Magura
Installation | First Impressions

2018 Magura MT Trail Sport : Bleed How To & First Impressions

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jun 19, 2017

Magura's MT Trail Sport, new for 2018, shares the 4-piston front and 2-piston rear caliper configuration of the more expensive MT Trail model. It comes stock with the massively hooked HC lever blades and the master cylinder is made of the same 'Carbotecture' material as Magura's BMW Motorcycle clutch bodies. 

As with other high-end Magura brake systems, the Trail Sport uses one-piece calipers, Royal Blood mineral oil, a specific bleed fitting and a unique bleeding procedure compared to other brake systems.  At $275 (USD) they are roughly half the price of Magura's top end MT Trail system. 


Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

Magura's MT Trail Sport comes spec with their generously curved HC lever blades, one-piece calipers and a 4-piston front & 2-piston rear at a significantly lower price than the excellent MT Trail system. 

First Impressions

The Trail Sport is quick and easy to set up. Center the calipers over the rotors and tighten them down. Then squeeze the brakes a few times to set the piston position. It's easy to manipulate the pads with a screwdriver against their back plates until everything is running drag free. 

I bolted the Trail Sport's 4-piston front caliper onto the RockShox Recon Silver fork and 2-piston caliper on the accompanying Marin Hawk Hill frame. After a quick brake-in period consisting of a dozen short hard stops on a hill near my house it was time to hit the trails. 

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

The Trail Sport brakes are a huge upgrade in power, feel and ergonomics compared to the stock Shimano Acera brakes on the Hawk Hill. At $275 they are more than double the price of the stock brakes but they offer great value when measured against their quality and performance. 

After several rides I can say that as good as the stock Shimano Acera brakes are, especially considering the price, there is no question that the Trail Sport is a more advanced system in every way. 

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

X-Fusion Manic meet Magura Trail Sport. 

That shouldn't be surprising as the Trail Sport system is more than twice the price of a basic Acera brake system and in that way it reminds me of the X-Fusion Manic dropper post - the remote to which is snuggled up against the Trail Sport's lever.

That is to say that the rigid post and quick release that came with the Marin were totally usable. But, for the extra cost there is a premium upgrade in the riding experience for notably less money then I would expect to have to spend for the premium experience. 


Magura brakes are easy to bleed but require a slightly different process than other systems on the market. Here's the process I went through to ensure the best possible performance from this set of Trail Sport brakes on test. 

Tools of the Trade

To start cut the lines, install a new barbed insert and ferrule and then re-thread the brake fittings into the master cylinders for both brakes. I do this with the master cylinders off the handlebar to ensure that the brake lines don't kink while I tighten down the fittings. Then it's time for the tools.

I need two syringes, a Magura bleed fitting (the same one they've used since time began), some Royal Blood, a sharp object - or drill, and a T-25 Torx Key. 

For one of the syringes I'll remove the plunger and put a hole in at the 30ml mark. Any pointy object will do from a sharpened spoke to a drill bit. It isn't necessary but filing the inside of the syringe after making the hole is good idea. 

This syringe will double as the catch basin when fully bleed the system from the caliper up and also as a vacuum tool for quick bleeding air from the master cylinder after cutting the lines. 

Quick Bleed

The lines of most brake systems can be cut without having to bleed the systems. I'm not talking about best practices, merely what one can get away with. Air is only potentially introduced at the line and then should transit to the master cylinder rather than the brake caliper.

But then how often is it that after a crash, or a long drive or telling buddies how awesome a brake feels (sans bleed) after install and then it becomes a spongy mess?!

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

It's just a plug. It's made of plastic. Lightly hand tight will do. Go easy on the tools friend - buddy - guy - pal - gal. 

Remove the bleed plug from the master cylinder while leaving the caliper closed. Then, suck a bit of fluid into the syringe with the hole at 30cc (use syringe not mouth). Now insert the syringe into the master cylinder and cycle it gently up and down.

As the syringe is cycled gently the master cylinder bladder is pumped in and out releasing any air bubbles that may be trapped to be purged through the hole. It's seriously that simple. 

Repeat both sides and it's time to ride your bike. 

The Perfect Full Bleed

Sometimes cutting the lines turns into a SNAFU and a full bleed is required. And heck, it's good practice for 2am the night before that big Enduro race. 

Magura uses one piece calipers for every brake including the more budget friendly MT Trail Sport and even the $60 per wheel MT 2. Magura tells us this structure increases stiffness, cuts weight and is much more complex to manufacture compared to bolting together caliper halves. 

To simplify construction Magura's bleed port is located at the side of the caliper opposite from the mounting point for the brake line. Magura has used a thread-in bleed fitting going back to the first hydraulic rim brakes and these two features combined seem to confuse a lot of people bleeding their brakes. 

The secret is to un-bolt the caliper. 

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

Un-bolt the caliper. It needs to be at the high point when removing the bleed screw and installing the fitting & syringe. It needs to be at the low point when pushing through fluid. For rear systems with internal brake routing this is still easily accomplished by adjusting my bike stand. 

With the brake caliper removed I raise it above the master cylinder so that the bleed port cover screw is the highest point in the system - no leaking when I remove the screw. The next step is to thread in the bleed fitting with a loaded syringe attached.

Now drop the caliper down so the master cylinder is the highest point in the system and the caliper bleed port is the lowest. 

Push fluid through until no more air bubbles are coming out of the system. Seal everything up. Hit those components with some mild soapy water. Done.

If for some reason the brake lever were still spongy at this point - hard to imagine - it is a good time to try the the quick bleed trick again to see if those last couple air bubbles can be coaxed from the system. 

Magura MT Trail Sport AndrewM

Spray bottles are fun. Ummm. I mean a little mild soapy water is a great finishing touch to clean up the system when bleeding is complete. 

With the brakes full broken in and working nicely I'll be ack with a proper review.

In my quest for the ultimate in min-maxed component spec the Magura MT Trail Sport brakes have joined X-Fusion's Manic dropper post, RaceFace's Aeffect Cinch crankset and Aeffect wheels on the NSMB Marin Hawk Hill test bike. 

For more information check out Magura here


Comments

kboss
0
Kirk Bothwell  - June 19, 2017, 12:42 a.m.

Hi Andrew,

I am so excited you wrote an article on how to bleed these brakes. I've been struggling a ton with Magura bleeds but I can see the light on their performance. I'm willing to persevere. 

I think a video would help. 

This sentence has me baffled: "Remove the bleed plug from the master cylinder while leaving the caliper closed. Then, suck a bit of fluid into the syringe with the hole at 30cc (use syringe not mouth). Now insert the syringe into the master cylinder and cycle it gently up and down."

The Shimano funnel is a revolution for bleeding Shimano brakes. I'm hoping you have some Jedi tricks to keep me on the  Magura train.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2017, 5:14 a.m.

Hi Kirk,

If you simply insert a syringe without a plunger into the lever it has the same effect as Shimano's funnel. It's what you use as a catch basin when doing a full bleed and you can also just stick an open syringe in the master and pump the lever in exactly the same way that folks cheater bleed Shimano if you'd prefer.

...

Re. The quick bleed process you are creating a vacuum at the matercylinder using the syringe with the hole drilled at 30cc which actually pulls air out rather than combination of pumping the lever and hope. 

The caliper stays closed and the syringe - with a bit of fluid - is inserted in the master cylinder.

Now gently Cycle the plunger up and down. As the bladder is lightly pumped air will be pulled from the master and escape through the hole in the syringe. The air is then replaced with fluid. 

This is the photo of process:

If it's the comment about using the syringe rather than ones mouth that is confusing I can't take the blame for that one - it's an editor's note. 

If you aren't sure just do exactly like the photo above: make a syringe with a hole, put a bit of oil in it and stick it in the lever like you would with the funnel. I promise it will all make sense.

Reply

kboss
0
Kirk Bothwell  - June 20, 2017, 9:39 a.m.

Thanks Andrew, the pictures are really helpful. 

Are you suggesting to pull the plunger past the hole or 30cc mark? Using your picture as an example, would you pull up from the ~15cc mark all the way past 30cc to create a vacuum and then release it? I get that the force of the plunger lightly pumping the bladder is better than the open funnel & flick method, just trying to wrap my head around the function of the hole. Maybe it's to allow the plunger to go in past 30 when fluid is already there?

A local mechanic / bike wizard has a ton of experience with Magura brakes and says the vacuum on the caliper (when doing a full bleed) is the most important part. I've had good success pairing this, with using Ken's suggestion below. 

Andrew, I also like your suggestion of tightening the fittings post-shortening, with the levers off the bars to avoid wind-up in the brake lines.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 20, 2017, 9:47 a.m.

Hi Kirk,

I just cycle the syringe up an down a few ml to cycle the bladder. Air easily bypasses the first plunger seal. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you. The air visibly bubbles up and escapes. 

The folks at Magura did mention plans for a video - in this case I was doing the install anyways and thought it would make for some interesting information for folks that haven't played with Magura brakes before.

Reply

kperras
0
Kenneth Perras  - June 19, 2017, 9:54 p.m.

I've bled MT2 to MT8s (and everything in between) about a dozen times each and have found that vertically positioning the brake, with the lever at the top on a 30-45 degree angle, the caliper unbolted from the chainstay, and the line somewhat straight, results in a perfect bleed every time. This is with the open syringe at the top and the closed syringe full of mineral oil at the bottom. You push the oil up, then gently pull back on the syringe very slowly to refill it and repeat the process.

This all sounds like voodoo magic, but I do this with Shimano and Sram brakes as well. Works everytime. 10 minutes of prep work up front will save you from doing the bleed 2 or 3 times before you get it right.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 20, 2017, 9:08 a.m.

Thanks Ken; unbolting the caliper definitely saves time in terms of the perfect bleed each time.

You and Dan-in-Japan Graham definitely get the credit for being the first two guys I heard predicting how well received the latest gen Magura brakes were going to be.

Reply

Ganderson
+2
Greg Anderson  - Oct. 4, 2017, 1:21 p.m.

Agree with you guys on the unbolting the caliper and lever positioning, makes a huge difference.

The other key thing I'd add that finally got me to perfect-bleed status: 

Once you've push/pulled all of the air out of the system, always finish the bleed on a firm fluid push from the caliper end. You want to try and force the pistons up against the bleed block so you feel some resistance when removing it.

Sorry if this was already mentioned somewhere.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 4, 2017, 1:36 p.m.

Thanks Greg, I haven't tried that but will give it a test.

Reply

DBone95
0
Darryl Chereshkoff  - Sept. 30, 2017, 2:25 p.m.

Any quick update on how you're liking the Trail sports?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 30, 2017, 3:17 p.m.

Hi Darryl, with the four separate front pads installed up front I can't feel any performance difference between the Trail Sport brakes and MT-Trail brakes w/ HC levers. In other words they're pretty amazing. 

I should be done the review in early November - want to get some good torrential dank Shore rides in. I know I talk Min-Maxing budget/performance enough to put most people to sleep but these are the brakes I'd buy tomorrow if I needed a set.

Hope that's helpful! Thanks for following up.

Reply

DBone95
0
Darryl Chereshkoff  - Oct. 7, 2017, 6:05 a.m.

.

Reply

Ganderson
0
Greg Anderson  - Oct. 4, 2017, 10:22 a.m.

Great performing brakes... too bad they are plastic. :(

broke1

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 4, 2017, 10:28 a.m.

I've seen lots of broken aluminum and magnesium master cylinder bodies so a photo without context is really just "that's mountain biking".

Unlike the higher price points of MT brakes these use exactly the same material as the clutch bodies in BMW Enduro motorcycles... so I'm inclined to trust the material for our application.

I've put my Magura equipped bikes down lots of times with no failures - cosmetic damage yes - but everything breaks under the right forces/conditions.

Reply

Ganderson
0
Greg Anderson  - Oct. 4, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

You are correct.

Context: Minor walking-speed tip-over.. front lever caught a rock and snapped off at the body as shown. The lever doesn't even have a scratch and didn't bend at all.

I've primarily used Shimano XT and SLX in the past and never had one break, plenty of bent levers and scratched up MC's from far worse incidents though.

IMO the lever on these is ergonomically great but it's strength and stiffness definitely outguns the plastic body interface in an impact and that is unfortunately the weak link.

The performance of these brakes is fantastic though, just not durable enough for the rocky terrain where I ride.

Reply

Ganderson
0
Greg Anderson  - Oct. 4, 2017, 10:57 a.m.

"Unlike the higher price points of MT brakes these use exactly the same material as the clutch bodies in BMW Enduro motorcycles... so I'm inclined to trust the material for our application."

I talked to Magura about the material and they assured me that its much stronger than plastic. I'm sure it's very good stuff but in this application/design combined with that stout lever my experience tells me there isn't enough strength there.

Had it been a CRASH I'd be chalking it up to "stuff breaks" but this was like a slo-mo, "wtf..did that just happen?" kind of thing.

Reply

Ganderson
0
Greg Anderson  - Oct. 4, 2017, 10:24 a.m.

Broke2

Reply

DBone95
0
Darryl Chereshkoff  - Oct. 7, 2017, 6:10 a.m.

.

Reply

Vincent66
0
Vincent66  - Oct. 21, 2017, 11:32 a.m.

Thank you for this "how to" ; I've been using these brakes on my two bikes. On my mtb, they are fantastic, but I need to bleed them every two weeks on my commuter ...

I will try your way !

Reply

Ganderson
+1
Greg Anderson  - Nov. 1, 2017, 6:08 a.m.

Well, since I kind of shit on this thread with my fail report it's only fair that I update to say I'm giving them another chance.

I temporarily replaced the broken front with a Shimano M8000 while I figured out which way I wanted to go with brakes. I do like the more precise mechanical feel and smaller size of the Shimano levers but I missed the power and modulation enough that I went ahead and ordered a replacement lever for the Magura's.

If I break another one I'll likely move on... but they really do perform THAT well.

Reply

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