Shimano’s Zee lineup is built for hard chargers, and perhaps nowhere is this clearer than the BL-M640 Zee Disc Brake. Based on the World Cup winning Saint brake, the Zee brake takes the same four-piston caliper, and mixes in a simplified lever body to keep the cost significantly lower. However, there’s effectively no loss in power. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of bling, these are arguably mountain biking’s best value in high-powered braking systems.
The Zee brake shares the four-piston caliper with its shinier Saint sibling, meaning that you get the same enormous stopping power afforded by all four heat-dissipating ceramic cylinders. You’ll notice that the cylinders are two different sizes, which helps control the onset of the braking forces. While you might think that the four-piston design would make the power uncontrollable, on the contrary, we find that they’re actually easier to modulate than Shimano’s two-piston offerings, while offering noticeably more power when you really dig in. And that’s a large part of why you’ll find these mounted to high-velocity trail bikes more often than you might expect.
If the lever looks familiar, that may be because the body is nearly identical to Shimano’s SLX brake. It trades in the tool-free reach adjuster in favor of dimpled, non-slip lever blades, which help to keep you in control when the going gets rough. The levers feature Shimano’s Servo Wave actuation, which gives you more lever travel off the top, allowing the pads to sit farther away from the rotor and reducing rubbing. When you get deeper into the stroke, and the pads engage, Servo Wave acts like a cam, developing an incredible amount of power, despite the lever’s stubby profile. While the reach adjustment requires an Allen wrench, it’s still easily achievable, meaning that you give up nearly nothing to the Zee brake’s more expensive Saint counterparts.
The Shimano BL-M640 Zee Brake is available in either right, or left, and in the color Gray. Please note: the BL-M460 brakes are sold without disc rotors or brake adapters.
- Hydraulic disc brakes with 4-piston calipers
- Shorty levers with dimpled lever blade (reach adjustable with Allen)
- Metallic H03C brake pad
- One-way bleed servicing
- Rotors and adapters not included