The Mags were used on my primary steed the Ibis Mojo, in any sort of terrain that Colorado can throw at you. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many sections of long steep downhills, rock gardens, and ugly loose gravel. I could cross compare the brakes against a 2008 set of Marta SL’s and some new Hayes Stroker Grams. The Mags were equipped primarily with the SL Wavy rotors, but the Ashima AiRotors were also used regularly, and I used 160/160, 180/160 and 203/160 combination’s.
The power difference between the 2008 to 2009 is significant, although it still doesn’t approach the power of some of its competitors. Using a 160 in front on the newer brakes, feels like a 180 of its predecessor, and modulation has also greatly increased. The redesigned calipers, lever, and reservoir body, along with the slightly larger Louise pads (more surface area) have made a wholesale difference in the functionality and characteristics of the Marta’s. The Louise pads will not fit the older version of the Marta’s.
The Mags just have a more robust feel to them, and the levers felt snappier and more solid, albeit a bit firm in the hand. The reach adjustment is done with a small allen wrench (2.5mm) in a small recess in the front of the lever. The redesigned lever itself has a much better pivot with less stiction, giving a more powerful feel throughout the lever stroke. I like the shape and feel to the lever, it makes for nice one or two finger usage.
The Mags perform quite well in almost any terrain, and they have excellent modulation, allowing beautiful feathering of the brakes. I loved how the brakes could be used in technical sections and in rock gardens, it was really easy to do a dab of brakes or grab a big handful of them, and they would do so without any compromises or complaints. On long downhill’s they performed decently, but once the brakes got pretty warm they got a tad of fade to them, but it was much better than its predecessor. A larger rotor size combination such as 180/160 or 203/160 helped a lot with the fade issue, and I also found that the Ashima AiRotors really assisted since they have an extremely high tolerance to fading (caveat: after market rotors can void a warranty).
Although they were mostly a quiet brake, the pads needed to be taken out on an occasional basis and sanded, else they tended to squeak on long downhills. They performed admirably in the wet, and mud, and dried out quickly when they got soaked.
One of my favorite things I like about the Mags is the sweet red and white paint job, which not only looks good, but the white helps show off the already gorgeous carbon levers. It also blends well with a whole slew of white forks and wheel sets.
As usual, thanks to Justin for helping me out when I needed anything for the test! You dah man!