These Shimano XT Disc Brakes M785 are a big improvement over old XT brakes. At first glance, you'll see how they use an in-line master cylinder as opposed to the radial design of the M-775. This allows a lighter weight system and an easier bleed process. They still use mineral oil as a hydraulic fluid. The great part is that it's non-toxic and non-corrosive. If you spill some when you bleed your brakes, there's nothing to worry about.
They take their design cues from the new XTR M988 Trail Brakes. And though these might not be as visually refined as the highly polished XTR units, the stopping power speaks for itself. This is hands down the best XT brake we've ever ridden. In addition to the excellent power and modulation, the XT Brakes offer easy adjustment to make your hands happy and to give you ultimate control. There is a tool-free reach adjustment that you can dial on-the-fly. They also have a free stroke adjustment that lets you determine how far you like the blade to travel before your pads make contact with the rotor. Basically, you can dial them to perfection.
Size wise, the M785 levers are much lower profile than the M775 levers, but more importantly, the movement of the lever pivot towards the bar creates a more efficient design. In essence, the arc of the lever optimizes your natural finger movement and position of strength with the point in the lever travel where your power is transferred through the system to the caliper. These also feature Shimano's Servo Wave technology. Servo Wave allows the pads to sit further from the rotors at rest (a great feature for trail/all mountain bikes that might see more rotor abuse than a race machine). This is possible as the piston travel changes relative to lever travel as you squeeze on the brakes to close the gap to the rotor quickly, then slowing to allow predictable modulation.
The calipers use a 22mm ceramic piston for inspiring stopping power, and Shimano has brought back a banjo fitting for the hose attachment at the caliper. We're glad, because it allows more flexibility with hose routing to keep it safe and looking nice. They also employ Shimano's Radiator Pads. They have integrated fins that rise up out of the caliper to dissipate heat from the pads and caliper body, reducing the temperature by around 50 degrees Celsius.
The Shimano XT Brakes M785 are available separately as right or left levers and calipers and have hinged, split clamps for easy mounting. They come as pre-bled lever/caliper/hose assemblies and are complete for each end of the bike except for rotors (sold separately). Shimano XT Brakes will work equally well with XT Ice Tech Rotors or standard XT rotors.
Please Note: If you plan to run 180mm or bigger rotors, you may need to also purchase the proper Shimano caliper adapters. Check your frame and fork compatibility to determine your needs.
reach (tool free)
stopping your mountain bike
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Hands down these are the second best brakes I have used.
What's first? XTR (like you weren't expecting that).
Hear me out, the XTR's offer a bit more grab at the end of the stroke IMO, but these are by far the best bang for your buck. The XT's provide plenty of stopping power at an easy graduated lever pull. Shimano dialed in the lever feel so you have tons of power at your fingertip(s) as well as tactical feedback so you know how much modulated grab you have. IceTech pads dump heat away from the mineral oil and from the system keeping everything running cool and consistent. Pair them with IceTech rotors for the best performance managing heat and fade free performance. The pads also have good retraction after a season of neglect to keep any rotor rubbing from driving you crazy. You have to try these brakes, they will not let you down.
I have these on both of my mountain bikes, and as a mechanic with quite a bit of experience, I tend to be a bit picky with my mountain bike componentry. That being said, these brakes are extraordinarily reliable, and some of the most powerful brakes I've ever experienced. I've had a set of them on my trail bike for two years, and i have not had to bleed or adjust them once except for installing new pads. They are not the lightest brakes in the world, but I've always preferred a bit heavier to get a bit more durability, especially with brakes. Go for them if you can, but if they're a bit too pricey, the SLX versions of them have the exact same features and stopping power, with just a bit more weight.
These brakes are a nice upgrade from my old avids. I was having problems with my breaks bottoming out on longer rides not stopping me. With these new ones installed I can pretty much lock my brakes up at any time if needed.. They'll stop on a dime, granted I only weigh 160lbs, but they have a nice progressive feel and I'm stoked be able to bleed these myself with out needing to mess with DOT fluid. Installation took about 5 minutes with a Allen key and a few zip ties. The break line is pretty long so you should be fine for large bikes, you may have a little extra play if you're riding a shorter bike with less travel.
The levers are so comfortable I usually ride with my fingers hovering on them. They are easy to adjust if you need them to be closer or further away from the grips. I accidentally scratched the silver part when I flipped my bike over to take the wheel off. These brakes are on my Santa Cruz Tallboy LTC, and I'm going to buy another set to put on the 29er hardtail I am building.
Yes, these brakes are compatible with either 160mm, 180mm, or 203mm rotor.
The type of rotor does matter. I would highly recommend sticking with Shimano rotors as they designed to work with the width pads they use. The recommended rotor for this brake is the IceTech rotor (Item SHI0408) as it incorporates technology to shed heat better than other rotors on the market. This brake, combined with those rotors, will provide the best efficiency and stopping power.
By use of adapters, these brakes can work with either International Standard (IS) or Post Mount (PM) frame configurations. Depending on the frame, there may be a limit on the max rotor size. You can find the appropriate adapters under item number SHI0108 or SHI0547.
I don't have a ton of reference regarding disc brakes, but I upgraded to these from Avid Elixir 1's. Night and day difference. The Avid rear brake howled no matter what. These are silent. These are easier to bleed and don't use corrosive fluid like the Avids did. You can adjust the reach on these levers without tools. I like the shorty levers too, they encourage one finger braking, and you definitely only need one finger to operate these. These have great rating here, on MTBR and the guys at the LBS raved about them. You can spend a lot more or a little less, but everyone loves these brakes.
The first time I took these out I couldnt beleve two things about them. 1. The stopping power and 2. how quiet they were in all conditions. They make no noise even in the dustiest or wettest conditions. I have not found one problem with them in over a year of riding.
I've ridden Juicy 7's for years, as well as spent a lot of time with standard Deore's, and some Formula and various Hayes offerings.
These are without question the best hydro discs I've ever used. They are incredibly powerful (easy, easy, easy one finger braking) and the modulation is great. Maybe they do lock up easier than others? Could not say as anyone will just get used to how much pressure to apply and when and the issue will be moot. Point is you can feather these as well or better than any other brake, but it's that one finger operation and the power that makes them so damn good.
The lever is nicely shaped keeping it very comfortable and well out of the way of your middle finger knuckle when pulling them in.
I would like to give these four stars since the "free stroke" screw really does seem to do nothing and it would be a nice feature if it did, but the braking performance is really that good.
I have been running the Shimano Saints for a while now and was really impressed with the stopping power and feel of the brakes. When looking for brakes for my XC bike Shimano was the first company I looked at. After considering both the XTR and XT model, I decided on the XTs. They are only slightly heavier, the price was right, and they offer all the adjustability of the XTRs. I was not disappointed at all. They are super powerful and have great lever feel. These are also a dream to bleed like all Shimano brakes. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, great performing brake these are it.
Stops on a dime. I now have pads on my bike without fins and they are great. I bought backup pads with the fins to see if there is a recognizable difference between the two pads. Shimano says the fins benefit those who do a lot of down hill riding. I see them extending as the life of the rotors no matter what your style of riding is.
WOW! The feel that you get from these guys is amazing. At first they can be a little touchy but after a few min you are good to go. The power that these little guys have is just out of this world. Coming from Avid's it was night a day. Simple to setup, simple to bleed, simple to adjust just great design. You should be aware that the lever is a little on the sort side, personally I like it but it may not be for everyone.