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  1. #1
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    2012 Shimano Deore M596 Brakes - User review

    a few months ago I swapped out the Elixir R brakes on my 26" Stumpjumper to 2012 Shimano XT brakes. I loved them so much I decided to swap out the Juicy 3 brakes on my Rockhopper 29er HT to something similar.

    Since the RH is my 2nd bike and only ridden a 10% of the time, I didn't want to spend the money on another set of XTs and looked for a cheaper alternative. I looked at the SLX m666 brakes, but those were only $40 cheaper than the XTs. Then I saw the Deore M596 used the same shaped brake lever and were well over $100 cheaper than the XTs. I figured I'd give them a shot.

    First Impression-

    I was shocked by how nice the levers look/feel. I think they are better looking than the XT or SLX. The matte gray paint is a lot less "blingy" than the XTs, and the levers appear to be identical in shape. The calipers on the other hand are a little plain. from the side they are all black with no graphics or markings, which is actually fine with me. They have a nice clean look. The lever also seemed to have a lot of forward/back play, but that was mainly due to them being cranked all the way in out for the box. Once moved back into the position I wanted (need to use an allen) the play wasn't an issue.

    Break-in/First ride-

    After installing the brakes, I was surprised by the lack of power out of the gate. They barely stopped the bike. While the XTs felt incredible out of the box with tons of power, the Deore did not. I decided to do my normal pad break-in procedure and after slowing from 20 to 5mph about 15 times, the pads came alive and started to bite much harder.

    My first ride consisted of tight twisty singletrack with short steep downhill sections followed by tight turns and short climbs. The brakes felt great and were smooth and powerful. I've always thought the XTs were a little on/off with a very short lever pull that took a little getting use to. The Deore were different. They have a bit more lever travel and are easier to feather, but take a little more effort to get full power. It isn't a huge difference and it isn't bad, it is just different than the XTs. Part of if it could be due to the smaller rotors (185/160 vs 203/185) and larger wheels (29 vs 26) too. Even when wet, the Deore brakes had no problem stopping fast, and never did I feel I needed more than 1 finger to stop, which is what I was looking for.

    Conclusion-

    I'm very happy with my decision to swap out my Avid Juicy 3s for the Deore M596. The levers alone were worth it (if you are a single finger brake user) , and I'm happy to get away from the hit or miss reliability of the Avids. I also appreciate the simple bleed procedure and the easier to work with mineral oil the Shimano brakes use.

    If you are looking for some hydro brakes that wont break the bank ($150 range), I don't think you can beat the Deore M596.

  2. #2
    El Gato Malo
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    Nice write-up, thanks!

  3. #3
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    Sweet review.

  4. #4
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    Wednesday I'll be testing them out on some fast flowy downhill trails, so it should give me good feedback on how resistant they are to brake fade and how they hold up to a little mud.

  5. #5
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    Agree 100%, if they last well they might be a BB7 beater.

  6. #6
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    So last night I got my first real ride with the Deore m596 brakes. The trails we rode consisted of 2 mile long fast singletrack, with a few tight switchbacks and a decent amount of mud. I rode about 8 miles and got a really good feel for how they brakes perform.

    Out of the 5 types of hydro brakes I've ran on various bikes (Juicy 4SL, Juicy 3, Elixir R, Shimano XT), I have to say the Deore have the most analog feel of them all. The intial bite is not as strong as other brakes, not even close to how the XTs feel, but the power ramps up real smooth and I had no problem locking them up with 1 finger if needed. Mud/water didnt seem to really effect them either. They stayed quiet and braking power was always there.

    On long downhill sections with lots of braking there was zero fade, and at no point did the levers take extra effort or have extra level pull, which seemed to be an issue with the Avid brakes I have used. Compared to the XTs I'd say the Deore take 50% more effort to get full power, which isn't as bad as it sounds since the XTs are really sensitive and have an on/off digital feel. 1 Finger was all I needed no matter the speed/conditions.

    Overall I'd say these brakes would be perfect for someone new to hydraulic brakes, or someone who is looking for a brake with smooth modulation that makes it easy to pick the right about of braking power you need. I probably wouldn't recommend them for an aggressive bigger rider or someone who wants an very short pull, instant on type brake, but i do think they would make a perfect commuter/XC/trail rider brake. They are well worth the low price, dont feel/perform cheap, and blow away any mechanical disc brake I've used along with most other brand entry level hydraulic brakes.

  7. #7
    El Gato Malo
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    Thanks for additional info.!

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    Nice review, thanks for that!

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    I only have the M596 on the rear for now (needed to replace the rear Juicy 3). The spacing between the pads and the rotor is one of the biggest I've seen.

    Also, I need to pull the lever a lot to get the power but the power is definitely there. It can be felt when you pump the lever fast and then press the brake. The lever throw is then much smaller (cause the pads are closer to the rotor of course) and it brakes much stronger.
    Since they use a new lever design with the old caliper, this could be to the fact that the piston in the lever is smaller than the one in the older M595 brake (or even older models) and it can't pump enough oil so that the pistons travel faster to the rotor, therefore the lever throw is longer.

    P.S. The brake is properly bled. That the first thing that I thought I needed. Did that 2 times, even with proper bleed kit - no bubbles still the long throw on the lever.

    For 50$/brake, great entry/low end brake. Not strong like the Elixir 1 or 3, but trouble free surely!

  10. #10
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    I wonder how these compare weight wise with BB7s.

    (I have the BB7s and think they are great...)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Lynch View Post
    So last night I got my first real ride with the Deore m596 brakes. The trails we rode consisted of 2 mile long fast singletrack, with a few tight switchbacks and a decent amount of mud. I rode about 8 miles and got a really good feel for how they brakes perform.

    Out of the 5 types of hydro brakes I've ran on various bikes (Juicy 4SL, Juicy 3, Elixir R, Shimano XT), I have to say the Deore have the most analog feel of them all. The intial bite is not as strong as other brakes, not even close to how the XTs feel, but the power ramps up real smooth and I had no problem locking them up with 1 finger if needed. Mud/water didnt seem to really effect them either. They stayed quiet and braking power was always there.

    On long downhill sections with lots of braking there was zero fade, and at no point did the levers take extra effort or have extra level pull, which seemed to be an issue with the Avid brakes I have used. Compared to the XTs I'd say the Deore take 50% more effort to get full power, which isn't as bad as it sounds since the XTs are really sensitive and have an on/off digital feel. 1 Finger was all I needed no matter the speed/conditions.

    Overall I'd say these brakes would be perfect for someone new to hydraulic brakes, or someone who is looking for a brake with smooth modulation that makes it easy to pick the right about of braking power you need. I probably wouldn't recommend them for an aggressive bigger rider or someone who wants an very short pull, instant on type brake, but i do think they would make a perfect commuter/XC/trail rider brake. They are well worth the low price, dont feel/perform cheap, and blow away any mechanical disc brake I've used along with most other brand entry level hydraulic brakes.
    I am not surprised about your review, and thanks for helping to solidify my decision in the purchase of the M596 brakes. Good to see Shimano didn't go backwards on last years M595. The M596 will be going on my 29er. I also like the fact the M596 lever is nice and clean in design. Only wish shimano offered a silver version of the calipers. Anyways, I got the M595 on my commuter/trail, now I can't really see past them for brakes on my bikes. Sure there are better, but Shimano really made a bang for the buck here, that wouldn't surprise me if it didn't bite just a little into SLX sales. I may also get some metal pads to see how much improvement they really provide.
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  12. #12
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    I have the M595 brake set (same caliper as the M596) and the one thing I didn't like about the caliper were those cotter pins. What I did was purchase the pad retaining pins that are used on the M775s and used a tap on my caliper so I could use them. Looks much better and don't have to run the risk of gouging the caliper trying to remove the cotter pins.
    Craig

  13. #13
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    New Deore brakes use the old SLX M665 calipers. FWIW.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slurry View Post
    New Deore brakes use the old SLX M665 calipers. FWIW.
    I wouldn't be surprise if Deore get calipers with finned pads in the near future.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slurry View Post
    New Deore brakes use the old SLX M665 calipers. FWIW.
    Look exactly the same as my M595 calipers.
    Craig

  16. #16
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    I believe the calipers are the same as the M595 and they just added the redesigned levers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Lynch View Post
    I believe the calipers are the same as the M595 and they just added the redesigned levers.
    yep, just new levers. I really like the clean look of them.
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  18. #18
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    I have heard nothing but excellent reviews on the Shimano XT 2012

  19. #19
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    The 2012 XTs are sweet, but they are the noisiest brakes I've even used in the wet. The m596 are quieter when wet but still pretty loud.

  20. #20
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    Do the M596 levers have a reach adjustment knob?
    Craig

  21. #21
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    The reach adjustment on the M596 is a set screw so you need to use an allen wrench. Not a big deal because I generally set the reach once and never mess with it. The set screw is in th esame exact spot as the knob on the SLX/XT/XTR levers, and I bet you could replace the screw with a knob if you wanted.

  22. #22
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    Just fitted one to a friends bike and thus far impressed,baffled as to why it has a safety catch on the bar clamp but otherwise good and the lever is a huge improvement on the current saint lever.

  23. #23
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    The safety catch is on all 2012 models. It is so they can use one bolt, but still keep the lever from coming off if you crash hard and break the bolt, or the bolt comes loose. It woudl suck big time to have the lever fall off into the wheel while going fast.

  24. #24
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    Why won't anyone post pictures?

  25. #25
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    What do you want to see?

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    I have bought a set of M596 in May last year for my flat handlebar road bike. I loved them so much I bought a second pair for my XC race bike.

    Currently awaiting 785 XTs for my race XC bike, and 596 will be shifted to my beater bike.

    Hopefully won't be dissapointed going from 596 to 785, I am not expecting miracles, since 596 are performing better than 775 or older XTR, at a very reasonable 300g weight.

    Anyway, I don't think this brake can be beaten for the money. Shimano always made solid brakes, but the new 2012 series really makes a difference for the money.

    My chime in for the review is that the 596 has a more distinct initial contact with the pad compared to older shimanos I've used (more smooth). That is the only thing that I would call a "drawback". Otherwise, I've not experienced fade at any stage, modulation is great, never lacked power, ergonomy is clean and hand friendly.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Lynch View Post
    What do you want to see?
    Hot chick posing with the levers and calipers?

  28. #28
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    more spec differences: 596's don't have servo wave or sintered pads. Change the pads and I'd bet the feel is a lot closer to the XT's. The rest of the power difference can be accounted for by the wheel and rotor sizes.

  29. #29
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    The m596 do have servo wave...

    "There's also a new Deore disc brake. The M596 inherits the Servo Wave cam system that was previously the preserve of Shimano's higher-end discs. This provides more pad clearance and a power-assisted feel. "

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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Lynch View Post
    The m596 do have servo wave...

    "There's also a new Deore disc brake. The M596 inherits the Servo Wave cam system that was previously the preserve of Shimano's higher-end discs. This provides more pad clearance and a power-assisted feel. "

    from here
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  32. #32
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    Thanks for such a detailed review! I currently am using Tektro mechanical disc brakes (stock on Giant Revel 1) and hate them soooo much. Would the M596's be a major improvement on these or do I need to go to a more expensive model to really notice a difference? I really want a quiter brake with 1-finger stopping capability. Also, I'm only 150lbs, 5'10".

  33. #33
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    They would be a huge upgrade from the Tektro mechanical brakes. It would be a night and day difference.

  34. #34
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    Sweet! May have to make the plunge then.

  35. #35
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    I just scored an awesome deal on a set of Shimano Deore M596 brakes. But these ones are all black. Anyone have seen these? They don't have "Deore on the brake reservoir or the caliper but rather "Shimano. They are stamped M596 though. I was think of getting a set of 2012 Avid Elixir 1. Did I make a better choice with the M596?

  36. #36
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    I personally like the m596 over the elixir 1. Better lever shape and the m596 are more resistant to fading.

  37. #37
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    +1.
    Shimano traditionally makes trouble free brakes, these calipers are well proven, and the lever is cascaded from stronger models.

    I've tried Avid Elixirs 1 for 2012, and although they felt good, DOT oil, need of a bleed kit reputation of beeing good at start ta getting issues later on, together with large lever drove me away.

  38. #38
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    My buddy has a 2012 Giant with the Elixir ones, and they feel solid cruising around be give him issues any time we have extended downhill sections. The levers arent even in the same league as the Shimano levers either unless you like to brake with 2 or 3 fingers.

  39. #39
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    Ok...

    I have to post my opinion on the Deores. Not these, but the M575. As you know they were the Deore AM (all mountain) edition. It is surprsing that your initial feedback is the same i had with mine. Nice modulation, good power when using the full travel of the lever... The probelm is they started to go wrong after several 30m descents on 2 days. Power never got back (even on super sticky pads, bleeding process...). And now i'm replacing them. Thank you for your feedback, as i was going to buy the new Deores, and now i get it. Can't do it. It will be the same...

  40. #40
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    Thanks for the review. I had Shimano M486's on my 2009 Gary Fisher and loved them. Not sure if they still make them, but they were no fuss, no noise, great modulation, great braking power, & little to no maintenance in 3 years. Gonna look at going back to a Shimano brake over the Avids that came on my new bike.
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  41. #41
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    If you really want these brakes to shine, I recommend metal pads.
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    Hi. I have Hayes Stroker Ryde. I didn't like them. Want to buy new brakes. But i don't know what will be better slx 666 (with hayes discs) or deore 596 (with shimano rt-76). Can you help me to choice? I tried Avid Elixir 1/3/5, Juicy 5, Code 5, Shimano 445, XTR. And i think they are good brakes all. My budget is 175$ only. My friend speaks that i must to buy slx.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vuco View Post
    For 50$/brake, great entry/low end brake. Not strong like the Elixir 1 or 3, but trouble free surely!
    where were you able to find these for $50 each??
    im about to buy a set and cant find anything under $80 each...

    any ideas as to where i can find the best price on these?
    is ebay okay or are there fake versions of these brakes out there?

    any direction would be appreciated. thanks

    edit:my grammars

  44. #44
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    A set is on the way for the wife's bike. I got to see a set in person after the order, and was just amazed by the quality look and feel. Really looking forward to see if they perform any better than the M595. yeah, pictures don't do these brakes justice.
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  45. #45
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    Nice review thanks!

  46. #46
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    So I got the brakes, only to see they are moto style. My goof up, will just have em switched when I go to shorten the cables. Otherwise, great product so far. will see how they work out.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by amamdani15 View Post
    where were you able to find these for $50 each??
    im about to buy a set and cant find anything under $80 each...

    any ideas as to where i can find the best price on these?
    is ebay okay or are there fake versions of these brakes out there?

    any direction would be appreciated. thanks

    edit:my grammars
    So did anyone find where to get them for $50/brake?

  48. #48
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    I paid $150 for mine, which was still totally worth it.

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    Do these work with the new Ice Tech rotors? And where do you find the pads for them? There are supposed to be metal pads and resin available.

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    And how badly do sintered pads eat the rotors?

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