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Help me reconfigure my Shimano brakes

June 16, 2021, 12:34 p.m.
Posts: 1992
Joined: April 25, 2003

So, my brakes are in need of some work so I figure I’d take the opportunity to optimize a bit based on what I have on hand.

Calipers are currently ZEE M640 on the back, XT M785 on the front. 200mm rotors, RSD Wildcat, rider who knows what he’s doing but avoids life-altering risk taking (well except for dangercat rock faces)

Levers are XT M785.

Here’s what I’m thinkin’:

Swap calipers front back. New 4-piston caliper will come soonish, $$dependant.

I’ve heard rumors of good things happening when you pair up a non-servo-wave lever with 4-piston calipers so I’m planning on hooking up a set of XTR M-985 levers that are just chillin’ in my bins right now.

I also have a Deore M-596 complete rear brake, a ZEE lever/XTR caliper combo and an XTR caliper kicking around that could go in the mix.

Anyone have experience/knowledge they want to share about my plan?


 Last edited by: tashi on June 16, 2021, 12:34 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
June 16, 2021, 6:36 p.m.
Posts: 130
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

Last time I played this game I was priced out by wanting/needing new hoses and pads to finish the job, ended up selling what I had in the parts bins, and buying a new fresh brake set. 

COVID pricing would help drive me further to that goal. In the old days parts bin stuff was nearly useless.

June 16, 2021, 10:16 p.m.
Posts: 1198
Joined: Nov. 21, 2002

Your plan is rock solid. Zee and xt use the same banjo fitting lines. You probably won't gain much from swapping to the 985 non servo levers, aside from dropping a touch of weight. Going to the xtr caliper in rear instead of xt could offer some performance gains with the mono block caliper.

The only odd duck out is the Deore M596 especially since it uses the olive fittings at both the lever and caliper end, I'd personally just keep that intact as a spare. 

It's great you've got the luxury of compatibility in your spares bin, well worth it.

June 17, 2021, 6:57 a.m.
Posts: 1992
Joined: April 25, 2003

Thanks UFO. 

Turns out one of the XTR levers is leaky so I’ll just stick with the XT’s. XTR caliper is a good call as well, think I’ll do that. 

Cross compatibility is the name of the game for me, sticking to Shimano allows me to keep drivetrains and brakes going for ages.  I can’t stand tossing good stuff unnecessarily  or paying the ever increasing prices for things.

You can pry my XTR 10-speed shifter from my cold, dead hands!

June 17, 2021, 3:58 p.m.
Posts: 137
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: tashi

You can pry my XTR 10-speed shifter from my cold, dead hands!

You'd have to get some time alone with my bike first to remove mine. Same with the 970 on the commuter.

June 19, 2021, 9:56 p.m.
Posts: 1198
Joined: Nov. 21, 2002

Posted by: velocipedestrian

Posted by: tashi

You can pry my XTR 10-speed shifter from my cold, dead hands!

You'd have to get some time alone with my bike first to remove mine. Same with the 970 on the commuter.

I'm trying to hoard this, and moved down to 10 speed xt shifters too now. I was doing not bad until covid hit last year

June 20, 2021, 7:59 p.m.
Posts: 1992
Joined: April 25, 2003

Went with the XT levers, ZEE caliper on the front and XTR on the back and some brand new MTX reds. 

Really really like the pads. They’re everything they say they are. I didn’t know I wanted smooth brakes but damn, they’re smooth!

I figure I’d like more modulation but am pretty adaptable but I REALLY like that aspect of these pads.

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