The brakes retain the Servo Wave technology, which is essentially a lever design
that brings on power in a controlled way,
preventing the dreaded on/off feel many
other brakes have. On the trail the power
is consistent but almost never maxed out,
especially with the correct rotor size for the
riding you’re doing. Our first couple sets of
these brakes would develop an inconsistent
feel on long descents when we put the
most heat into the system; however, the
last several sets we’ve tested haven’t had
any issues. Shimano attributes it to several running changes in both material and
design, ones that are so minor even we
couldn’t see the differences. The changes
seem to have worked, though, and brought
these new-generation brakes to the level
where they should be.
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED?
—The shifter and brake mounts don’t
mesh very well with some of the dropper
posts on the market. While we understand
that Shimano didn’t design the system in
tandem with any of these post-makers, a
little more ergonomic way to mount a dropper remote would be awesome.
—The XT group is not the lightest for
the price; however, we’re talking grams
here, not pounds. For most riders the
minuscule weight difference will be more
than made up for with reliability. If you want
to pinch grams, plan on having a lighter
wallet and going with XTR.
—The mirror finish on the crankset
wears pretty quickly if your shoes rub it
much. Plan to invest in crank protector
stickers if you want to keep the finish shiny.
—If Shimano’s Centerlock rotor system
came before the six-bolt standard, we’d
probably all be using it. But if your bike
comes with Centerlock and you want to
upgrade the wheels, you’ll likely be buying
new rotors too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A complete groupset is probably not
an “upgrade” most people will make, but
that’s okay. Many companies mix and
match components from different brands.
Just because your bike comes stock with
Shimano brakes doesn’t mean it can’t
be spec’d with a drivetrain from another
source. Nevertheless, by building a bike
from head to toe with this stuff, we learned
that the complete XT package works
flawlessly when it’s allowed to work as a
group. Whichever part of the XT package
you’re using, you can rest assured that the
“components of adventure” work, and this
new generation of the “deer head” group
will continue the legacy of the original trail