Magura MT7 HC-W “Loic Lever” REVIEW
Photos & Words by Dario DiGiulio
At this point, the Magura MT7 Pro is established as one of the top-performing hydraulic disc brakes on the market. From their race results to the cult-like following they seem to drum up, folks who like the Magura system know they’re pretty great. That said, the lever feel and general construction of the standard MT7 Pro isn’t for everybody, including some of their best athletes. Included in that group is Loic Bruni, who took the time to develop a completely new lever shape and action with the team at Magura, resulting in the brakes we have here on test. With a revised feel and performance, the HC-W lever really takes the MT7 Pros to the next level.
We’ve already dug into the MT7 Pros in a prior review of the brake system, but with the updates to the lineup, here are some key points to keep in mind if you’re keen on trying them out.
Over the years, the MT7 Pro architecture has remained essentially the same – the Carbotecture SL master cylinder; mineral oil to power them; 4 separate pads in the caliper. But there are some lineup changes to widen the application of this powerful brake.
You can currently purchase 3 different aftermarket levers: the original 1-finger HC; the highly adjustable HC3; and now the Bruni-designed HC Wide Reach (HC-W) that we have here on test. Magura also offers 3 different pad compounds: Race, Performance, and Sport. Race is a shorter lifespan pad meant to maximize bite in dry conditions; Performance is the all-round champ of the group; and Sport is focused on durability and should suit e-bikes well.
The duration of this test was conducted on Magura’s MDR-C rotors, which are the beefiest of their one-piece 2mm-thick steel offerings. There are a variety of other choices in the lineup including the striking MDR-P two-piece rotors, but these tick all the boxes for general trail and downhill riding.
The MT7 Pros weigh in at 268 grams per end, and each brake will cost you $269 USD. The levers themselves are available as an aftermarket upgrade if you’ve already got a set of MT7 Pro brakes, for $67 per side.
I have been using a set of MT7 Pro brakes on various bikes for a few years now, starting back when I worked at a shop in college. They were one of the only brakes I could get a pair of at the time, and I figured I’d give them a shot, despite hearing some middling things from the other mechanics about how hard they were to bleed. Five years later, I still have that original set, and they’re still holding up to use and abuse on a regular basis. Safe to say, I’ve become a fan of the product. As for the tricky bleeding, more on that later.
Praise aside, the lever feel of the stock HC 1-finger lever has never been my favorite, especially when swapping back and forth with other common brake systems. I get along well with just about everything after a small adjustment period but find the Hayes Dominion and SRAM Code lever feel to be especially predictable and easy to meter, with Shimano’s sharp bite only providing a great level of control when they’re working reliably. In contrast to all those options, the stock Magura HC lever can feel a bit mushy, though it does provide a nice ramp up in power as you reef on them. That mushy bite point is what Loic Bruni and Magura hoped to solve with the HC-W lever, with a snappier bite and a longer reach.
The power and feel of the Magura MT7s is exceptional, with enough grunt on tap to check up your speed whenever you need to. Similar to a SRAM Code, there is a predictable ramp-up in the feel, without too much lever power required to obtain full power at the caliper. The HC-W lever essentially shortens that curve, while still giving the full range of control. Where sometimes I felt like I had to drag the brake to find the bite point with the HC or HC3 levers, the Bruni creation hits hard off the bat, letting you stab the brakes with more precision when you want to slow things down. It’s possible to achieve a sharper bite with the many adjustments on the HC3 lever, but I’ve always found them too fussy for my taste and getting the right balance of reach and feel never quite worked out. I have pretty big hands, so getting enough reach out of the super hooked HC3 lever always felt like I was using the wrong tool for the job. The HC-W’s flat blade sits right where I want it to, and the single 3mm adjustment keeps the fine-tuning easy.
One distinct frustration with the Magura MT7 Pro brakes is just how quickly they chew through brake pads. Part of that is where I do most of my riding, as the extremely steep and loamy trails of Bellingham are particularly hard on any brake system’s longevity. That said, the Magura pads do seem to wear quicker than other options, which might just be the price of entry to an otherwise stellar brake. I’ve tried all three pad options, and their claims about longevity are true of each; Race goes quickest, then Performance, then Sport. For me, the Performance pads are the best compromise of all factors and are the ones I’ll be running for the foreseeable future. Excellent bite, with the lifespan to last just long enough to forget to check them.
When it comes to bleeding the brakes, things are a bit trickier with the Magura system than most. From a toolkit perspective, it’s simple – just use the two provided syringes and follow the instructions. But getting every last bubble out always seems a little tricky to achieve, unless you’re willing to get a bit creative. I found a vacuum bleed procedure that’s similar to Magura’s own “Easy Bleed” instruction video, which managed to get the lines completely purged of air after only a couple minutes. Some folks at Magura have told me to caution you that forcing too much back pressure on the lever bladder could cause issues, so I’ll leave it up to you to do some research and try the method out, with care. Once there’s a solid bleed, the Magura system holds bleed well and delivers consistent performance for the duration of brake burning descents.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Magura’s MT7 brakes have long been one of my top picks in the big brake market, with their immense and easy-to-modulate power, consistent performance, and excellent heat management. The one detail I’d never gotten along with as well was the lever feel, but that is completely solved by the Loic Bruni HC-W lever. With a sharp and equally controllable bite point, I’m willing to put up with the finicky bleed and plastic architecture to keep using these fantastic brakes.
Price: $269 USD per side
Weight: 268g per side