Shimano XTR Race M985 disc brake review£242.97

Top feel and control

BikeRadar score4/5

Shimano’s top-level XTR Race brakes aren’t super-light but they’re an impressively powerful and beautifully touchy-feely single-finger stopper.

The Race master cylinder actually uses a smaller diameter double barrel design than the Trail (M988) version, with Allen key rather than tool-free blade reach adjust. The dimpled finger area in the crooked one finger lever is equally broad though and feel is just as smooth and rich, giving it outstanding control on the trail.

Weight is higher than other race competition, but then so is power output which makes a smaller rotor an option to even things out. While the pads are conventional rather than finned as on the Trail, the alloy core/steel skin Ice Technologies rotor keeps heat under control unless you drag them down an Alp.

The Ice Tech rotors also save 20g over Shimano’s conventional discs and are now available for conventional six-bolt hubs rather than just with Shimano’s proprietary Center Lock splined setup. They do cost an extra £8 but as it’s a modular buy you can choose your exact build or just use your existing fixtures. Price has dropped nearly £20 since last year too.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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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