One of the more powerful brakes and also good value
All the action with the Shimano XT M8020 disc brake is at the caliper; four ceramic pistons which Shimano claims a boost in power and heat dissipation.
It’s norm to have to buy rotors and adapters on top of the base price but with Shimano the rotors are all different prices – £49.99 for a 203mm rotor, £41.99 for a 180mm and £36.99 for a 160mm. There are also two types– six-bolt and Centerlock – and depending on exactly what you need, adapters are £9.99 to £11.99. There are also two XT brakes – our test brake the M8020, which is the new four-piston design, and the older two-pot version called the Shimano XT M8000 disc brake. What this means is we can’t give you a definitive price for the XT.
Shimano hasn’t done anything new to the M8020 lever, it’s still gets the pop-up clamp, tool-free reach adjustment and Free Stroke, adjusted via a little cross-head screw. The four ceramic pistons that, like the Code are also different sizes so they toe-in slightly, making the brake less grabby. Shimano claims a 20% boost in power and better heat dissipation, which is why it’s now approving the M8020 for e-bike use.
We noticed this difference instantly, the four-pot just seems to have more in reserve. It’s still really well modulation but the power really builds as you get deeper into the lever travel. Also that inconsistent lever feel that plagued recent Shimano brakes, seems to have been eliminated, although we do have another set of XT four-pots on test and they haven’t been quite as reliable. We reckon the jury is still out on this one.
What we do know is M8020 is definitely one of the more powerful brakes here and, despite the complicated pricing, is also good value. For a four-piston brake with this lever of performance that easily puts in our top tier.