Shimano XTR M9000 Race and Trail brakes

Like the all-new XTR drivetrains coming in 1x, 2x and 3x systems, the new XTR M900 brakes get both Race and Trail tuned iterations to fit different types of riders.

Their last major mountain bike brake update introduced the IceTech finned pads and Freeza rotors to drastically reduce heat build up. Now, they’ve further improved thermal management by 10% with insulated pistons and pad coatings. Other refinements make for smoother lever action and increased user tuning.

Grab a handful of info below…

M9000 Race caliper on the left, M9020 Trail caliper on the right.

Both the Race and Trail versions use an insulated carbon phenolic piston and coated pads. Carbon Phenolics were developed for rocket nozzles and thermal protective systems for spacecraft reentry. Namely, spaceship nosecones. If they can dissipate heat there, chances are pretty good they’ll handle anything you can do braking. Both levers get the new i-Spec II mounting with a slim band clamp.


The M9000 XTR Race Brakes get a lighter magnesium caliper and master cylinder with a carbon fiber lever blade and titanium mounting bolts to minimize weight. Total per wheel is claimed at just 190g.


The pencil-thin master cylinder makes for one heck of a clean cockpit when it’s all alone!


The M9020 XTR Trail Brakes use a preloaded aluminum caliper with the finned pads for more potent braking power. Up front, a new ServoWave lever design gets a Sil-Tec coated roller (same as their new chains) for decreased friction. It’s installed into a new alloy master cylinder body with a carbon lever blade for improved stiffness. Besides material changes, it also adds the tool-free reach adjust and tooled free stroke adjust. Claimed weight is 235g per wheel.


Both use the existing Freeza RT99 rotors, but there’s a new 140mm size for real XC weight weenies. Claimed weight for the 160mm is 125g. Available in 140, 160, 180 and 203mm sizes.



Back with a premium hoop set, Shimano’s new M9000 Tubular wheels use a full carbon tubular rim in 29er only.



It’s aimed at the XC racer with a 1,300g wheelset weight and just 28 spokes per wheel. Rim weight is a paltry 275g! In the back you have the option of 12×142 E-Thru or QR rear axles. Up front, it’s only 15mm front thru axle hubs. Which hubs? Why, these updated XTR HB/FB M9000 hubs of course:

2015-Shimano-XTR-M9000-ont-hub 2015-Shimano-XTR-M9000-rear-hub

Mostly getting cosmetic upgrades to match the rest of the new group, the rear does get a lighter bearing and axle system to drop 33g from the prior generation.


For regular XC and trail riders, they have two new carbon laminate wheel sets. The WH-M9000 TL is the Race version with a 20mm interior width, and the WH-M9020 TL is the trail version with a 24mm inside width.


It’s essentially the same carbon-laminated-over-aluminum rim design they’ve used on their Dura-Ace wheels for a while now. The benefit is lighter overall weight than just alloy but with the added stiffness carbon can provide.


The number on top is outside width, below it is inside width. Both of the tubeless models will be offered in 27.5″ and 29er sizes. Nope, no 26″.

As expected, the wheels and hubs are only offered with Center Lock brake rotor compatibility. Since Shimano’s new 11-speed cassette is the same width, these are automatically 10 and 11 speed compatible. Eleven mountain bike speeds, that is…they’re not wider like 11-speed road freehubs.

Photo Notes: Photos with predominantly blue background and studio shots are courtesy of Shimano.


  1. These all look good but it’s raining and I wanted to put the washing out. (It’s the BR comments so I had to complain about something).

    That master cylinder is crazy thin.

  2. I dig those new lever clamps. When they trickle down to my spec range (XT) I’ll probably pick up new brakes. Those icetech pads look the same size as the old ones, so looks like anybody who runs the old ones gets a free upgrade next time they change pads.

  3. It’s too bad the freehub doesn’t accept road 11 speed cassettes – those wheels would be perfect for cross/gravel or road disc. I can’t wait to see the hacks that make it possible.

  4. The carbon-phenolic is nice and all, but let’s be a little less starry-eyed than “if works in rocket nozzles, it’ll work on your bike”. It works in rocket nozzles, and re-entry heat shields, by GETTING WHITE HOT AND VAPORIZING, carrying away heat in the process.

    It may be (probably is) a great material for brake pistons, but it’d be nice if you’d report the actual engineering reasons for that. “Yo, rocket science, dude” is just lame, and spreads dumbness among the bike masses. Try us, we can handle some actual tech.

  5. I love the cooling tech on Shimano brakes over every other brand, just like everyone else. But I find the brakes with Servo-Wave have a bit of light switch feel.

  6. @ori – Yup, you are correct. typical Shimano. boring, likely indestructible bits. If you want good stuff that simply works day in, day out… Shimano. If you want exciting, there is a trend to anodizing things in purple. And purple equates to “I go fast”. Give your head a shake. Or stop dipping it in the anodizing bath.

  7. So when Shimano drops 26″ from the premium line, you know where the industry is going. Or should I say, forcing the consumer to go.

  8. 20mm internal width, mm, not so great and then 1610gr per wheelset for carbon XC.
    I recon the other guys are a few steps ahead, but pleased to see Shimano coming to the 1x and 11speed mtb party.

  9. I’m still running my M960 XTR cranks from 2004, and they are solid. May be time for an upgrade. For me, the 30×40 lowest gear of the 1×11 is still too high. I’ll have to go 2×11 with a lowest gear of 26×40. That will give me the same ratio as my 3×9 22×34 gearing. On the wheelset, it would be nice if you could move from QR15 to 9mm. Shimano is excluding many riders with older forks.

  10. Phenolic resin has been used for everything from carburettor bodies to coating form ply in the last 50 years, I’m sure they’re meant to insulate rather than dissipate heat and the change has more to do with durability than thermal management.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.