Magura Marta FR Review

by Brian Mullin on February 9, 2011

When I first saw the Magura Marta FR at 2010 Interbike, I thought that they were a re-designed version of the Marta series, but in reality, it’s just a cosmetic change of the normal Marta, which is fine, since the line has an incredible pedigree. The new changes are the Grunge Green color scheme, white hydraulic lines, and a gray aluminum lever, otherwise it’s the same excellent product. Magura revamped the Marta line in 2009, and upgrades included a redesigned caliper and reservoir body, a better lever pivot, the use of the larger Louise pads and the new bleeding system (EBT). This year they added the Storm and Storm SL rotors, which are miles ahead of their predecessor’s, with lighter weight, and better power and modulation.

Magura Marta FR
The Marta FR brakes use an open hydraulic system, with an integrated reservoir and an expansion chamber for fluid temperature control. The aluminum caliper is a 74mm PM mounts, a one piece monoblock design, and uses two injection molded composite pistons for less heat transfer to the brake fluid, and the pistons are magnetized for brake pad attachment. The pads come in two models, the default 6.1 Performance version for maximum power, or the optional 6.2 Endurance version for longevity. The aluminum master cylinder, has an aluminum lever with reach adjust, and dual docking design for the shifter placement. The rotors are sold separately in 160, 180 and 203mm sizes (6 bolt IS) in either the default Storm or Storm SL rotors. Magura has a wide assortment of adapters so their PM caliper can fit any bike or fork, or Centerlock hub. The hydraulic fluid is Magura’s Royal Blood mineral oil, and the brakes are bled using their Easy Bleed Technology (EBT).

Impressions
According to my sources, nothing has changed internally on the FR, but it seems to me that Magura has slowly been refining their quality control and assurance. The FR feels a bit tighter, and hasn’t required a bleed (sort of an anomaly with Magura brakes), and in general seem to have better tangible tolerances? I have used their Marta SL Mag and the Louise Carbon, which both have the light and gorgeous looking carbon lever, and to me the beefier aluminum lever on the FR seems less sloppy, though I wouldn’t call it flexy, since both lever types are stout. Although I have never broken a lever, the cost ratio of their aluminum replacement over a carbon is pretty hefty, so that adds another notch for usability to the FR. Initially I found the stark White hydraulic lines garish, but they have grown on me, and I think they add a nice splash of color to the bike (White is the new Black?). I liked the simple and understated Grunge Green color scheme, as it sort of blended in with whatever was on the bike. I tested the FR with a 180/160 and 203/160 rotor size combination’s, using both their Storm and Storm SL rotors, and always with the 6.1 Performance pads. The Storm is more powerful, though seems to lock up slightly easier, while the SL, which has substantial cutouts, has better feathering characteristics and less weight, and the latter was my preference. As always, with the Marta line, I wish they came with Quickfit split clamp system, that is found on the Louise, for faster installation and product swap out and changes.

The FR brakes weigh approximately 245 grams, and come with full length lines (1650mm/65 inches), and will need to be cut to size, dependent on user preference and bike geometry. Magura sent the test pair to me with my length specification (thanks!) and spec’ed for moto style, so I didn’t need to make any adjustments this time, but it’s a relatively simple process to shorten the lines. The new EBT (Easy Bleed Technology) system which uses a port on top of the reservoir is easy to use, and I have bled my Marta SL Mags a number of times, so I can vouch for the simplicity and ease of the system.

The FR has a snappy and solid feel to them, with a nice tactile touch, and this allowed excellent feathering of the brakes. They worked well in almost any terrain, but excelled in technical sections and in rock gardens, due to their great precise control. On extremely long downhills, they had a slight amount of fade, and belayed a minor lack of brute force power when pushed to its extremes. The lever is nicely sculpted for one to two finger usage, and the reach adjustment is easily done with an Allen wrench (2.5mm) in a small recess in the front of the lever. Sometimes when they were fresh or wet, they would make some noise for a short distance and then quiet down, and remain silent.

Reviews for further reference: Storm and Storm SL rotors and Marta SL Mag

Measured Specs (as tested):

  • Marta Fr Front w/ 31 inch hose – 225.2 grams
  • Marta FR Rear w/58 inch hose – 238.5 grams
  • Storm SL – 160mm – 92 grams
  • Storm SL – 180mm – 114.2 grams
  • Storm – 160mm – 114.1 grams
  • Storm – 180mm – 139.8 grams

Bottom Line
The Magura Marta FR is a great set of brakes, offering precise control and excellent modulation, with good power and superb feathering characteristics. I liked the new subdued Grunge Green color scheme, and although the white hydraulic lines can seem somewhat garish, they do add some interesting color along the lines of a bike. The aluminum lever felt solid, and had a nice tactile feel, although adjusting the reach isn’t the easiest task. On wickedly steep and long downhills, they have a slight amount of fade, though larger rotors can assist in this minor aberration.

The Marta FR is another highly engineered German product from Magura, and along with the newly released Storm rotors, it completes a well rounded package.

Strengths

  • Excellent modulation
  • Good power
  • EBT system
  • Feathering characteristics

Weaknesses

  • Slightly susceptible to fade when pushed to its extremes
  • Reach adjustment difficult
  • No split clamp system

MSRP: $245

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Specs:

Description Marta FR
Weight per brake incl. disc (grams/lbs) From 360g/0.79 lbs.
Colour brake lever
Colour lever blade
Colour caliper
Grunge green
Grey
Grunge green
Technical features Full hydraulic
dual piston fixed caliper
Hydraulic system Open, with expansion chamber
Deceleration (m/s²)
according to DIN 79100
6.8 with 180 mm STORM rotor
7.0 with 203 mm STORM rotor
Piston diameter brake lever/caliper (mm) 11/2×22
Intern. standard mounting (IS) Yes, adaptor
Pad wear adjustment Automatic
Postmount mounting (PM) only front Yes, direct mount
Disc diameter (mm) Front 203, 180
Rear 203, 180
Centerlock compatible Yes, adaptor
Transmission medium MAGURA Royal Blood mineral oil
Brake hose MAGURA disc tube
easily shortened
Hose fitting caliper Standard: 0°, option: 90°
Brake pads Organic
6.1 Performance (series)
6.2 Endurance
Material fitting bolts Aluminium
Brake lever and caliper Forged aluminium/Forged aluminium
Lever blade Aluminium
Reach adjust Yes
OPD (caliper in one-piece design) Yes
BAT (bite point adjuster) No
Dual Docking for trigger shifters Yes

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