Strengths: best modulation I have ever felt in MTB brakes
Weaknesses: Not the most powerful brakes I have used.
Starter a couple of years ago bought a Pivot Mach 5 and came with Avid elixir CR brakes. my previous Motolite had Avid juicy 7's on it which I really liked so I was pumped to get brakes that were suposed to be improved and lighter. they were powerfull alright, but no modulation at all!! would lock-up with very little effort. At first thought it was just my set-up but after talking and riding with others with these brakes seems like common problem. so I started shopping for brakes. Came across good deal on Magura Marta SL's on Ebay bought them. after installing them and shortening the hoses. we were set to go. bleeding was very easy and uses vegtable oil instead of brake fluid so no problem spilling alittle on painted surfaces. First ride was alittle dissapointed with power and feel.weak. but after acouple of more ride boy did they come around! Super, SUPER modulation. I ride on some less than ideal trails so modulation mean everything. very impressive. very quiet with stock pads too. can squel some when wet, but what brakes wont? I am running 160 rotors front and rear but I think if you went with bigger rotors up front would be more powerful. I ride several times a week and have only had to bleed rear brake once. Levers feel really nice for one finger braking. Just purchased a Pivot 5.7 carbon that came with Avid's but took them off before I rode and installed another set of Marta's. now that Magura no longer make this model there are some really good prices out them for them. bought complete set with rotors fpr $300.00. I will hate to see them go, but I have heard the next generation of brakes are pretty nice too.
Strengths: Stopping power, light weight, look good
Weaknesses: Can't be maintained, sometimes fussy
These have been generally awesome brakes for me. I'm 6-6 and they do a great job slowing me down. They're light and they look great on a bike, although they are sometimes fussy to set up. Also, they run like crap when the pads get low.
The biggest downside (and reason I sold them) is that they can't be serviced. Magura won't provide parts or allow shops to service their stuff. Granted, they have a rock-solid guarantee, but I've had more than one problem with mine and each time I'm stuck waiting for a new lever or caliper to be sent instead of just having my shop rebuild the brake.
a Cross Country Rider
from Bay Area, CA
Date Reviewed: September 1, 2011
Strengths: Easy to install and setup. Light, quiet strong-enough brake power, decent lever feel.
Weaknesses: Lever and travel is a little big, feels more like a 2 finger minimum lever....but not a bothersome issue.
This is the first non-Avid disc brake i've tried. Honestly was a little skeptical, but have heard so many good recommendations that I had to try them. Not disappointed, great brakes.
One of the benefits is the simplicity of them. No fussy CPS bolts (Avid), bleeding is straight forward and getting the calipers aligned was cake (seemed to take a long time to dial in Avids for some reason).
So far the best disc brake experience I've had, we'll see how they continue to break in. I did go with a 180mm front rotor and 160 rear, so felt like I'm in much better control of descents with more power up front.
Weaknesses: Maybe lacking the raw stopping power of some systems
Best brakes I have owned or used to date. Last reviewer must have got a dud. They are way more consistent and reliable than any other brake I have used. For XC and trail riding in really demanding conditions you appreciate the superb modulation they offer over other brakes. I bought them for Endurance racing and couldn't get my hands on a pair for formula R1's at the time. No regrets. I'd buy another pair of SL's or the new MT's.
Bike Setup: giant xtc mavic crossmax slr wheels carbon everything
a Cross Country Rider
from Ontario, Canada
Date Reviewed: June 1, 2011
Strengths: Lightweight, quality engineering, non-toxic fluid, carbon levers, magnetic pads, relatively easy to bleed
Weaknesses: Relatively expensive, intermittent noise from front set
A well-designed quality product, and you get what you pay for here. Great stopping power, but there are certainly other hydraulic discs out there which can match it (my older Avids were similar). My only beef is a loud honk/squeal from the front brakes, which I can't seem to trace. (Previous Avids did not exhibit the problem.)
While At Rome
from Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2011
Strengths: Very Lightweight, great looks.
Weaknesses: Not enough stopping power
These brakes are nice, when they dont make noise. I have only been riding this bike a lot for the past year and I need to wear headphones because it is so bad. Ive taken it in to multiple LBS and it will fix it for about 2 rides until the pad clearance is back to crap.
The stopping power is not as good as everyone is saying, it is about on par with all other modern single piston brakes. Being a bigger rider at 220 lbs, i am often having to brake much earlier than i needed to on my downhill rig despite riding a 20 lbs lighter bike.
Get headphones because these things make a ton of noise.
Similar Products Used: Hayes Nine, Hayes Sole, Avid Code, Avid Code R, Avid Elixirs, Avid Juicys
Bike Setup: Enduro SL carbon, Fox 36
a Weekend Warrior
from Richmond, Va, USA
Date Reviewed: October 7, 2010
Strengths: Brakeability, one finger braking
Weaknesses: Occasional Bleeding, price
These brakes are fantastic. Nothing like being in-control with one finger. It is interesting how brakes will make you faster.
After 5 Years I did have a lever leak at the piston. No worries, Magura sent me a new replacement @ no charge.
These are not the cheapest brakes but you get what you pay for. The next time I need brakes it will be Magura I go to.
a Cross Country Rider
from Mexico City, DF
Date Reviewed: August 29, 2010
Strengths: Incredible Modulation and lightweight
Weaknesses: Tough to bleed
Amazing power for the weight, solid feel (compared to competition tested - ultimates and formula oros). Do not try the aftermarket metalic pads, they are awfull and always will make a scratching noice.
Strengths: radial master cylinder design, caliper and cylinder construction/finish, stupideasy to bleed, and of course they're super lightweight for u weenies.
Weaknesses: T7 torx reservoir cover screw heads strip out way too easily. See below. I would prefer a removable hbar clamp. SL wavys may be more vulnerable to warping.
These brakes are totally rad for XC riding, period.
Initial set up was no big deal. Subsequent set-ups (after wheel changes) were sometimes tricky- having to sort out how many spacers to add/subtract. PM might be easier than the Marta IS, don't know.
Performance is superb: infinite modulation, and plenty of bite- especially with the organic 5.1 performance pads. PS: don't buy any of those junk aftermkt discobrake pads. The levers always felt smooth with a progressive actuation. Had a friend tell me he wished his XTRs felt as good. Pads (org vs. metallic) will make a big diff in lever feel.
Maintenance is pretty darn easy. For the first year or so, they did not require any bleeding at all. Bleeding is dumb-easy even for a hydro-newb. Mineral oil doesn't eff anything up and it's a real' pretty blue :) Hex key reach adj was simple. I ran mine way in close. Sometimes when hoisting myself onto ledges or over boulders I would inadvertantly push the lever back AWAY from the bar.. As such, I think I'd prefer a reach adj design that would disallow this. Parts were pretty readily available, too.
Re the T7 resv screw heads stripping out: I'm sure I overtightened them a time or two, but you have to be really meticulous about tightening them to spec and not getting any oil in the head EVERY TIME you bleed for this to not be a problem. Inevitably, the head would strip and I'd have to dremel it out and replace it. If you don't have a spare screw, you'd have a non-functional brake.
Having said all of this, I outgrew these brakes as I've become much more aggressive in my riding style. I jacked my Martas up on roids by replacing the carbon levers with alloys and by running 180 Louise/Gustav rotors f/r. More aggressive riding has translated to more frequent bleeding. I've also had trouble with the SL rotors warping after longer/steep descents (not DH runs).. causing the front line and rotor to (i believE) overheat. It would only take 60 secs to cool off, but still..
Bottom line: superb brakeset for XC riding. Expensive, but outstanding xc performance.
Bike Setup: 08 Specialized Enduro and 2010 Specialized Epic
a Weekend Warrior
from Woodland Hills CA USA
Date Reviewed: December 29, 2009
Strengths: Quiet, good modulation and lever feel. Mine are 2008s and I got them on an S Works Safire that was new on closeout. It's easy to replace pads (yahoo no spring wires/retainers-it's magnetic.) And it only took a few minutes to center up using a butter knife to push in the pads, and a feeler gauge. The lever feel is good and they get better with every ride. It just feels like a quality product.
Weaknesses: I read that there were some who had issues with the lever reach adjuster screw coming loose and getting lost so I dabbed a drop of clear nail polish into the threads as a preemptive measure. Not really a weakness in my case as it hasn't happened to me; I'm just being careful.
Great brakes. Quiet, strong, good feel and control. Feels well made. The lever feel is so very different than my Hayes Strokers, which are fine brakes, but lack modulation and can squeal like a pig. Just a nice consistant stop, no vibration, squealing or pulsing, and it's easy to fine tune my speed as needed. I like the way the pads remove and install, they just slide in, and a cross bolt is screwed in to hold them. No spring or retainer to futz with (the springs on the back of my Hayes pads lose tension and then the pads don't retract smartly back with the piston); using a magnet is an elegant solution. The last thing I want to worry about or mess with on a ride is the brakes, and so far I haven't had to.
Similar Products Used: Hayes Stroker Trails (on my Anthem). Previously, used XTR V brakes.
Bike Setup: Spec S-Works Safire; X0/XTR, Roval Control wheels, Captain 2.0 rear, Eskar 2.3 front. Thomson seatpost/stem, SW CF bar, Lizardskin grips. Old Time ATAC carbon pedals. Inform RL Bontrager saddle.
a Cross Country Rider
from Lahaina, Maui
Date Reviewed: November 17, 2009
Strengths: Quiet, light, effective, easy set-up.
Weaknesses: Expensive (but worth it)
When I built the 5.5 a few years back I went for top shelf stuff. As a devoted Hayes fan, the El camino was their flagship brake at the time. I've since spent the last 2 years with poorly designed brakes that squeal when wet or hot, fade badly on long descents, and constantly move the lever throw adjusting screws out of whack on bumpy terrain (the poor design part).
I finally could take no more, and I researched the quietest brakes out there. The Marta SL scored high in this category, so I ordered 'em. So far they've more than lived up to their high rating. All is quiet in the rainforest once again. And the feel is nothing short of superb. Not a hint of brake fade on the same descents that would get the better of the EC's.
I have to say the Ec's seemed a bit more powerful at raw stopping ability, but the Martas exhibit better all-around power and modulation.
While some reviewers clearly experienced some difficulty with set up and bleeding, to say I was pleasantly surprised with my installation and set up would be an understatement. Both of my brake lines required shortening, something I prepared for by ordering the bleed kit with my brakes. I followed the instructions for hose shortening religiously, even shortening one hose twice. Squeezed the levers on completion .... perfection! No bleeding required! Both brakes had exactly the same feel and lever throw. Prior to this experience, if you told me this happened to you, I wouldn't believe you. Didn't think it possible. All I can say is: follow the instructions - it worked for me. The rest of the set up was equally effortless - no shimming, no misalignment issues.
Bottom line: these are clearly high quality brakes. They're smooth, they're quiet, and they're user-friendly. I highly recommend 'em.