Shimano is a very trusted brand in the biking community that makes a wide array of bicycle parts. Indeed, Shimano products constitute around 70-80% of the global bicycle component market—which is an incredibly large share.
I’ve used many Shimano products, and in my experience, they are generally good and reliable. But as with everything else, the lower one goes down the price range, the more issues one tends to encounter. The same can be said about many of Shimano’s road bike brakes that are available on the market today. On the higher end of the price spectrum, one can really expect top-of-the-line performance, while the lower end will typically consist of the cheaper, non-series groupsets whose quality and performance will be more or less proportional to what you paid for.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown on which Shimano road bike brakes will be great as an upgrade. There are many on the market today, but these are the ones that have caught our attention, and we think it will give you a good balance of quality, performance, and price.
Shimano Deore M6000 Disc Brake
You don’t have to spend more than a hundred bucks to get an excellent hydraulic disc brake for your bike. Indeed, the Shimano Deore M6000 disc brake has been the brake of choice for many on our team, not least because of its reliability, ease of use, and power—which have all been put into a ridiculously affordable package.
Although the rotor and adapter have to be purchased separately (as with most disc brakes), the Shimano Deore is still a steal if you ask us, because you’re getting premium performance for a budget-friendly price.
Inconsistent lever travel was reported to have plagued some of Shimano’s older models, but they seem to have sorted out the issue, since we no longer notice the problem on their newer models, especially with the Shimano Deore, which we felt was very consistent.
We’ve also been hearing that the resin pads Shimano uses for the Deore make this weird noise during wet conditions, but we’ve used them on conditions running the gamut and haven’t noticed any noise.
All in all, the Shimano Deore M6000 is a fantastic disc brake to upgrade into. It is powerful, it has great modulation, and it doesn’t break the bank.
This is a Shimano non-series brake component. So while you can’t expect it to have the same fit and finish as the Ultegra or Dura-Ace, you can expect it to provide the same performance at a more budget-friendly price. Of course, that depends on who you’re asking since our personal opinion is that while they provide great value, they are definitely not cheap.
Indeed, the braking is incredibly consistent, even after registering thousands of miles. There is a noticeable weight difference when compared to Shimano’s Ultegra group; the BR-R785 is heavier, but we think the difference in price more than offsets this.
In use, the brakes performed really well—some would say, excellently—and the modulation shows significant improvement compared to mechanical rim brakes. We’ve also noticed fantastic consistency on long descents. Shimano claims its “ice technology” reduces heat build-up in the rotor and pads, maintaining braking performance—this is, of course, especially welcome during long descents. Well, we can report that, at least from our experience, this claim from Shimano seems to be true.
All-in-all, this can be a fantastic upgrade for your bike. I mean, consider for a moment how legendary Shimano’s Ultegra brake components are, and then consider that the Shimano BR-R785, despite having a slight weight disadvantage, matches it in performance at a more budget-friendly package.
Really, it’s a no-brainer, if you ask us.
The Shimano BR-RS805 calipers (with its set of rotors and shifters) are a fantastic option for those who want to make the switch, so to speak, to a disc system.
Cable-pull system users need only one ride on the Shimano Ultegra ST-RS685 Hydraulic Disc Brake system (which includes the aforementioned BR-RS805 calipers and the Ultegra ST-RS685 dual levers) to be fully converted to hydraulic stopping power. The set provides impressive stopping power in all road conditions. Literally all.
We found the consistency and response to be both instant and amazing, even with a minimum pull of the lever.
Shimano fanboys—of which we know there are many—will also like the fact that this Disc Brake set is fully compatible with Ultegra 6800 groupsets, so if you use any other component of that groupset, then you can expect a rather seamless integration.
The calipers were designed to dissipate heat. And, boy, did they work extremely well during our testing. The cooling fins force air to flow against the pads, cooling them directly. This makes the braking performance reliable and consistent, even during long descents.
Look, it’s not an inexpensive set—in fact, it is quite expensive. You’ll also be needing specific tools for the maintenance work, which many might find restrictive. Again: it is, without a doubt, a lot of money to spend for an upgrade. But this is the high-level performance we’re talking about. Are there better brake sets out there? Sure there are, but this is somewhere at the top of the heap as far as performance is concerned, so we think that it is totally worth it if you have the budget for it.