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Wanting to upgrade the Elixirs on my park basher DH bike. They do work ok but take a lot of attention and maintenance. I'm tired of it.

So I used Guide R's on the Trek Session 8 rental bikes at Trestle... twice... and they worked great and modulated well and never failed in two full days.

My personal bike, a Diamondback DB8, came with Zee componentry but the Elixir brakes. I was thinking that it might go well to just put Zee brakes on as well. But Shimanos have a reputation for poor modulation, acting like ON/OFF switches. The XT's on my enduro bike are like that. But compared to the Elixirs, they are reliable as the day is long.

The Zee's and the Guide R's are similar priced.

So since price is about the same, I'm interested in modulation and reliability, Guide R's versus Zee's.

What do you guys think?

-Peter
 

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Zee’s everyday.

Had guides and Saints. Guides lasted 2 runs in the alps before fading out. If it’s for a DH rug Codes would be more appropriate if you really don’t want Zees.

Guides are marketed as a heavy duty (ish) brake.
 

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For reliability, Zee.

If you're considering Guide, you may want to look at the results from this search
site:forums.mtbr.com guide master cylinder
SRAM have been saying for 3+years that they've fixed the issue.
 

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IMO, Guides aren't really in the same category as the Zee. And between them, I'd go with the Zees every time.

In my mind, Guides are 4 piston brakes meant for trail/entry level "endure" riding. Zee's are the budget version of the Saints, which is a well known/stellar DH brake.

For reference Guides have 2x14mm, and 2x16mm pistons. Saints/Zees have 2x15mm, and 2x17mm pistons. and Codes have 2x15mm, and 2x16mm pistons, so they're more similar to the Saints/Zees than the Guides are.

I think the new Shimano SLX/XT brakes (the 4 piston ones) have the same caliper as the Saint/Zee, so they are another option to consider. On the cheaper end of the spectrum from Shimano, is the Shimano MT520.

If you're worried about modulation, and would prefer mineral oil, then maybe look at the TRP Quadiem (4x16mm pistons) as well. They have a ton of modulation (no swinglink/servo in the master cylinder), and are very reliable.

Good luck on the search :).
 

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MTB brakes specialist
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All 4-pot Shimanos actually have 2x16 + 2x18 mm pistons and not 2x15 + 2x17.
 

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I think the Guides feel much better than Saints and its not even close. But they are a pain in the ass about setting the 4 pistons evenly and if I were to buy SRAM brakes again I would 100% get the RSC models since the RS's seem to randomly decide how close the pistons get to the rotor. When I pump the brakes after a bleed I can only ever get one piston to move, thats easy enough to fix on a 2 piston brake but with 4 its a nightmare, the pistons have to be even on each side or the pads go crooked and cause rubbing and other weird noises. Saint's get this problem too but my Saints were almost perfectly in sync and never gave me issues after a bleed.

I cant speak for long downhills yet to see if they fade but I immediately noticed more usable power with less force, especially at the "mid stroke". The braking is very smooth which gives me less arm pump while Shimanos are jolty and feel nervous which gives me more arm pump. I thought Shimanos had fine modulation and I blamed myself for the jolty braking until I used Guides.

Its a hard choice since Shimano's setup procedure is so easy and mostly frustration free while eliminating rotor rub on Guides after a bleed is a nightmare, but once you get the Guides working they feel so much better.
 

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eliminating rotor rub on Guides after a bleed is a nightmare

Zee for sure.

I get that people describe Shimano brakes as being on and off, but I don't think that that's quite correct. The modulation window was very small on my 2 piston XT brakes, but it's there. My brain got used to it, no problem controlling the brakes/bike on slow speed, scary steep sections (such as the really techy stuff at the end of Hiline in Sedona).

No locking up, able to control the bike, maintain traction.

I have 4 piston XT brakes now, and they have all kinds of modulation and power.

I don't have experience with the Zees, but i try to eliminate any kind of nightmare situation when it comes to my bike.
 

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Thanks for the clarification Groove_C. Surprisingly, piston sizes aren't super easy to find... and I saw a number of different numbers for both the guides, and the shimano brakes.

I haven't ridden tons of different brakes, especially not compared to some.

I've put some time in on Guide T's, Guide R's, Guide RSC's, Level T's, and what I believe was 2 piston XT (old model), as well as my personal Quadiems.

I can say that the Shimanos are definitely more "on/off" than the other brakes I've ridden. I'm sure if I had them on my personal bike, I'd get used to them, and it wouldn't be a problem.

The OP mentions he has XT on his other bike, and feels they are a bit "on off" for him. If I were the OP, felt that modulation was important enough to seek out, and was open to looking at other brakes than just the Zee/Guide I'd be looking at Codes/Quadiem/Magura/Formula set of brakes.

If the question is ONLY between the Guide, and the Zee, then I'd go for the Zees personally (likely more reliable).

Good luck :).
 

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The on/off feeling on Shimanos is rather the combination of 2-pot + ServoWave.
4-pot have way more modulation and all the power is towards the end of the stroke, if needed.
On my 2-pot XTs (BR-M785 & BR-M8000) it was on/off feeling all the way. Not the case on my 4-pot Saints and now 4-pot XTR.
 

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So I used Guide R's on the Trek Session 8 rental bikes at Trestle... twice... and they worked great and modulated well and never failed in two full days.
Anyone else think it's funny that Sram has set the bar so low that people are impressed when they "didn't fail" for 2 whole days in a row? That's funny.

And yeah, Zee's FTW.
 

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MTB brakes specialist
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Code only if RSC, because of expanding pistons.
But the price...
I would buy Zee/SLX 4-pot.
 

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Zee for sure.

I get that people describe Shimano brakes as being on and off, but I don't think that that's quite correct. The modulation window was very small on my 2 piston XT brakes, but it's there. My brain got used to it, no problem controlling the brakes/bike on slow speed, scary steep sections (such as the really techy stuff at the end of Hiline in Sedona).

No locking up, able to control the bike, maintain traction.

I have 4 piston XT brakes now, and they have all kinds of modulation and power.

I don't have experience with the Zees, but i try to eliminate any kind of nightmare situation when it comes to my bike.
Thats what I thought until I got Guides. Shimano brake modulation is good enough, its just nowhere near as smooth as SRAM.
 

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MTB brakes specialist
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Thats what I thought until I got Guides. Shimano brake modulation is good enough, its just nowhere near as smooth as SRAM.
Which brakes were mounted before Guides?
Most certainly 2-pot Shimanos.

I'm almost sure you haven't even owned 4-pot Shimanos, but still affirm that you prefer Guides.
Otherwise you wouldn't say this.
It's normal for literally any 4-pot to have better modulation than 2-pot (regardless of the manufacturer).

If it's so difficult to control yourself from applying to much force when braking (4-pot), then buying less powerful brakes (4-pot) can't "solve" this, so can still apply same amount of force, but obviously, with lesser effect. Yes, indeed.

I prefer less fatigue at the end of the ride and don't see any problems controlling perfectly my 4-pot Shimanos. Even with a 203 mm rear rotor.
 

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I've been surprised how much i prefer my new 4 pot XT brakes to my zees.
 

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To me, going from Saints sintered to XTR 4-pot sintered is +- same.
Just nicer look and subjectively lighter and even easier to bleed.
 
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