Being There: Magura Press Camp

This past week, Magura held its official 2013 North American product launch at the Red Agave Resort in Sedona, Arizona. And while the company is most closely associated with mountain bike products and subsequently showed off its latest suspension forks and disc brakes, Magura reps also presented the all-new RT line of hydraulic rim brakes for road, time trial and triathlon bikes. You may have already seen the Magura RT8 brakes on Dave Zabriskie’s stage-winning Cervelo P5 at the Amgen Tour of California time trial, or on other select members of the Garmin-Barracuda squad contesting the Giro d’Italia TT events. So why does Cervelo seem to have the exclusive on Magura’s latest and greatest?

Long before the RT hydraulic rim brake came about (18 years ago, in fact), Magura developed the HS77 hydraulic rim brake (above). The caliper featured a piston positioned horizontally above the pivot arms and, befitting the times, would have been available in a striking purple anodized color. So what happened? “At the time, Shimano’s STI and Campagnolo’s ErgoPower integrated shifters changed the market, and because Magura didn’t manufacture a shfter, the HS77 was scrapped,” says Magura Product Manager, Stefan Pahl.

“We were recently approached by Cervelo to design a new brake for them that would be lighter, more aerodynamic and better-performing than other rim brakes currently on the market,” says Pahl. And while Magura is still hoping to have the RT brakes spec’d on other brands for the 2013 model year, the demo bikes on hand in Sedona were all from Cervelo, including the above P3 time trial bike.

As mentioned, there are two levels of Magura’s RT brake system: RT8 and RT6. Above is the RT8 caliper mounted on the rear of a Cervelo P3. “The caliper was the main point we were working on,” says Pahl. “With the time trial and especially the triathlon market getting bigger in North America, we realized that there’s a big market for a good, working brake that can help athletes perform better. And the RT caliper works just like most any other road or TT caliper, in that it mounts with a single bolt to the fork or seatstay bridge.”

Above is an RT8 caliper mounted to the fork of a Cervelo P3. Note that both front and rear RT calipers are exactly the same, just like a set of most any other rim calipers. “When you look at the front of a modern road or time trial bike head-on, it has a distinct shape, and the RT caliper mimics that shape to provide the greatest aerodynamic advantage possible.” Magura even claims a time savings of 8 seconds over a 40-kilometer course, just based on the RT’s aerodynamic advantage.

The RT8 TT levers share the same design and shape as the lower-spec RT6 aluminum TT levers, except they’re crafted from carbon fiber. When pulled, the lever actuates a hydraulic piston which pushes Magura’s Red Blood Mineral Oil through the brake lines, causing a vertically-positioned piston in the caliper to rise and close the brakes pads around the rim surface.

A quick-release tab is located directly underneath the brake lever. To open, use your thumb to “flick” the tab forward which allows the brake caliper to open wide for wheel removal. To close the quick-release, simply pull on the brake lever to re-engage the system.

This is a head-on shot of the RT8 TT brake lever. As you can see, the lever itself is wide and flat, while the frontal portion features a large, gaping section in the middle to allow for increased airflow. “The lever shape is wide and flat, and it’s similar to the airfoil of an airplane wing, so it’s very aerodynamic,” says Pahl. “And because it’s wider than most competitors’ TT levers, it is more comfortable and reduces fatigue when braking for a long time or over the course of a long event.” Note the allen-head bolt at the top of the lever; this is used to finely adjust the caliper’s opening. Magura claims that the RT calipers can accept up to 28mm wide tires.

This is the RT6 TT lever, and it’s exactly the same as the RT8, except that it’s crafted from aluminum instead of carbon fiber and features different graphics.

Magura’s RT caliper design is unique and its streamlined profile would make it seem to be quite aerodynamic. But what’s the purpose of utilizing hydraulic brake lines instead of the tried-and-true cable actuated systems? “Most modern time trial and triathlon bikes, as well as an increasing number of road bikes, come with very intricate internal cable routing,” says Pahl. “And because there are a lot of bends in the cables throughout the frame, this creates friction on the cables themselves when they are actuated. This decreases braking power and modulation.” Above is a close-up of the Cervelo P3 head tube. The rear brake line enters the frame at the top tube and exits toward th rear of the frame.

Although the ideal vehicle for Magura’s RT brakes to show off their unique features is on a TT or Triathlon bike with complex internal routing, both Magura and Cervelo wanted to bring the hydraulic rim-based technology to road bikes. Above is a Cervelo R5 decked out with a set of RT8 calipers, as well as Magura’s RT8C converter box mounted underneath the stem.

Magura reps admit that they’re in the brake business when it comes to skinny tire parts, and not the shifting business. As such, the company designed the above converter box to allow standard road levers (with cable-actuated shifters and brake levers) to accept the RT hydraulic caliper.

The above photo shows the converter box’s face plate removed. Inside the box are two horizontally-positioned pistons which attach to the brake cables from each shift lever. When the brake levers are pulled, the pistons compress and hydraulic lines that exit the box to the RT calipers are engaged.

Directly underneath the converter box are two quick-release buttons, one for each brake caliper. When you press the button, you’ll hear a “click” and the calipers open up. To close the quick-release, you’ll need to press in the cylinders at the rear of the box.

This is the RT6 caliper. It’s exactly the same as the RT8 caliper, except that it features an anodized black color as opposed to a painted black/red color, and its brake arm pivot bolts are steel, as opposed to aluminum. One of the biggest questions at Magura’s Press Camp was, “Why not disc brakes for road bikes?” Magura’s Product manager, Stefan Pahl, answers: “First, disc brakes are not UCI-legal for road bikes. Second, there will always be a disc sticking out from the frame into the wind, creating drag and lowering aerodynamic efficiency. Finally, to accommodate the different forces that disc brakes put onto a frame and fork, those parts would have to be stiffened and the overall weight would increase. We’ve found that such an increase in stiffness at dropout locations would be around 200-500 grams per frameset, depending on the make, model and size.”

While my fellow Press Camp attendees were out on Sedona’s famous mountain bike trails trying out Magura’s latest off-road products, I sneaked off with a Cervelo R5 demo road bike and hit the Arizona highway. My first impressions? Terrific. Braking power seems on par with most every other manufacturer’s highest-end rim brake offering (Shimano Dura-Ace and SRAM Red come to mind). And while I can’t account for the aerodynamic efficiency without a more controlled riding environment or a wind tunnel, what really struck me was the RT8’s modulation. There’s a distinct feel when braking with the Maguras, and there’s a very noticeable difference in braking force depending on how hard you pull the brake levers, much more so than with standard, cable-actuated rim brakes. Look for more in-depth coverage of Magura’s RT brakes in a future issue of Road Bike Action magazine, and right here at!

– Price: $798 (includes two calipers)
– Weight: 495 grams (complete set, front and rear, without pads)
– Finish: painted red/black
– Price: $598 (includes two calipers)
– Weight: 545 grams (complete set, front and rear, without pads)
– Finish: anodized black

The Garmin-Barracuda team has already been using the new Magura RT brakes. Dave Zabriskie won the Bakersfield Time Trial stage at the Amgen Tour of California. Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (above) has been using the RT brakes on his Cervelo P5 TT bike at the Giro d’Italia. He’s also in prime position for a historic GC win at the Giro heading into the tour’s final time trial. (Photo: Bettini)
Magura Direct is not only the North American arm of Magura, it’s also the distributor for Uvex helmets and sunglasses. This is Uvex’s longstanding, top-of-the-line road helmet, the FP3. Used by pro teams like FDJ, NetApp and Argos-Shimano, the FP3 comes in four colors and two sizes.

The SGL202 is one of Uvex’s all-new flagship models. Retailing for $159, the SGL202 has a sleek and modern look and comes in six colors.

The Uvex Ultraguard Pro has more of a casual look that’s great for use both on and off the bike. It features interchangeable lenses, retails for $129, and can be had in five colors.

The Uvex SGL 101 sunglasses feature a streamline and classic design that’s ideal for most any sporting activity. It sells for $69 and comes in four colors.

SKS Germany is not part of Magura Direct, but reps were on-hand in Sedona to show off some of the company’s latest and greatest. Primarilly known for its inflation products, including floor pumps, frame pumps and mini pumps, SKS Germany was founded in 1921 and still manufactures every single product in their German factory. Above are three of the brand’s most popular pumps: (from left to right) the Airworx 10.0, Airbase Pro and the Original Rennkompressor. Look for a review of the Airworx 10.0 in the current issue of Road Bike Action magazine.

Want to win a fantastic prize package from Magura Direct and SKS? Then be sure to “Like” Road Bike Action on Facebook by clicking HERE. We’ll be posting instructions there for how to enter this giveaway soon.

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