Are the new Shimano XTR brakes the real crème de la crème? Are they really prevailing in the face of fierce competitors like Avid X.0 or Formula RX? This test will tell you all about it.
The new Shimano XTR are offered in two versions, one for XC, called Race, and one for All Mountain, called Trail, the latter being the one we’ve most tested. The differences seem small at first glance, but they can be noticed in the levers and plates. Rotors are identical, and calipers of the Trail model are fitted on the top with a radiator whose role is to keep the rotors at a low temperature (about 50 degrees Celsius lower than normal).
Unlike the Race, the Trail model is fitted to the brake levers with Servo Wave technology. This allows the brake pads to be positioned at a greater distance from the disk, thus leaving more space to clean all dirt accumulated on track. Passing over this technical issue, although it may seem subjective, in point of aspect, these brakes rise above any other model that I’ve had at my fingertips so far.
The Japanese manufacturer has managed to give birth to a truly special product which, in addition to providing exceptional finishes, also offers excellent feel. In addition, whenever you brake, you feel highly safe and you are motivated to push the boundaries ever further.
The effort of actuating these brakes has been minimized as much as possible. However, the lever doesn’t fail to act on the disc pads with impressive force. The lever has a very good grip and is slightly shorter than the previous year model, and can be easily operated even with one finger. It is also on the lever that you’ll see a small wheel with which you can adjust the distance between the lever and the handlebar. All designed for your own convenience.
The radiator mounted on the caliper is part of the Ice Tech technology. To give an example of the effectiveness of this solution, I can say that I chose a 3 km descent, during which I operated brakes constantly, more or less depending on the speed I was getting on track. Towards the end I started to pedal faster, putting more pressure on the brakes. The result was zero fading! While with brakes like Formula X.0 or even RX a slight sensation of fading could appear in these conditions due to rotor overheating, in the case of XTR braking went perfectly.
Rotors have a sandwich construction, their core being made of aluminum, for less weight and better heat dissipation.
Modulation is much better than expected and has a good lever travel. You can effectively control the bike on descending and technical turns or you can brake firmly if need be. In the latter situation, the lever will not exceed more than 50% of the travel. Sounds too complicated? Reformulating, Shimano XTR gives you complete control over brakes dosage, whatever track you approach.
Much can be said about the new 2011 Shimano XTR Trail brakes and I have already exceeded the space allocated to this test, but I must conclude by saying that they are one of the best options in the segment. If you are not completely obsessed with weight, XTR weighing a little bit more than its competitors, you can buy them immediately. You have four pads versions and four options for rotor size with a diameter between 140 and 203 mm, as required. For mountain we recommend a rotor of 180 mm front and 160 or 180 mm for the rear. In addition they are slightly cheaper than Avid X.0.
Weight: 359 grams (160-mm rotor)
Use: All Mountain