At this point it is a given that mountain bike brakes must provide ample stopping power and controlled modulation. Miss either of those marks and your time on market will be short lived. Same goes for lever shape, which more and more is trending toward the shorter, one-finger variety.
Now Magura has taken things a step further with its new HC3 levers, which combine those coveted characteristics with a unique adjustment feature that allows the user to tune the leverage thus changing braking power delivery. It’s a concept that’s common in motorcycle technology, and one initially requested by Magura sponsored rider Danny MacAskill, who wanted to be able to modify his bike set-up based on riding conditions.
For example, if you’re railing tacky loam with loads of traction, dial up the stopping power to assure rapid response. But if the track is pebbly and loose with dubious traction, you can step down power delivery to avoid unwanted skidding and the ensuing loss of control. This ratio adjustment is made with a Torx T25, and the HC3 lever is compatible with most Magura mountain bike brakes, including the MT6, MT7, MT8, and MT Trail Carbon.
Other features of the HC3 lever include reach adjust with a 3mm Allen so you can tune position to hand size, finger length, and/or personal preference. Magura has also modified the lever ergonomics so there is a more secure contact area for the finger with no pinching. Claimed weight is 38 grams and the levers sell for 67.90 euros or about $75 each.
Mtbr got the chance to take several test rides on bikes spec’d with the new levers (plus MT7 brakes) during a recent press event in Sedona, Arizona, and initial impressions were very positive. Lever feel is superb, providing a comfortable and secure locale for controlled and comfortable one finger braking, which was powerful and predictably modulated on the techy trails of this mountain bike Mecca. Even on unfamiliar (and highly technical) trails, we were able to safely scrub speed when the situation merited.
We did limited experimenting with the ratio adjustment, where a simple turn of a Torx T25 produced obvious change. More trail time is definitely in order, but you can get an understanding in the photo below of how the system works. When dialed in the weight of the water jug produced a high amount of braking force. But back it off and power delivery lessened, extending modulation.
We were also impressed with the brakes themselves. By using a four-piston set-up in the front, but just two in the rear, the system delivers huge stopping power, but also allows the rider to finesse the rear wheel in situations where excess power could lead to a loss of control. It’s a smart set-up that makes a ton of sense for today’s crop of hard charging trail bikes.
Mtbr has a couple Magura HC3 brake lever test sets in house and will report back with longer term findings later in the summer. In the meantime, you can learn more at www.magura.com.