These brakes are excellent. That is, if you know how to repair them when they snap. I have ridden with Magura for about 2.5 years without much problems. They are expensive so I hoped they would have lasted longer…
But then, when they snap, and you don’t know how to repair them, take into account that any other cycle repair man, whether his name is ‘Rambo the Invincible’, doesn’t know it either!
Rambo the Invincible knows about cardboard egg boxes more than about Magura.
I have found out that bicycle repair men, in Africa and South America alike, are very convincing in having me believing they know how to fix my bicycle, whether it be Magura (same goes for other alien parts of the bicycle they have no experience with whatsoever).
They did a good job, but it lasted only 3 weeks.
In my opinion Magura is excellent, especially when you are out touring for shorter periods of time or when you are super handy yourself (I am not a total nitwit if it comes to technical matters but the Magura isn’t easy to fix!).
This guy got me a Shimano, and both did/do the job well.
Systems change over the years, screws needed for your particular model might not be deliverable anymore
Because systems change it might be hard to find a repair video on internet for your particular model
Each time the brake pads were finished, so were the screws in the brake handle
The system comes with a rather bulky, spare/repair set
When the system brakes and you are out in the world, no one knows how to repair it
The brake handles attaching to the handlebar are made from plastic, and will break
When raining, the brakes hardly work (where with Shimano brake pads there is much more force to the rim)
Changing the oil is one (difficult) thing. The system where the brake pads are inserted in is another challenging job. To adjust this system correctly to the rim is a very precise task.
The cables of the Magura are of a hard plastic, which will snap in cold weather (around zero degrees)
I found contacting Magura a hassle and did not succeed in ever connecting them (whereas Rohloff, Hilleberg, Optimus and Cumulus have a marvelous way of communication)
Parts get rusty rather quick
The brake pads have a very long life, I used two sets of pads a year (cycling almost daily)
The system is really working well, and brakes marvelously good (some people who have handled my bicycle and brake system, were convinced to get Magura too)
There seems hardly any deterioration of the rim
When the Rohloff leaks oil, with a Magura you have no issues whereas with a disc brake you will
Changing brake pads is very easy, although it is required to take out the wheels
The system hardly needs maintenance, keep the system clean there where the brake pads are inserted
Would I get Magura hydraulic brakes again?
No. I think hydraulic brakes for a bicycle are not necessary. Shimano, even the most simple option, works good. Shimano is easy to repair and the spare parts are to be found all over the world.
My misfortunes with the Magura:
One year of serious cycling: when the wheel is in need of some serious truing, the Magura will not work, as I experienced in Nigeria, after quite a couple of spokes snapped. I cycled for a few weeks without back brake, which was not a very fun way of cycling in rainy season in Nigeria. Later, in Cameroon, where some idiot bicycle repair man banged the bottom bracket with an iron hammer, this had an effect on the wheel, and thus on the Magura. With a wheel quite well trued by myself but with a smashed bottom bracket, I cycled only a few days more. And that was the end.
Two and a half years of serious cycling: the cables of the Magura broke down on both sides. Front cable has snapped in Italy and was successfully repaired months later in the Netherlands.
Three and half years of serious cycling: in Argentina the back cable snapped and was repaired successfully, but lasted only for 4 weeks. I tried to have it fixed again but without success. A few weeks later I took the Magura off and replaced it with a cheap, and not the best available, Shimano.
A simple Shimano choice, and only one -back- works good enough.
When you buy a bicycle with Magura brake system, make sure the cables can not turn so far that in cold weather the risk of snapping is a real threat. I have met a woman who had a self invented system made by her bicycle repair man, which existed of a stretch spiral attached between the fork of the front wheel and the frame. This way the front wheel could not bend, or turn, all the way to the left or all the way to the right, thus the cables were protected from snapping. This is how my cables snapped: the wheel would veer too far to one side.