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  1. #1
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    Fancy pants top end XC brakes: Shimano vs Hope vs SRAM

    Ok ok... ignore the absurd price points.

    I have years and years on older XTRs, and have been a big fan of them. Time for something new. The bleeds just arent returning them to 100%, and I haven't been successful resolving some weeping from pistons going into master cylinders. These are for XC race steed, me 150lbs. 160mm rotor max. So I think 4 piston is overkill. I prioritize lightweight, adjustability/serviceability, ease of setup and modulation over massive stopping power.

    Think I'm down to:
    Shimano XTR (either M9000 or new 9100)
    Hope Tech3 X2
    SRAM Level or G2 Ultimate

    I've always been intrigued by Hope, but have never tried anything from them, mostly out of probably unwarranted fears of hard to find pads. Not like any pads are easy to find these days.
    I rolled SRAM for many years way back ago (Juicy Ultimate days) but after switching to XTR I was happy enough to never look back to SRAM, so clueless on their lineup.
    I had a brief stint on Formula but got sick and tired of the pad drag.
    I definitely prefer mineral oil.
    I don't think any of these newer designs rely on a proprietary rotor match due to thickness, pad gap. That would piss me off.

    looking for any and all feedback, experiences thanks.

  2. #2
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    If Hope is still using DOT-5.1 fluid I would try and avoid.

    I really liked my Hope Brakes, well made and functional but the hassle of getting parts and DOT-5.1 made me glad to switch to Shimano XTs.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  3. #3
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    Obligatory DTM post:

    Hayes Dominion T2!
    https://hayesbicycle.com/products/do...34829107232813

    Uses DOT fluid and needs Hayes D-Series rotors*, but if fancy-pants is the main criteria, they have Ti hardware and carbon levers made by Reynolds! I haven't used the T2 myself, but the modulation on my A4s is outstanding. The XTs I had before the Dominions are binary in comparison. The T2 is also cheaper than XTR.

    * - I'll need to double-check my parts bin, but I'm pretty sure I have at least two brand-new 160 mm D-Series rotors that I'm never going to use. If you buy the Dominions they're yours for free. I can also hook you up with a spare Hayes bleed kit I have but don't need.
    Last edited by Dantheman; 01-28-2021 at 10:24 AM.

  4. #4
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    I think sram's bleeding system is the best - easy and clean, but you need a compatible bleed kit.

    Functionally, on an xc bike, there's probably not a huge difference. They're all pretty good. Hope is blingiest.

  5. #5
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    When you say "blingy"...why no Magura? Nuthin more blingy than carbon!
    It makes perfect sense...until you think about it.

    I suspect there's logic behind the madness, but I'm too dumb to see it.

  6. #6
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    I've ridden a majority of major brakes over the last few years.
    I run codes on my light trail bike, because I'm a nerd, and like big brakes, especially in SLC where there are people everywhere. My friend has Level Ultimates on his Ripley, and has been VERY impressed with these brakes.
    I hate the new shimanos that have servowave/etc. The XC version without any of the fancy lever bits are VERY good as well. When Gwin was on Shimano he'd be running Saint Calipers with the XTR XC race levers.
    Hopes are cool, blingy, people like how they work, etc, but they are hard to get parts for and kind of heavy.
    Magura's are BAD ASS but so incredibly finnicky to set up/bleed. Once they are perfect, they are perfect.

    For what you are building and that modulation over ON/OFF is what you are looking for, Level Ultimates are basically set them and forget them.
    "If we can't bring the mountain to the party, let's bring the PARTY to the MOUNTAIN!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by smartyiak View Post
    When you say "blingy"...why no Magura? Nuthin more blingy than carbon!
    Way too much plastic on maguras to count as blingy. Bling = anodized machined metal.

    Trickstuff is also blingy, if you're a good dentist.

  8. #8
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    *also, the realistic answer to this thread is "any brake that you can get your hands on in a semi timely manner."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Trickstuff is also blingy, if you're a good dentist.
    Order them now and they'll be perfect for your next bike in 2023.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAB View Post
    Order them now and they'll be perfect for your next bike in 2023.
    The unobtainable factor increases the bling quotient by 8.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    *also, the realistic answer to this thread is "any brake that you can get your hands on in a semi timely manner."
    The Hayes are in stock, too!


  12. #12
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    lots of great info, responses here thank you! To be clear, I not seeking bling for blings sake, rather super lightweight, high performance brakes that happen to be blingy by being at the top of their product lines.
    I'm a fan of mineral oil vs DOT (I'm a tree hugger). reading your comments and digging some more, seems like everyone is using DOT except Magura and Shimano.

    Magura- I'm not into super finicky setup. My friend said the same about their set. But will dig into their line a bit more, I'm clueless on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    Obligatory DTM post:

    Hayes Dominion T2!
    Uses DOT fluid and needs Hayes D-Series rotors*, but if fancy-pants is the main criteria, they have Ti hardware and carbon levers made by Reynolds! I haven't used the T2 myself, but the modulation on my A4s is outstanding. The XTs I had before the Dominions are binary in comparison. The T2 is also cheaper than XTR.
    * - I'll need to double-check my parts bin, but I'm pretty sure I have at least two brand-new 160 mm D-Series rotors that I'm never going to use. If you buy the Dominions they're yours for free. I can also hook you up with a spare Hayes bleed kit I have but don't need.
    Thank you for the generous offer! I spent an unfortunate number of nights in my garage trying to fix my buddie's mid range Hayes brakes for him. Didn't leave a great impression, but I will check em out thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    *also, the realistic answer to this thread is "any brake that you can get your hands on in a semi timely manner."
    isn't this the truth right now with supply chains the way they are! Certainly no deals to be had, and lucky if any stock.

    For anyone interested, here's a detailed DOT vs Mineral Oil article.

  13. #13
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    Hope brakes were a revelation for me. With the EVO levers and 4 piston calipers they were like 20g per end lighter than the XT 8000 single pistons that they replaced. The power is great, but the modulation is what makes them special. Of course the bling is nice too. Yes, not every shop will have pads, so buy a couple of sets in advance.
    Last edited by climberevan; 02-09-2021 at 09:28 PM.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaka View Post
    Thank you for the generous offer! I spent an unfortunate number of nights in my garage trying to fix my buddie's mid range Hayes brakes for him. Didn't leave a great impression, but I will check em out thanks.
    I can't speak to any of their previous models, but the current Dominion line is top-shelf shit.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phall View Post
    I've ridden a majority of major brakes over the last few years.
    I run codes on my light trail bike, because I'm a nerd, and like big brakes, especially in SLC where there are people everywhere. My friend has Level Ultimates on his Ripley, and has been VERY impressed with these brakes.
    I hate the new shimanos that have servowave/etc. The XC version without any of the fancy lever bits are VERY good as well. When Gwin was on Shimano he'd be running Saint Calipers with the XTR XC race levers.
    Hopes are cool, blingy, people like how they work, etc, but they are hard to get parts for and kind of heavy.
    Magura's are BAD ASS but so incredibly finnicky to set up/bleed. Once they are perfect, they are perfect.

    For what you are building and that modulation over ON/OFF is what you are looking for, Level Ultimates are basically set them and forget them.
    appreciate the detail about servowave, was wondering about that and I'm happy to see that the new equivalent to the previous XTR "race" brakes, the M9100, does not include the on the fly adjustments, keeping it really clean, simple, and light. Will have to give those Ultimates a closer look despite my disdain for DOT fluid.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Way too much plastic on maguras to count as blingy. Bling = anodized machined metal.

    Trickstuff is also blingy, if you're a good dentist.
    I was gonna type "Piccola"...but I figured that was next level BLINGY! (ALL CAPS REQUIRED)!
    It makes perfect sense...until you think about it.

    I suspect there's logic behind the madness, but I'm too dumb to see it.

  17. #17
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    Magura's aren't *that* finicky to bleed, if you understand how bleeding works, and aren't a gorilla. I've run 3 sets of them for 2 years and every time I've managed to bodge a bleed, I've been able to sort it out by following the instructions carefully. I'm far from a real mechanic. 2 sets of Trail Sports that I converted to MT5s (by adding 4 piston rear caliper) and a set of MT7s that I bought used (and got a warranty replacement rear caliper cause the previous owner got a piston stuck). If I can replace rear calipers and get a bleed that works flawlessly for ~3,000 miles, it can't be that hard.

  18. #18
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    I like Shitmano brakes for their ease of bleeding. They also work really well.
    I have a set of Maguras that I really really like, the stopping power and finger feel/modulation are the best I've tried. Ya, they're a little more fiddly to bleed but not actually difficult to do. Although next time I bleed them I'll need to YouTube a refresher because I rarely bleed them. Right now they're on their second set of pads on the last bleed and still performing flawlessly.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    If Hope is still using DOT-5.1 fluid I would try and avoid.

    I really liked my Hope Brakes, well made and functional but the hassle of getting parts and DOT-5.1 made me glad to switch to Shimano XTs.

    DOT-5.1 is available at pretty much any gas station in the US.

    Parts are another matter, Hope produces parts to keep pretty much any product they have ever made running, however the US hope importer is useless, so there is no chance of getting spares from a US shop. On the rare occasions i have needed an obscure part, I've resorted to getting parts shipped to my parents in the UK, and having them forward them to me, but that isn't an option for most people.

    On an XC bike if you are looking at hopes you should look for the EVO or race (they keep changing the branding) lever, not the Tech 3. You lose bite point adjustment, and on the fly reach adjustment (needs a 2 mm hex key on the EVO lever), but save a bunch of weight. Another thing to note is that hope floating rotors are thick (the aluminium bit not the braking surface) and that has a habit of rubbing on the disk mount. Works with some frames / forks and rubs on others. Sometimes you can fix this by filing the mount, however, I have had one combination of fork / hub that just wouldn't work with hope floating rotors.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick_B10 View Post
    DOT-5.1 is available at pretty much any gas station in the US.
    Poor wording on my part. DOT 5.1 is toxic shit. If you get it in your eyes it will blind you or at least seriously fuck up your vision.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Poor wording on my part. DOT 5.1 is toxic shit. If you get it in your eyes it will blind you or at least seriously fuck up your vision.

    If you get brake fluid in your eyes while bleeding your brakes you should probably not be wrenching! Having to wear disposable gloves and glasses when bleeding brakes once every few years isn't really something that I think is worthy of consideration when buying brakes. Note that shimano does not recommend getting mineral oil on your skin or in your eyes, and their recommendation if you do (rinse eyes with water for 15 minutes and then get medical attention) is the same as i see on DOT 5.1 data sheets. So I don't think there is much difference in the level of care to take when working with either product. Both are nasty, fill your brakes with canola oil if you really want a non-toxic brake fluid.

  22. #22
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    Table salt practically has the same MSDS recs. Thereís no comparison of potential danger btw DOT and mineral oil.

    When Iím 20 miles out on a desert ride with only my water bottles and a rock catches my brake cable insert or I blow a piston, thereís no question which fluid Iím going to feel better about leaking all over me and my bike.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick_B10 View Post
    If you get brake fluid in your eyes while bleeding your brakes you should probably not be wrenching! Having to wear disposable gloves and glasses when bleeding brakes once every few years isn't really something that I think is worthy of consideration when buying brakes. Note that shimano does not recommend getting mineral oil on your skin or in your eyes, and their recommendation if you do (rinse eyes with water for 15 minutes and then get medical attention) is the same as i see on DOT 5.1 data sheets. So I don't think there is much difference in the level of care to take when working with either product. Both are nasty, fill your brakes with canola oil if you really want a non-toxic brake fluid.
    Nonsense.
    The recommendation for ocular chemical exposure is always the same, regardless of the nature of the chemical. Sugar water of hydrofluoric acid are treated the same: flush with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention. There's nothing else to do with the eyes other than dilute and hope. But that doesn't mean DOT isn't nastier than mineral oil. Would your eye happily bathe in mineral oil and come out with improved vision? Probably not. But would they come out better than if you squirted DOT fluid in them? Hell yeah.

    That being said your point about getting either fluid in your eyes while bleeding brakes is the only relevant one. Wear glasses or have the shop do it.

    Edit: Falcon3 beat me to it. Labeling on any "chemical" has to do with liability more than anything else and companies are well aware than there's always a moron out there who'll later something on their skin, guzzle it, or use it as contact solution. So, they put a big old YUR GUNNA DIE label on everything.
    "Your wife being mad is temporary, but pow turns do not get unmade" - mallwalker the wise

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boissal View Post
    Nonsense.
    The recommendation for ocular chemical exposure is always the same, regardless of the nature of the chemical. Sugar water of hydrofluoric acid are treated the same: flush with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention. There's nothing else to do with the eyes other than dilute and hope. But that doesn't mean DOT isn't nastier than mineral oil. Would your eye happily bathe in mineral oil and come out with improved vision? Probably not. But would they come out better than if you squirted DOT fluid in them? Hell yeah.

    That being said your point about getting either fluid in your eyes while bleeding brakes is the only relevant one. Wear glasses or have the shop do it.

    Edit: Falcon3 beat me to it. Labeling on any "chemical" has to do with liability more than anything else and companies are well aware than there's always a moron out there who'll later something on their skin, guzzle it, or use it as contact solution. So, they put a big old YUR GUNNA DIE label on everything.
    I'm not going to argue that dot isn't nastier than mineral oil, but the precortions you need to take to work with either safely are the same. Gloves and glasses. As far as eye damage is concerned, the medical consensus seems to be that long term damage from getting dot into your eyes and then rinsing it for 15 minutes is very uncommon, long term damage to skin also doesn't really happen. if you drink dot fluid, and don't get treatment (which is easily available in hospitals), your kidneys and liver will fail and you die, and it supposedly tastes good so kids and animals like to drink it. The last point is probably the only significant difference in risk when handling the two fluids. You want to store your DOT fluid more carefully to avoid kids drinking it.

    If mineral oil was drink a beer while bleeding your brakes safe and dot wasn't then there would be a real practical difference. But the reality is you need to put the beer down while you bleed with either type of fluid so there isn't really a difference.

  25. #25
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    Does Magura still have that .5 N meter soft plastic screw to do the bleed? I had Magura whatever is there top-of-the-line cross country brake, and loved them, except I bought a bag of 10 of those screws because they were impossible not to strip. I ended up switching to XT to get rid of the hassle.


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