In this article, we’ll be discussing a Hydraulic Line Connection for a Hydraulic Brake for Handlebar Steering and Handlebar with Hydraulic Brake (mouthful), US patent 10,981,621. The publication date is April 20th, 2021 and the filing date is July 9th, 2018. This patent has been granted as novel.
There are a few components that I generally skip, unless they’re extremely interesting. Anything drivetrain, suspension, and brakes are effectively ignored. I do this because I just don’t have the interest in writing about a tiny improvement to a Shimano cassette because who really cares about the angle of a tooth? And brakes often have so many components that they become a black hole of research and suck away 20 hours of my life. I don’t like you folks that much. In this case, Magura’s is so interesting that I’m going to write about it and I like you this much.
Brief Summary (tl;dr)
This one is a twofor. First, the new brake line/barb system uses a tiny ball to plug the end after filling the line with oil, and a breakaway end-piece of the barb. The breakaway piece is used to break the barb just before installation to open the fluid path of the brake line. After you break the end, the line installs like normal. Second, the internal brake routing uses this barb system for easier connection. The brake lever connects to the brake line inside the handlebar using a 90-degree connector that’ll slide into the bar. There is also an elongated hole in the handlebar, so you’ll be able to actually adjust the location of the brake lever.
First, three definitions: barb, olive, and brake line. These are the three components used to connect a conventional brake line to a lever. The barb jams inside the brake line and has opposing ‘barbs’ that keep it inside the brake line (or threads if you’re SRAM). An olive is a little barrel-looking thing that is then installed on the outside of the brake line. The brake line + barb + olive are inserted into the lever and a threaded collar is tightened on the backside of the olive to apply a water-tight seal to the brake line. If this didn’t make sense, watch this.
A while back, Magura introduced their Magura Integration Cockpit (MCI) system, where the brake system is integrated into the handlebar. The interesting part was the piston and fluid reservoir were inside the bar itself. Anyone can see the issues with this system, namely the servicing was a bit more complicated than a normal system.
In short, this system includes an outboard fluid reservoir and a piston under the grip. The system is effectively identical to any braking system, just located differently for a clean look. I posted this on my Instagram a while back with some mixed reviews. One that stuck out was the lack of lever adjustability, which would be a huge problem for me. I don’t adjust many things on my bike, but the brake location is paramount as far as I’m concerned. I probably spend more time dialing and maintaining my brakes than anything else, because they’re the most important part of a bike. You gotta stop…
The image below shows the original MCI idea that never really took off. I’m not even sure if this was ever commercially available. It could have just been a concept idea, which leads us to the next iteration of the same idea.
It appears as though Magura are trying to refine this MCI concept to a more approachable and user-friendly system. It looks awfully similar to any current brake system they already produce, but it’s the brake lines that are different. Additionally, they’ve also come up with a new barb, which allows the brake line to be transported more easily with oil inside.
As with the original MCI, Magura want a clean-looking system. As cool as it was, they probably learned that they can’t just hide the reservoir and piston inside the bar and sell it. That’s way too futuristic, so they need to apply this idea in incremental steps. People don’t like change, and the bike industry is one of the most hypocritical industries out there. We want new technology, though not that new – just a little bit new. But, we want it to be a game-changer, but not that game-changing because that’s scary and confusing. NeW StAnDaRdS, wTf GuYs!!!
In this case, the incremental step, compared to current brake systems, puts the brake line inside the handlebar, just behind the lever. In effect, the appearance will be 90% of the other MCI idea but should be much easier to service and will be much more approachable to the general public.
The explicit novelty here relates to the ‘line-fastening device’, which includes both an extension and a separator, not the internal routing. The line-fastening device (barb) is what they’re using to connect a pre-filled brake line to a pre-filled lever. The extension is an extended part of a barb and the separator is a grooved part used to break the end of the barb off.
But let’s be real, all we care about is the fact that Magura are trying to make another internal braking system.
Magura are doing this for easier delivery of bike with internal cable routing, or easier delivery of a braking system to a customer, with pre-filled brake lines and levers. They say, rightly, that when a brake system is delivered to a customer pre-filled, it allows us to just bolt it on and go. But, now every bike has internal cable routing. So, now that every bike is internal, a pre-filled brake must be separated to allow for the routing through the frame, which defeats the purpose of pre-filling. Magura say they’re trying to solve this with their new design.
Side note, the Canyon routing is the best IMO. It looks internal but isn’t, and also provides downtube protection. It looks clean and is easy to service. I wish every bike was like my old Torque.
First, I’ll talk about the line-fastening device. The line fastening device is component 100, and the extension is component 110, and the separator is the groove 120. The line-fastening device is just a fancy barb with a breakaway part at the end of it. I’m just going to call it a barb for the rest of this. Do not visual this part as inside the handlebar, because it’s not.
First, the lever is filled with fluid and the olive 210 is preinstalled inside the lever. Then, a plug 302 is threaded into the lever. FIG. 10 shows a view of the outside of a brake lever with the plug installed. FIG. 11 shows a cross-section of the same brake. Nothing special here.
Next, here’s their process to fit a pre-filled line to a pre-filled lever, referencing FIGs. 4 and 6. First, you insert the barb 100 to the end of a brake line 1, just line normal. Then, you fill the line with fluid, like normal. Then, you jam a little ball 114 in the end of the barb. This keeps all the fluid inside the line, because the ball is bigger than the inside of the brake line. As such, the fat ass ball is now unremovable. Now what?
When the brake line is ready to be installed into the lever, after snaking it through the bike, the end of the barb just snaps right off at the separator 120. This is shown in FIG. 8, below. Then, you install the brake line like normal with a threaded collar.
So, how does this relate to the internal line? FIG.18 shows this new system from a high-level view. Notice the entire braking system is external, so it should be a bit simpler to service.
FIG. 19 shows a close-up of the system. Here’s how you’ll install this: First, the brake line is inserted into the hydraulic line connector 10 outside the handlebar. This will follow the exact same steps as explained before. Then, the connector 10 is slid inside the bar. Component 8 is an elongated hole, very important. Once the connector 10 is in place near the hole, the brake lever connector 20 is inserted into connector 10 and screwed into place using bolt 22. Now, the brake lever is loose and hydraulically connected. Lastly, once you get it in your desired location, you tighten bolt 41 to keep the connector in place, then you’ll tighten bolt 32 to keep the lever in place.
Wrap it up, B
First thing that comes to mind: service. Though, I will say, it’ll probably be less of an issue compared to the first MCI idea, but you’ll still need to run your brake lines very internally with the use of a special handlebar. I’m also not convinced that this system wouldn’t need, at least, a little burp when everything is hooked up.
Though, they have answered a few questions, such as the fixed location issue of the first MCI. You’ll have a little bit of freedom to move the brakes, but now there’s a hole in your handlebar. But, I’m sure they’ve tested this, and it probably won’t be a problem for 99% of us.
I’m not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, they’ve created a pretty decent barb system. On the other hand, the brake line that goes from my lever to my frame doesn’t really bother me enough to change it. Either way, I’m a huge fan of progression and I commend Magura for pushing the boundaries. They’re likely going to get shit on in the Pinkbike comment section when this is released, so I’ll say it first: Good job, Magura.