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Magura MT5 Next Brakes

Xan Marshland reviews the Magura MT5 NEXT brakes for Blister Gear Review

Magura MT5 NEXT

2015 Magura MT5 Next Brakes

Intended use: Trail, Enduro, and Downhill

Weight:

• Brake (no rotor or mounting hardware): 266 g

• Rotor: 114g (160mm) – 177g (203mm)

Rotors: Magura Storm (203mm front, 180mm rear)

Bike: 2013 Ventana Zeus 650b

Rider: 5’9”, 140 lbs.

Test Locations: Squamish, BC; Aspen, CO; Colorado Springs, CO

Test Duration: 4 months

MSRP: $199/brake (without rotors)

 

Magura brakes have been somewhat of a niche favorite for the last few years, with devotees of the German brand praising their reliability, feel, and modulation. But they lacked power and were rarely spec’d on most manufacturers’ complete bikes, which largely kept them out of the mainstream spotlight that Shimano and SRAM occupy.

For 2015, Magura has redesigned their entire lineup in an effort to stay competitive with higher-powered offerings from Shimano and SRAM.

The brand’s entry-level brake, the MT2, has largely stayed the same, but each subsequent level of the MT series gets a boost in power. Magura’s two new gravity-oriented brakes, the MT5 and the MT7, feature four pistons that deliver braking power via four separate pads.

The MT5 and MT7 are largely similar in design, but the MT7 features a different pad and backing design, toolless reach and engagement adjustment, and costs about $150 more than the MT5.

Magura’s entire lineup continues to use mineral oil.

The MT5

The MT5 is the cheaper of Magura’s four-piston gravity brakes. At $199/brake, it stays competitive with the SRAM Guide RSC ($199), Shimano XT ($139.99), and the Shimano Zee ($219). It features alloy levers, reach adjustment, and a one-piece caliper body.

At first glance, you can see that the MT5 was designed with user-friendliness in mind—installation and adjustment of both the caliper body and the lever is accomplished with a single T25 Torx wrench.

Reach adjustment comes in the form of a T25 nut partially recessed into the outside of the lever, keeping it mostly out of harm’s way in the event of a crash.

Xan Marshland reviews the Magura MT5 NEXT brakes for Blister Gear Review

Magura MT5 Reach Adjust

Unlike some of its competitors, the MT5 does not feature any form of manual pad contact adjustment.

Compatibility with other controls was problem free. It’s worth noting that I’ve been running a pretty unusual cockpit setup on the Ventana Zeus I used for this test, as the bike is currently set up with a Rohloff internal hub in place of a traditional derailleur setup.

That said, I would be surprised if the brakes interfered with any traditional cockpit setups, because of the MT5’s compact lever body design. The brakes are also ambidextrous, so riders that run their brakes reversed shouldn’t have any issues.

I set up the MT5 with Magura Storm rotors (203mm/180mm). The Storm is the burlier Magura rotor available—it’s known to be heavy, bombproof, and to dissipate heat well. For riders looking for a lighter option, the Magura Storm SL is also available in 140-203mm options.

Both the Storm and Storm SL are centerlock-compatible through the use of an adaptor.

The MT5’s alloy levers are longer than most other levers on the market today, and are almost big enough to accommodate two fingers. Lever shape and feel is always a matter of personal preference, but I found them to be quite comfortable, though they feel noticeably bulkier than Shimano’s levers. The lever’s wide range of reach adjustment should satisfy practically all riders.

Braking force is delivered by an individual brake pad for each of the four pistons. On each side of the caliper, two pads share a steel backing but are effectively separate, which Magura claims aids heat dissipation. Rather than relying on pins or bolts to keep the backing in place, the pistons are magnetic, allowing the pads to easily snap into place upon installation.

Performance

Power

On the trail, the first thing that was apparent was the MT5’s power. I had always thought of Magura’s performance as similar to the Avid brakes of years past: fantastic modulation, but noticeably limited power. But after my first descent, I was reminded much more of Shimano’s Saint and Zee gravity brakes.

I would have loved to have ridden Shimano’s brakes back to back with the MT5 for a better comparison, but I suspect that if you rode Shimano’s offerings in the same day as the MT5, the brakes would still feel quite similar. Although the Maguras felt significantly less touchy than any of Shimano’s brakes, their top-end power felt very comparable.

Modulation

For the vast majority of descents, I want to be able to keep braking force somewhere in between 50 and 100 percent, depending on what kind of traction situation I’m encountering. This is where predictable modulation becomes crucial.

Xan Marshland reviews the Magura MT5 NEXT brakes for Blister Gear Review

Xan Marshland running the Magura MT5 in Squamish, BC. (photo: Kendrick Dettmers)

It was on the wettest and slipperiest days when the MT5’s modulation impressed me the most. Rather than modulating by significantly changing the lever’s position, it felt much more like I was making subtle changes in pressure, and the brake was responding to my inputs accordingly. This contrasted with how I’ve felt on other brakes in the past (particularly Avids and Maguras from previous years), where it felt like I was really moving the lever around to modulate power.

On the trail, this translated into the ability to easily find that sweet spot of braking power as the bike was bouncing down wet roots or mossy granite. I was consistently able to scrub speed without sliding, and vary braking force in reaction to trail features. Adjustments could be significant or minimal, depending on what the trail demanded.

While the brakes were very rewarding in situations that required finesse, I still felt like it was easy to access the brakes’ full power when I needed to reduce speed quickly. Compared to a high-powered brake with less modulation (particularly the Shimano Saint), it did take a bit more pressure on the lever to get to 100% power, but it never felt like I was struggling to achieve full power.

Overall, Magura has struck a great balance between modulation and all-out power. I felt remarkably confident both in situations where I had to scrub off a lot of speed before a corner, and in low-speed situations where I had to keep the bike’s speed in control while rolling down steep and wet rock.

In my book, this is exactly what a good gravity brake should accomplish.

NEXT: Reliability, Durability, and Comparisons to SRAM & Shimano Offerings

2 Comments

  1. osti May 4, 2015 Reply

    nice review! As a new MT5 owner I would like to add some additional information and experiences. I am living in south germany quite near to the mountains. In the past i was an active dh-racer and now i like Enduro-, Trail- and steep alpine technical riding. In the past 15 years I rode practically nearly all available disc brakes starting with Maguras famous HS33, Louise 99 and the GustavM. Later my favourite brakes were some Hopes and Shimanos. Unfortunaly all brake manufacturers progressed in the past except Magura so they were also out of my scope in the last couple of years. I am quite happy with the recent Shimano Xt and the Saint and I still ride them on two other bikes. Earlier this year I got a new Speci Enduro equipped with some Sram Guide brakes (sinter brake pads) and I felt that the brakes were hard to modulate and in the steep descents they have a good amount of fading. Since the first version of the Magura MT series was a big mess ( I tested an MT6) I was quite sceptical about the MT5 and MT7. But a little bit unexpectedly they got good testing results and also people talked positive in some german bike forums on the internet. Since I was not that happy with the Sram Guide I gave it a try and orderer a pair of MT5 for a very reasonable price. The MT5 brake caliper is identical to the MT7 version but has a different brakepad design and a different lever. The brakepads are interchangeable because of the same calipers, so you can use MT5 brakepads in MT7 and vice versa. There are also pads from Koolstop, Swissstop and at least one other (unknown to me) manufacturer available (at least in Europe). So the biggest difference to the MT7 is the different brake lever. The MT 7 has an external reach adjust and a bite-point/pad-contact adjuster – the MT5 “only” a T25 reach adjust as already stated. Furthermore the whole lever including the actuator piston is different. It is said that this gives the MT7 some minor extra percent of braking power but the caveat of the MT7 is the lever reach adjusting. If you have small hands you can bring the MT5 lever so much closer to the handlebar than the MT7 lever. I have both levers (the new MT6 next has the same lever as the MT7) and the MT5 is much more comfortable for smaller hands. Magura announced to provide a new MT7 lever from mid-summer to allow a better reach adjustment. On my first ride I was dialing in the brake pads carefully and even though the pads are not dialed in perfectly (concluded from the pad marks on the new Storm disc) the braking powder is tremendous. I know the Sram Guide on the Speci Enduro and I was riding the Saint with sinter pads for 2 years but I couldn’t believe that my rear wheel was lifting up effortlessly when I was braking on a high speed section just to dial in the pads a little bit more. But it was no digital “oh shit” situation because the power modulation is awesome – you can feel very well and intuitively how the brake power develops with the lever modulation. Wet roots and muddy trails are no problem at all even with this tremendous braking power. Pad wear of the organic pads is indeed a little bit higher than other brakes but this is typical for Magura pads. It seems they have a softer compound with higher wear but good braking power, modulation and very few noise production. That being said it seems that Magura is back again and has a wide range of light and powerful two and 4 piston brakes wich keeps easily up with other manufacturers at a considerable price. The only thing I’m not so happy about is the so called shiftmix, a clamp to directly attach sram triggers. The Sram clamp is much more comfortable and gives a better range of trigger adjustment ( at least for smaller hands).

  2. Ben Johnson February 14, 2016 Reply

    I purchased the mt5 in the summer after reading this review and a number of other sources that gave them a good review. I have to say i have been disappointed. I have gone through 3 sets of calipers and 2 sets of levers, i’m still having the same issue. The problem is now only with the front brake once it heats up i start to get feedback when i pull on the lever to start braking. It’s as if a can feel all the holes from the rotor and then the power starts to fade from the brake. And that then leads to noise. Does or has anyone else had this issue? i’ve been to numerous bike shops and have bled the brakes, changed the pads, changed the brakes and had other bike mechanics work on them no success. (They feel and act like old crappy avid elixir cr brakes) Any help would be appreciated.

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