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Do brake calipers (eg: Shimano XT) have an indefinite lifetime, or is there some period beyond which I should start to worry about their longevity?

(I had an Ultegra one fail almost immediately, but was replaced under warranty (with an almost identical XT caliper -- I was in a hurry) and has been fine for 5 years. Since it has pistons and seals and moving parts, I am guessing they won't last forever, but I have no evidence that any problems are emerging.)
 

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Magically Delicious
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I have never 'replaced' a caliper. I have several Shimano's that have over 10K miles on them. Given the difficulty of finding replacement seals, it's often your only choose to replace the caliper. I have never experienced a seal failure though. From personal observation, I have seen several folks overextend the brake pistons (wheel removed) and create a self-inflicted leak.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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ride 'em till they're done, whenever that happens to be. Only brakes that's happened to me on were some 2002 Magura Julies. Replaced them sometime around 2013 or so because they had sticky pistons I just couldn't revive anymore.
 

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Rollin 29s
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The only calipers I've ever replaced were a set of RockShox mechanical to hydraulic disc brake calipers (anyone remember those?). I bought the first generation Shimano XT calipers, and rode them for 10 or 11 years and they still worked flawlessly.



The Rockshox discs were known to be the worst disc braking system ever developed. Take a cantelever brake and remove one pad, and that's about what you got with the RockShox. The company decided to stick with suspension components after that failure.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I retired a hayes stroker last year, as it just didnt have the power it used to. It was a 2007 model.

My slx brakes are 2012 models, and still going like the day I got them. I suppose if they failed tomorrow, they're so cheap that total replacement feels like a reasonable option compared to rebuilding. You might spend more on pads in one year than a caliper costs.
 

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Do brake calipers (eg: Shimano XT) have an indefinite lifetime, or is there some period beyond which I should start to worry about their longevity?
I've never replaced a caliper nor had one fail prematurely. I've replaced sets on occasion, when something newer and cooler hits the streets.

You mentioned XT's, which seem to tolerate a LOT of neglect and keep running and running.
 

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In general, brakes are pretty low mntc for me...replace pads, sometimes a rotor, occasional bleed. I can't remember having a caliper failure. I've had Hayes, Avid, SRAM, Shimano over the years. A few years ago when I still rode my Heckler I got tired of dealing with Avids and upgraded to XT's but that was not due to failure.
 

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I've popped a master cylinder and worn out lever bushings, but never worn out a caliper. I have hydro brakes that have been in weekly service since like 2002; i think they last forever.
 

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The only time I've replaced a caliper was because they were something I didn't like that came on a new bike (swapped out for XT's). I'm exclusively on XT's.
 

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SS Pusher Man
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I’ve found that on Shimano’s, the lever goes bad well before the calipers. I’ve yet to replace either. Shimano has made it clear that their brakes are disposable.
 

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No known cure
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I have a set of 2006 Magura Louise Free rides. I've never experienced a failure but replaced an IS caliper to post mount when that became the standard for forks ten plus years ago.
 
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