Sometimes it seems that Shimano has so many parts, that some don’t get any introduction at all. That seems to be the case with the new MT520 which was slipped into the lineup early this spring (they’re not even really on the Shimano website). Earlier today, an eagle eyed reader noticed the model-less four piston brake caliper on the back of the recently introduced Ibis DV9. It turned out to be just a mistake that the brake was on the bike for photos, but it inadvertently keyed us onto Shimano’s most affordable four piston hydraulic brake set.

Spotted: Shimano's most affordable four piston disc brake, the MT520

According to Shimano’s Mountain Bike Product Manager Nick Murdick, the BR-MT520 was originally designed for the emerging e-bike market. But much like the new-ish Shimano XT four piston brakes, they have realized that they would be great brakes for regular mountain bikes as well.

An evolution of the MT500 two piston Servo-wave brake, the MT520 bumps up the calipers to four pistons for more braking power and modulation. But to move the additional pistons, new levers were needed that pushed more fluid – hence the change to the MT501 Servo-wave lever. Shimano claims that the power is less than that of their other four piston brakes, but still higher than any of their two piston brakes. Tech wise, the aluminum calipers house ceramic pistons and the brake uses Shimano’s typical mineral oil for hydraulic fluid.

Spotted: Shimano's most affordable four piston disc brake, the MT520

Shimano isn’t expecting these to be a huge aftermarket item, but they’ll be available for $139.99 for a single pre-bled lever and caliper kit. The kits don’t include rotors or adapters (SM-RT70s are the recommended rotors), but it does come equipped with the metal pads which are the same shape as the Saint 4 piston brakes they’ve been making for years. You probably will see a number of these as standard equipment on bikes in the future, but their spring launch was a little late to catch most of the bikes that arrived this summer.

Thanks to “Rekt23” for the spot!



  1. Bought just the caliper with metal pads in Germany like 8 weeks ago. I’ve coupled it to a M615 lever, so far nothing to complain: this master seems to work just fine. Modulation and power improved over two piston deore caliper it replaced. For me a great choice with 160mm rotor at the back. It feels balanced with a Zee and 180mm rotor at the front.

  2. Since Shimano brakes seem to be a bit “on-off” in actuation, I wonder if this caliper with the standard single-piston lever might be the perfect set-up for those of us who like a bit more modulation in their brake feel?

    • As I’ve wrote earlier, the MT520 caliper actually works fine with a Deore 615 master. Running this setup for some weeks now.

      • Yeah, that is cool you actually tried them. I wish it was easier to come by fluid displacement or diameter figures for master cylinders and calipers.

        • Shimano has a compatibility chart. I’ve seen it. Went to find it to post a link, and can’t seem to locate it. Maybe it was all a dream…
          The gist of it is that there was one obscure brake that was not cross compatible. All others share the same master cylinder volumes and are cross compatible.

        • Found it, but not a convenient link.Their 2010-2011 compatibility chart. Dated but still relevant. The one wacky brake is the bl- and br-t665. It’s a weird one.

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