Shimano XT 2012 Brakes – Long term test

Shimano XT 2012 Brakes – Long term test


We tested this Shimano XT 2012 brake set on a santa cruz blur lt2 – frame 2012. Front rotor is 180mn diameter and rear rotor is 160mn diameter. We ride differents types of trails – with an global profile considered as “all mountain”. Ridden in dry & wet conditions till the fall period with muddy grounds.

rear caliper shimano XT 2012


Brake levers are very short, designed for a one finger use. They also integrates a easy-to-use reach adjust screw (lever effect is short and direct or not). The screw can be set with gloves without any problems. There is also a small screw called “free stroke” that is dedicated to adjust the spacing of the pads.

brake lever mountain bike shimano XT

Calipers are more classical (two pieces of forged aluminium) but integrates the small radiators  that accelerate the refreshing of the pads. Rotors use Ice Tec concept such as the XTR’s. Ice Technologies helps the rotor to dissipate heat and offers direct benefits on the overall quality of braking.

shimano XT 2012_front caliper rotor 180


When you see the box, you already know that you have premium brakes in front of you.
When you open the box of shimano XT brakes, the magic continues. And no more doubts when you check inside the box, Shimano XT 2012 is the little brother of XTR. Furthermore, the “chrome” aspect on the brake fluid tank brings a premium design even if it will not please every one. Floating rotors are sobers, calipers look serious.

brake lever shimano xt 2012


Braking performance is difficult to describe since it’s the kind of brakes that work well all the time, in every type of grounds and in every weather conditions. At the beginning, you can think that the brakes have a lake of power but it’s a mistake. This feeling is due to the very smooth feeling you have when you action the brake lever. Everything is really soft, you can assume a constant pressure on the levers without forcing.
We love the one finger lever design and we prefer a setting with a short reach. It does not mean that you risk an OTB contrary to some others brakes that offers a powerful but less progressive braking.

front caliper shimano xt

One small default : it’s difficult to know if the free stroke works well or not since it’s difficult to see a real effect on the space between the pads.


Without scientific measures, we can not say that all the technology included in the XT brake set is super-wonderful.. or not.
It’s not so important for us.
But what we can tell you for sure is that Shimano XT 2012 are efficient, trustworthy,and rather economic in pads.
They are not the cheapest brakes you can find… but they are serious without being boring… it is not so usual.

So, it’s a big YES for us !

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There are 3 comments

  • mickeymode says:

    faut remetre le capuchon de la vis de purge ;-)

    Surement de bon freins mais je ne me fait pas au design

  • Damien says:

    Oui les XT sont vraiment de bons freins perso j’ai les 2011 (ancien modèle donc) et c’est vrai qu’au début on se demande s’ils ne manquent pas de puissance, mais j’ai eu l’occasion de tester des Avid (x0 pourtant) et j’aime pas du tout le freinage “tu touches, tu voles” je préfère doser avec mes XT :P
    et en plus ils sont beaauuuuu!!

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