Shimano has some new 4-piston stoppers for 2018, and they’re sliding into the range at the Deore XT level. Rather than being a replacement for the current XT 2-piston brakes though, these new brakes are an addition to the line, and Shimano is pitching them as being suitable for trail riding, enduro racing, and those funky electric bicycles known as e-MTBs.
Of course this isn’t breaking news. Shimano actually announced these waaaay back in August of last year, but in typical Shimano fashion, we’ve not heard a peep since we got that (very brief and minimally detailed) press release.
However, we’ve got more than that for you today – we have the real, actual-factual brakes here in our hot little hands, and we also have confirmed weights and UK pricing too. Read on!
Shimano Deore XT BR-M8020 Disc Brakes Feature
- New 4-piston brake designed for trail, enduro and e-MTB use
- 20% more powerful than Deore XT 2-piston brakes
- 15/17mm diameter ceramic pistons
- Ice Technologies H01A resin brake pads
- Mineral Oil
- BL-M8000 levers w/Servo Wave technology
- Tool-free adjustable reach
- Adjustable Free Stroke
- BH90 high pressure hose with banjo fittings
- Confirmed weight including lever, calliper, pads & full-length hose: 317g (rear) & 301g (front)
- RRP: £159 per end
The main difference with these brakes is that huge 4-piston calliper. Compared to the current XT brakes that use one pair of opposing pistons for clamping the brake pads down on the disc rotor, this calliper has two pairs (making it four pistons in total). The brake calliper is branded as BR-M8020 to distinguish it from the existing BR-M8000 2-piston calliper.
The pistons themselves (those are the white circular pucks inside the calliper in the photo above) are still made of a ceramic/phenolic material, but rather than two 22mm diameter pistons, the XT gets one pair of 17mm diameter pistons for the brake’s leading edge, and one pair pair of 15mm pistons for the trailing edge.
According to Shimano, the 4-piston calliper offers 20% more power than the current 2-piston calliper. In theory however, there should also be a boost to modulation too. And having tested Shimano’s Zee brakes recently (which also use 4-piston callipers), we can attest to the improved modulation that Shimano has been able to offer with 4-pistons.
Speaking of the Zee brakes, we can now confirm that the new XT 4-piston calliper is different to the Saint/Zee callipers – something that wasn’t actually that clear with Shimano’s earlier press release. Whereas the new XT 4-piston calliper uses 15/17mm diameter pistons, the Saint and Zee callipers use bigger 16/18mm diameter pistons. As such, we’re expecting these brakes to have more power than the regular 2-piston XT brakes, but not quite as much gut-churning power as the Saint/Zee brakes.
Thankfully the brake pads aren’t a new design – they’re exactly the same as what you’ll find in a Saint or Zee brake calliper. The stock brakes that we’ve received for testing feature the H01A Resin brake pads from Shimano, which use the Ice Technologies design with an alloy backing plate, and moulded-in fins that stick out of the calliper to draw heat away from the calliper and oil within. Just like a Zee and Saint brake, there will be metallic compound pads available too.
As for the lever? It’s exactly the same as the current Deore XT BL-M8000 brake lever – there are no differences whatsoever. That means it still features Shimano’s excellent lever ergonomics with a dimpled texture on the lever blade, and there’s also a tool-free reach adjuster for getting the lever position right. While the split clamp will fit onto any handlebar with any shifter, if you do have a newer generation Shimano trigger shifter, you can fit it directly to the brake lever via Shimano’s I-Spec II clamp.
In terms of weight, our sample set of brakes came in at 301g for the front brake and 317g for the rear. Expect that weight to come down a little once we’ve chopped the hoses to a less lasso-like length. To put that weight into context, that’s about 40-50g heavier per end compared to the current XT 2-piston brakes. The Zee brakes we tested recently were 310g (front) and 326g (rear).
These brakes will be getting mounted up shortly for some heavy-duty testing over in Spain, so we’ll be bringing you our riding impressions once we’ve got some quality time aboard them.
For those who want to find their nearest stockist right now though, the new Deore XT 4-piston brakes will be available in the UK through Madison.