Shimano just announced two relatively small updates to their workhorse Deore XT groupset that could make a lot of mountain bikers happy. And here’s the funny part… Demand from eMTBs drove the realization of both. The news is that XT has added a four piston brake option to work with existing levers, something us older mountain bikers might remember. That should make aggressive enduro and heavier trail riders happy. Then they added a new shorter 165mm length Hollowtech XT crankarm set that should please smaller riders, although this one is e-bike only…
So e-bikes are driving a little innovation. OK, innovation is a strong word. Rather, e-bikes are creating more of a market for what had been relatively niche products. Everyone already knew that four piston brakes had more power and better heat management. And shorter cranks offer more ground clearance & greater fit options. But there just wasn’t enough market demand, until eMTBs started boiling brake fluid and bashing pedals on rocks.
M8020 Shimano XT 4 piston brake caliper
So now Shimano can justify bringing the 4 piston brake tech from Saint to their XT Trail group. Looking at the casting & fittings it is pretty clear this is the same caliper as the Saint M82o/Zee M640, but now it is branded XT and destined to be mated to existing M8000 levers.
The new 4 piston caliper shares the same tech as the 2 piston variant – IceTech fins in the caliper & brake pads, and one-way bleeding. You’ll also still be able to adjust reach & free stroke through the regular lever. The difference is just in now four ceramic pistons for increased stopping power & improved heat management over the regular 2 piston variant.
The new calipers should be available before the end of 2017 and will sell for $120 as caliper only for upgrading or $200 with a lever.
M8050 Shimano XT 165mm cranks
OK, so this is new only in that the new M8050 cranks have no spider attached. All of the single, double & triple ring M8000 XT cranks have already been offered in 165mm (in addition to 170, 175 &1 80mm.) But you couldn’t get that driveside spider off, so it was no help to eMTBers.
The new size then will help both shorter riders looking for improved pedaling dynamics, and any other e-bike rider tired of pedal strikes when riding in more technical terrain. Look for these to start to pop up on 2018 eMTBs, especially smaller sizes and those with lower bottom bracket heights.