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  1. #1
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    New question here. Avid Code R 2013 vs Shimano Saint M810 vs Shimano XT M785

    Hello,

    I want to upgrade my brakes on a Trek 4900 (2013) and I stopped on this 3 brakes. I have the bike for about 5 months, and I participated in several XC competitions. I have changed some parts on this bike like: pedals, saddle, seatpost, handlebar and stem.

    The reason I want to change the brakes is that I want to do a little bit of All Mountain with this bike, and I need better brakes. Now I have Avid Elixir 1 on my bike, but there are not having a great stopping power, they are good enough for XC. I will also change the front suspension, but after I will save some money

    After reading some reviews regarding this 3 brakes I think Avid Code R will do very well, with the a better stopping power that Shimano Saint/XT, although this Avid's are meant to be used on DH/Freeride.


    My question is, between the 3 mentioned brakes who is better for doing some All Mountain and XC racing ?



    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    HUGE difference between the adjustability and modulation of the 3 brakes you describe and your current Elixir 1s.
    Go with the XTs.
    Super reliable.
    Stupid easy to bleed.
    If you need a bit more brake, run 180 rotors.
    Code Rs-awesome brakes. Tons of power. WAY WAY WAY WAY more than you need from the riding you describe. Can take a bit more effort to bleed than Shimanos.
    Saints-WAY WAY WAY WAY more brake than you need or would want for the riding you describe.

  3. #3
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    I read in some reviews that the XTs have some problems with leaking at the banjo nut on the calipers, ruining the pads.
    Regarding the Code R, couldn't I get to use them on XC too ? I've heard they have a good modulation.

  4. #4
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    Like Norman said, go with the XT brakes. Trust me, they have plenty of power. I run them on my enduro race bike and I know guys who use them on their DH bikes with zero issues. Codes or Saints are WAY overkill for anything short of a DH/freeride bike. Yes there have been a few cases of XTs leaking at the banjo bolt but that is few and far between. Plus if you do run into that it should be covered by warranty. There is just simply no need for a 4 piston brake on an XC bike. Go take a spin on a bike that has XTs on it and you will be amazed, they have power for days.

  5. #5
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    There's no such thing as too much power. This is my XC/trail bike, XTR, steel frame, weighs about 26 lbs with the wheelset I have on it and I'm about 150 lbs myself. The front brake is a Shimano Saint M820 with a 180mm rotor, the rear was upgraded to a Shimano Zee about a month after this picture was taken. I've never put myself over the bars or accidentally locked up a wheel, the brakes very easy to control despite their incredible power.

    Personal thoughts? M820 Saints if you can afford it, Shimano Zee if you can't. I own both and in terms of performance & feel I wouldn't be able to tell them apart if I tried. The Saint is prettier though and a bit lighter along with having tool-free reach adjustment. The M810 Saints are about as strong but it's older generation lever/master cylinder design which is both more awkward and has poorer control & modulation. M785 XT will likely be more than enough brake for you, but the Saint/Zee has a nicer lever and surprisingly enough better control & modulation as well. The XT is a bit lighter if that's a concern for you. The Code R has the power but it feels like a cheap piece of crap compared to the Shimanos, it also lacks the control, modulation, and feel of a Saint/Zee. And good luck when you need to bleed it.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    There's no such thing as too much power. This is my XC/trail bike, XTR, steel frame, weighs about 26 lbs with the wheelset I have on it and I'm about 150 lbs myself. The front brake is a Shimano Saint M820 with a 180mm rotor, the rear was upgraded to a Shimano Zee about a month after this picture was taken. I've never put myself over the bars or accidentally locked up a wheel, the brakes very easy to control despite their incredible power.

    Personal thoughts? M820 Saints if you can afford it, Shimano Zee if you can't. I own both and in terms of performance & feel I wouldn't be able to tell them apart if I tried. The Saint is prettier though and a bit lighter along with having tool-free reach adjustment. The M810 Saints are about as strong but it's older generation lever/master cylinder design which is both more awkward and has poorer control & modulation. M785 XT will likely be more than enough brake for you, but the Saint/Zee has a nicer lever and surprisingly enough better control & modulation as well. The XT is a bit lighter if that's a concern for you. The Code R has the power but it feels like a cheap piece of crap compared to the Shimanos, it also lacks the control, modulation, and feel of a Saint/Zee. And good luck when you need to bleed it.


    The difference is about +/-50g and for me that isn't a big difference. My concern is who is more reliable and in the same time to have a good stopping power.

  7. #7
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    I'm a big guy and I have the XTs on my AM/FR bike. They have massive power, and have not faded, leaked, etc at all. I was initially worried about occasionally going beyond what they could handle, but now that I've used them for a full season, I don't think there is any need at all to go with the Saints, unless you are doing nothing but full DH racing.
    The +/- 50g isn't too big at first thought, but 100 combined grams is nearly a quarter pound extra that you really don't need. The XTs are super powerful, reliable, dissipate heat extremely well, and are cheaper than the Saints. They're the best all-around, do everything brakes I've ever used.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    I'm a big guy and I have the XTs on my AM/FR bike. They have massive power, and have not faded, leaked, etc at all. I was initially worried about occasionally going beyond what they could handle, but now that I've used them for a full season, I don't think there is any need at all to go with the Saints, unless you are doing nothing but full DH racing.
    The +/- 50g isn't too big at first thought, but 100 combined grams is nearly a quarter pound extra that you really don't need. The XTs are super powerful, reliable, dissipate heat extremely well, and are cheaper than the Saints. They're the best all-around, do everything brakes I've ever used.
    Agreed. I moved to XT's a year ago and they have been fantastic. I have two full seasons on them and about 200,000 feet of descending on mine with no fade or pump. They are really easy to bleed and just perform. Most of the guys who I have ridden with have moved away from Avid's. They have a bit better modulation than the Shimano's but they seem to leak and get air in the system regularly. When the Avid's are working properly they are a great break but seem a little needy on the service side of things.
    Narrow is the path to life, few are those who find it.

  9. #9
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    I had XTs on my DH rig, but when I built up a DJ'er, I put the XTs on it and bought ZEEs for the DH rig.

    ZEEs are a cheaper version than the Saints but pretty close to the Saints in terms of functionality. The ZEEs are only 20grams heavier than the XTs but have a lot more stopping power. Its quite noticeable. The XTs are great, but the ZEEs are super powerful, so much so I had to get used to grabbing less brakes.

    I have Magura MT8s on my AM bike. They are great too but Shimanos are way easier to maintain and bleed.

    When it comes to brakes, I'll stick with Shimano going forward. Mineral oil isn't caustic like Avid's DOT fluid.

  10. #10
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    I agree with everyone on the choice of going with XT brakes. I have them on both my enduro and my DH. The dh has 8" ice rotors and soon my enduro will 8" front and 7" rear ice rotors. I weight 230 and have yet to need stronger brakes on either bike.

    Sent from my SGH-T889 using Tapatalk 4

  11. #11
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    Nothing at all against Zee or Saint, but they are way overpowered for most riding. I have a feeling, given your photo of the bike they are going on, your bike might limit you well before you got into needing the power of Saints. Their hulk-a-mania power takes away a lot of the modulation of the brakes, making them much more 'on-or-off' feeling. And the XT brakes' IceTech pads are $10 cheaper per set.
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  12. #12
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    I'd have to disagree on the lack of modulation, I got my Saint during the winter and was riding it on snow & ice, it was dead easy to feather the brake even on icy downhills without sliding out. Yes they have ridiculous power. Yes it will take a ride or two to recalibrate your fingers and get used to it. But once I did I found that it was actually easier to control than the M785 XT I had. I don't know how Shimano did it, it doesn't seem right that a far more powerful brake would be easier to control, but it is.

    As for the bike being the limiting factor, while there's no way I'll ever use the full performance of the Saint/Zee on my hardtail they still allow me to ride better and with more confidence than the XTs. The added control and knowing that there is no freakin' way in hell that I'll ever run out of brake helps give me the confidence to just go out and kill it on every ride (Conti Trail King tires are the other key enabler).

  13. #13
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    There is never a good reason to choose Avid brakes over Shimano.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    I'd have to disagree on the lack of modulation, I got my Saint during the winter and was riding it on snow & ice, it was dead easy to feather the brake even on icy downhills without sliding out. Yes they have ridiculous power. Yes it will take a ride or two to recalibrate your fingers and get used to it. But once I did I found that it was actually easier to control than the M785 XT I had. I don't know how Shimano did it, it doesn't seem right that a far more powerful brake would be easier to control, but it is.

    As for the bike being the limiting factor, while there's no way I'll ever use the full performance of the Saint/Zee on my hardtail they still allow me to ride better and with more confidence than the XTs. The added control and knowing that there is no freakin' way in hell that I'll ever run out of brake helps give me the confidence to just go out and kill it on every ride (Conti Trail King tires are the other key enabler).
    OK, so Saint ca be used with no problem for XC too.
    Is there a big difference between Saint M810 and M820 ? I saw that on M810 you can't install the pads with radiators.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo2007 View Post
    Is there a big difference between Saint M810 and M820 ? I saw that on M810 you can't install the pads with radiators.
    Yup, the M820 is a big improvement in terms of control and ergonomics. I rode around on a borrowed set of M810s for a few weeks last year and it's definitely more on-off feeling than the M820. The earlier generation servowave mechanism has a wonky feel to it so that I had a harder time feathering the brakes, plus the lever just didn't feel right; it was too big for one-finger use and wasn't quite shaped right for 2-finger or middle finger braking. Which of course doesn't help when it comes to control.

    If you're thinking about the M810 because you can't justify the cost of the new M820, get the Zee instead. The Zee is better than the old M810 Saints in every way that counts, plus it's compatible with finned radiator pads.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo2007 View Post
    OK, so Saint ca be used with no problem for XC too.
    Is there a big difference between Saint M810 and M820 ? I saw that on M810 you can't install the pads with radiators.
    Get the new ones. Ice Tech pads and rotors are the real deal. With new XT and Ice Tech rotor - what fade? Light rotors too (RT86 for 6 bolt)

    If you are on the fence about brake power - I would think you should up the rotor size before going for a bigger brake. It is also easier to make after purchase.. Start from 180/160, go to 203/180 if it feels not enough. Go back to 180/180 if too much.. I have a spare stronger front wheel with 203mm rotor and more rubber for a shuttle day.. takes little time to change adapter and readjust.

    And on my winter hardtail - have Deore M596. Cost me under $100 for a pair shipped - reused some old rotors. They are as good or better than previous generation XT - use old style pads. Excellent economy choice.. They even look good.

  17. #17
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    The XT M785 works with normal and radiators pads ?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo2007 View Post
    The XT M785 works with normal and radiators pads ?
    They come stock with radiator. Normal aftermarket pads, like Swissstop, are available.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    Nothing at all against Zee or Saint, but they are way overpowered for most riding. I have a feeling, given your photo of the bike they are going on, your bike might limit you well before you got into needing the power of Saints. Their hulk-a-mania power takes away a lot of the modulation of the brakes, making them much more 'on-or-off' feeling. And the XT brakes' IceTech pads are $10 cheaper per set.
    surprised to read your impression the saints dont modulate well. I have the zees and think thats one of their strengths. But yes, they are more than needed for most riding.

    My general thought is that you just cant go wrong with '13 model year shimano brakes. They came out with some truly incredible gear and turned me into a convert.

    My advice then is that if cost is concern get whatever you can find cheaper between XT and Zee.

  20. #20
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    The thing is that I can afford Saint M810, the older version, and not the new one M820. The M810 are better then Zee, I heard that they had some issues. The M820 seems to be much better then M810, and here I don't refer to the pads (M810 can have only normal pads installed).

    Now I'm chossing between the old M810 and new XT M785. The M810 has 4 pistons tinyer then M785 (2 ceramic pistons of 22mm)

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo2007 View Post
    The M810 are better then Zee, I heard that they had some issues.
    What are the issues you've heard about with the Zee?
    Granted, I'm not hooked up to the 'net full time but I can't say I've heard about any problems with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    What are the issues you've heard about with the Zee?
    Granted, I'm not hooked up to the 'net full time but I can't say I've heard about any problems with them.
    Regarding the oil leaking, appearing around the master cylinder or levers.

  23. #23
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    I am trying to imagine why do you need a 4-pot freight train stopping brake on a nice XC hardtail you got. Did you install 2.5 DH tires as well?

    Lever construction on most versions is pretty similar, and they are robust (and easy and cheap to fix or replace). I am running on hybrid with XTR trail levers and XT calipers (latest versions), it was stupid easy to assemble and bleed. I have had on small issue with calipers that had been sitting dry in a box for a while - had to split them and replace the o-ring. There was a tiny bit of a leak. Solid ever since.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    I am trying to imagine why do you need a 4-pot freight train stopping brake on a nice XC hardtail you got. Did you install 2.5 DH tires as well?

    Lever construction on most versions is pretty similar, and they are robust (and easy and cheap to fix or replace). I am running on hybrid with XTR trail levers and XT calipers (latest versions), it was stupid easy to assemble and bleed. I have had on small issue with calipers that had been sitting dry in a box for a while - had to split them and replace the o-ring. There was a tiny bit of a leak. Solid ever since.
    I have 2.2 tires now, and the max will be 2.25/2.3. I don't want to make a DH bike from this XC (is imposible because of the frame). I just want to use it for XC and also some All Mountain, and I need some good brakes.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo2007 View Post
    I have 2.2 tires now, and the max will be 2.25/2.3. I don't want to make a DH bike from this XC (is imposible because of the frame). I just want to use it for XC and also some All Mountain, and I need some good brakes.
    Got for XT, or new SLX (essentially the same thing), with 180/160 rotors (or 180/180 if you are a clyde). More than enough power, modulation and heat dissipation. Proper tool for the job.

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