First Impressions: Riding Magura’s All New MT NEXT MT7 and MT8 Brakes in Sedona

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Magura loves Sedona. Believe it or not, this was the 10th year in a row that Magura USA has held their US press camp among the towering red rocks of Sedona. It seems fitting that this would be their 10th camp as the milestone marked what we see as Magura really getting back to the forefront of braking.

Using the opportunity to introduce their new MT NEXT brake line, Magura has been working hard over the past two years to develop the perfect blend of power, modulation, and heat management. In the past few years Magura’s brakes have been good, but pale in comparison to their latest offerings.

First impressions, tech, and more after the break…

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Magura MT Next 2 4 5 6 7 8 Sedona brake elect full suspension 1 (28)

From left to right: MT8, MT7, MT6, MT5, MT4, and MT2

Appropriately called the MT NEXT, the latest brakes from Magura are an evolution of their MT brake line. As one of the pioneers of mountain bike hydraulic brakes in 1987, Magura has a long history of hydraulics engineering. Even with that braking pedigree though, Magura faces stiff competition from brake giants like Shimano, so the company needed a new brake that checked all of the boxes. They needed to be light, powerful, have impressive modulation, and offer modern brake performance across the board.

If first impressions are any indication, Magura nailed it with the most complete line of brakes we’ve seen from the German company.

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A large part of the redesign is the addition of a new 4 piston caliper. Basically just a miniaturized version of their winning supermoto/superbike brake caliper, the tri-arch one piece design offers incredible power and stiffness. NEXT brakes will be split into two categories, the dual piston even numbered MT2, 4, 6, and 8, and the new MAG-Performance line with the quad piston MT5 and 7 brakes.

Both calipers are one piece designs with Magura’s Duraplastic pistons. The dual piston calipers have been revised slightly for better heat dissipation and power, but retain the use of their 22mm pistons. On the 4 piston brakes, the pistons have been downgraded to 17mm with individual brake pads. Technically the MT7 has 4 individual brake pads, while the MT5 has individual brake pad material pods on one backing plate for each side of the rotor. This allows for a cooling gap between the front and the rear pad on each side of the brake for better performance and braking consistency.

Each caliper continues the use of Magura’s MagnetIXchange brake pad system which uses high powered magnets embedded in each piston to hold the pad in place.

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Inevitably when talking about Magura brakes, there is usually someone who chimes in on the comment section with disparaging remarks about “plastic” master cylinders. Unfortunately for them, as Magura engineer and project manager Stephan Pahl will tell you – they are not plastic, but a complex mixture of injection molded carbon fibers in a thermoplastic matrix. Given the name of Carbotecture, there are technically two levels with Carbotecture and new Carbotecture SL. The new SL version is full carbon and uses longer carbon strands for improved strength and reduced weight.

Why Carbotecture? Magura states that by creating such lightweight levers, they can focus the weight on the calipers where it really matters for braking performance and heat dissipation. Officially, Magura says the levers account for 20% of the total system weight, compared to 80% for the caliper, rotor, and hose. Carbotecture also allows for levers with an extremely high impact resistance while remaining lighter than an aluminum lever body. Magura goes as far as claiming that Carbotecture components have the highest flexural fatigue strength of all conventional bike component materials. That means when your bike falls out of the shuttle vehicle, the aluminum brake lever might break off, but the Carbotecture body will be good to go (as Magura once found out first hand). If you’re still concerned about the durability of Carbotecture components, just know that BMW is now specing full Carbotecture brake and clutch assemblies on their motorcycles which will be going much faster than you.

A lot of the design of the brake lever has been engineered with service in mind – it will always be easier to replace external parts rather than the lever body itself. That is precisely the reason why the previous MT EBT (easy bleed technology) screw was so easy to strip out. Magura wanted the screw to strip out before the lever body did. With that said, they have improved the EBT screw for the NEXT series and the screw now features a deeper head for better tool purchase. Now instead of stripping out, if you over-torque the EBT screw the head will snap off, again saving the lever body. Even though the head will be gone, Magura says there will still be enough purchase to remove the broken EBT screw and replace it. As an added bonus, new EBT screws are backwards compatible to the original MT line.

Inside the brake you will find a new machined alloy brake piston as well as nearly double the amount of mineral oil as before. Both of these will help to maintain performance as the heat builds, though Magura says they prefer to keep as much heat as possible in the rotor where is is more easily dissipated.

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An additional benefit of Carbotecture technology is the ability for perfect piston bore finishes without any additional machining. However, Stephan points out that injection molding the lever bodies isn’t as easy as it sounds. As the parts cool, they shrink which means parts of the body with different wall thickness will shrink at different rates. This is part of the magic of Magura’s Carbotecture engineering as the molds don’t feature perfectly round bores, but rather are molded so the pieces shrink to the exact dimensions.

Side by side, the Carbotecture SL (left) and Carbotecture (right) bodies show some slight differences. Due to the increased strength of the SL material, walls can be thinner and holes can even be made where the Carbotecture body is solid. The SL bodies also have a different look with the carbon fibers catching the light in the sun. The largest hole on the SL body is for the BAT adjuster (silver knob in above photo) which actually moves the piston in the bore which changes the bite point.

Additionally, the lever’s pivot point has been moved 20mm closer to the handlebars which provides better ergonomics and a more linear lever stroke for better control.

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In addition to the differences at the body, brakes will also feature different levers with the standard aluminum lever found on the MT 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, and the super light Carbolay full carbon brake lever found on the MT8.

Magura MT vs MT Next brake performance

Just what do all these new features mean in terms of performance? An interesting departure from the previous MT series, is that the MT Next brakes are not built with the same power. While the first MTs all produced the same amount of stopping power, MT Next starts off with the lowest MT2 which offers the same power as every previous MT brake, and it goes up from there. Brake performance increases steadily until you get to the MAG-Performance line which includes the new four piston MT5 and MT7 brakes.

That means that the $100 per wheel MT2 has the same power as the old MT8, while the rest of the line offers drastically improved deceleration performance up to the incredibly powerful MT7.

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Magura is continuing with the Storm and Storm SL rotors which are essentially the same shape with the SL offering more holes for a lighter rotor. Because the SL rotors have less thermal mass than the Storms, they are not as heat resistant but still offer excellent performance. All Magura rotors measure 2.0mm in thickness to ensure their durability.

To go along with the Storm rotors, all MT Next brakes will be equipped with organic pads. Sintered pads are currently not an option.

MT NEXT brakes will be available starting in June, 2014 from $100-370.

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First Impressions:

While I wish we could have stayed in Sedona much longer, two days of riding in perfect weather conditions were a good chance to get an initial impression of the MT8 and MT7. If you haven’t been, Sedona is a desert paradise with incredible trails which range from tame to super tech. While the trails don’t offer much in the way of sustained high speed downhills, they make up for it in loose, technical, exposure  laden routes where you definitely need your brakes to work.

On day one I found myself riding a Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper fitted with the MT7 quad piston brakes, followed by a day on the first ever Pivot Mach 6 out of the mold, which was running the dual piston MT8s. Thanks to the tool-less reach adjust found on both brakes, set up was fairly easy and I was able to get the brake levers fairly close to the bar. Technically a two finger brake lever, you can push the brakes inboard if you prefer to use a one finger approach which is how I chose to run them.

Perhaps the biggest standout for the new brakes is the incredible modulation. Many manufacturers claim to offer plenty of modulation, but nearly every other brake falls short compared to the new MT8 and MT7. The key though, is that the modulation doesn’t come at the expense of power. Not that locking up a brake will help you stop any quicker, but both brakes can easily be locked up if you try and with very little hand force at the lever. However, on the trail the modulation meant much more of the power was useable before the tires lost traction and started to skid. This proved to be very important on trails covered in sand and dust.

There was no doubt that the 4 piston MT7 brakes offered more power than the MT8s, but the power of the MT8s is quite a bit better than the previous version. If your rides consist of XC/Trail/AM type trails, than the MT8 series will offer plenty of stopping power with the MT7 series seeming better equipped for bigger, more aggressive riders on bigger bikes – which is why they are marketed towards enduro and DH.

Overall, the two brakes were nothing short of impressive. Magura might have lost some market share in the past few years, the but the MT NEXT line is proof that Magura is back.

Comments

MsC - 05/16/14 - 5:02pm

Is the pressure point more defined, or do they still feel spongy when pressing the lever hard ?

Sevo - 05/16/14 - 6:06pm

Magura. Quietly been the best brake out there for a very long time now. Hell, I have a set of the old road levers with canti brakes….still work like a champ and almost 25 years old. Many manufacturers can’t get their brakes to stay flawless for a month.

Dr D - 05/16/14 - 8:06pm

I just took a pair of these off my new S Epic. Absolute garbage… after one race I replaced them with the Shimano XTs… and they’re unreal.

J Train - 05/16/14 - 9:43pm

@Dr D You just took a pair of the last released MT8s off of your SWORKS Epic, not these. But, yes, they were garbage. I’m reserving my judgement for these until I’ve ridden/serviced them.

“Inevitably when talking about Magura brakes, there is usually someone who chimes in on the comment section with disparaging remarks about “plastic” master cylinders. Unfortunately for them, as Magura engineer and project manager Stephan Pahl will tell you – they are not plastic, but a complex mixture of injection molded carbon fibers in a thermoplastic matrix.”

You know, I haven’t been able to put my finger on what it is about some BR articles that really, really rubs me the wrong way. But with that paragraph, I finally figured it out: You guys sound like condescending manufacturer reps! It’s the same snooty tone my Spesh rep had when he came in after the Café Roubaix scandal. “No, no, no. We have the real story. We’re right. And anyone with real-world perspective on the situation doesn’t know squat.”
Great, Magura uses carbon nanofillers in thermoPLASTIC resin. And I’m sure they are very strong in certain applications. But it wasn’t just the head of the “EBT screw” that rounded out. The threads of the bleed port went the same way. And I warrantied cracked, leaking master cylinders. Even though “[it's] always[...]easier to replace external parts rather than the lever body itself,” Magura always seemed to send the entire lever body…Interesting.
Now, I’m not hating on this new product, and I appreciate Magura for warrantying components without much hesitation.
My point is this, folks: Don’t spin your mistakes to look like you made them on purpose, and then shake your head at us simpletons who handle your product en vivo, en masse. Better yet, BR, don’t hock it at your readers on behalf of the manufacturers. Be brave. You can be objective and critical at the same time.

dislivello - 05/17/14 - 1:25am

and small pin of fibre that will come out and w low temperature sael stay same or cutting lip?

BikeWrench - 05/17/14 - 1:38am

I have a pair of 2013 MTS on my Stumpjumper. Ive gotta say they’re some of the best brakes that I’ve ever used for XC racing, and my favorite brake ever for lever feel, especially in that price bracket. However I will say two things:

1. They needed bleeding right away, they felt like sh@t after the first ten miles. Since then, though, they’ve been golden. About 1000 miles. I also changed the stock ‘endurance’ pads to the 7.1 compound ‘performance’ pads, big difference! Lots of power after that. I’ll also say that Magura’s pads take longer to break in than any other pad I’ve ever use. Took a good 3 miles of single track, AFTER the parking lot session, to get max power.

2. Maguras are sort of an ‘acquired taste’ if you will, whereas Shimanos are a go-to brake that most anyone can use happily. I’m one of those people that couldn’t stand servo-wave, the only current Shimano brakes I like are the XTR race models sans servo-wave. The long lever throw and easy modulation of the Maguras fits my bill. And I can lock up both tires no problem, levers nowhere near the bars(my 180 plus the bike’s 23lbs).

Just different strokes for different folks, that’s all. That being said though, I can’t speak past their use for aggressive XC riding, and I’d happily trade them for my dream set of Hope brakes.

Andrew - 05/17/14 - 8:13am

forget Maguras…I love my Roval Control Trail SL.

Dr D - 05/17/14 - 10:11am

@ J Train – thanks for the correction. you’re right. regardless, I’ve never felt such a poor product, almost a borderline safety issue on a 50 mile MTB race.

Andy - 05/17/14 - 2:56pm

“forget Maguras…I love my Roval Control Trail SL.”

Fine non-sequitur there, unless Spesh have started making brakes?

Pete - 05/18/14 - 4:07pm

Been running MT8′s over the last 2 yrs. Not one complaint. Sure I’ve had some issues but Magura customer service is top-notch. Maguras have a different feel than Shimano or Avid. That doesn’t make them better or worse. I don’t get why people like @Dr D write disparaging remarks with no information to back it up… A lot of issues are related to setup and service rather than the product itself. Pad spacing is CRITICAL for setting up these brakes properly. Too much space and they will pull to the lever. The bite point adjust for ’15 will make this much easier.

ginsu - 05/19/14 - 11:50am

I really don’t know why Magura would spec organic pads and not their sintered metallic options. Obviously power is going to suffer A LOT, and Magura, especially, should not sacrifice power for modulation. I love the Marta SL’s I have, but they absolutely NEED sintered pads to be decent. I’d feel sorry for somebody who got new brakes with organic pads, they would missing a lot and think the product is horrible. Also, I had to bleed them and they were awesome after the bleed, before that they were crap. For some people a pad change and a bleed is inexcusable. For me, I did it all myself, so I not only feel more confident about how their setup, but I actually feel like their inherently faulty product is really just a setup issue that can be easily fixed. So, I can definitely see why many users would report a horrible experience with their product. It is somewhat typical that a German company would overlook this type of issue, they pretty much cannot fathom that there are technically inept, or inexperience people out there. You have to design stuff with those people in mind, not pretend they don’t exist.

dinoadventures - 05/20/14 - 11:55am

“Deceleration” is an incorrect term.

“Negative acceleration” is what you mean.

Alain - 05/20/14 - 11:39pm

Love my Martha SL (also got last version of louise BAT for DH bike), and after 4 years got air somehow into the levers. Magura top notch CS (must have talked to the right guy) send me MT8 replacement levers (!) and been working great for a couple months now, though they seem to maybe flex more and have more of a plastic noise vs the Martha SL (carbon handle but ALU body). Wish I had the new MT brakes and thinking of 4 piston for DH bike now…

Eric - 05/21/14 - 1:53pm

I had bad luck with the 1st generation MT8′s too. I could pull the lever to the bar with minimal stopping power and after multiple bleeds, determined that it was defective. I was given a new system but continued to have issues regarding power. I too will reserve judgement until the new versions are trialed, but until then, I’ll stick with my current setup.

HP - 06/13/14 - 1:21pm

Have 2012 and 2013 MT8 and initially liked them. But has had a lot of problems including slow recall. Would not recommend them over Simano or Formula R1.

Chris - 09/06/14 - 1:04pm

first MT series was really crap, I had a pair MT6 which never worked correctly and I also had a full failure of both brakes in the alps. There at least two call-backs in the past and I was really p*ssed off so I sent the brakes back to Magura. I got a pair of replacement brakes in form of the new MT6 Next and these brakes work completely different. Now I have lot of braking power which can be well modulated. Nevertheless the plastic – sorry carbotecture- body still looks windy and not very trustworthy. Unfortunately the lever reach is too big for my small hands, so although I’m quite impressed with the new lever feeling/modulation and the braking power I will sell these brakes because I can’t put them close to the bar so I can use them properly with line finger.

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