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Shimano 4 piston brakes - XT8020 vs 8120 vs Zee/Saint

July 1, 2019, 10:07 a.m.
Posts: 1460
Joined: July 11, 2014

Looking at upgrading my XT8000 brakes on my trail bike for more power. I ran Zee's on my DH bikes and loved them. From my research, the Zee and XT8020 is basically the same, the XT8120 has a new flatter lever and different mount but same caliper. Saint gets the tool free reach adjust (which both XT have). Am I missing any differences? Obviously the 8120 isn't out quite yet, later in July. I like the levers on my 8000's so the 8020 seems the logical choice here.

Prices for one set lever/caliper are $176CAD Zee, $249 Saint, $203 XT8020, $275 XT8120 on Jenson.

July 1, 2019, 10:25 a.m.
Posts: 2048
Joined: April 2, 2005

What’s wrong with Jenson?

https://r2-bike.com/SHIMANO-Deore-XT-Scheibenbremse-4-Kolben-BL-M8100-BR-M8120-Set

Buy in Germany...

July 1, 2019, 11:23 a.m.
Posts: 810
Joined: March 18, 2017

^ “We” aren’t allowed to buy Shimano products from Germany as of June 1st 2019. 

As for why; who knows. 🤷🏼‍♀️

July 1, 2019, 12:39 p.m.
Posts: 544
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

how about the BR-M9120? they were on a demo bike i tried and man, amazing brakes.

July 1, 2019, 2:13 p.m.
Posts: 1460
Joined: July 11, 2014

Posted by: Endur-Bro

^ “We” aren’t allowed to buy Shimano products from Germany as of June 1st 2019. 

As for why; who knows. 🤷🏼‍♀️

This. I paid about $210CAD each for both ends of my XT8000 2-pot and Zee's... 56% more for 8120's in Canada versus zee Germans. No idea how that makes sense assuming Shimano is making margin in Germany.

9120's look great but don't want to spend that kind of coin. Hoping  I can track down some real world reviews of 8020 vs 8120... I like the lever feel on my 8000 so if that's the only diff I'll get the 8020's as cheap as I can find em.

July 1, 2019, 2:31 p.m.
Posts: 407
Joined: Nov. 6, 2006

I’m not familiar with that other site but with Jenson you have them the day after tomorrow with no brokerage or other bullshit.

July 1, 2019, 5:37 p.m.
Posts: 544
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

yeah, threw out the xtr just for kicks. as great as they are a grand on a brake set is steep AF. i have Zee's on both bikes and 200 rotors on front, only way to go IMO. i never regret having big stoppers. i don't find any 'on or off' feel with the Zees, they are powerful but easy to modulate. some things i'll buy from Jenson, brakes i'll only buy from LBS now just in case there's a problem. i want full warranty and shop support with some stuff. i find brakes pretty complicated.

July 1, 2019, 10:36 p.m.
Posts: 835
Joined: June 26, 2012

What about upgrading your calipers to something 4-piston and using your current levers?

July 2, 2019, 5:26 a.m.
Posts: 10
Joined: March 14, 2017

FWIW, I'm very happy with my XT8020 4-Pots.  Power and modulation are very good. 200/180mm rotors and I think you'll have all the power you would need.

July 2, 2019, 7:35 a.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Feb. 9, 2019

Posted by: D_C_

What about upgrading your calipers to something 4-piston and using your current levers?

In Germany, a somewhat popular setup are Shimano Levers + Olive combined with Magura inserts/hoses/calipers. MT5 calipers are pretty cheap too. That's super hacky though.

July 2, 2019, 11:23 a.m.
Posts: 935
Joined: Nov. 8, 2003

Posted by: twk

Posted by: D_C_

What about upgrading your calipers to something 4-piston and using your current levers?

In Germany, a somewhat popular setup are Shimano Levers + Olive combined with Magura inserts/hoses/calipers. MT5 calipers are pretty cheap too. That's super hacky though.

This is intriguing. Hacky how?

July 2, 2019, 11:47 a.m.
Posts: 810
Joined: March 18, 2017

I have current gen Saint on DH bike and G16. XTR Trails on hardtail. Going forward I’ll be shopping a different brake brand. Almost went Hope V3 on the G16. 

Shimano out of Germany was so cheap, brakes were almost disposable. 

The only reason to stay Shimano is their easy bleeding.

July 2, 2019, 1:16 p.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Feb. 9, 2019

This is intriguing. Hacky how?

Well, here's the resources I plan on using when I get in a wrenching mood (my SLX's bitepoint wanders around more than I'd like):

Here's a spreadsheet listing dimensions and other parameters that might be useful:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sjPSmOYbhjDBFxcvXVw1ufKfowEBu1AKh8sB6T8e24Y/edit#gid=0

Here's an english-language thread:

https://ridemonkey.bikemag.com/threads/frankenbrakes-and-brake-improvement-discussion.274164/

And another one in german (maybe Google translate will help):

https://www.mtb-news.de/forum/t/magura-mt7-mit-shimano-xtr-trail-hebeln.751103

Essentially, you're on your own since neither manufacturer will support such a setup (or even spread FUD about the other's brake fluid), and there's no guarantee the parts will match properly, so there's some trial and error involved. Most people get it to work nicely though, judging from the threads above.

Guess I'll open a thread once I get around to trying it out myself.


 Last edited by: twk on July 2, 2019, 1:18 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
July 2, 2019, 4:25 p.m.
Posts: 1460
Joined: July 11, 2014

Posted by: D_C_

What about upgrading your calipers to something 4-piston and using your current levers?

I was thinking about this after realizing there is only one brake lever (8000 and 8100) and just the caliper differs. Unfortunately, I can only find the 8020 calipers in a few places and the pricing isn't great, barely cheaper than a full set of 8020's on sale... and I figure it will be easier to sell my 8000 2-pots as a full assembly.

Anyone care to post the Livetoplay shop cost on a set of 2x 8020 calipers?

Probably just get the 8020's on sale. Zee's are a bit cheaper but I actually use the toolless reach adjust to deal with bite point/pad wear/elevation issues from time to time.


 Last edited by: grambo on July 2, 2019, 4:26 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
July 2, 2019, 8:46 p.m.
Posts: 223
Joined: May 11, 2018

I know it's not shimano but I am super happy with my magura MT trail sports. Can't beat them for $250 a set and the levers are so nice it feels like it is having sex with your fingers.

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