Project 24.2 Review: Magura’s great feeling MT6 disc brakes

See all of our Project 24.2 reviews here!

When they were announced last summer, Magura’s MT disc brake line grabbed a lot of attention.  With strikingly light weights and what was claimed to be the industry’s first carbon fiber master cylinder, gram freaks everywhere were at attention.  While the $400/wheel MT8s got most of the press, keen-eyed spec readers quickly noticed that by trading the carbon lever and bar clamp for aluminum and leaving a bit more material in the caliper, the MT6 gained a mere 32g per wheel, added a bit of power-enhancing stiffness- and more importantly saved $200 per set.

It was with these more-than-worthwhile compromises in mind that I bolted a set of MT6s to our Project 24.2 bike.  Four months and over a thousand miles later, I’ve been impressed with Magura’s latest.  Read on to find out why…

A quick rehash from our Initial Review:

Molded from a combination of short and long carbon fiber in a thermoplastic resin, the MT series of brakes are an au courant flip-flop design with a radial master cylinder.  As such, the T25 Easy Bleed Technology ports are duplicated on either side of the lever and both of our samples came with the same hose length attached- something that’s very nice for stocking shops.  The broad aluminum lever has a nice dogleg but is more ‘blade-y’ than most I’ve used lately [an easy adaptation]…  The lever clamp bolts are actually aluminum nuts with T25 bolt heads- threaded studs are permanently installed in the lever body to prevent riders from stripping threads from the Carbotecture material.  Though it’s hard to see molded into the lever body, take a close look at the torque specifications in the photo to the right.  Reach for a torque wrench before installing or bleeding the brakes: 1Nm is not a lot of torque.

Heading south, the MT6 caliper is a skeletal single-piece forging, more piston than anything else.  One of our sample calipers came with aluminum T25 mounting hardware, one with steel.  Either is fine by me- the Torx looks good and most mini tools have that fitting by now.  Given that the mounting bolts don’t see major loads, this doesn’t seem to me a place to fear alloy…  The new Storm SL rotors save about 20g over the previous-generation Storm in the 160mm size (but was out of stock, so you’ll see a 160mm Storms and a 140mm Storm SL here).

Replacing the Roval Control Trail SL wheelset’s Ti quick release skewer for a steel DT Swiss RWS skewer stiffened up the bike’s rear end enough to make the rubbing and squealing I initially reported a thing of the past. In fact, once the skewer issues were sorted out, the MT6s stopped rubbing altogether- despite some occasionally muddy, wet, and snowy riding.  The MT6s are right up with Shimano’s Servo-Wave equipped XTR trail brakes for rotor clearance, which makes for easy setup and quiet running. Of course, the tradeoff in this case is more free throw at the lever than I tend to prefer.  This means that the Maguras’ levers need to be set fairly far from the bar to prevent squished fingers when middle finger braking.  Also keeping the MT6s quiet is a refreshingly rattle-free lever pivot, which remains snug after several months’ use.

With a progressive lever feel (more like Shimano than Formula or Hayes), it’s easy to modulate the MT6s at the edge of traction, something that makes late braking in corners easy to control.  It’s only during hard panic stops and stoppies that a bit of flex can be felt- and seen- in the lever.   For our 26in-wheeled race bike, Magura sent out two 160mm rotors and one 140mm.  Sure enough, the 140mm rear rotor did provide good modulation and enough power to overcome the Specialized Fast Trak‘s modest tread, without any loss of modulation.  Though they’re easily as powerful as anything available just a few years ago, the MT6s’ power seems about mid-pack as far as current XC/trail brakes go: a 180/160mm combination would be my choice on trail bikes and 29ers.

While the levers’ long free throw can be a bit of a surprise when coming from other brakes, the Magura MT6s have been solid since day one.  The weight and price are competitive and I personally prefer their toned-down aesthetic of the pricier MT8s.  Aside from requiring a few stops’ adjustment when coming off of my other bikes and after the skewer was replaced, I haven’t had to give the Maguras a thought.  The biggest reason not to run the MT6s actually comes from below:  the $200/wheel MT4s’ bite point adjustment should allow riders to tune out some of the free throw but only add 10g.

marc

www.magura.com

Comments

Taylor - 03/29/12 - 10:37am

Marc…How do MT6 compare to the Marta SL, in lever adjustment and stopping?

Shane Eleniak - 03/29/12 - 4:33pm

Any thoughts on the new Maguras vs the new Formula R1 Racing if you were looking for new, light brakes for a 29er project?

Marc - 03/29/12 - 10:22pm

Taylor,
Great question. Alex (my 24hr race partner) & I had the chance to ride the MT6s and Marta SLs back-to-back and both of us preferred the MT6s. The free throw is similar but the MT6s seem to have a bit more power and better control. There’s not much reason to go with the older model at this point.

Shane,
I’ve been riding the previous generation (2011) R1s for over a year and both brakes have their strong points. Though I prefer the short lever throw and the lever shape on the Formulas, the Maguras are much easier to set up and are less likely to rub. So it’s up to your personal preference. Seeing as none of my rotors stay straight for long and I’m more comfortable working on mineral oil brakes. If you keep things in tip-top shape and value a short lever throw, the R1s might be your brake.

marc

MsC - 03/31/12 - 4:31pm

Besides the annoying rubbing of the Formula’s due to the too limited pad clearance,, dont forget that almost all their brakes spill oil through the diaphragm on the inside of the lever mounting clamp. DOT 4 is very aggressive and eats away the clearcoat finish of your precious carbon handlebar. I’ve had this with K24′s, The One’s and yes, R1′s. They were not over filled or anything. Just of few runs down some steep mountain trails.
Second, the mounting hardware of the R1′s is crap. Both Formula and Magura use aluminum Torx screws for mounting the brake lever on the handlebar. The Magura bolts are properly designed, while the R1′s are too skininy, break easily (even when appling the recommend tork) and are too soft. You can mess up the bolt heads real easily.
Third, they had issues with their too little oil reservoir (should be bigger for 2012). I know two guys who left their bikes at a ride for about 30mins in the sun while having a drink. When they returned, their wheels were locked due to the expansion of the oil in the brake reservoir. They had to cool down the reservoir with water from the store.

In my eyes, the R1′s are poorly designed, while the MT line of Magura is properly German engineering, and on top of that, they use mineral oil.

Taylor - 04/09/12 - 1:58pm

Marc,
Thank you for your response! I plan on building up a new bike and MT6 would look good on a Ti 29er. Taylor

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