Commentary and Press Release
Brakes *IN* Your Handlebars? Magura Launches the MCi System
I often marvel at the current polarization of social issues. As some trends push toward an extremely liberal agenda, others swing the needle just as far in an ultra conservative vein. The same is true in mountain biking; while some companies are trying to make it easier for you to deal with your rear brake lines, by mounting them externally or providing a clever hatch like Guerrilla Gravity, another company is adding complexity and making installation, removal and line replacement vastly more complicated and difficult - for both front and rear lines.
Do not get me wrong; I'm not saying Magura should be prevented or even dissuaded from producing a system that isn't seen as beneficial in any way to most riders, which I believe will be the case here. At the same time I wonder why they would put energy and resources into a product with such narrow appeal. But please, knock yourself out.
I need to come clean about something though. The first time I saw SRAM's AXS wireless system I immediately asked about brakes. Everything looked amazing and the removal of the dropper line and shifter cable made the bike look incredibly clean and modern, except for the brake lines. I wondered about a system that allowed a lever to send a signal to a servo motor at the caliper that could push hydraulic fluid to engage the pistons. Of course the issue here is reliability. There is no acceptable rate of interference or failure for a wireless brake system so it may be some time before we see it, but it would look so great and also be dead simple to install and remove, which this one is not.
And I'm not forgetting that Magura makes some great products either. Magura disc brakes are world class and they are even making a cool niche product for those of us who rider a lot in winter; heated grips! While it's true they are only available or e-bikes to begin with, a conventionally battery powered version can't be far off. And Magura's recent efforts to allow riders to choose the grip of their preference and even select levers that can be customized to fit the rider and the terrain, are examples of a rider-centric focus to product development. Which seems to be the opposite of what is happening here.
I will also admit that upon seeing the MCI system at Sea Otter, I thought it looked amazing. My reservations bubbled up just as quickly though and any benefits beyond the aesthetic seem marginal at best. Aerodynamics on a mountain bike? Even XC racers rarely get to speeds where aero becomes useful, but the removal of two thin lines in an area already prone to turbulence? I think we may be talking milliseconds over a long lap. I will agree that the lines are more protected, but it seems to me the odds of snagging or crimping lines fed from the end of your handlebar, through your stem and then to the two calipers, will be even higher than it is for exposed lines. But the quick connect system looks interesting and could prove beneficial for more conventional brake lines in the future.
I can see a market however. Pro XC racers who do no work on their own bikes, and who want the latest and greatest from their sponsor, would surely line up for this. After that it becomes a reach, but we aren't the target market anyway. At least not initially. These will be going on bikes as original equipment, so riders won't have decide on replacing their bikes for these, they'l only have to see a system in the showroom and decide to buy that bike.
My final admission is that I have reacted negatively to products in the past and been dead wrong. When I first saw a remote adjustable dropper post, in a press release from Gravity Dropper, I saw no use for it at all. Those days I would climb the hill, stop and lower my saddle at the top and then do the reverse at the bottom. I saw no reason to be able to do that on the fly, so keep that opinion in mind.
Maybe I will be proven wrong and this trend will spread across the pond after masses of Euro consumers, who have been dying to conceal brake lines all these years, flock to Magura's new system. Either way this serves as a reminder that even good companies that make good products soil the sheets on occasion.
The MCi system gets my vote as not the best product of 2019.
See below for Magura's press release.
The new MAGURA Cockpit Integration (MCi) is the world’s first hydraulic brake that’s fully integrated into the handlebar. With no external tubings, the MCi gives riders a tidy cockpit, better aerodynamics and greater protection for hydraulic components. The MCi is part of the new MAGURA Integration Series.
With this new MAGURA Integration Series, the German brake specialist has given us a completely new product series. It is characterized by unique integration solutions that further optimize the design and function of the already-proven MAGURA products. After successfully producing the integrated HSi rim brake and the HGi heated grips, MAGURA has now turned its attention to the cockpit.
The new MAGURA MCi has all wires and cables laid inside the handlebars for the first time. The result is a tidy appearance and enhanced functionality, offering effective protection against crashes and mechanical damage. The design of the new MCi also makes it possible for manufacturers to consistently extend the design language of the frame into the cockpit.
During the development of the hydraulic unit, the MAGURA specialists relied on in-house motorcycle know-how. The MCi functions in the same way as a retrofit hydraulic clutch for motorcycles. The heart of the MAGURA MCi is a cylinder, which is invisibly located in the handlebar grip area. The dimensions of the expansion reservoir and the piston diameter of the MCi correspond to the dimensions used in the MAGURA MT series, giving the MCi the same stability and braking force as conventional MAGURA MT brakes.
The MCi is available with 2-piston and 4-piston brake callipers.
The MCi is actuated by a lever unit attached to the handlebar – the only visible component of the new brake. The system is equally suitable for mountain bike or urban use depending on the installed handlebar and stem unit. Thanks to the lever bearing point being close to the handlebar, however, the MCi gives riders a more direct braking feeling than all previous MAGURA brakes. The ratio between lever travel and braking force is also designed to be more progressive, refining the modulation of the brake.
The lever angle of the MCi is individually adjusted to each bicycle model and optimized for the best possible seating position. Special handlebar grips with a fixed core also allow a projection of up to 2cm at the handlebar end. The handle width is infinitely variable on the lever blade.
Easy maintenance and user-friendly – the MAGURA Easy Link
The development of the Easy Link was focused on user-friendly service and maintenance, plus of course a tidy cockpit integration. The MCi is the first MAGURA product to use the new Easy Link cable coupling. The new Easy Link coupling is a special plug-in connector that links the cockpit unit and the brake line. During a service, the cockpit unit can be easily separated from the cable within the frame. Brake bleeding is carried out by means of the proven MAGURA Easy Bleed Technology and a bleed screw at the handlebar end.
Initially, the MCi will only be reserved for OE partners. MAGURA will act as MCi system supplier during the development and will specify the components such as handlebars, stem unit and cable routing together with the respective bicycle manufacturer. An aftermarket version is not planned for the near future.
MAGURA will initially present a trail bike with MCi as the basis for this product innovation. The trailbike will have an almost-ready serial production version of the cockpit integration, the wireless MAGURA VYRON eLECT seat post, internal lines and a wireless SRAM AXS drivetrain. This setup means that the bike is entirely free of external cables & tubings. MAGURA will present the MTB study and the world‘s first
production bike with MCi cockpit at the Eurobike Media Days (July 2-4). MAGURA’s partner is a German brand manufacturer who will present the MCi for the first time on one of its urban bikes. The bike will be available to customers some time in 2019.