver with an impressive success rate, especially when you consider their complexity. None of our bikes' other moving parts has the finely tuned dynamics of today's suspension.
Meanwhile, electronic elements are being introduced to the system. A decade ago, this would have been worthy of some eye-rolling. But today, the technology involved could be considered almost humdrum. But wait until you experience the Magura TS8 R Elect.
Reliable remote gadgets have been around for a while, and every Elect fork comes with a satellite button that fits nicely on the clamp of a Magura brake. It also mounts directly to your bar, though its wide footprint will force it inboard of the controls.
Regardless, the engineers would prefer you try handing over the control of this button to the fork itself. After calibrating its thresholds to your preference, the Elect unit will automatically engage or disengage the fork's Dynamic Lock-Out depending on how steeply the bike is oriented uphill or down. It also will automatically open the lock out if it happens to be engaged during a jump or drop, or if it runs past its ample battery life.
That's right, dear reader. With the Elect system active, this fork will lock and unlock dozens, even hundreds of times in a ride, at its own will. While this may sound like a slippery slope toward these machines getting too smart and eventually enslaving all of humanity, please remain calm. This fork is nothing to fear.
We mounted the 100-millimeter TS8 on a quick, suspended carbon 29er, though Elect can be fitted to recent Magura forks of any travel. Ignoring the artificial intelligence for a moment, I relied on the manual remote while I got used to the fork. The button's light indicators are a little faint on a sunny day, but the reaction is quick and positive. The distinctive dual-arch lowers have always made sense, and clearly don't come at a weight penalty to the 3.7-pound fork. It was indeed stiff, but the advantage was subtle enough that I haven't yet missed it since I returned to my own bike's traditional setup. Wide open, the fork felt well-tuned to its XC intentions. The DLO has almost none of that unsettling sag before it engages, and is as firm as you'd ever need. But an impact will blow through the platform easier than most, so fear not if it stays closed through a rough section.
Or better yet, just let go and switch the Elect to automatic. Truth be told, this requires a leap of faith at first. The setup process is logical, but involves some trial and error to find one's chosen sweet spot. The rider can set the fork to stay locked out until it aims down particularly steep inclines, or to stay wide open until aiming up steep climbs. Once the rider decides exactly where on that spectrum they lie, the Elect retains the rider's settings.
On my first ride using the Elect feature, I was a little distracted. I kept giving the fork bounce tests to feel if it was in the right setting for the terrain I was about to encounter. Nevertheless, amid all of my second-guessing, it always was.
On my subsequent rides, I continued to trust the fork more and more. Sustained descents always left the fork active, but that was no surprise. It was on rough, undulating terrain that this TS8 won me over. The little extra pedal power you feel with a firmer fork was quite a treat on those little charges that are too short to merit the use of even a remote lockout. It was also a treat never to forget to turn my lockout off on a descent.
So it works, and it works well. All it requires is the same trust that we put in our bikes' other space-aged bits. I just require that it doesn't become self-aware and send a robot assassin back in time to prevent my birth.