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  1. #1
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    XC brake - best bang for the buck

    Need ya'lls help yet again. I was hoping to sell my stumpy and get a new bike for the spring but its looking like I'm gonna hand on to it so looking to upgrade my brakes. Currently have Elixer's and I will admit the front works like I want it too. But the rear just doesnt give me the power I want, it just never feels right too me. I've replaced pad's, rotors and bled the lines. Spent all last summer trying to tweak them just right but they dont hold up.

    I'm mainly an XC rider, but I'm a heavy rear brake user.

    I'm on a limited budget, so i was thinking of just changing out the rear brake, dont know if thats a good idea or if I should just change out both?

    So the obvious choices I have researched thus far are XT's, SLX, Saint's or Hope's. **I only listed Hope's because currently I can get a good price on a set of front and rear M4's.

    Whats the good, bad and ugly of any of the above mentioned brakes? Or which brakes have I not listed that I should consider?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I have SLX front and XT rear on Stumpy FSR, really enjoy them. Way better than Elixir 5 I had before.

  3. #3
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    Go with the SLX. I wanted the best bang for buck also and got a set of SLX replacing my elixir 1's.

  4. #4
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    Yes. Buy whatever you find cheaper. If anything I like my SLX front better than my XT rear. They look almost exactly the same besides some chrome and different lettering on XT.

  5. #5
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    I have SLX on one bike and XT. I will never use another brake. I can't tell the difference from one to the other. Both are great.

  6. #6
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    XC brake - best bang for the buck

    I have SLX and XT on 2 different bikes and they are practically the same but you'll save at least $100 on SLX. They are night and day difference from Elixirs. I say go SLX!
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  7. #7
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    If the budget is tight, go for the Deore M615. I have the older M596 version and it was great, reports are that the M615 is even better and can take the ice tech pads.

  8. #8
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    I dont like the idea of a plastic brake lever tho, which I believe the SLX has. And I have heard the XT's don't have the best in modulation. More of an on/off type of braking.

    On the other hand I have not once heard or read a bad review on either, so with that many people saying you cant go wrong either way, its gotta be true?

  9. #9
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    I love my XT trail brakes. First truly one finger brake system I have ever used. I have no issues with modulation on the stock semi metallic pads but have read the resin based brake pads provides an even higher degree of modulation. The ice tech rotors are an integral part of the overall brake system but are sold separately.

    The current XT / XTR brake system from Shimano is night and day better than the Avid Elixr and Avid juicy brake sets I have used in the past.

  10. #10
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    I have the XTs on all my bikes and have tried others but none work as well as Shimano.

    Arts has the prebled f/r for 104 per side right now which is almost as inexpensive as any SLX Iv'e seen...

  11. #11
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    Another vote for Shimano. Nothing but good to day about them. I have the SLX front and rear. Easy to install. Easy to bleed. Though I haven't had to bleed mine once. Easy to adjust the lever. Low to no maintenance. The only negative thing I can think of is the "ice" pads with the cooling fins are a bit pricey. Around $30 per brake, but you can usually find them on sale for around $20. I have to say they seem to last a lot longer than my Avid pads so really not a bad deal.

    Also the levers are aluminum not plastic. I have crashed my bike more times than I care to admit and they have taken a beating and still work perfectly with no damage other than some scratches.

    I can't tell you how much time I wasted with bleeding Avids, trying to get them to adjusted, trying to just get them to work. Never mind the turkey gobble. I am guessing you know that already though.

    Look around, a couple of weeks ago I was seeing XTs at the same price point as the SLXs. Especially if you don't mind ordering OEM from Asia.

    What size rotors are you using? Even though I would suggest you learn how to use the front for stopping, you might consider going to 180mm front and back. I run 160mm in the back and can lock it up no problem. 180mm in the front is much better IMHO.
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  12. #12
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    +1 on slx, I run them on two of my bikes. I have heard that the deores are pretty good too. I think you wont go wrong with any of those two.

    All shimano brakes have aluminum levers, no plastic.

    Cheers

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rzims View Post
    I have the XTs on all my bikes and have tried others but none work as well as Shimano.

    Arts has the prebled f/r for 104 per side right now which is almost as inexpensive as any SLX Iv'e seen...

    Who and what is arts?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattnmtns View Post
    Another vote for Shimano. Nothing but good to day about them. I have the SLX front and rear. Easy to install. Easy to bleed. Though I haven't had to bleed mine once. Easy to adjust the lever. Low to no maintenance. The only negative thing I can think of is the "ice" pads with the cooling fins are a bit pricey. Around $30 per brake, but you can usually find them on sale for around $20. I have to say they seem to last a lot longer than my Avid pads so really not a bad deal.

    Also the levers are aluminum not plastic. I have crashed my bike more times than I care to admit and they have taken a beating and still work perfectly with no damage other than some scratches.

    I can't tell you how much time I wasted with bleeding Avids, trying to get them to adjusted, trying to just get them to work. Never mind the turkey gobble. I am guessing you know that already though.

    Look around, a couple of weeks ago I was seeing XTs at the same price point as the SLXs. Especially if you don't mind ordering OEM from Asia.

    What size rotors are you using? Even though I would suggest you learn how to use the front for stopping, you might consider going to 180mm front and back. I run 160mm in the back and can lock it up no problem. 180mm in the front is much better IMHO.
    Currently have 160mm up front and in the rear.

    Yea I've had enough trying to tweak these elixers to get them to be consistent. And the bleeding process, on what planet did they think having to use a syringe and all that an easy/convenient way to bleed the brakes.

    Well thats good to hear about the lever, I swear I read a few reviews with people saying the SLX levers were plastic. Glad to be wrong on that one!

    Would it change anyones opinion if I was to say I can get a set front and rear (no rotors) of the Hope M4's for $250. I know they are not as strong as the XT's but I've read the kicker is the customer service at Hope. Almost any part, no matter how small can be serviced or replaced with ease or you can even send in your setup and have them do a complete rebuild to essentially bring them back to brand new. I've heard nothing but good things about Hope's services. Also built in England, not sure if that matters to anyone but I like that.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGK View Post
    Who and what is arts?
    Assume he means Art's Cyclery. Good on line retailer

  16. #16
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    yep...

    Quote Originally Posted by azorr View Post
    If the budget is tight, go for the Deore M615. I have the older M596 version and it was great, reports are that the M615 is even better and can take the ice tech pads.
    I have M615 on my 2014 Nail Trail, and they are border-line flawless...can't imagine a better system @ their intended price-point
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails XC brake - best bang for the buck-dsc01534.jpg  

    XC brake - best bang for the buck-dsc01532.jpg  

    XC brake - best bang for the buck-dsc01463.jpg  

    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  17. #17
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    I should have mentioned that you don't have to use the ice pads with the models that come with them. You can still use the standard pads for a little bit cheaper. Unless you are really braking hard on some long downhills you probably wouldn't know the difference.

    No experience with Hope. I'm about to buy some of their hubs, but I'd go Shimano for the brakes for the reasons stated above.
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  18. #18
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    Shimano SLX best bang for your buck. I don't know how many bike magazine reviews I have read that keep repeating this statement as well as inumerable reviews from us humble bike owners.

  19. #19
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    Shimano all the way. Bang for Buck? the new Deore. Not a fan of avid at all.

  20. #20
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    Shiimano Tech said the m615 has smaller interior diameter hose mated to the inline fitting at the caliper vs the banjo.. This leads to a little less power and modulation. Cheapest option is to just change your front brake. An SLX or Deore would change your control so much you will not use your rear for much any more.

  21. #21
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    I have had Hope Tech X2's for several years and love them. Great feel and stopping power. Bled them after 2 years. Haven't had to service them for anything other than the one bleed.

    A friend has the new XT and really likes them, but not enough time gone by to say anything about longevity.
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  22. #22
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    how many times do people have to ask this question? You can answer basically everything you need to know about brakes these days in 2 letters.

    They are around $100 a wheel. I just don't see how this is complicated. At all.

  23. #23
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    Just bought a SLX F/R with 160mm rotor set for 90pound shipped. So I'm close to the $100/wheel guide ~~

  24. #24
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    SLX is good, just make sure you get the 29er specific!

  25. #25
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    Did some research online and the SLX are actually pretty reasonably priced! Thinking of picking up a set for the up coming season. My brakes are ok (nothing to brag about) on my Hardrock but an upgrade would be nice!

  26. #26
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    My vote goes to the Deore. Stupidly cheap and work just as well as the SLX in my experience.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by azorr View Post
    If the budget is tight, go for the Deore M615. I have the older M596 version and it was great, reports are that the M615 is even better and can take the ice tech pads.
    Winner! Best brake for the money right now. Better than my XT's from 3 years ago.

    Shimano Deore M615 Disc Brakes > Components > Brakes > MTB Disc Brakes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

  28. #28
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    Hayes. Love them, have for years. Never an issue after switching from bike to bike even. Cheap at Pricepoint too.
    Hayes Stroker Trail Disc Brake | Hayes | Brand | www.PricePoint.com

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSJ1973 View Post
    Winner! Best brake for the money right now. Better than my XT's from 3 years ago.

    Shimano Deore M615 Disc Brakes > Components > Brakes > MTB Disc Brakes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    112 per side? You can get a set of XTs on ebay for cheaper

  30. #30
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    Check out Blue Sky Cycling. I got both sets of mine, one XT and one SLX from them Bike Brakes, Mountain Bike Brakes, Mountain Bike Disc Brakes, Hayes Disc Brakes, Bicycle Disc Brakes

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawigreen99 View Post
    SLX is good, just make sure you get the 29er specific!
    What makes them 29er specific? Hose length?

  32. #32
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGK View Post
    What makes them 29er specific? Hose length?

    It was a joke

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawigreen99 View Post
    It was a joke
    #owned

  35. #35
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    Shimano SLX M675 Disc Brake | Chain Reaction Cycles

    Next question. I noticed the ebay link says resin pad with fin, on CRC they say no fin. What is the fin? Whats the benefit of it?

  36. #36
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    The fins are supposed to be for cooling

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGK View Post
    Would it change anyones opinion if I was to say I can get a set front and rear (no rotors) of the Hope M4's for $250. I know they are not as strong as the XT's but I've read the kicker is the customer service at Hope. Almost any part, no matter how small can be serviced or replaced with ease or you can even send in your setup and have them do a complete rebuild to essentially bring them back to brand new. I've heard nothing but good things about Hope's services. Also built in England, not sure if that matters to anyone but I like that.
    You should most definitely get the hopes. The M4's will have more power than the Shimano brakes( if they are the evo version). I Had the 1st gen Tech X2's, and thought they were great. I rode a friends bike with the XTR race brakes, and my Hopes' were just as strong. Even my friend thought the same. Last summer I purchased the EVO version, and they were even stronger. They are VERY good. And you can't beat the modulation and adjustability. They are VERY easy to bleed, like a car brake. And you won't find a nicer, more stunning piece of craftsmanship in ANY brake. $250 for a set of Hope's is a steal.

  38. #38
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    XC brake - best bang for the buck

    You cannot discount the Avid BB7's. Probably the best alternative to hydraulics. I have them on my Salsa Dos Niner. Work great as an XC brake. Google'em.


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  39. #39
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    I would second the Hopes if you can get them for cheap enough. They are more temperamental, tho, but IMO the best feeling brake out there. I haven't used the M4s. Those are mostly freeride kind brakes. More grab, and heavier, but massive stopping power.

    I had/have issues with stuck pistons a lot on my Mono Mini (2004-ish). It's an easy fix, but I have to do it about once every six months. Basically, push the pistons out, go around the sliding surface of the pistons with some brake fluid on a q-tip to clean it. Push the pistons back in and go around the exposed end of the seal.

    Nice thing about Hope brakes is they are easily rebuildable. All you need is the special bore cap tool, which is around $17 from ChainReaction in the UK. Shimano doesn't rebuild anything. If they wear out, leak, get stuck pistons, etc, you toss them and buy new ones.

    So basically, my Singlespeed had Mono Minis, and I recently upgraded them to Tech2X brakes. Nice improvement, but the old ones still felt great.

    All of my other bikes (3 of them) all have XT or XTR brakes. Even the older ones are great.

  40. #40
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    I have SLX on one bike, Deore on another - can't really tell the difference. I recommend either.
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  41. #41
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    my neighbor races and switched his hope m4s for XTRs. Dont know if his brakes werent setup right but he said the XTRs are one finger and the hopes werent.

    I now have his hopes and they are fine, but dont feel as powerful as my XTs.

    Another way to look at it is that the hopes have more modulation, meaning more lever pull to get an equivalent amount of power.

    If you can get the hopes for less than xts (which run about $200-250/pair discounted) the hopes are good alternative.

  42. #42
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    I've got XT M785's that I love, but I have to say the best bang for the buck is Deore M615 which I also have. M615's are usually only about $65/wheel from the UK sources and they are compatible with the metal XT brake pads.

    Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of the current generation Shimano hydraulic brakes.

  43. #43
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    What Elixr model is the OP using? I have the 9's which came with my Flash carbon and they work great for me. 180 front, 160 rear was stock on it. My only complaint is the pads are loud when wet, but I have never had a stopping issue with them at all.
    '12 Flash 29r C3 with a few mods
    '10 Synapse 5 Carbon with a few mods as well..

  44. #44
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    You can find lightly used XT m785's on ebay for $75-90 per side if you're diligent.

    Definitely go with SLX if you want to just buy a set now. They're an incredible deal.
    Specialized sucks

  45. #45
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    XT's bang for the buck hands down. So much power that you have nearly all the braking you need in the first bit of travel. Modulation takes a little acclimation. You can find them at Arts or Nashbar for under $110.00 per. Love them.
    Not without incident.

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