Magura TS8 eLECT Fork - Review

May 21, 2014
by Mike Levy  


Magura believes that there is a place for electronically controlled suspension, and while the thought of a computerized brain telling your bike's fork or shock what to do might be a bit unnerving at first, this is a long ways from HAL 9000 levels of control. In fact, all of what you'll find within the 100mm travel TS8 eLECT fork is very proven technology that has been around for a long time, with Magura utilizing a 3D accelerometer and small piezoelectric motor to control the fork's lockout function. The fork's rebound damping is completely conventional, as is its air spring, and the 3.7lb TS8 eLECT fork will simply revert to a standard fork if its battery dies while you're out on the trail, although that shouldn't happen too often (or not at all so long as you charge it every now and then) given its claimed 40 hours of life.

TS8 eLECT Details

• Intended use: cross-country
• Wheel size: 26'', 650B, 29'' (tested)
• Travel: 100mm
• Axle: 15mm thru-axle
• Spring: air
• Adjustments: rebound, eLECT, air pressure
• eLECT electronic lockout control
• Brake: 7'' post mount
• Weight: 3.7lb
• MSRP: $1,400 USD


Magura TS8 eLECT

Magura's Dual Arch Design is claimed to increase torsional rigidity, but it also gives the TS8 eLECT quite a unique appearance.



While there is a lot of electronic trickery that we cover further down in the review, the most obvious talking point with the TS8 fork has to be its Dual Arch Design (DAD) that sees Magura employ arches at both the front and rear of the fork. The idea is to increase torsional rigidity by tying the two legs together in a closed tube of sorts. That description might not make a whole lot of sense at first, but it becomes clearer when you picture yourself looking down at it from straight above, a view that shows how both the left and right fork leg are connected at the front and back compared to a standard fork that is only joined at its front. Why would this increase rigidity? Magura suggests this experiment to make it more understandable: take a cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper or paper towel, hold it upright and gently twist the bottom while holding the top in place. Now cut the same cardboard tube open lengthwise and perform the test again - the un-cut tube represents Magura's DAD design, and the cut tube represents a standard fork. See the difference? Yes, it is a very simple demonstration, but it gives you an idea of why Magura went to the trouble of adding an extra arch at the back of the fork. And, as our previous time on their designs have shown, it does make for a very rigid chassis.

Magura TS8 eLECT

Magura as eschewed a thru-axle quick release in favour of a 15mm axle that requires a T25 torx tool to remove. Before you say “who the hell has a T25 on them all the time?”, Magura's has actually stowed a T25 tool within the non-drive side of the axle itself. The tool can be pulled out (it's held in place by way of a tight fitting O-ring) when required to remove the axle, and also be used to adjust all of their brake hardware or any other component that fastens with a T25 screw.

Magura TS8 eLECT

The TS8's axle requires a T25 torx tool to remove it, and Magura has one hidden within the axle that can be pulled out easily.



The axle threads into a self-locking insert that Magura says renders pinch bolts redundant, along with a steel cap for the torx wrench to fit into that should make rounding out the interface next to impossible. A floating cone is captured under the steel cap, with a thin washer between the two that allows the axle to rotate independently of the cone as it’s threaded into place. This lets the cone nestle freely into its concave home within the lowers without it binding as it’s tightened.

Magura TS8 eLECT

The eLECT brains are hidden underneath the right-side fork cap.



Magura's battery powered compression damper, the eLECT, uses a 3D accelerometer and tiny piezoelectric motor to alter the amount of low-speed compression damping that is applied, letting it switch between full open and locked out without the rider needing to push any buttons or levers. If that sounds like science fiction, keep in mind that the 3D accelerometer found within the damper is very similar to what an iPhone uses to "right" the display regardless of which orientation the phone is used in, and that its piezoelectric motor is far from being new technology - it's just that Magura has adapted it to control their eLECT damper. How does it work? The 3D accelerometer senses the angle of the bike and tells the pint sized motor to either open the compression damping ports if the bike is angled down or level, or close them to lock out the fork if it’s angled up during a climb. The motor rotates a disc with three kidney shaped openings that correspond to openings on the compression piston, either aligning the openings to allow the oil to flow and the fork to go through its travel, or rotating it roughly an eighth of a turn to close off the oil passages and firm the fork up.

Magura TS8 eLECT

The fork's eLECT compression damper doesn't look all the different at first glance, but a 3D accelerometer and tiny piezoelectric motor are hidden inside of it.


Magura have also incorporated a blow-off, although the fork won't sag into its travel when locked out like with their DLO system, a useful feature for preserving handling on climbs, and they also say that it can sense when you are in the air and will open before you land. The system's operating window can be tweaked manually by "zeroing" the damper on either a slight incline or decline by holding down the reset button for a few seconds, effectively tricking it into thinking the terrain is either more level or more sloped than it actually is, and therefore changing when it firms up.


Magura TS8 eLECT

The motor rotates a disc with three kidney shaped openings that correspond to openings on the compression piston, either aligning the openings to allow the oil to flow and the fork to go through its travel, or rotating it roughly an eighth of a turn to close off the oil passages and firm the fork up.



The eLECT system doesn't alter the low-speed compression instantly, with a slight delay that is similar to how long it takes your phone's display to change, about a second or so, which means that the design might not be best suited to an aggressive trail rider who is looking for wide open performance. And while Magura readily admits that fact, they do also say that the eLECT damper offers some serious advantages when talking about efficiency for the sporty trail rider or cross-country racer. The damper's built-in battery can be charged via a micro-USB cord (similar to what many phones and cameras use), and Magura says that it lasts 40 hours when set to automatic to allow the 3D accelerometer and micro-sized piezoelectric motor to work full-time. Want more control over the lockout? A handlebar mounted remote is an optional accessory that lets the rider operate the damper manually, with a 60 hour battery life if they choose to do so, and the system simply reverts to being full-open if the battery dies on the trail. Interestingly, the eLECT damper can be retrofitted to Magura's TS8 R, TS6 forks, as well as all of their suspension forks from 2010 on, although we suspect that it makes the most sense on their forks that feature 120mm of travel or less.



Performance

We spent the majority of our time aboard the TS8 eLECT fork with its electronic compression damper in automatic mode in order to asses Magura's battery powered approach to lockout control, but also rode the fork extensively in its manual setting on the same trails. The result of this back-to-back testing revealed that the TS8 eLECT really has two distinct personalities, one of which is certainly geared more towards less demanding terrain and hard efforts, and the other that feels more at home on rough ground. First up, does a 3D accelerometer and tiny piezoelectric motor make for a better cross-country fork?

The answer to that questions totally depends on the trails you ride, which is why potential eLECT fork owners will need to consider their trails and riding style more so than if they were going to run a traditional fork like a FOX 32 or RockShox SID. The reason for this is that the eLECT system, when used in automatic mode, can feel harsh when you get on rough climbs or high-speed stretches of trail that pitch up for any length of time. Now, it is obviously going to feel as unforgiving as any other locked out fork when its tiny motor shuts off the fork's compression circuit - that is the exact idea, and it does make for a very efficient ride - but I'm talking about that fractional moment when you're coming into a rise with some speed and the fork has to make the decision as to if it is going to stay open or not. It's here that it almost feels like we could do with it not locking out as quickly as it does, with a slightly longer delay in the process that might equal a more forgiving ride. A perfect example of this when a rider might charge into a rough climb in order to carry some momentum, only to find that his fork is locked out and the ride a little choppy. Being able to have the automatic lockout function hesitate slightly longer would allow for the rider's speed to bleed off before the fork firms up. While you can't actually slow this operation down, being able to tell the fork how steep of a grade to lockout on during the setup process does help, and, not surprisingly, we found ourselves preferring to run a configuration that kept it open unless we were pointing up some serious grades that called for out-of-the-saddle efforts. All of the above shouldn't be taken as a complaint, though, because it functions exactly how Magura intends it to - the 100mm travel TS8 eLECT is not meant to be anything but a cross-country race fork. However, we believe that the system could see broader use if it was able to be tuned slightly differently.

Magura TS8 eLECT

The TS8 eLECT saw months of use mounted to the front of our Rocky Mountain Element rolling test platform. Don't let the relatively short travel bike fool you - the TS8 eLECT saw plenty of challenging terrain.



It was quite the opposite at the other end of the spectrum, and the eLECT internals allowed for a seamless transition from locked out to fully open cross-country fork when the grade leveled off or turned downwards. That exact scenario does tend to happen at a slower pace, however, and the fork really did feel like it reverted to being fully open more than fast enough. To be honest, we had actually expected the opposite to be the case, with suspicions that the electronic TS8 might not be able to respond quick enough when we needed the suspension the most - on rough downhills. As it turned out, the fork was open and ready for action whenever we began descending. And how does it compare on the downhills relative to the competition? We'd say that it feels pretty much on par with what you get from a 32 or SID, and it is actually a touch more sensitive at the top of the stroke than what we've come to expect from either of those two offerings. This is a nice attribute for anyone who tends to lean more towards higher air pressures/stiffer spring rates (I'm looking at all the downhillers turned cross-country racers out there) as you don't sacrifice that small bump compliance as much just because you're forced to set up the fork for your more aggressive riding style. And riders who do exactly that will appreciate its ultra-rigid chassis that feels like it can be thrown around at will with nary a hint of unwanted flex - the TS8 is quite a bit more torsionally rigid than its competitors.

Magura TS8 eLECT

The fork's wireless lockout control might look a bit odd, but it is very ergonomic and easy to push.



Issues
This is the part of the review where we expected to be complaining about battery life and possibly system failure due to water getting into places that it shouldn't be, but we have no gripes with any of those points - the fork's battery lasted around the claimed 40 hour mark in automatic mode, give or take one or two hours, and no amount of rain and jet washing seemed to upset its circuitry. When it comes down to it, our only real complaint, other than it locking out too quickly, boils down to an axle-to-crown length that is about 5 - 10mm longer than a 32 or SID. That might not sound like much, but it was enough for us to notice a slight change in the bike's handling, as well as to require moving a headset spacer from under the stem to on top of it.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesAre we ready to let the robots decide, or does the human brain and our left thumb know better? Well, after months and months of use, we still prefer to make the call on our own as to when to the fork locks out or not, with the manual function simply making more sense for how and where we ride. So, our TS8 eLECT fork ended up being a torsionally rigid cross-country fork with a wireless manual lockout that made for an extremely clean appearance, but that isn't to say that its automatic function won't work well for many other riders and racers. And it is true cross-country racers who will clearly benefit from the fork. Why is that? Anyone who has crested the top of a climb at their redline, breathing through their eyeballs with spittle hanging off of their chin, only to go into the upcoming downhill section with their fork still locked out will know exactly what I'm talking about. The TS8 eLECT does the thinking for you when you're too blown to do anything but try and keep pedalling, and if that sounds like a fun Sunday morning to you, then check out Magura's battery-assisted fork . However, more casual riders, even those who ride short travel cross-country bikes, might be better off on something else.- Mike Levy

www.magura.com


75 Comments

  • + 51
 This is brilliant.

Think about it. Magura have taken a look at the wide variety of users out there, identified a potential user for a product that could improve the performance of the suspension for those users, then given time and resources to bringing that idea to reality. No, it may not be for everyone (not me either), however it proves that it CAN be done and for that we should all be thankful.

You never know, one day, someone might come up with a product that the average PB user likes.
  • + 32
 "You never know, one day, someone might come up with a product that the average PB user likes."


The Pike?
  • - 9
flag sashamtbrider (May 21, 2014 at 9:50) (Below Threshold)
 I posted a comment a few years ago saying that one day we will have wireless brakes... Now I can see that this might happen relatively soon. MAGURA, we're waiting.
  • + 0
 Sasha there's no way to mechanically control the brake if anything happened, so the rider has no brakes and nobody wants to buy brakes that have the option of not working. The reason this fork can and will safely use electronics is because if the battery dies it's just another suspension fork.
  • + 1
 I see both of your points. However, riding bikes there is a reasonable expectation that anything could break. You put your trust in a piece of machinery that has been proven and tested but still has the ability to fail. So though wireless brakes may be out of the picture within the next few years, i'm sure that there were naysayers that didn't initially trust certain vast improvements in the cycling industry before they were proven to be really great advancements .
  • + 0
 Well yes a brake line could rupture and all your oil would leak and have the same effect. The fact that the hydraulics are in a sealed system and the electronics are basically a finite system kind of sets up a psychological block, and what really is the benefit to wireless brakes? I really can't see any other than to say you have them because hydraulic brakes work really well as is. Sorry to go offtopic.
  • + 3
 Benefit of wireless brakes is that they're lighter. But that's all.
Why I wouldn't want them? Hydraulic brakes are independent, if one doesn't work, the other one does. To achieve the same thing with wireless, you'd have to use four batteries and remember charging all of them.
  • + 2
 The whole reason behind hydraulic brakes over cable (or wireless) is because hydraulics give great feedback. Wireless brakes would have to push back on your fingers with the same force they push on the pads with. It would be absurdly complex with force sensors that would have to be continually calibrated and withstand crazy temperatures.
  • + 1
 Guys, you all have provided many good reasons why not to use wireless brakes, and I agree with many of them. However, something that seems completely impossible today, might be a usual thing tomorrow. The technology isn't there yet. Our dreams move the progress forward.
  • + 24
 VERY detailed article, well done. Electronics and mountain bikes just don't mix in my uneducated opinion. Was good to read Levy point out that this fork probably isn't targeted towards more casual riders, it really does seem to be targeted towards the competitive rider.
  • + 8
 I agree - we usually know when to lock a fork out don't we. $1400 is a lot to have it done auto
  • - 2
 Probably worthy for downhill world cupper on some tracks,, if Magura intended to apply on longer version Its the trend, first two dh wc some rider still on enduro bike ... we'll see soon
  • + 6
 I think people see the word electronics and get scared, but the fork still works even when the battery is dead. So its just a added feature.
  • + 15
 I just hate progress, shit like hydraulic brakes, carbon, clutch derailleurs, normal derailleurs, suspension, new wheel sizes, chain drives all this progress sucks! TFW I ride a penny farthing
  • + 2
 I wasn't slating change or progression, they are both very good things and this fork does show it well. I just raised an eyebrow at the price, especially when you read the review in detail and the content about it not performing to the reviewers tastes. It is a benefit for Xc race boys but at this moment in time I don't see the payback with it - and that's coming from someone who embraces change, rides 650b, has xx1 and believe it or not - hydraulic brakes
  • + 1
 Not just racer boys. A whole lot of people feel more comfortable charging up some device than playing with lockout switches on every hill. Too many knobs to twiddle. What I like about Lyric DH and CCDBA I got - no lockout switches. Same with Magura Durin SL on my light bike. Set it once and ride it. This electronic one will be the same, just charge it every time you check latex in your tires.
  • + 11
 I'll be honest. I wanted to read this with an open mind, though I got bored and stopped reading it. This whole electric thing isn't for me anyways.
  • + 7
 Couldn't agree more, I'll leave the electronics with the roadies, mountain biking is my escape from all that non-sense.
  • + 9
 Why would electronics be any more of a nonsense than hydraulics? Or pneumatics?
  • + 4
 Because there ain't no screens nor batteries...no "Electricity" as one might call it.
  • + 10
 You mean "Electrickery"?
  • - 2
 The diy cardboard tube demo killed the article for me. Do we really need to cut a toilet paper core in half to understand arch design?
  • + 0
 There are no screens on this fork, and why would batteries be any more of a nuisance than brake fluid? Or latex in your tires (that needs to replaced almost as often as this battery needs to be charged)? It sure is more reliable than shifter cables. And less complex than a dropper post.
  • + 1
 []
  • + 2
 basically because being a trail hippy and disliking anything innovative seems to be cool all of a sudden.
  • + 0
 Innovative? You mean "featuring new methods"? Because this stuff was on production cars back in 1989. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air isn't new and innovative anymore, and this semi-active suspension is older than that.
  • + 7
 Can't wait for the day when I have to make sure everything down to my shorts have a full charge before i take a ride
  • + 1
 have fun. Smile
  • + 5
 I still want to be the master. I like the twinlock from scott with ctd but if I ever have the opportunity I'd like to give this a shot.
  • + 6
 Dunno about the whole electric thing, but I reckon the dual arch thing looks sick
  • + 2
 Same like the look of the dual arch, but I can't stop wondering if its going to act as a drainpipe for mud etc into the seals, given it rains in the UK every day directing the mud and water into the seals doesn't seem a particularly good idea. Ten mins into a ride it looks like it would fill up?
  • + 2
 I had some Magura XC forks years ago which had the double arch design and it was fabulous. Even with QR dropouts they were easily as stiff as bolt through rebas I had a few years later. I didn't notice any drainpipe effect with mud and rain, they were pretty bombproof from a reliability point of view. The auto lock out thing on these forks isn't that appealing, but I do like the axle and hidden torx tool thing. Magura do seem to have nice design ideas, though they're less good value than they used to be for various economic reasons
  • + 4
 Magura has used the double arch for a decade, it doesn't "drain pipe" into the seals anymore than single arch forks do.
  • + 1
 ok cool, was just wondering. think I'll be sticking with my 10 year old z1's tho, can't see them ever failing
  • + 3
 Not interested in this fork, but I can't count the number of times I've descended without remembering to switch off ProPedal.. Hence, I never use it anymore, so in theory, the concept is sound.
  • + 7
 Meh.
  • + 3
 I'm sorry but stop trying to make a bike product do a 100 average things just make it do one really good thing ! just work and be reliable !
  • + 2
 The Specialized brain does the same thing except its a hydraulic/mechanical system instead of electric motor system. Not trying to be a hater but the brain I feel is a lot better in my book because of that.
  • + 1
 I like the brain better. It reacts to the trail surface (bumps vs smooth) not just the angle of the bike.
  • + 1
 I can really only see the auto-lockout mechanism being beneficial on fire road or paved climbs. Imagine trying to burst up a steep technical climb at the bottom of a fast descent with your fork fully locked out. Many of the trails I ride have very technical climbs, and I know for a fact that I can ride them a lot faster with my fork not locked out. If they can figure out how to tune the electronics to react to front wheel and rear wheel impact, I think it would make this product more appealing/functional.
  • + 3
 Not a comment on the electronics but I really like the look of this fork, just looks clean and strong
  • + 2
 That axle? No thanks - what's wrong with an allen bolt? Or even better, maxle or similar system.
  • + 1
 They lost me on the torx wrench.
  • + 1
 I thought the system looked nice and clean. The included tool is very cool. With Tubeless how many 'race day' flats do you have now?
  • + 1
 it will get lost (like rebound knobs on rockshox) and torx always break.
  • + 1
 I don't think electronic components will have long term durability in a suspension setup, and with the high price its worth your time to just flip a knob. Time will tell...
  • + 2
 Why dont they make automatic shifting electronic drivetrain... we have made it to the moon so that must be possible.
  • + 4
 Haha yeah! I want a cvt transmission on ma bike
  • + 0
 just wait for sram's electric deraileur
  • + 2
 I saw a jury-rigged Shimano XTR Di2 shifting system a while back, and if the Di2 systems are lighter than their mechanical counterparts, it would make sense for XC racing.
  • + 3
 Came here looking for electronics hate. wasn't disappointed.
  • + 3
 I have a GPS on my bike.... it's enough electronic for me Smile
  • + 2
 Something about the shape of the lower brace just calls out to me. If only I had a weight weenie dedicated XC bike..
  • + 2
 Great, new excuses not to go riding... I am out of battery...
  • + 1
 it's the beginning of the end. i am not prepared for the onslaught of E tech that is about to come our way.
  • + 2
 All I can see is dirty white grips that look upside down.
  • + 1
 Dirty yes (like white grips will ever stay white) but not upside down -- the logos alternate
  • + 1
 What to think of that tool? it'd get lost in a few days, or it looks dumb, or it's too heavy for XC or blahblahblah
  • + 1
 That T25 bolt is just crying out to get rounded within the first few removals too
  • + 3
 No. It isn't. We use Allen heads on almost everything, and they put force on the head at about 20 degrees to the flats. A torx head puts that same force at about 80 degrees from the same plane. So basically, the same torque only puts 1/4 of the force on the Torx head. If you aren't rounding out every allen head, you won't be rounding out torx heads.
  • + 1
 I've rounded more disc rotor bolts than anything else through being ham-fisted. Though maybe that's because they're not particularly deep.
  • + 2
 if you round out a bolt or even worse brake them, its usually not the bolts fault but user error... most people tend towards over-tightening massively...
  • + 1
 Oh yeah, I agree 100% it's user error, but I can still see it happening. Maybe not though if the bolt is deep enough.
  • + 1
 The socket portion is made of steel, so rounding it out is not likely to happen.
  • + 1
 that double arch seems strong, but it also looks like it would funnel any dirt directly into the fork seals
  • + 2
 K2 did it a long time ago. The Smartfork. Wasn't vary smart. I had one :/
  • + 2
 K2 was smart they got people to buy it
  • + 1
 I was thinking the same thing...http://www.idriders.com/proflex/tech/K2article2.jpg
  • - 2
 Im not impressed with magura brakes let alone suspension and being part of the electronic world doesn't at all help me want to put this fork on my bike.... im speaking for myself ...so no not diggin it
  • + 1
 not enough handlebar space!!!!
  • - 1
 Electronic pogostick. Gimmick. Too many daily charging duties. This gives an idea of how limited magura marketing is....
  • - 1
 Liking the bike its on but electricity and mountain bikes really?
  • - 2
 uhhhhhhh NO!
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