Magura's MT Trail Sport brakes were born out of experimentation. Their riders and employees often mixed and matched Magura's four- and two-piston options to suit their riding style and intended use, so the German brand decided to bring a mismatched setup to market. The $275 front-and-rear set is intended to serve the demands of today's riders, while taking aim at value and performance in one shot.
Depending on which Google search result one believes, the front brake is estimated to manage 60 to 80 percent of our stopping power. That's why Magura elected to use a four-piston MT5 claiper as the front brake. The two-piston MT4 variety is on call for skid duty out back. Magura offers their top-shelf MT Trail Carbon brakes for around $650 per set (rotors and mounting brackets sold separately); however the MT Trail Sport set utilizes the same 4×2 piston setup at a sliver of the price.
Magura is able to hack the price of the Sport version by using alloy levers instead of carbon, and a less-expensive version of their Carbotecture brake lever housing material. The Sport brakes are equipped Magura's short, ergonomically designed HC lever with reach adjust, and are recommended to be ridden with their Storm HC rotors (sold separately for $32 each). The MT Trail Sport brakes (without rotors) register a respectable 485 grams for the pair.
Magura uses organic (non-metallic) brake pads, which are offered in three versions: Performance (gray), Comfort (blue), and Race (gold). The Trail Sport's stock pads are of the Performance line, and pad changes are easily performed by removing the mounting screw and sliding the pads out through either the top or bottom of the brake. Installing new pads is also a snap, because the pads click into place magnetically. Riders looking to tidy up their cockpit can utilize Magura's aftermarket brake-lever clamps to integrate with Shimano or SRAM shifters.
The Germans have packed a good bit of value into their Trail Sport brakes, without yielding on performance. I ran the MT Trail Sport brakes on a mid-travel 29er, and those big hoops can carry serious momentum on rowdy terrain. With 180-millimeter rotors front and rear, the Sport brakes provided smooth and consistent braking performance, but also plenty of bite when circumstances required quickly scrubbing speed.
I've traditionally not been a fan of organic or resin brake pads, but Magura's Performance line offers a surprising amount of bite for a non-metallic pad. Brake lever feel is subjective, but the nook in the HC brake lever makes a happy home for my index finger.
As expected, the front brake is noticeably more grabby than the rear, which can be an asset when shutting down momentum for a quickly approaching switchback or looming super-steep section of trail. After learning how the front and rear brakes complimented each other, I could brake later into corners with the assurance the front brake would reign in the speed on demand, while the rear brake would be on call to help reposition the back end for a last-second line change.
Whether methodically creeping down a steep and loose chute or grabbing a fistful of brake during high-speed bike park laps, the Trail Sports consistently showed a wide range of easily modulated power. I regularly found myself wondering, "If this is the less expensive version, how good are the flagship Trail Carbon brakes?" After a couple of months aboard Magura's MT Trail Sport brakes, I've been quite impressed with the performance, and see them as a worthy option for riders considering more well-known brakes in a similar price range and intended use, like Shimano's XT line.
$275 (f&r set, no rotors) / magura.com