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Which Brakes?

  • Magura M5 (2015)

    Votes: 1 4.5%
  • SRAM Guide (2015)

    Votes: 8 36.4%
  • Boring but proven Shimano Deore/SLX/XT

    Votes: 6 27.3%
  • DH Shimano Zee/Saint (stretch for trail??)

    Votes: 7 31.8%
  • Other... Formula? Hayes? Please Elaborate.

    Votes: 3 13.6%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering upgrading my Elixir's to something with a bit more power and modulation. All my friends bikes have the latest shimano brakes. I've tried them. Impressive power but I don't like the modulation. Plus they are kinda boring if everyone has them.

I'm thinking of SRAM Guide R or Magura M5 brakes for my trail bike.
Maybe Saints or Zees but I heard mixed things about none gravity applications not getting them them to perform in non gravity applications.

My riding weight with pack is probably about 220 + 28lb bike.
  • I don't seem to have problems bleeding my Elixir's so I'm not overly concerned about issues with the factory bleed.
  • Are brakes pads readily available for the New Magura's or will I have to mail order them?
  • I value control over absolute power but looking for a power upgrade.
  • Since they are going on a trail bike weight is a consideration.
  • I might consider regular Shimano XT or SLX brakes if there was fail safe way to make the modulation better. Would bigger rotors help?

Anyone have any thought on the new Maguras besides "just buy shimano"?
 

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I have the guide rsc on my bike and love them. All the power i need and great modulation. I wouldn't hesitate to buy them again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
One question about the guide brakes is: Am I giving up much feel or performance by going with the cheaper Guide R? Chainreaction has a good deal on a f/r set with rotors but only the R (not RS or RSC).

The R doesn't have the swing-link which apparently runs a lower leverage ration early on to quickly get the pads to the rotor before the leverage increases to boost braking power. It's hard to tell if I would miss this or not and all the reviews I can find are for the RS or RSC not the R model.
 

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I have the Guide RSCs and they are great. Had Maguras and thought they were ok. The Shimanos are great, but do not have as good of modulation, plus the Shimano Fanboys die a slow death as the Guides grow in popularity.
 

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Dusting Trails
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I put Zee brakes on my Camber Comp Carbon last month and long steep downhills are now a piece of cake. They feel more like my dirt bike's brakes than a bicycle's brakes - and I got the complete set for under $280. I'm over 200 pounds so I really like having four piston brakes.

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WillWorkForTrail
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I have a set of Guide R's on my Anthem 29er, 180/160. I'm pretty close to your weight, and my bike is 28lbs dead. I had Elixir XO's on it before, and while they worked just fine, this is the bike I take up big hills (like Reddish Knob) so I decided better brakes might make my hands feel better at the bottom of Wolf Ridge. The Guide R's are basically mind blowingly good. Power is way, way better than the XO's and modulation is so good I can't really believe it.
 

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Hope E4, since you want modulation first, they give the most linear & controlled feel of all the brakes I've ever used which includes everything on your list. They also have the best lever adjustments so you really fine tune how they feel. Pads are also widely available everywhere.
 

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Based on modulation alone, between any of the 2 piston Shimanos and the Guides I would have to give the nod to the Guides by a slim margin. By modulation, I'm talking about the more linear lever feel of the Guides so maybe "feel" is the better word to use.

There is one Shimano not talked about much, the Zees. The Zees are identical to the more expensive Saints in performance but they're missing a couple features like tool free reach adjust (it's there but you have to use an allen wrench) and bite point adjust. The bite point adjust hole is there and it's tapped. To make it work, all you have to do is remove the blank screw and install a screw from the XTs but just like the XTs, the bite point adjust does very little.

These brakes have by far the best modulation and feel of the Shimano lineup and they're considerably better than the Guides. The lever feel is much more linear without the slightly aggressive initial bite of their 2 piston brakes. The control is just fantastic, the best I've tried. The feel is similar to the Guides but with better modulation, you can balance these brakes right on the edge of lockup without ever locking a wheel.

The Zees are much more powerful than the other Shimano and Guide brakes. I'm 240lbs without my pack plus 29lbs for the bike and I have all the power I could ever want with 1 finger. These are literally the best of all worlds, great power, great feel, and great modulation. It's hard to imagine you can have this much power plus a great feel and the best modulation of any brake I've run.

In addition to the other features, they're 4 piston so you have a larger trailing edge piston for more even pad wear. A larger pad for longer pad life. I like the pad choices better for these brakes than the 2 piston brakes, their "resin" pads are more like a semi-metallic. You get a pad that's very hard to fade but also works very well when cold, stays consistent throughout a run, and is silent in all conditions. These pads seem like they don't wear. I just did a 16 mile trip losing over 8,000' in the process and I purposely abused these brakes with the resin pads in them and there's no visible wear on the pads or rotors. Unlike some resins, they work well when wet and stay relatively quiet when wet. They're literally the best of all worlds. I was 265lbs geared up for that trip and on the brakes just about the whole way down including some near 40mph hard stops back to back and they were flawless. I like these because I feel like they fit in between the XT's resin and metal pads. I don't believe you can get this compound with the other Shimano brakes.

They offer the metallic pads as well which are just like the metallic offered in the other Shimanos. They make a little scraping noise when applied as all metallics do, they last longer, they have a higher resistance to fade, but they wear the rotors quicker and they will make noise if they're not bedded in well, just like any other metallic pad setup.

Unfortunately due to the "gravity" label, most people overlook these brakes. I would run these on my XC bike if it needed brakes. They are so precise and gentle when needed yet can be brutal on a 40mph hard downhill stop with just one finger. My friends that have used my bike have trouble with the first application because of the unexpected power but they end up loving them after just a minute or so.

They can be found for $178 for the pair including pads which is about half of retail price. Everything I've said about the Zees applies to the Saints too. The cost was one factor in me going with the Zees. The other was the all black look of the Zees which went with my bike really well. The one advantage of the Saints I left out is I think the Saints weight a little less but not positive. Also, many Zees have needed a bleed out of the box. Both of mine did and I bought them at different times and from different vendors. Once bled, they're completely trouble free. I've had mine for almost a year now and I've done nothing to them. Luckily they're very easy to bleed.

I have no problem recommending these brakes to just about everyone from XC to downhill. They just do everything amazingly well. Shimano really should take another look at their marketing. They need to make a "trail" branded version of these brakes. Change nothing except the marketing literature and the packaging and I bet they would sell like crazy.

I forgot to mention, in answer to your question about the rotors, every time I've gone larger, modulation has improved as well as power obviously. If you're pretty happy with the brakes you have, a rotor upgrade might give the changes you're looking for and save some money.
 

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I concur with everything BuickGN said about the Zees. At 170 ish for a pair, they are a no brainer. With my Zees, it was my first time shortening hoses and bleeding hydraulic brakes. It was stupid easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
LOL, what makes a brake "boring?"
I guess it's overwhelming success in the market. I think Shimano makes great parts and their brakes are particularly good right now but I think there are some other good options. Shimano 2 piston brakes are like Toyota Corollas... Great but everyone has one.

I don't see many 4 piston brakes on the trail which makes them kind of interesting to me.

Hope brakes seem a little expensive even on the European sites.

Thanks for long response BuickGN, I like hearing details of people's experience.

I'm surprises that their is only 1 vote for the Magura's, from what I've read they're awesome with the same power as the Zee or Saint but better modulation.

What about running a 4 pot brake up front a 2 piston in the back? Would the feel difference be too great?
 

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What about running a 4 pot brake up front a 2 piston in the back? Would the feel difference be too great?
I believe your mind can easily adapt to it, so it wouldn't be a problem. But for me personally, that would drive me crazy seeing to different types of brakes on my bike, yes it's a vain statement.

I haven't had the best Magura luck, but I had the MT8 on my Epic & it just was not very constant even after numerous bleeds & pad replacements. I replaced them with XTR trail brakes & kept the same rotors & haven't had any issues.

I believe you'll be happy with the Guides or any of the 4 piston designed brakes. On another note, the Zee do look quite a bit different to the other Shimano offering & when I'm out on the trail I hardly ever notice anyone using the Zees.



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I guess it's overwhelming success in the market. I think Shimano makes great parts and their brakes are particularly good right now but I think there are some other good options. Shimano 2 piston brakes are like Toyota Corollas... Great but everyone has one.

I don't see many 4 piston brakes on the trail which makes them kind of interesting to me.

Hope brakes seem a little expensive even on the European sites.

Thanks for long response BuickGN, I like hearing details of people's experience.

I'm surprises that their is only 1 vote for the Magura's, from what I've read they're awesome with the same power as the Zee or Saint but better modulation.

What about running a 4 pot brake up front a 2 piston in the back? Would the feel difference be too great?
Ah, got it. I guess I don't pay much attention to what brakes people run. In fact, the only time I even notice brakes are when someone is running Avids and I can hear them from a mile away.
 

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Workin for the weekend!
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Boring is the best part of the Shimano system. No air bubbles, parts easy to come by, fluid isn't corrosive, pads last a long time, lots of adjustability to suit, consistent squeal & fade free stopping.

More Boring for me!
 

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Boring is the best part of the Shimano system. No air bubbles, parts easy to come by, fluid isn't corrosive, pads last a long time, lots of adjustability to suit, consistent squeal & fade free stopping.

More Boring for me!
That put me to sleep just reading it...

Maybe I should return the XT's I just bought for my SS and go back to my Avid Elixir CRs. NO ONE could sleep with those babies around! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well I got the Magura MT5s. (ordered from hibike.de) I like that they come as a package with adaptors and rotors. They won the Enduro-mtb recent brake test, and they are lighter than XTs, with the power of the Saints (almost).

Crossing my fingers that there won't be any weirdness or the plastic master cylinders won't be an issue.

Modulation should be excellent from every review I've read. Almost went with MT4 but saw the weight difference was minor but the power difference was huge.

Runner up was a toss-up between the Guide RS and Zee (from hibike.de or bike discount) Guides were just a bit too much money all in with rotors, and Zees were notably heavier but the price was right on the bike discount Zee packages.

I also like running parts that are a bit off the beaten path. I post up my thoughts once I get the MT5s.
 
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