For six months now, I have had a Shimano XT disc bolted to the front of my Cannondale, and after much bedding in, pad replacement, bleeding, 500 miles and a whole lot of discussion in the forum, I thought it was time for a long term review.
My discs were one of two pairs which came into my LBS, these were snapped up and paid for about 4 months before I even set my eyes on them. I paid £140 all in, which included lever, calliper, disc and hose. My first impressions of them was a nice sculptured lever and reservoir and 4 pot calliper, which looked the business, which is typical of Shimano’s XT groupset, a work of art. I had enough cash to build up an XT front disc hub laced t a Mavic X317 rim.
After an easy set up, which consisted mainly with spacing the calliper with a couple of washers, it was time for a test ride. First impressions? That of a well set up V-brake, and this was before the disc had bedded in. Bedding in took approximately 3 weeks. It was during this period that I had most difficulties. The brake seemed to have an on/off temperament, one day it seemed to work well, the next it didn’t want to know. The performance fluctuated a lot, something I wasn’t expecting, and something I don’t think you should. During the bedding in I was forever pulling the pads out and cleaning them with silkolene disc brake cleaner and using emery cloth to help scrub them in. All because of frustration.
After bedding in, I have been left with a powerful brake. I have found I can pull the lever right back without the fear of it slinging me over the bars, and it gives me a lot of feel for when delicate braking is needed. The brake has not got a great overall feel to it, I can feel the brake right in to the last second and can haul on the brakes as much as I dare. I have found no evidence on pump up, or fade with this system, but as I do not have any long downhills in my area, I can’t really comment on this, although I found the disc to perform exactly the same as it does on home turf in the Peak District a few weeks ago, which seemed a through test. Bleeding is a simple affair, as is replacing the pads. Pad adjustment is done automatically by the pots adjusting themselves towards the disc as the pad wears out.
Downpoints? Well the bedding in period was truly awful, I thought I had been sold a duff set. It comes as a sealed affair with lever, hose and calliper already assembled in the packet, along with the brake fluid inside the system. This fluid consisting of no more than 5 thimble’s worth at the most, so a bleeding was required from the very start. Shimano Mineral Oil should only be used, but, as I couldn’t find any anywhere, Magura Mineral Oil was used instead. The lever has started to wobble up and down at the pivot (like most XT levers I have found) I also have a feeling that the steel braided hoses is going to give me a few worries with my paintwork, and as it comes as a sealed unit, you cannot thread the hose through the frame where it is supposed to be threaded, hence, out came the file.
Overall: A very good brake after initial set-up, bleeding and bedding in. Very controllable power with a lot of feel at the lever. A well mad lever and calliper with looks to boot. But priced £150 now it looks like I saved myself £10, but now with the Hope Enduro 4’s at £140, it looks like there is going to be a fight. After all £10 cheaper and British? Excuse me Mr. Shimano….