Shimano I-Spec A, B, II and EV mounts explained

Mountain bike combination brake levers and shifters

XT M8100 levers and shifters

At one point your mountain bike brake and shift levers were two separate components and clamped separately onto your handlebars. It’s a setup you can still buy and the only option in lower spec Shimano groupsets, but it’s a bit heavy, a bit messy and takes up handlebar real estate.

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Enter I-Spec. It’s Shimano’s “standard” that lets the shifter lever (or a dropper lever) fix to the brake lever, so that there’s a single clamp fixing the two to the bar.

There’s adjustment built into the system that lets you alter the angle of the shifter lever relative to the brake lever, so you can set up the two to suit your preferred ergonomics.

Confusingly, I-Spec has now gone through four different versions, not all of which are compatible. First there was I-Spec A, introduced in 2011 and now obsolete. That was followed by I-Spec B, which still lives on in some product ranges.

Not wanting to rest on its laurels, Shimano followed this up with I-Spec II, which added more adjustability and made for easier installation.

The latest and greatest iteration is I-Spec EV. Again, it ups the adjustment range and also increases rigidity and available braking force.

As well as MTB components, you can find some version of I-Spec as an option in Shimano’s other flat-bar groupsets like Metrea and Alfine.

I-Spec A and I-Spec B

I-Spec A and I-Spec B

I-Spec A and the newer I-Spec B were Shimano’s first go at integrating the shift lever and brake lever on one handlebar clamp. A hole in the brake lever clamp assembly let you bolt the compatible shift lever to the back of the brake lever.

In type A there was a simple nut and bolt and the shifter mounted onto a small hook on the brake lever clamp. In type B, there’s a small lateral pin that passes through the two sides of the brake lever clamp and supports the bolt for the shifter. There’s also a bit available that lets you mount a type B shifter on a type A brake lever.

Here’s a table of groupsets with an I-Spec B option:

Series Model
XTR M980
Deore XT M8000/M780/T780
SLX M7000/M670
Deore M610/T610
Saint M820
Deore LX T670
Alfine S7000/S700

I-Spec II

Shimano I-Spec II clamp
I-Spec II components allow for 12mm of left/right movement and 15 degrees of forwards/backwards tilt.
Shimano

Whereas I-Spec A and B used a bolt assembly on the brake lever to mount the shifter, I-Spec II uses a semi-circular spacer inside the brake lever clamp.

There’s a greater angle of rotation between the two assemblies (15 degrees) and you can also move the shift lever position in and out by 12mm relative to the brake lever, to optimise the ergonomics of your controls. I-Spec II isn’t compatible with I-Spec A or B.

Here’s a table of groupsets with an I-Spec II option:

Series Model Rotation adjustment In/out adjustment
XTR M9000 15 degrees 12mm
Deore XT M8000/T8000 15 degrees 12mm
SLX M7000 15 degrees 12mm
Deore M6000/T6000 15 degrees 12mm
Non-series MT500 15 degrees 12mm
Zee  M640-B 15 degrees 12mm
Metrea U5000 15 degrees 12mm
Alfine S7000/S700 15 degrees 12mm

I-Spec EV

Shimano I-Spec EV
I-Spec EV is the latest iteration of Shimano’s I-Spec integration.
Shimano

Shimano’s latest version of I-Spec looks to increase adjustment range even more and so improve ergonomics for a wider range of riding styles and is know as I-Spec EV.

There’s the same ability to adjust the angle of the shifter lever relative to the brake lever. But the angle adjustment range varies from 10 degrees for Deore M600 and M4100 up to 60 degrees for XTR M9100/M9120. In the middle are Deore XT M8100 and SLX M7100, with 20 degrees of adjustment.

All these levers let you move the shift lever in and out relative to the brake lever by 14mm, an increase of 2mm over I-Spec II.

As well as the extra adjustability, the positioning of the brake cylinder means that its outer edge under the lever makes contact with the handlebar. Shimano says that this gives a second bracing point so that there’s greater rigidity and more leverage for more effective braking.

There’s a mechanical seatpost dropper lever that’s compatible with I-Spec EV too. It weighs 37g and gives 7mm of cable pull that works with most droppers.

Shimano itself doesn’t specify whether I-Spec EV is compatible with older standards, but there are reports online of users mounting I-Spec II shifters on I-Spec EV brake levers. It needs shorter bolts than those supplied – repurposed brake rotor bolts seem to work.

Series Model Rotation adjustment In/out adjustment
XTR M9100/M9120 60 degrees 14mm
Deore XT M8100 20 degrees 14mm
SLX M7100 20 degrees 14mm
Deore M6100/M4100 10 degrees 14mm

SRAM and Shimano mix

It’s worth keeping in mind that if you are buying Shimano aftermarket, you’re not being forced into I-Spec. You can still run clamp-type shifters and brake levers together if you wish. SRAM and Shimano mix

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Furthering this, if you’re interested in mixing and matching SRAM with Shimano, ProblemSolvers offers a range of I-Spec-MatchMaker adaptor options, and Wolftooth sells the equivalent Shift mount.