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  1. #1
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    XT brake setup: if you had a chance to do it again...

    We've all been there - thinking after you've installed a part and ridden with it a few times, if I had it to do all over again, I would do it differently.

    These forums are great for sharing the collective wisdom we have each gained from our experiences with a bike setup. I have a set of XT brakes and the Ice rotors on order. I have read the two threads that "hate" and "love" the XT brakes, but I haven't seen one that specifically ask for riders to make suggestions about what steps they wish they had taken, or not taken, in the installation and break-in of the XT brakes.

    So, would you mind sharing a tip or two about what you would do differently? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    subscribed, Im in the same boat

  3. #3
    Vaginatarian
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    I would save some money and get avid bb7s
    I pulled my XTR and XTs last summer and havent regretted it once

  4. #4
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    I love mine, using 180mm rotors front and rear for AM riding and they're that powerful I could have probably got away with a 160mm on the rear....

  5. #5
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    I'm the other way around. I got 180F/160R and will be stepping up a size. Mostly because I am a clydesdale.

  6. #6
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    2012 XT with 180 ice techs f/r are awesome.

    Huge step up from my BB7's.

  7. #7
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    set em and forget em best brakes ive used ever i will never use a cable brake again.im also a 200# rider that takes some omph to bring to a halt,im sure someone will chime in "if u set bb7 up right bla bla"i wrenched bikes for over ten yrs and still do on my own rigs and love the xt/xtr brakes in fit and funtion

  8. #8
    Combat Wombat
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    If I had to do it again? I would have bought and mounted XTs when I initially built up my last SS, instead of screwing around with BB-7s for a year.

  9. #9
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    If I had to do it again, I would have started doing 1 finger braking WAY earlier. Had my 2012 XTs for a few months now and just now am confident enough in their power to no use two fingers. Just a tap here and there is usually all that's needed.
    "Got everything you need?"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neily03 View Post
    I love mine, using 180mm rotors front and rear for AM riding and they're that powerful I could have probably got away with a 160mm on the rear....
    I agree. The 160mm's are very powerful already.

  11. #11
    Poacher
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    I have 2 sets of XT M775 and one Saint BM800

    Same Calipers but now I am trying to sell Saints to buy 3rd pair of XT because the levers work so well. Plus I hear alot of other riders complain about NOT having good brakes (other brands). I will demo a pair of new XT before buying to make sure they are as good as M775

  12. #12
    the mechanic
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    Used the 775's for one year....... Great brakes!

    Now that I've had the 785's for some time now, I must say this is the only disc brake I will use PERIOD!

  13. #13
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    +1 for 785 levers. I bought levers, callipers, and discs on that deal Shimano had going recently. I love the short lever, but especially the great increase in feel with these brakes (had 445 callipers/505 levers before - no comparison!) Havent done any huge decents where fade would be an issue but have no complaints at all about them

    (In answer to your question about what I wish I'd done - bought them earlier!)

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the feedback, and I'm certainly getting a positive vibe about the choice, which I failed to say, is the 2012 version.

    However, to focus a bit more what I'm really after, here are a few examples of the type of insights I'm looking for:

    1. mounting: did the Shimano instructions on centering the brake work well, or did you find a better method, such as using a business card to center the brake? (I've read that the Avid pistons don't compress equally and the setup is off-center). Or, pumping the brake in a different way than Shimano says to?

    2. brake pad break-in: this is such an important step, and if you get it wrong, you can easily end up with all sorts of evil and obnoxious noises every time you brake. Did the Shimano instructions work well, or is there a better method?

    3. cutting the line and bleeding: any "duh" moments to avoid?

    4. lever adjustment: I've read about lubing the cam action on the lever. Any other adjustments that work well, or wish you hadn't done to begin with?

    Thanks again for taking the time to read and give it some thought.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoolie View Post
    Same Calipers but now I am trying to sell Saints to buy 3rd pair of XT because the levers work so well. Plus I hear alot of other riders complain about NOT having good brakes (other brands). I will demo a pair of new XT before buying to make sure they are as good as M775
    I have 775 and 785. The 785 is totally different.
    785 is a LOT stronger. I like both, but the 785 is in a different league.

  16. #16
    ballbuster
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    Second that....

    Quote Originally Posted by fast540 View Post
    set em and forget em best brakes ive used ever i will never use a cable brake again.im also a 200# rider that takes some omph to bring to a halt,im sure someone will chime in "if u set bb7 up right bla bla"i wrenched bikes for over ten yrs and still do on my own rigs and love the xt/xtr brakes in fit and funtion
    I had BB7s. They stopped really well. Braking power was never an issue.

    Constantly fiddling with the stupid red dials, adjusting them so they wouldn't rub, then having them start rubbing 2 miles into a ride, complete lack of modulation and weighing somewhere north of diving weights was more of an issue for me. I know some swear by them, and I think I'm a pretty dang good mechanic, but they just annoyed the heck out of me. I don't have any of these issues with any other brake I owned, except for maybe the Maguras I had.

    I have older XTRs... M965s and M975s and they work great.. and I'm not just saying that because they are the only brakes I can use with Dual Control levers.

    The new generation, however.. yeah... some are complaining about them, some are raving that they are the best ones Shimano has released to date.

    I don't think I really want 'stronger' brakes in the newer Shimano offerings. I already have one finger stoppage power. More thermal capacity would be nice without having to get larger rotors. I only really noticed overheating when I rode Downieville this last summer.

  17. #17
    Did I catch a niner?
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    I have not had much time on these brakes so it is hard to say what I would change. But I do know I would have gotten the XT rotors sooner even for my BB7 setup. I am already looking at a 160mm set for my cross bike.
    Mr. Krabs: Is it true, Squidward? Is it hilarious?
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by edley View Post

    However, to focus a bit more what I'm really after, here are a few examples of the type of insights I'm looking for:

    1. mounting: did the Shimano instructions on centering the brake work well, or did you find a better method, such as using a business card to center the brake? (I've read that the Avid pistons don't compress equally and the setup is off-center). Or, pumping the brake in a different way than Shimano says to?
    The instructions of holding the brake lever on, tightening the bolts and releasing don't really work that well. Like all disc brakes you'll get better results from carefully aligning the brake caliper and rotor by eye.

    There are a couple of small tweaks I'd make if starting over again. Neither of these changes are essential but they're things I wish I'd done to begin with:

    The standard 2 bolt Shimano post mount adapters aren't that difficult to align the calipers on, but they aren't the easiest either. The 4 bolt Hope post mount adapters make it quite a bit easier to setup your caliper alignment. I'm going to take 1.5mm off my Hope 183mm post mount brake adapter (so that it becomes a 180mm post mount adapter) and use that on the fork with my Shimano M988 XTR Trail brakes and 180mm Shimano Ice tech rotor instead of the Shimano adapter. It means that when needed it will be quicker to re-align the brake caliper.

    Hope post mount adapter with Shimano M988 XTR Trail caliper
    XT BR-M785 Disc Brake with any 6 bolt rotor?

    Hope 183mm post mount adapter (needs to be modified by having 1.5mm removed to be correct height for Shimano 180mm rotor)
    Hope Mount Adaptor Front Post to Post 183mm | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com

    The other thing you might want to do when starting from scratch would be to replace the allen bolts attaching the brake hoses to the brake calipers. They're steel and the bolt on my rear brake caliper is already rusting badly (riding in the UK winter, road salt corrodes everything). I normally try and replace most bolts like this with titanium ones straight away and it would be easiest to do during initial setup.

  19. #19
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    To avoid having to bleed them when you cut the lines, here is a little trick:

    1. Install brake on bike, with everthing still attached.

    2. With the wheel off the bike, remove the brake pads.

    3. CAREFULLY pump the lever a few times to expose the pistons more than you would normally think of doing. This creates a reserve of fluid in the caliper.

    4. Now you can disconnect the hose and cut it to length. Use a fresh razor blade to make a nice straight cut if you don't have the fancy specialty cutter.

    5. Reconnect the line.

    6. Remove the bleed port screw. This is where you take advantage of all that fluid you pushed into the caliper!

    7. Using a soft tool, like the handle of a cone wrench, push the pistons back into place. Make SURE to push them straight in, not putting any awkward side pressure on them. Avoid using any prying motion. The ceramic pistons like being touched nicely.

    8. Replace bleed screw.

    9. Clean up any fluid, and install your pads and wheel.

    If you do all of that right you should be able to avoid bleeding!

    Any little amount of fluid lost during cutting gets replaced by what was stored in the caliper!

  20. #20
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    OP is back to give an update. First of all, thanks to all of those who responded with warm fuzzies and helpful comments.

    Mounting the calipers, levers and discs was easy and foolproof. Centering the calipers required several attempts, using both the lever and eyeing-it methods.

    I had several inches of cable to remove, and this was the trickiest part of the installation. The steps listed by Augustus worked perfectly. The Shimano site also has a pdf with pictures showing this process.

    http://www.shimano.com/publish/conte...ile.html/02%29
    %20Brake%20Hose%20Trimming.pdf

    The result was good, and I was ready for a ride.

    Don't overlook the break-in process of medium speed/firm application of brakes almost to a stop, repeat 20 times. Boring but you only have to do it once.

    These brakes were to replace my 8 week old 2011 Avid Elixir CR's, which would not stop making a loud gurgling sound after I tried every trick listed in this forum and elsewhere on the web. The result with the XT's was pure braking bliss. First 1/4 of ride: nervous that an annoying noise would appear; second 1/4 of ride: dial-in of position and reach; third 1/4 of ride: all smiles because these brakes were quiet, quiet, quiet and, as they were used, got stronger; last 1/4 of ride: quit thinking about how the brakes were working and just rode like hell and enjoyed how my Tallboy was eating up the trail. And when I needed to stop, I had all the power I needed to stop. (Applying full force might just give you a wedgie.) My takeaway was to set them up for one-finger use. IMO you don't need a second finger, but if I was bombing long downhills, I might think about that differently.

    So, sorry if this post is a tad boring, but in this case, boring is good. XT is good, no great. No need to pass the Kool-aid - I'm in the cult!

  21. #21
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    Just thinking of ordering a set of these or SLX series. When mounting these, do you need the "ball/socket" washers that are typical on Avid brakes. Sorry for the terminology relating to the washers but not sure what they're actually called. I'm referring to the washers that allow you to not only slide the caliper side to side but also rotate it to get parallel alignment to the rotor surfaces.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer19 View Post
    Just thinking of ordering a set of these or SLX series. When mounting these, do you need the "ball/socket" washers that are typical on Avid brakes. Sorry for the terminology relating to the washers but not sure what they're actually called. I'm referring to the washers that allow you to not only slide the caliper side to side but also rotate it to get parallel alignment to the rotor surfaces.
    No, that's as good a description as any. The 2012 XT's did not utilize that design. Rather, its just a straight bolt-on, but with enough play for you to align them with no problem. Made me wonder whether Avid's design is really necessary.

  23. #23
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    Member "Axe" [note to self - never piss off a guy named Axe] gave a brilliant suggestion about aligning the brakes on XT's: "Remove pads, center rotor by eye within the caliper, tighten up, put pads back in."

    My calipers lined up fine with the squeeze-and-tighten routine, but if you have trouble, you might give this a try.

  24. #24
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    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I'm about to swap out my Formulas with XTs this weekend, and wanted to know more about mounting brackets. Edley -- since you installed on a Tallboy, I was hoping you could weigh in, here:

    Are you saying you didn't need any brackets at all to install XTs on your Tallboy?

    Thanks!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by firsttraxx View Post
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I'm about to swap out my Formulas with XTs this weekend, and wanted to know more about mounting brackets. Edley -- since you installed on a Tallboy, I was hoping you could weigh in, here:

    Are you saying you didn't need any brackets at all to install XTs on your Tallboy?

    Thanks!
    Certainly no need to be sorry... Thanks for the resurrection! I'm in the same boat. I have a new set of Shimano XT's on the way (be here tomorrow), and I'm planning a complete install on Sunday of the upcoming weekend. It'll be my first complete, brake job. I hadn't seen this particular thread, until now, either. So, I read through it, and it has been quite enlightening. Good luck with your install this weekend, too. :-)

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