Magura unveils new MT8 brakes

by Karl Rosengarth

Magura invited journalists to Sedona, AZ to try out some of the very first production samples of their all-new MT8 brakes, and to flog their 2012 Thor suspension fork.

The MT8 brake is the flagship in Magura’s new MT lineup of disc brakes which utilize their Carbotecture material—a new injection-molding compound that has a high concentration of carbon fibers embedded in its thermoplastic matrix. Magura say that the material is half the weight of aluminum yet stronger, extremely resistant to impact and fracture, and has very high fatigue strength.

Magura created a proprietary manufacturing process called Carboflow® that properly aligns the fibers within the matrix during Carbotecture molding. The molding process holds very tight tolerances, such that no post-molding machining of the master cylinder is required (not even the internal bore).

The MT8 and MT6 brake uses Carbotecture SL material, in which all of the reinforcing fibers are made from carbon; while the MT4 and MT2 models use a standard flavor of Carbotecture that’s reinforced with a mixture of carbon and glass fibers.

The high-tech carbon theme continues with the Carbolay process used on the lever and the clamp of the MT8. Carbolay is a new twist on the traditional carbon fiber layup process. Instead of using conventional pre-preg (carbon fibers sheets pre-loaded with epoxy), Magura uses raw carbon sheets that are laid into molds which are then injected with a plastic matrix. The other MT brakes in the line get aluminum alloy levers.

Re-designed calipers on the MT lineup involve Magura’s signature double-arch design, first employed on their fork braces. The double arches on the one-piece, forged aluminum caliper body resist flexing (fights the tendency of pistons to push the caliper body apart under high braking forces). The MT8 calipers receive additional machining after forging to shave weight, whereas the other calipers in the MT lineup do not.

A summary of the MT lineup is as follows.

Model: MT8
Price: $399
Weight: 278g (160mm rotor)
Master body: Carbotecture SL
Lever: Carbolay

Model: MT6
Price: $299
Weight: 310g (160mm rotor)
Master body: Carbotecture SL
Lever: alloy

Model: MT4
Price: $199
Weight: 320g (160mm rotor)
Master body: Carbotecture
Lever: alloy

Model: MT2
Price: $129
Weight: 335g (160mm rotor)
Master body: Carbotecture
Lever: alloy

The tech sounds great, but what about the ride, you ask? Well, before I could ride I’d have to switch my levers to "moto style," a task that was made simpler, thanks to the brakes’ split clamp design. Said clamp’s face plate is made of feathery Carbolay material (on the MT8s). The levers are designed to work on either left or right, a feature that I appreciate.

After the switcheroo, and a few turns of a T25 Torx wrench to adjust the lever reach, I was ready to roll. Note that reach is the only adjustment provided on the MT8, because Magura figures it’s the only one you’ll need on a properly functioning brake. Away I rode into the high desert, to fulfill my journalistic duty (with a smile).

The first thing I noticed was the shape of the brake lever. It was plenty long enough for either one or two finger braking. The lever’s flat, wide-ish profile and smoothly rounded edges felt secure and made my middle fingers happy. No sharp edges, nice and smoove.

The braking feel was crisp, with no discernable "mush" at all. I liked that. I also liked the fact that it was easy to modulate power with one finger – throughout a range from light to medium to full power. I dislike leaving an ugly skid mark on the trail, and despite the often powdery, loose trail conditions I was able to control my speed without tail-dragging.

The MT8s felt consistent over my two days of riding, however we didn’t ride any super long descents that would put the brakes’ thermal properties to the test. Magura specs organic brake pads because they transfer less heat to the calipers (and more to the rotors) which helps avoid overheating of the brake fluid (mineral oil in Magura’s case), which can lead to fluid boiling and fading brake power. The pistons themselves are made from a high-temperature-resistant plastic to further limit heat transfer into the caliper body.

Over two days of riding, I didn’t hear a single incidence of brake squeal from our group of 20-ish riders. That’s awesome. So is the fact that the I never felt/heard any brake drag.

My initial impression on the MT8s was very positive. While the $399 price may not fit every budget, the good news is that the more affordable models in the MT lineup share the same basic design and functional features of the MT8. As such, I expect that that the more affordable MT brake should provide similar braking performance as the MT8. Dirt Rag will look to get a set of new MT8 (and/or some others in the MT lineup) for a full blow test in print.

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