Magura HC3 Brake Lever Review

by Brian Mullin on August 28, 2017

The new HC3 brake lever has a redesigned ergonomic 1-finger blade that provides two highly functional features, the ability to alter the reach to tune to the user’s hand size, finger length and personal preference along with an adjustment for the mechanical leverage ratio of the braking power. The HC3 is compatible with the Magura brake models MT6, MT7, MT8 and MT Trail Carbon and retails for $70 for each blade.

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The newly developed HC3 lever has been specially engineered with the input of Danny MacAskill for his Signature Edition Magura MT7 brake and is now available as an option for your Magura brake. Danny wanted the power of the MT7 with its 4-piston caliper but desired additional lever adjustability. Magura offered up their technology from their motorcycle and powersport world with the new HC3 brake lever (HC stands for Hard Core), which emulates their race proven HC3 Brake Radial Master Cylinder systems DNA.


The HC3 brake lever has a ‘Reach Adjust’ that uses their newly designed ergonomic 1-finger brake blade and can be adjusted with a 3mm Hex key to tune to the user’s hand size and desired reach. It also has a ‘Ratio Adjust’ which allows adjustment of the lever amplification ratio or mechanical leverage ratio utilizing a T25 Hex key. The manual adjustment of the mechanical leverage ratio was designed to allow for an individual set up with regards to the braking force required combined with a perfect pressure point. A longer setting from the pivot point provides a higher brake power that is optimal in dry conditions while a shorter one is for lower power that helps in wet, slippery and adverse conditions. The redesigned shape of the blade has a bigger or wider contact area by the middle finger so when pulling the lever to the handlebar the fingers won’t be pinched.

To alter or adjust the leverage ratio just use a T25 Hex key on the inner edge of the blade and rotate the tool in the appropriate direction. Turning in the ‘+’ direction creates a higher mechanical leverage with an improved braking power which is ideal for conditions that are dry where excellent traction, grip, and braking will be encountered. On the other hand, turning it in the ‘-‘ direction decreases the power which helps in wet and slippery conditions, and also, the smaller leverage provides extended modulation. Match up the lines on the plunger to sync each side of the bike or leave them different depending on your requirements.

To alter the reach adjustment use a 3mm Hex key in the middle front of the blade to tune to the user’s hand size and desired reach. Turn the Hex key, and the outer blade will move outward or inward, and match up the lines on the top to sync each side of the bike.


Swapping the lever out was pretty straightforward on my MT7. First, I removed the BAT adjuster or cover plug and its accompanying spring and lock washer, making sure not to lose those latter two little parts as they like to fly away during removal. There is a small plastic nameplate covering the pivot pin, so I used a razor blade and lifted it up so that the pin was visible. I then rotated the brake assembly horizontally and tightened it snugly down. You can then use either a 3mm Hex key or a Scratch Awl and with a soft mallet punch the pin completely out. Once the pin is free, you can slide the old lever out of place. Slightly hammer the pin back in place just a hair into the open blade slot and pry the new one into position, then continue punching the pin square with the body. To get the pin level with the nameplate sticker location use a 5mm Hex key and finely tune the position.

I prefer my levers with a lot of reach, so I put the HC3 at its maximum setting and left it there for the entire test period. Even at their maximum reach I still didn’t feel as though it felt right to me, but my default levers on the MT7 are much longer which offered a longer throw and an increased distance to the blade’s edge.

I played with the ratio adjuster and spent a lot of time going back and forth to find what felt the best. After a couple of weeks playing with things on all sorts of terrain and in varying conditions, I mostly preferred them at the highest leverage ratio for the greatest braking power, even though it might lock the rear up on occasion. Even at the maximum setting they still offered lots of modulation although in direct comparison to the default MT7 levers I perceived a small decrease in overall power. I sure did like having the adjustability of the leverage ratio, and on steep mountain descents, I’d stick them at the maximum power, while on mellower terrain and when it was slippery out I would decrease the power levels for improved performance and modulation. It certainly wasn’t something I’d want to do on the fly, but it was a great to have that functionality and adjustability when I wanted to make a fine tuning of the brakes power.

Standard MT7 vs. HC3 Levers

It’s difficult to quantify things, but for my hands and personal tastes I much preferred the MT7 levers, with their increased length, lever arm, and lever throw, they seemed slightly more powerful and offered significantly improved feathering capabilities IMHO. Also, as the brake pads and rotors wore down the default MT7 blades gave more wiggle room to keep everything working properly, without the need for adjustment and fine tuning, or heaven forbids a bleed. I tended to go back and forth with either 1 or 2-finger interaction on the MT7 levers, but I liked using them in that manner.

With the HC3 I did enjoy the ability to make minute adjustments to the reach and leverage ratio, and for people with small hands or those that want a short lever for full 1-finger usage, they’re about perfect. The HC3 have a much snappier feel and quicker engagement substantially due to the shorter lever arm and decreased length, and the wide ergonomic end slot made it easy to instantly and effortlessly grab the brakes. 

The ergonomic shape and wide platform of this 1-finger blade and it’s multi-adjustment system elevate the HC3 brake lever to a new level of usability for the Magura lineup.


HC3 Lever Highlights

  • Power adjuster changes the leverage ratio on the master piston –  borrowed from our HC3 radial master for moto
  • Single finger blade
  • Reach adjust- lever blade articulates in the center of blade to adjust reach

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