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  1. #1
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    New question here. What brakes for the Chilcotin in 2014?

    There have been a few discussion how brakes suitable for the Chili:
    What brakes will best fit my riding style ?
    Best brakes for chilcotin?

    But it's now two years later and I think it time to revisit this topic.

    I am ~170lb and coming from Magura MT8 brakes (and 203/180mm rotors) that were light, but mostly lack in precision (and somewhat power) when 1-finger braking. I am looking for something that will span the range from trail riding to some downhill, with a lot of enduro thrown in-between. Brake reliability and ease of maintenance are important parameters for me. Bonus points for brakes that tick these boxes without being overweight.

    I have heard good things about the Shimano XTR Trail (M988) brakes. They have 2 pistons, have reach and bite adjustment. They are supposed to be very easy to bleed as well. Power and modulation is said to be very good.

    Their big brother is the Shimano Saint. They also have reach and bite adjustement. With 4 pistons, these brakes are more downhill oriented and might be too much brake. In some places, people complain that the modulation is not that good, with an "on/off" feel.

    The Shimano Zee is the cheaper version of the Saint, and while they look nice, they have no bite adjustement... Can I look past this flaw, I wonder?

    Finally, the Hope Tech 3 E4 (enduro!) brakes have caught my eyes: 4 pistons, reach and bite adjust, easy bleeding. They appear to have great power and modulation too. But being so new, there aren't too many reviews or user feedback. I should mention that there is an option to get them with braided tubing; I do not quite know whether this is useful in practice.

    Thoughts for 2014?


    PS/ Would I be better off staying with 203/180mm rotors, or are some of the alternatives mentionned above good enough to warrant going down to 180/160mm?

  2. #2
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    I got saint on the chilcotin 203/180. The best! 1 finger braking for as long as you want. I find modulation not an issue at all Love em!

  3. #3
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    IMO, Hope. XT Trail on the Chili are pretty meh in comparison.

  4. #4
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    I have XTR Trails and love them, very powerful stoppers. I also have a set of XTs on the DH bike. Functionally they are exactly the same. Only real difference is the XTR lever is more low profile (which I prefer), and the XTR levers and calipers are both one solid piece. XT calipers for instance are two halves bolted together.

    I had two sets of Saints, which Shimano warrantied for the XTR Trails. When they worked, the Saints were fantastic. But both sets of my Saints constantly acted up and the bite point would change at random. Either they had a hair trigger and would lock up at the smallest touch, or they'd come all the way to the bar before they worked. Unnerving as hell coming into a corner hot and not knowing how much brake to grab. And they were properly bled, so it wasn't that. This isn't an isolated incident either, there's a 9 page thread on ridemonkey.com about this. No one has really isolated why the Saints do this. Some say it's the Shimano servo wave lever mated with 4 piston calipers. Jared Graves runs non-servo wave XTR Race levers with Saint calipers, if that means anything. And for the record, my XT and XTR Trails do not do this, rock solid.

    I've heard people have had good luck with Zee's and don't have the same issues as the Saints. Still have the reach adustment like the Saints, but instead of a knob it's a done by an allen. And both the Saints and Zee's have that bite adjustment, Shimano calls it "free stroke," but it doesn't seem to do anything at all.

    Hopes are very nice brakes, machining is top notch. Downside they are pricey, and use DOT fluid, which is nasty if you aren't careful. The braided hose is supposed to give a more firm lever feel since the hose can't expand under pressure. (EDIT: Hope also has awesome customer service BTW.)

    Both the Shimano and Hopes are super easy to bleed, FWIW.

    Hope this helps some, I'm sure others will chip in.
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  5. #5
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    I rode a set Hope M4's for ~ 6 years. I thought I try the new XTR trail brakes for something different ( and possibly lose some weight).

    On the weight, I didn't do much research as I "thought" the XTR's would be way lighter being 2 pistons instead of 4. Turns out they weigh within 3 grams of each other. I had some issues with the front brake line leaking at the banjo fitting. I got it replaced no problem, but it ruined the pads. The replacements they sent me were the standard pads as opposed to the trail pads. So I went to bleed the brakes but despite Austin having tons of bike shops. no one had or would sell me any Shimano brake fluid. Even price point was out of stock. This was a downer it that I do all my own work on my bikes. I ended up using mineral oil used on cutting boards etc. which has worked fine for the last year. So it was a love hate relationship at first. After I got everything working I would say the XTR's are very good brakes.

    My .02 on comparing 04' Hope M4's with 13' XTR's.

    What ever pad compound Shimano uses, works incredibly well when wet. The Hope squeal and lose power when wet. Not that it's much of an issue in Texas.

    Hopes are way easier to bleed and I can get DOT fluid anywhere. No special fitting's/adapters required to bleed the brakes. The shimano's came with 3 of the four parts needed to bleed the brakes (no reservoir cup included) according to their complicated bleeding procedure. I tossed the instructions in the trash and used my own method which worked out fine.

    XTR pads are expensive ($35.00 compared to Hope $17).

    Hopes ooze quality with their single piece 3d machined parts, where as the shimano look more "mass produced", not that this has anything to do with functionality.

    The Hope lever feel seems more consistent at all times. Doesn't matter if the bike has been upside down,crashed etc.

    I think Hopes (at least my 04's) have the edge on modulation and the XTR's get the nod on power.

    Reliability.. I've only had the XTRs for a year, so can't say much on those, but I can attest to the absolute drop dead reliability of the Hopes. After a zillion miles despite the lever bushings being floppy worn out, they are still going strong on my sons bike.

    Bottom line.. I'm happy with the XTR's as trail brakes, but would like to try the latest offerings from Hope.

  6. #6
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    Disc brakes work great on chilco....

    IMO, no brakes are too much. Can have some not enough!

  7. #7
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    XTs on both the podium (200mm rotors f&r) and chili (180mm rotors f&r), couldn't be happier. However, im not sure the rotors will last quite as long as other aftermarket rotors (e.g. hope) and they are not so cheap to replace. But they are very good in both the wet and dry, and are silent which is a big plus for me coming from formulas...
    2013 Knolly Endorphin | 2013 Knolly Chilcotin | 2014 Knolly Podium.
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  8. #8
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    For those with XT trail brakes, do your brakes squeal in the corners?

    According to a few bike mechanics, the "trail" pads with cooling fins are heavier, which causes the pads to flop over in hard cornering producing the turkey gobble. SO. ANNOYING.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by B Gillespie View Post
    For those with XT trail brakes, do your brakes squeal in the corners?

    According to a few bike mechanics, the "trail" pads with cooling fins are heavier, which causes the pads to flop over in hard cornering producing the turkey gobble. SO. ANNOYING.
    Can't say mine are, or they 4 or 5 guys I ride with who use XT's either. I've heard the XT/XTR pads can make a clicking noise when you rock the bike back and forth (like when checking for a loose headset), but I've not heard about what you mentioned.
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  10. #10
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    That's a wealth of information. Thanks guys! I am leaning towards the Hope E4, followed by the Shimano XTR trail.

    I am debating which levers would be more appropriate: Tech 3 or Race Evo (lighter but no bite adjustement). I am not very favorable to manual adjustements. Lever adjustement is pretty much set and forget and I am happy to grab a screwdrivers for the few times that it will be required. Hopefully, bite adjustement actually has tangible effects on Hope brakes (not like what rscecil007 reported on the Shimano Zee & Saint). Then, braided or not braided?

  11. #11
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    currently running XT's with the ice tech rotors and finned brake pads. going on it's second season with absolutely zero issues and are completely squeal free from long and heavy braking.

    you may want to consider the new sram guide brakes. i was able to test ride a set (rsc version) and was thoroughly impressed with the modulation! they're a pair you want to squeeze all day! dare i saw better than the xtr's?!

    a sure bet, stick with shimano xtr or xt. you know what you're getting and they're great!

    i do believe sram has something special with the new guide brakes. long term testing will only tell. they're gonna have to work hard to win over people after making so many awful elixir brakes.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by F-Bomb View Post
    But it's now two years later and I think it time to revisit this topic.

    I am ~170lb and coming from Magura MT8 brakes (and 203/180mm rotors)
    Hmmm...I've got my MT6s feeling as good as ever after a fresh bleed. I know the straight power from these isn't going to be like a saint, but the modulation and control with 1 finger for me is top notch. If I were running DH trails, I miiiiight look somewhere else, but for AM riding I'm stoked on these still.

  13. #13
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    Wowsa. I just checked some pricing on some Hope E4's with rotors, mounts, braided lines. $525. DAAAYYYYUUMMM.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by F-Bomb View Post
    I am debating which levers would be more appropriate: Tech 3 or Race Evo (lighter but no bite adjustement). I am not very favorable to manual adjustements. Lever adjustement is pretty much set and forget and I am happy to grab a screwdrivers for the few times that it will be required. Hopefully, bite adjustement actually has tangible effects on Hope brakes (not like what rscecil007 reported on the Shimano Zee & Saint). Then, braided or not braided?
    I had Hope M4s a while back and the adjustments on the Hope levers worked brilliantly, you could really dial in distance from grip / bite point. Modulation was great too. I like braided on the rear if the longer length of cable swells 'along its length' when pulling making a spongier back brake lever pull compare to front, braided can equalise this, but it depends on the quality of the rear hose, with a good quality standard hose these days the difference between standard and braided often becomes negligible.

    I liked the Hope M4's a lot but I was always warping the standard rotors in the wet and they screamed like hell too.
    2013 Knolly Endorphin | 2013 Knolly Chilcotin | 2014 Knolly Podium.
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  15. #15
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    I also had Hope M4 on my Chilcotin with 203/183mm rotors, and I liked them for being built a bit more burly/moto, easy to adjust and bleed.
    However I have always been Formula guy, so I upgraded to Formula RO and dropped the rotor size to 180/160mm. So far they are really worth it! Great power and modulation, although I did change the stock pads to some sintered ones, much better as well!
    Compared to the Hope M4's (Non Evo) I had, I feel they have same amount power even with the smaller rotors, but also a bit more modulation and feeling in general.
    Only thing to complain about is bleeding Formula brakes, not as easy as on Hope But who cares, they look cool and weigh less!

  16. #16
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    Well, I use Formula Megas on my Chilcotin. I became a big Formula fan years ago (have on most my bikes). They are expensive (usually), but you can find sales, ebay, etc. for good deals. Not as low as XT/SLX/Zee of course, but much lower than MSRP. All of them have been no fuss, easy to set up, and mostly quiet. I generally do not use the Formula rotors though. That setup requires a very precise setup to get quiet because (I think) those rotors are so thin. I use mostly Magura rotors.

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