After we rode these XTR Race Brakes M985 for the first time, we realized that Shimano has got their groove back. If you rode with the old four piston XT brakeset, you'd have fond memories of the perfect lever feel and the power at the disc. This blend of characteristics has been largely missing in Shimano brakes since, until now. These XTR Brakes would seem nearly identical to the 988 XTR Trail Brakes, however a close inspection will reveal that there are indeed a few differences that make these 985 Race Brakes more suitable for serious racing and cross country duty where lightness is of primary concern. The lever blade itself is 13mm, one mm thinner than the Trail levers. It's also dimpled for extra gription. This version foregoes the free stroke adjustment, as it adds some complexity and a few grams to the lever set. However, they do retain a reach adjustment so that you can dial them to fit your hands and preferences, and they're 40 grams lighter than the Trail levers. In comparison with the previous 970 XTR's radial master cylinder design, this 985 XTR master cylinder is far different. For starters, the integrated barrel reservoir sits along and atop the master cylinder which is positioned at a tangent to the bar rather than straight out from it. Sizewise, these levers are much lower profile, but more importantly, the movement of the lever pivot towards the bar creates a more ergonomic design. In essence, the arc of the lever optimizes your natural finger movement and position of strength with the point in the lever travel where your power is transferred through the system to the caliper. The calipers are the same for both the XTR Race and Trail Brakes. They both use a 22mm piston for inspiring stopping power, and Shimano has brought back a banjo fitting for the hose attachment. We're glad because it allows more flexibility with hose routing to keep it safe and looking nice. It should also be noted that these M980 Calipers are lighter than 970, and the polished finish looks great to boot. They come with Shimano's lightest brake pads -- aluminum backed with resin material. If you need extra stopping power, they also make a titanium backed metallic version. These M985 XTR Race Brakes provide 10% more power than the 970 brake system and save 40 grams.The Shimano XTR Race Brakes M985 are available separately as right or left levers with calipers and have hinged, split clamps for easy mounting. They come as pre-bled lever/caliper/hose assemblies and are complete for each end of the bike except for rotors (sold separately). Shimano XTR Brakes will work equally well with XTR Ice Tech Rotors or the more standard XT 6-bolt rotors. Please Note: If you plan to run 180mm or bigger rotors, you may need to also purchase the proper Shimano caliper adapters. Check your frame and fork compatibility to determine your needs.
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