Shimano XT brakes review£162.97

Powerful but heavy and awkward setup

BikeRadar score2/5

It’s the original Shimano Servo-Wave brake, but detail glitches on the XT mean it’s overshadowed by newer units.

The low profile single-piece calliper looks neat, but the hose angle is fixed, bleeding is awkward and weight is high. The ‘free stroke’ bite adjust screw was extremely stiff too. It’s single-sided and the split clamp is awkward to fit without scratching carbon bars.

The Servo-Wave leverage means plenty of pad clearance for easy calliper set-up and quieter running and it boosts average dry power levels.

Wet braking performance is better and sintered pads last well. Separate rotor and mount pricing adds flexibility, but the cost is high – especially as the Shimano Deore 595 is more powerful and £55 cheaper.

Dry brake test graph

Dry brakes graph shimano xt:
Dry brakes graph shimano xt:

Dry brake test graph for all brakes tested

Dry brakes all:
Dry brakes all:

Wet brake test graph

Wet brakes graph shimano xt:
Wet brakes graph shimano xt:

Wet brake test graph for all brakes tested

Wet brakes all:
Wet brakes all:

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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