Review – Magura MT5 Brakes

by Brian Mullin on January 17, 2015

Magura revamped their MT brakes in 2014, and they increased power throughout the lineup, and added two new four-piston systems, the MT5, and MT7. The four-piston MT5 brake is moderately light (380 g w/ 180mm rotor) and extremely quiet, with excellent modulation and power and resistance to heat, drag and squeal, and retails for $200 (w/o rotors), making for an outstanding performance oriented package.

MT NEXT Brakes

The new MT NEXT series of brakes consist of the two piston MT2, MT4, MT6 and MT8, and the four-piston MT5 and MT7. The gravity oriented four-piston brakes utilizes technology and design that came from their development of their motorcycle brakes. With this new series, they increased the mechanical leverage ratio progressively for enhanced deceleration power from the base MT2 model to the top of the line four-piston MT7.

The brakes use an open hydraulic system, using their Royal Blood mineral oil for hydraulic fluid.  They use a carbon or carbon blended integrated reservoir, carbon or aluminum lever and clamp, one-piece alloy caliper with magnetic pistons for the pads, and forged aluminum fitting bolts that have a special anti-corrosion coating.

The reservoir is created by injecting their proprietary Carbotecture material, which is comprised of short or mid-length carbon fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, into a mold. The fibers are aligned to optimize strength and lightness under extreme heat and high pressure using their Carboflow Process. The flip-flop designed Carbotecture body attaches to the bar with a split handlebar clamp, and it uses their EBT (easy bleed technology), which has a mirror imaged bleed port on either side of the body for a simplified installation. The MT NEXT now utilizes a regular clamp bolt instead of the fragile and annoying alloy nuts, and the EBT screws will now break away if over torqued instead of stripping. The MT6, MT7 and MT8 get on the fly toolless lever reach and bite adjust technology (BAT), while the MT2, MT4 and MT5 only have reach adjustment that utilizes a Torx key.

The brakes use their Storm or Storm SL rotors, which are available in 140, 160, 180 and 203mm sizes (6 bolts) and retail for $32 and $38 respectively. The steel rotors are 2mm thick for strength and rigidity. The Storm has more braking surface area, for stability, power, and reduced pad wear, while the Storm SL has an increased number of large perforations for weight savings and better tactile feel.

The forged one-piece aluminum caliper has PM mounts, an adjustable hose fitting, and uses two Duroplastic injection molded composite pistons for less heat transfer to the brake fluid. The pistons have the magnetiXchange system which utilizes an embedded high-powered magnet to hold the pads in place. The two-piston models use 22mm sized pistons, while the quads use a smaller 17mm size.

Except for the MT5, the calipers use top-loading pads, for what they call EPR or easy pad replacement, so the wheel doesn’t need to be removed for extraction. The four-piston MT5 and MT7 differ slightly in their brake pad setup. The MT5 has a one-piece brake pad system that utilizes a large backing plate along with two separate pads on each side, while the MT7 uses four individual pads. For strength purposes, the MT5 backing plate it thicker than the MT7 and conversely the pad material is thicker on the MT7 compared to the MT5.

Four-Piston Design

The primary benefit of the four-piston design is that it drastically improves heat management, which facilitates more consistent deceleration power and overall increased performance and less fade. While braking, as the rotor rotates past the front two pads they heat up substantially more than the rearward set, so the rear pads stay cooler and offer greater stopping power and modulation over extended use.  This arrangement also helps lower the overall temperatures of the brake fluid for additional heat management benefits. I am a brake hog, and I noticed that the four pad set up meant I was getting longer pad life, and I haven’t really noticed any performance degradation as the pads wear out.

Impressions

For the testing period, I used the MT5’s with both the Storm SL and Storm rotors, in 180/180 combinations, on my Ibis Ripley 29er. 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 165 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. Though predominately ridden in drier conditions, they had many forays in the rain and snow during the season.

The MT5 has any unusual amount of power at its reserve, and anytime you needed to slow down; a quick and light stab of the lever gave you any desired deceleration. The modulation allowed excellent control in any situation, whether that was at high speeds or in slow speed technical maneuvering.

I especially enjoyed the ability to feather the brakes at any speed, and the lever feel was fantastic, and it felt as though I was one with the bike. 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. Many times I found myself riding much faster than usual because I knew I could rein in the speed anytime I desired. Even dropping thousands of feet in elevation never caused hand fatigue, which was a refreshing experience, as my hands are usually weak and cramped in the end, even when using strong brakes. I didn’t feel any sponginess and fade during long downhills, no matter how hard I yanked on the lever, even when dragging the brakes for long sections.

The levers are wide, comfortable, with an excellent ergonomic notch for one or two-finger usage, and the pleasing and functional shape, helped decrease hand fatigue, especially during prolonged use. 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. 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.

They were quiet, 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. On an occasion that might make a short squeak when wet and cold, but after a few good stabs with the lever, they were silent again.

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. After a few months of use, the rotor might make a strange noise when braking hard, almost like they were out of true. It was easily cured by lightly sanding the pads to remove a fine glaze that they had built up. Fortunately, the performance of the brake did not suffer when this happened, so it was more of an annoyance than anything. I used both the Storm and Storm SL rotors, and though the Storm was quieter and had better power due to their increased braking surface, I preferred the better feel and feathering capabilities of the Storm SL.

Removing the one-piece brake pad system for the MT5’s was harder than the top-loading pad system of all its brethren. The backing plate for the MT5 pads has little hooks to hold it in place, as opposed to all the other pads which hang from a retaining screw. You have to remove the wheel and then pull the pads downward for extraction. Since the hanging hooks for the pads face outwards, I found it required pushing the pistons in slightly so the hooks would clear the gap for their removal. I ended up requesting the top-loading four pad system of the MT7, which thankfully is retrofittable since they’re basically the same caliper.

The EPR (easy pad replacement) system, which uses top-loading pads are simple to remove, and don’t require a wheel removal. 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. I ended up liking the tactile feel of the MT7 four individual pad system compared to the dual backing plate MT5, though I would be hard pressed if there were a substantial increase in performance and power.

It’s nice that most of the bolts (except for the bleed port) use a T25 Torx head, so only one tool was required for the brakes and rotors. I was jubilant that they switched to a regular bolt for the master body clamp instead of the fragile alloy barrel nuts of their predecessors. Although the fancy alloy Torx fitting bolts for the calipers were light, I found that the heads would strip with extended use, so I ended up going with a steel ones.

In direct comparison to the new Shimano brakes, they lacked just a slight amount of maximum power, though not very much. The MT5 offered better modulation and lever feel, and they don’t have the typical Shimano “on/off” grabbiness characteristic. There is a slight amount of lever movement until the brakes start to do their business compared to some other brands on the market, but it’s a vast improvement over its predecessors. I found you could easily tune and tweak the pistons for better touch and throw if desired (more snappy and less squishy), and to be honest after a few sessions you get used to the brakes lever contact throw. For prolonged downhill use just increasing the rotor size to a 203/180 combination produces some outstanding power.

The brakes seem to be pretty tough and durable as I have taken a few decent crashes and fall overs, and they’re none the worse for wear and tear. These German made brakes are high-quality units, and they come with a five-year leak proof guarantee.

Measured weights:

  • MT5 Front ( 830mm cut)- 241 grams
  • MT5 Rear ( 1320mm cut) – 251 grams
  • Storm rotors (180mm) – 142 grams each
  • Storm SL rotors (180mm) – 115 grams each
  • Total (brake and rotor)
    • Storm rotors: 383 grams and 393 grams each
    • Storm SL rotors: 356 grams and 366 grams each

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Magura MT5 four-piston brake has excellent power, superb modulation and lever feel, and offers precise braking and control, with highlights to its feathering capabilities and lever feel.

The MT5 utilizes a Carbotecture master body and an aluminum lever which has a tool adjustable reach and has an aluminum caliper with four Duroplastic pistons which have an embedded high-powered magnet to hold the pads in place. The brakes have a superb tactile feel, which gives rise to an incredible touch, control, and communication, especially in technical terrain. The MT5’s offer excellent modulation and power and heat resistance, and the rotor’s spin drag free through the calipers. The caliper’s design and four-piston layouts make them the quietest brake I have ridden, and even getting them scorching hot on long steep downhills never changed their silent characteristic. They don’t offer the MT7’s lighter weight and increased leverage ratio, but they make up for it with a $200 price point, which is a beneficial budgetary constraint. I can’t vouch for the MT7’s increased power since I didn’t get to do a long-term comparison between the MT5 and MT7.

The dual-pad backing plate system MT5 can be difficult to remove due to the hanging hooks getting in the way during extraction. I would prefer they switch to the MT7 four individual pads, which is a top loading system and has a better tactile feel, less noise, and subtly better performance. After some time, the pads can build up some polish and glaze, and a quick light sanding of the pads removed it, returning them to top performance and decreased noise. The four-piston system not only offers increased performance and power and fade resistance, but also increases the overall life of the pads, especially with the slightly thicker material on the MT7 pads.

Strengths

  • Decently light
  • Powerful
  • Deadly quiet
  • Superb tactile feel
  • Excellent modulation
  • Great price point- $200 each
  • Decreased pad wear with four-piston system

Weaknesses

  • Bottom loading pads can be tough to remove
  • Pads can glaze with use
  • Alloy fitting bolts heads can strip
  • Wish they came with the MT7 four individual pads

For more information visit MaguraDirect.com in the US and Magura.com elsewhere.

MT NEXT Specs:

  • MT2 – $100, 365 grams, dual piston caliper, lever reach adjustment, Carbotecture body, lever and clamp
  • MT4 – $160, 345 grams, dual piston caliper, lever reach adjustment, Carbotecture body and clamp, and alloy lever
  • MT6 – $270, 320 grams, dual piston caliper, toolless lever reach and bite point adjustment, Carbotecture SL body, and alloy clamp and lever
  • MT8 – $360, 299 grams, dual piston caliper, toolless lever reach and bite point adjustment, Carbotecture SL body, and Carbolay clamp and lever
  • MT5 – $200, 380 grams, quad piston caliper, lever reach adjustment, Carbotecture body, and alloy clamp and lever
  • MT7  – $320, 355 grams, quad piston caliper, toolless lever reach and bite point adjustment, Carbotecture SL body, and alloy clamp and lever
  • Note: All the brake weights include a 160mm Storm or Storm SL (MT6 and MT8 only) rotor

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris dunlop August 22, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Hi Brian

Love your article because I totally agree. I have the mt5’s and find them awesome stopping power with control. I recently bought some new pads and they came as the mt7 4 pad system which is nice and easy to change but I don’t have the pad retaining screws. I’ve looked around but can’t find them anywhere. I don’t suppose you know what type the are and or where I could buy them please. Any help would be appreciated.

Good riding

Regards

Chris Dunlop

Reply

Brian Mullin August 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Chris,

They are an odd beast and totally proprietary, so you wouldn’t find something at a hardware store.

Contact Magura and get them to send you a set? If you have any LBS or friends that have the latest brakes, they might have some extras.

Magura Direct (US):

800.448.3876 or 618.395.2200 or magura@magurausa.com

Good luck!

Brian

Reply

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