Shimano Zee/saint and XT brakes same price. Should you always get the Zee/Saints?
If weight was no issue, does it make sense to get the more powerful Zee/saint brakes?
Can the Saints really be too powerful?
Do the XT's really have a better feel and modulation than the Saints?
To a large extant it will depend on the style of riding you indulge in. DH and/or freeride, get the Saints/Zee, XC/trail/all mountain, then XT would be the choice IMO.
I don't crash, I just have slightly uncontrolled dismounts!
If weight isn't an issue, go with the Saint/Zee every time. I currently have a Saint front & Zee rear on my bike, the Zee replaced an XT which was an upgrade from an M596 Deore. My reasoning when I got the XT was that it was a lighter more powerful brake than the Deore, and I wouldn't need full DH braking power on the back of a hardtail XC/trail bike. Turns out I was right, and wrong.
I was right in that I wouldn't need the power of a Saint on the back, however, something which really surprised me was that the Saint had better control & modulation despite being far more powerful than the XT. I couldn't afford another Saint at the time so I ordered up a Zee, and when I installed it I found that it did match the performance of its more expensive sibling in every way. I think that the Saint/Zee brakes have the best feel & modulation out of everything in Shimano's lineup and the weight isn't bad either.
My bike is between 24.5 to 27 lbs depending on which wheels & tires I'm running and I weigh a whopping 150 lbs. I'm running a 180/160 front/rear brake rotor setup and I think it's just about right. It took a ride to recalibrate my fingers to the power I have, but since that first ride I've never had any issues with accidental lockups, slides, or anything like that. It's just perfect control every time. I should note that I'm using the non-finned M810 Saint pads (metallic compound) for everyday riding and saving the finned Ice-tech pads for chairlift days. The Ice-tech pads are quieter in the wet, but other than that I don't notice any difference since there's nothing high enough around here to cause brake fade.
aerius, why do you think many people say the XT's feel better and recommend them for XC riding over the Saints?
To be honest I'm not sure why. My guess would be that most people aren't used to the power of a DH brake, the same finger pull that brings you to a firm stop on an XT is a guaranteed endo on the Saint and it takes time to reset your fingers. I've had several friends ride my bike and the only one who was immediately comfortable with the brakes owns a DH bike; he's already used to what a DH brake does. It's kinda the same thing but in reverse when I ride bikes with XC brakes, I squeeze the levers and don't slow down, then remember that I need to squeeze a lot harder. Once I remember that I'm fine.
Also, I forgot to mention that the dimpled levers on the Saint/Zee are so much nicer than the XT levers.
aerius: thanks for the posts. I am considering getting the Zee or the Saint. But what has me now stumped is the "free stroke adjustment? Is this feature worth an extra $50 dollars a brake to go with the 820 saints?
I can get the Zee for $129 or the Saints for $179. The only reason I would get the saints is for the "free stroke adjustment". Is this something I may use and is it worth the $50 extra?
That is a tough call. I've played with the free stroke adjustment on my Saint and while it does make a small difference in how the brake feels along with slight changes in the modulation & control, I can't say that it's worth $50 to me. What is worth $50 to me is having a reach adjustment dial instead of an allen key bolt, and having a much sleeker and cleaner looking master cylinder reservoir. In hindsight, I should've saved up a few extra bucks and bought a matching Saint for the rear.
The main thing with the Saints is that besides getting a blinged out caliper and lever, you get metallic pads with ice tech fins stock with Saint and only resin pads with no fins stock on Zee.
While the fins might only make much difference if you've got a lot of vertical, metallic does have a sharper, more precise and stronger feel than resin no matter if you're braking quickly or for a long period. I prefer the grabbiness of metal.
Also, if you plan to ride when its wet at all, you need metal pads. Resin sucks in the wet.
Its for that reason why I would go for the Saints instead of the Zee. Also, I find that I end up using the tool less reach adjust more than you might expect on my XT levers. You don't get that with Zee. The Free Stroke adj doesn't really do anything useful, and you shouln't need to touch it with proper bleed and setup.
Interesting point Kanik. However, does the Zee really come with resin pads with no fins?
Jensonusa sells the retail version for $129. And in its description it says.
•Radiation fin pad with new metallic compound to improve control and consistency
Shimano M640 Zee Disc Brake > Components > Brakes > Disc Brakes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
Maybe the blueskycycling non-retail version come without the pads? I know jenson usa won't price match blueskycycling because of bluesky selling non-retail versions.
Originally Posted by Speeder500
I think they come bundled with a metallic compound pad with a finned backing plate.
For $115 BlueSkyCycling is including the adapter bracket and mounting hardware in the bundle.
It looks like JensonUSA is charging $130 and is not including the adapter. They want $10-$23 each for those in Shimano brand. Not sure about the hardware.
I bought from Jenson USA, but I was upgrading from Shimano BR-M446 calipers and I used the same adapters I had on those. Each set came with new mounting screws, but I used the same ones I had on before also. On the rear there was a longer screw where I had to use the one that was on there previously. Jenson's also come with a spare parts to shorten the line(which I did easily).
Originally Posted by JRT_in_WMass
The metallic finned pads are working well with the Avid HS1 rotors I had on there also.
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