April 7, 2011
We headed over to Puerto Andratx in Mallorca for our first look at Magura’s much hyped new brake range, the MT or Mission Team series. We’ve heard and seen a lot about the brakes before and Magura’s ‘Mission Performance’ series of videos have been keeping us up to date (if sometimes slightly puzzled) with their development.
At the launch we rode their range topping MT8 brake. Magura say it offers the “best brake power, stiffness to weight ratio, and ergonomics in its class” and it’s the first brake they’ve ever made that uses both a carbon composite lever blade and body.
The brake is an engineering tour de force; an amazing amount of detail has been paid to the full carbon fibre construction and Magura have used an awful lot of manufacturing know-how to create it. They’ve done a lot of testing with members of the public to get the ergonomics correct, even using the input of a Professor of Ergonomics at Stuttgart University to design the lever shape.
The lever is a radial design and the body is made using a technique called ‘Carbotecture SL’. The thermoplastic resin has medium length carbon fibres provide strength. The process of moulding – called ‘CarboFlow’ – aims to control the direction of the carbon fibres using a carefully temperature controlled mould to produce a lever body that’s strong and light but also requires little finishing work.
The new design can be run as a left or right hand lever, always a niggle with Magura brakes of old which had to have the hoses swapped over. There’s a split clamp for ease of fitting and removal which used with Magura’s ‘RemoteMix’ fork remote or the SRAM compatible ‘ShiftMix’ clamps for a nice tidy cockpit. SRAM Matchmaker shifter clamps also fit and we didn’t encounter any mounting issues with Shimano shifters. For ease, all bolts apart from the calliper bleed screw are Torx T25.
Magura say their lever blade has the best strength to weight ratio of any carbon lever on the market. It’s made using a single thread of carbon filament stitched to a sheet, giving absolute control over the direction and pattern of the fibre. This means that the pivot holes don’t cut through the fibre and reduce its strength.
The calliper itself is a one piece item made from forged alloy which is then
machined to remove all excess material. The arches that brace the sides are spaced as widely as possible to reduce flex and minimise uneven pad wear, wooly braking feel and loss of power. The banjo nut is adjustable for optimum hose routing and the offset pistons give an amount of toe-in as the brake is applied to reduce noise and vibration.
The piston seals have been re-designed to reduce friction and the ‘Duroplastic’ heat insulating pistons have a special coating and have a magnet moulded in to keep the pad in place, which should give less drag and even pad wear. The pads themselves drop in from above and are held in place by a forged and anti corrosion coated aluminium bolt, which is lighter than a Ti item.
Magura say the organic pads are specially treated to reduce bed in time by around 50% and as ever, they use non-corrosive mineral oil and the brake has a five-year anti leakproof guarantee. There’s now a syringe bleeding system which should make life easier for mechanics.
Magura will be offering their standard drilled Storm rotors or lightweight Storm SL slotted rotors in sizes from 140mm to 203mm. They’ll come a six-bolt pattern only, with a nicely designed Centrelock adaptor available that keeps the rotor engaged on the hub even if the nut comes loose. It’s not a problem we’ve heard of but it’s nice to know someone has thought about the details.
The brakes felt superbly strong on our test rides on the dusty, sun baked and rock covered trails in the coastal hills of Mallorca, although without trying it on a prolonged descent was hard to judge how the brake would cope under serious abuse. There was no squealing or other unpleasantness
There was plenty of feel on offer through the lever, which was very comfortable in use and both it and the lever body felt flex free. There was enough adjustment to run the lever nice and close to the bar and the power kept coming, which was very impressive.
At a claimed 279g with a 160mm Storm SL rotor the MT8 compares well on weight and on despite this being a first, brief encounter the power and feel would appear to be well up there with the competition.
However, there were a couple of issues that cropped up with the batch of pre-production sample brakes we were riding. The lightweight alloy lever clamp bolts needed a very gentle touch (and more importantly a torque wrench) and a number of them snapped when over-tightened by hand. Magura said that production brakes will have stronger forged bolts rather than the machined bolts that were on our brakes which should sort this issue, but a lot more care should be taken with any lightweight item.
We also saw that on two of the test brakes the lever bushings had fallen out. The levers still operated safely and as per normal save a bit of play, but we’d hope that Magura will sort these issues on the 888 production brakes due to be shipped later this month.
Despite the issues we had on our sample brakes, the MT8 looks very promising and could well offer the holy grail of all mountain power at a cross country race weight. At £299 per end the MT8s aren’t cheap, costing the same as SRAM XX brakes and more than Shimano
XTR or Formula’s top end efforts, meaning that they’re up against some stiff competition.
The Magura MT6, which does without the carbon lever blade and uses a marginally heavier calliper, is priced at a less painful £199 per end and the entry level MT2, which will be launched at Eurobike this year, will start at just £99 per end. With that in mind, if the cheaper brakes can offer as much power and feel then they’ll be sure fire winners.
In the meantime, we’re going to reserve any final judgement on the MT8 until we’ve had a set of production brakes to ride on home trails…
While in Mallorca we also rode Magura’s 2012 fork range, our report will be along soon…