Shimano XT M785 disc brake review

Proven design plus modular system

BikeRadar score4/5

Shimano’s new XT brake isn’t light and the bite point adjustment is limited but it offers innovative mountain-proof power and outstanding single-finger control. 

The double barreled master cylinder design looks weird, but the short, deeply crooked dimpled grip lever is ergonomically superb and reach adjustment is easy via the tool-free knob too. The ‘Servo Wave’ cam action means plenty of free running pad clearance but serious power and fantastic feedback on contact. 

The M785 trail brake comes with finned heat reducing Ice Technologies pads as standard which gives it excellent heat tolerance. Sintered spares in the pack further improve the already good value of the £109.99 brake set.

The matching steel/alloy/steel sandwich Ice Tech rotors (£49.99) are now available in conventional six-bolt or Center Lock splined fixing too. Alternatively you can pick the standard alloy spider rotor (£36.99), the basic steel rotor (£24.99) or just use whatever you’ve already got. 

Weight is relatively high but this brake is powerful enough that you can drop a rotor size without worry and reliability has been superb so far. This means the stiff, restricted range ‘free stroke’ bite adjustment is our only gripe.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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