We have ridden lots of Magura brakes over the years, but it was not until we recently received a Cannondale Moterra for review that we got intimately familiar with the Magura MT5 brakes and their new two-piece MDR-P rotors. These monstrous 220 rotors are squeezed by four powerful pistons at each wheel and are designed to withstand the rigors of ebikes and downhill racers alike. Magura may not be the first name you think of when you think about brakes, but they offer a lot of customization options in a reliable brake system that packs a punch. We have found that Magura’s many options can sometimes work against them as riders who are not savvy to all the options may have a less than ideal experience from a brake that is just begging to be optimized. Read on to find out how we took these brakes from meh to yeah!
THE LAB At 255g for the brake and another 241g for the massive 220mm rotors, the brakes are not light, but they sure are durable. Built to withstand heat buildup and abuse from downhillers, 50-plus pound eMTBs and cargo bikes, the Magura MT5 brakes are stout and a visual inspection lets you know they’re built to last.
At the heart of the Magura MT5 brakes are four powerful pistons driven by Magura’s Royal Blood (low viscosity mineral oil) and their MT5 Trail HC brake levers. Here we begin at Magura’s sometimes confusing and compromising list of options. Magura offers a wide array of brake levers for each of their brakes from single, two- and four-fingered varieties. Depending on which brake the brand’s product manager specs on your new bike, you could love their HC3 or MT5 HC levers, but hate the MT6 2-finger levers. If you did not realize that you could easily swap out the levers to customize your grip and reach, your experience is in the hands of the OE spec placed before you. Luckily, Cannondale chose to spec the MT5 Trail brake levers, which we got along with quite well.
Unfortunately for us though, Cannondale also chose to spec Magura’s 9.C or Comfort brake pads, which are designed for control and longevity rather than bite. After a call to Magura we found out that they offer three different pad compounds for their four piston brakes and we were sent some of their Performance (P) pads and new rotors. Before we swapped out the pads and rotors, we had a lot of fun and made a Panic Stop brake test video where we measured the stopping distance from 20mph to zero. We will be releasing that soon, however in short, we were able to shorten our stopping distance over 15% and increase the bite and power quite a bit.
A highlight of the Magura brakes is their MDR-P brake rotors. The e-MTB optimized rotors are made of steel and aluminum and feature a unique two-piece design. The rotor and centerpiece interlock the outer and inner rings for the best management of heat and stability. We ran a 220mm front and 203mm rear rotor for the duration of our test period.
If the options enough are not enough, Magura has a cool customization program where customers can purchase caliper ring covers and handlebar clamps in several colors to offer that unique touch to your bike. Want to get creative and match your brake hardware to the color of your bike or decals? Magura’s got you covered, and it is a neat feature, because who does not love custom?
Along with impressive performance, reliability, and color options, Magura offers a 5-year leak proof guarantee.
THE DIRT As we eluded to above, our initial excitement about riding these massive brakes began with a bit of a letdown. We could not figure out why these massive rotors and forged 4-piston caliper brakes were not giving us the bite and power we expected from the Germans. After swapping out brake pads and bedding in the new rotors our frown was turned upside down. The brakes were performing just as we had expected, if not better.
With Magura’s Performance (P) pads installed the MT5 brakes were ready and willing to control our runaway Cannondale Moterra, no matter the speed. As time went on and the pads warm up, we found them to grab even better and offer a great blend of all-out stopping power and speed management. There is a fine line between a brake that can scrub too much speed unintentionally and a brake that will give just enough drag to keep your speed up for the corners ahead. Magura’s MT5 walks the line nicely by not throwing our body weight forward onto the bars but still allowing us to shut the bike down when we needed to.
The MDR-P rotors do a great job of managing heat and are certainly worth the upgraded price if you ride hard or descend lots. The two-piece design allows the outer ring to expand due to heat without greatly affecting the inner ring and reduces harmonic vibration and increases the rigidity compared to floating discs. By using interlocking dovetails Magura has increased stiffness of these large rotors under torque as they handle the energy instead of just relying on the rivets. Even on the steepest and longest of descents on our 52lbs eMTB, the brakes were consistent, and the rotors resisted warping despite our best efforts.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Over the course of our testing the Magura MT5 brakes held up without an issue. The brakes arrived with a slight bubble in the air line but after a bleed we were able to remedy the issue. Magura’s bleed process takes a little learning to dial in but the good news is, once they are done you will not have to do it again. While Magura’s brakes can be incredibly awesome, customers should do their homework to ensure you have got the setup that will best suit your needs. As we have found out over the years, the wrong brake pads or levers that just did not fit our hands can greatly affect our perception of what could be a great brake.
After we swapped out the longer lasting, lower friction pads with some Performance pads we instantly fell in love with the Magura MT5 eMTB brakes. They offer power, modulation, and control. Best of all they do it all in a reliable, maintenance free package that can be easily customized to match our bike or components. Take the time to ensure you have got the right bits on your Maguras and the only thing they will not stop is your mouth from singing their praises.
Magura’s Website Lack of Information Combined With Tons of Small Part Options Can Lead to Bad Experiences
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