Magura MT6 Review

by Brian Mullin on September 13, 2012

The Magura MT6 brake is very lightweight (310 g w/ 160mm rotor) and silent, with great modulation, excellent power, and resistance to heat, drag, and squeal, which all combine to make it stand out regarding performance. They use some amazingly innovative production techniques and materials to create a light and strong brake for any riding, from cross-country to downhill, and it transcends being categorized within any riding style.

Features

The brakes use an open hydraulic system, using their Royal Blood mineral oil for hydraulic fluid, with an integrated all carbon reservoir, alloy levers and clamp, one-piece alloy caliper, and full aluminum fitting bolts. They include the trick Storm SL rotors (refer to Storm review), which are available in 140, 160, 180 and 203mm sizes (6 bolt or Centerlock adapter), with a wide assortment of adapters for attachment to any bike and fork.

The reservoir is created by injecting their proprietary Carbotecture material, which is comprised of mid-length carbon fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, into a mold. The fibers are aligned to optimize strength and lightness, in what they call their Carboflow Process, which uses extreme heat and high pressure. The mold work is so precise and exacting that it requires no post machine processing. The flip-flop designed Carbotecture SL body attaches to the bar with a split handlebar alloy clamp (the MT8 uses a carbon fiber Carbolay clamp). The body uses their EBT or easy bleed technology, set up in a mirror imaged dual-port manner for the flip-flop system so that they can be set on either side of the bars. The alloy lever uses a trick and light hollow-pivot to attach to the body, and rotates on buttery smooth composite bushings.

The forged single-piece aluminum caliper uses a double arch design, just like their forks, and the shape optimizes the caliper’s strength in the direction that encounters the largest load forces, and they also absorb heat and dissipate it away from the main body. The upper or front fin does the oil transfer between the sides of the caliper, which should provide an additional cooling of the fluid? Their stiffening effect means that the calipers can be machined further, to remove any unnecessary material for a significant weight saving. The caliper uses top-loading pads, for what they call EPR or easy pad replacement, so the wheel doesn’t need to be removed for changes. The caliper has PM mounts, an adjustable hose fitting, and uses two Duroplastic injection molded composite pistons for less heat transfer to the brake fluid, and the pistons have an embedded magnet for brake pad attachment. The organic pads come in two models, the default 7.1 semi-metallic performance versions for maximum power, or the optional 7.2 endurance version for longevity.

The upper-level MT6’s are part of their MT brake family, which includes the MT8, MT6, MT4, and MT2 ($369, $269, $174, $104 respectively). The entire brake family shares the same basic technology, with some subtle tweaks and lighter materials for the upper-level models. They all have a carbon master body with the flip-flop design, an alloy double arch caliper with top loading pads, and the dual EBT ports for bleeding. The MT8 uses the Carbotecture SL and Storm SL rotor (same as MT6) but has a carbon fiber Carbolay clamp lever and handlebar bar clamp, and the caliper has more machining to lessen the weight. The MT4 uses the Storm rotor and has a Carbotecture fiberglass and carbon composite reservoir body, an alloy lever with their BAT (Bite Adjust Technology). Lastly, the MT2 uses the Carbotecture fiberglass carbon composite body, and an alloy lever, and an excellent price point.

Description MT8 MT6 MT4 MT2
Master Body Carbotecture SL Carbotecture SL Carbotecture Carbotecture
Lever Carbolay Alloy Alloy Alloy
Split Clamp Carbolay Alloy Alloy Alloy
Pivot Hollow Hollow Normal Normal
Weight w/ 160mm rotor 278 grams 310 grams 320 grams 335 grams
Price $369 $269 $174 $104
Rotor Size 140-203mm 160-203mm 160-203mm 160-203mm
Rotor Model Storm SL Storm SL Storm Storm

Installation

The brakes come with full-length lines, so they need to be cut to size, dependent on user preference and bike geometry. I prefer my brakes set up in moto style, with the front brake on the right side, and the flip-flop clamp design and dual bleed port make for easy placement on either side of the bars. Undo the barrel nuts on the clamp, and place the reservoir in the desired location on the inside or outside of the shifter pods on the handlebars. I also set mine up with a set of the new ten speed SRAM X.0 Grip Shifts, so they naturally went on the outside of the shifters. Put the clamp on, with the thicker part at the top, and thread and carefully tighten the fragile alloy nuts to their proper specs (only 3 Nm). The caliper setup was easy due to the pivoting banjo, which made adjusting the hose angle for varying frame geometry and hose routing requirements a snap.

I carefully measured the desired hose length (longer is better than too short) and cut them with a sharp set of cutters. Holding the cut section up high to prevent any errant air bubbles, I slid on the sleeve nut followed by the olive and tapped in the hose insert with a plastic mallet and finally threaded the sleeve nut into the brake lever, tightening with the proper torque. Neither brake leaked after the hose shortening, nor did they require any bleeding until after multiple months of use and abuse. The EBT (Easy Bleed Technology) system uses a port on top of the reservoir for bleeding and is easy to use. Basic bleed instructions: level reservoir 15 degrees upward, unscrew the port bolt, screw on the upper syringe, unscrew caliper bolt, screw on a filled lower syringe, push fluid from bottom to top, cycling until bubbles are gone. I have bled the brakes sometimes, and it was a relatively straight forward and mild endeavor, though screwing syringe into the bleed port of the caliper is a pain.

Impressions

For the testing period, I used the MT6’s with the Storm SL and Storm rotors, in 203/180 and 180/180 combinations, on my loyal steed, the impeccable Ibis Mojo HD. The local Colorado terrain is predominantly rocky conditions, with many sections of long steep downhills, rock gardens and slabs, and ugly loose gravel and rocks. I weigh in at 155 lbs, ride with a light touch, and love to use the brakes. I habitually prefer All Mountain riding, and frequent extremely technical terrain, which requires precise maneuvering, split-second timing, and nerves of steel and a big dash of lunacy.

The MT6’s are impressively powerful and strong, with a solid, authoritative feel at the lever, and the rotor’s spin drag free through the calipers and everything are deadly quiet. The alloy lever on the MT6 has a more solid feel than the MT8’s fancier Carbolay version, and it’s very noticeable when you pull hard on the brakes.  In direct comparison to the Louise (no longer made), and some other monster brakes, they offer slightly less power, but have better modulation, with excellent communication between the lever and ground. One of the hallmarks of this brake is their control factor, as they offer excellent ride and lever feel, and small lever movements give rise to fine toothed speed adjustments. Increasing the rotor size to a 203/180 combination produces some outstanding strength, and moves them up in the power battlefield. I think the MT6 is great looking, though not as gorgeous as the sweet MT8’s, albeit all the MT series have a Germanic engineering theme about them. The weight difference between my test MT8 and MT6 were about 22 grams, nothing to sneeze at for a weight weenie, but not hugely significant.

I have always liked the shape of Magura’s levers, and the MT levers crank up everything by a significant notch, with an outstanding and highly tactile feel, and superb ergonomics. They are wide, comfortable, with a nice notch for one or two-finger usage, and the pleasing and functional shape helped decrease hand fatigue, especially during prolonged use, like on long downhills. The stiff lever allows a concise and firm pull and is greatly helped by a lack of any slop in the pivot and reservoir body interface. The lever only has reach adjustment, which is altered with a Torx wrench inserted into its front by the pivot, allowing a closer or farther feel, and with a different angle. For my personal taste, I left them fully out, making for a maximum reach.

Their tactile sense is superb, allowing the system to feel like an extension of your hand, and you can figuratively feel a pebble on the ground when braking. The more technical and gnarly the terrain and conditions are, the more comfortable and functional the brakes felt, and they offered fine adjustment of speed with concise lever pulls. They thrived when doing high-precision moves and maneuvers, whether on mild or heinous terrain, with excellent feedback and response, giving rise to an innate sense of security and control. These light brakes are pretty amazing, and I have taken them down some ugly steep gnar, where many brakes fade and scream with misery, and they just kept quietly plugging away. I loved how you could grab the brakes wherever you wanted, and they would haul your speed quickly down, though they could be a touch grabby if got too heavy handed, which can be a common trait of many strong and powerful brakes. Grab a huge handful of the brake and it was easy to do a stoppie, even in the middle of a rock garden. Pulling the lever with a measured feathering worked just fine, and it allowed the modulation to excel, and if a wheel lock up happened, a minute pressure release at the lever had the spinning along again. Even when cranking down steep terrain that is littered with the loose chunky material, the brakes retain excellent composure, with good feedback, modulation, and control, without unwanted lockups.

They were silent, and their muted usage was a major highlight, as I enjoyed not having a set of brakes squealing while I was riding down a trail. I didn’t hear the usual wispy chatter that the Storm SL rotor cutouts can make on some of the other Magura brakes, which was a welcome change; it was there but was very subdued, and you had to listen for it. Sometimes if they were wet and cold, had dirty pads or rotors, they might make some noise, but after a few good stabs with the lever, they were silent again. Even when getting them extremely hot on long steep downhills, they were fade free and resisted heat buildup, and made no scraping or overheating noises, and their performance and lack of noise were outstanding. “Silent but deadly!” A lot of the quietness is due to a couple of features and design aspects of the caliper system, that all work in synergy to keep them silent. The Duroplastic pistons, which absorb less heat than metal, have a special coating, which prevents them from sticking in the cylinder, and reduces friction and stiction. The caliper itself runs significantly cooler by the combination of using organic pads, the composite pistons, and the double arch, which acted as cooling fins. I did have one day on a wicked steep, technical and long downhill when the outdoor temperature was extremely hot, and the brakes had just a touch of squishiness at the very bottom of the ride, but they still felt pretty good considering the treatment they had just gone through. Using the Storm rotor instead of the Storm SL gave a decent increase in power and drop in fade, with a slight increase in weight (20 grams).

I never felt any pad rubbing nor drag from the caliper and rotors, and they always flowed freely, regardless of how heavily they were being used. Due to the offset pistons giving toe-in as the lever is applied, the pads realign themselves with the rotor, so their spacing seems to remain proper, regardless of pad and rotor wear, rotor warping and heating, etc. When it comes time to replace or clean the pads, the EPR (easy pad replacement) system, which uses top-loading pads are simple to remove, and don’t require a wheel removal. Just remove the retaining screw, grab the tabs on the pads and pull them out, insert a new pair, letting the magnets on the caliper’s piston hold them in place, and then replace the screw. After pad replacement, they aligned in just fine, and if they were installed a bit cockeyed, a good jab from the lever set them in lace.

It’s nice that all the bolts (except for the bleed port) use a T25 Torx head, so only one tool was required for the brakes and rotors. I didn’t have any issue with stripping the alloy Torx heads, especially the large caliper ones, but you do need to be cautious, especially on the clamp, and a light hand tightening and finishing off with the torque wrench is the best approach. The alloy barrel nut is fragile, and you need to use caution when tightening it down to its paltry 3 Nm of torque, else the head can get stripped or sheared off, although I never experienced that problem.

Measured Specs:

  • Uncut – 221.3 and 221.7  grams
  • Front (cut 32″) – 200.2 grams
  • Rear (cut 57″) – 212.7 grams
  • Bolts (alloy) – 2 @ 3.9 grams
  • Storm SL 203mm – 147.6 grams
  • Storm SL 180mm – 114.2 grams
  • Storm SL 160mm – 92 grams
  • QM7 (6″ PM 203 adapter) – 22.9 grams
  • QM6 (6″ PM 180 adapter) – 23.4 grams

Bottom Line

The Magura MT6 brakes are supremely functional, feature laden and highly engineered, and everything single piece of the brake works in synergy. The lightness is a component of an entire slew of innovative technologies, from the carbon reservoir to the sculptured caliper, and the special alloy bolts. The brakes have a superb tactile feel, which gives rise to an incredible touch, control, and communication, and your hands become ‘One’ with the ground/bike interface. The MT6’s offer great modulation, excellent power and heat resistance, and the rotor’s spin drag free through the calipers. The caliper’s design makes them one of the quietest brake I have ridden, and even getting them extremely hot on long steep downhills never changed their silent characteristic.

They aren’t the most powerful brake on the market, but they more than make up for any deficit, with other remarkable and useful characteristics. They don’t offer the MT8’s lightweight (22g heavier), bling, and looks, but they make up for it with a better price point and their alloy lever offers a noticeably firmer feel for a slight increase in control and power.

In a nutshell, they are strong, light, quiet, fade free and powerful, modulate well, and have a superb tactile feel from the ergonomic brake lever down into the ground.

Strengths

  • Light
  • Alloy lever is less flexy than MT8’s carbon version
  • Powerful
  • Deadly quiet
  • Excellent tactile feel
  • Great modulation
  • Top loading pads
  • Anti-Features: squeal, heat, drag

Weaknesses

  • Expensive – $269 (though cheaper than the MT8)
  • Clamp barrel nut fragility
  • Slight gabbiness under hard pulls

MSRP: $269

MT6 Specs:

  • Full carbon master cylinder
  • Carbotecture SL body
  • Alloy lever blade
  • Alloy clamp
  • Alloy fittings
  • Anti-Feature: squeal, heat, drag
  • Feel Safety-Ergonomics
  • EBT (Easy Bleed Technology)
  • EPR (easy pad replacement)
  • Weight From 310 g onwards incl. 160 mm Storm SL-Rotor
  • Colors: Brake lever and caliper in a cool black body with silver special
  • Guarantee: 5-year leakproof warranty after online registration on magura.com

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Javier_GC November 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Great review. It's easy to make an idea about how the brakes work after Reading this.

Thanks and Cheers!

Reply

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