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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm buying a new bike with the weak Shimano MT400 brakes. My initial idea was to replace them with the SLX that I use and trust.

But I just read on another thread that Shimano now has the even more affordable MT520, that has four pistons, and seems to be reasonably strong. This should be paired with the M501 lever.

Question 1 is: Does anyone know if the MT520 calipers will be compatible with the MT401 levers that came with the bike?

Question 2 is: Looks like calipers MT520 (4 pistons), SLX M7000 (2 pistons) and XT M8000 (2 pistons) are about the same price on eBay (strange, I know). Any advantage in buying SLX or XT, knowing that I'll also need a new hose with banjo fitting crimped?
 

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So I'm buying a new bike with the weak Shimano MT400 brakes.
Calling them weak before even using them?

Question 1 is: Does anyone know if the MT520 calipers will be compatible with the MT401 levers that came with the bike?
The 4 piston BR-MT420 uses the BL-MT401 lever.

https://bike.shimano.com/en-US/product/component/shimano/BR-MT420.html

The 4 piston brakes use the BH-90 brake hose, the 2 piston brakes use the BH-59 brake hose.

https://productinfo.shimano.com/#/com?cid=C-460&acid=C-186
 

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I have the mt400 on one of my bikes, mt500, m6000 deore and m8000 xt. All 2 piston brakes.

Imo the upgraded lever is a big difference between the mt400 and the other. I'm not sure a simple change of caliper will net you all that much tbh.

From the mt500 up you get a much nicer and adjustable lever. Servowave I believe kicks in at the m7000 slx and up.

I would try and go for the m6000 at least, top entry pads make changing pads super easy and tbh you won't see that big a difference in performance to the xt unless you're really flying downhill. From memory the m6000 up all use the same shape pads (not sure about m9000 I think they are different) so you can get sintered Shimano pads on the deore if you want to. Mt500 and below use the wider pads and only available in resin (unless you shop aftermarket).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for all the comments.

Calling them weak before even using them?
Of course what's weak for you may not be weak for me. Weighing 270 lb and using 203 mm rotors on my current FS, and hearing from people as heavy as me that these brakes are weak, I tend to believe.

The 4 piston BR-MT420 uses the BL-MT401 lever.
Interesting, I didn't know there was an even more basic 4-piston than MT-520. Still according to Shimano, MT-520 is ~11% (not much) more powerful than MT-420. I wonder if M7000 will be more powerful than MT-520.

I would try and go for the m6000 at least, top entry pads make changing pads super easy and tbh you won't see that big a difference in performance to the xt unless you're really flying downhill. From memory the m6000 up all use the same shape pads (not sure about m9000 I think they are different) so you can get sintered Shimano pads on the deore if you want to. Mt500 and below use the wider pads and only available in resin (unless you shop aftermarket).
Good insights, thanks. I guess I'll use the stock brakes until I'm truly convinced they won't cut (but I'll get a 180mm rotor off the bat since it's laying around) and then go straight to M7000 (that has a hackable dead-stroke adjustment).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Calling them weak before even using them?
So I have to admit these MT-400 are actually more powerful than I expected. Helped a lot the fact that I have big hands, so I cam position the levers far from the grips, so my fingers can actually grab the levers at the end, making much more power transmitted to the calipers. Also the levers are longer than SLX, XT, XTR, probably to compensate the low power. So not that bad at all.

Still a little underpowered for my weight with 180f/160r rotors. 203 f/r with adapters on the way! This will also make the wheels interchangeable with my other bike.
 
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