What is it
When Magura first announced the MT Trail brakes, they made an analogy to the motorcycle world. In that sphere, the majority of your stopping power comes from the front wheel. That’s why many sport bikes come equipped with dual front rotors or larger front calipers. You see the same principle applied in the automotive world.
With the MT Trail brake, Magura set out to adapt this concept to the mountain bike world. Their goal was to create a brake package that provided power where you needed it, offered better rear modulation, and was lighter overall. To do that, they combined two different brakes in one package.
The front brake is a four-piston MT7 while the rear is a two-piston MT8. They’ve both been given matching color schemes and finished with gorgeous polished calipers. The end result is 15% lighter than running a pair of their DH worthy MT7 brakes, yet only 5% heavier than running the XC World Cup proven MT8.
Retail for the MT Trails (sans rotors) is $600. Not interested in shelling out that kind of cash? Magura also offers the new Trail Sport edition. These brakes share the larger four-piston caliper and smaller rear, but omit the carbon master cylinder, lever, and polished calipers to cut the price in half. If you’re familiar with the Magura lineup, it’s basically the M5 and M4 brake repackaged, rather than the MT7 and MT8. Total weight for Trail Sport stoppers is 485g (sans rotors and adapters), which is 55g heavier than its pricier counterpart.
- Easy to follow online instructional/maintenance videos
- Beautiful polished calipers
- Mineral oil doesn’t make your skin crawl
- Excellent modulation
- Front has tremendous power
- Carbon construction helps keep weight low
- How much do these cost again?
- Stock clamp doesn’t play nice with some shifters
- Stock levers are large
- Rear brake pump on longer descents
The first thing you’ll notice when pulling the MT Trails out of the box is the polished calipers. They’re gorgeous. They lend a premium feel that’s matched by the quality of the carbon lever assembly.
Once mounted, break-in period is brief. After only a few stop starts, the brakes build tremendous power. Tug sharply on that front brake and you’ll be riding a stoppie. However, there’s modulation lurking behind those triggers. If you ease into the power, you’ll find the brakes deliver a blend of performance that combines the best attributes of both Shimano and SRAM stoppers.
The only downside to this brake arrangement is that the rear brake can feel under gunned. If you own a couple of bikes, you’ll notice this dichotomy every time you switch between them. The difference is so striking that it often takes few hard runs to adjust your timing. Once you adapt, the increased precision is noticeable, but there’s still scenarios where we found ourselves wanting more power. In particular, the rear brake had a tendency to pump on prolonged descents.
As a motorcycle enthusiast, I can appreciate Magura’s dedication to bringing moto-inspired thinking to the bike world, but it’s hard to say if this bigger front/smaller rear strategy translates. Unlike motorcycles, mountain bikes don’t benefit from engine braking. You can’t downshift to slow down. And perhaps more importantly, the rear brake of a motorcycle is activated by a boot wrapped foot, not a precision instrument like your hands.
If you’re riding leans towards the enduro end of the spectrum, we’d suggest cross shopping between the four-piston MT7 and MT5 models. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your existing XC or trail brakes to something a little more powerful, the MT Trail (and MT Sport) deliver an impressive blend of modulation, power, and precision.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
More info: www.magura.com