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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
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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
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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.
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  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.
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  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?
    I always wanted a Wookie, but I found out they weren't real.
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  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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