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2013 Dirt 100: SHIMANO SAINT BRAKES

17:02 18th March 2013 by Billy Thackray
19 Comments
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SHIMANO SAINT BRAKES

As a brand, Shimano rarely, if ever, shout about their abilities or boast superiority, but every now and then they go out there and slip a product onto the market that betters the competition by so far that it is almost embarrassing.

If one product could epitomise Shimano then it would be these Saint brakes. Unlike some brands’ brakes, straight out of the box these feel solid and dependable, and during their entire lifetime need far less servicing than most. The feel is direct to the brakes, absolutely no sponginess and never any change in feel with increased temperature on long descents. As far as power goes, there is probably no other brake set-up to rival the Saints, yet it is power that is delivered in moderation as opposed to a sharp ‘on/off’ feel.

New for 2013 is the shorter lever complete with dimples to improve feel, plus ‘Ice Technologies’ pads; Shimano’s trademark finned pads which aid cooling/heat dissipation. To round the improvements off, the disc has been extensively developed with cooling in mind, with fins which Shimano claims give an “additional 50 degrees centigrade decrease in operating temperatures over previous Ice Technology rotors.”

PRICE: £194.99, Disc £69.99

www.madison.co.uk
www.shimano.com

132_Dirt-100-20131

  1. greg

    “As far as power goes, there is probably no other brake set-up to rival the Saints, yet it is power that is delivered in moderation as opposed to a sharp ‘on/off’ feel.”

    are these claims backed by scientific measurements, or just the say-so of the testers? And, correct me if i’m wrong, but hasn’t the master cylinder of these created some issues in regards to consistency and actual braking power (the blow off valve being somewhat to blame)?

    reference document: http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/fitness/article/how-we-test-hydraulic-disc-brakes-24345/

    1. Mr anal

      Are the claims by ‘bike radar’ backed up by scientific measurements or just the say so of the tester? Quick, get Stephen Hawkins in to test everything now because Greg wants it done properly….get down off your horse mate, throw that chip of your shoulder ‘cos saint brakes are awesome try some, then you’ll see.

      1. Mr anal

        Also note the article with bike radar was dated 2011. They have since stopped using the dyno side of testing. Real world testing. A dyno may say such and such but in the real world that doesn’t always mean the best brake on the dyno is going to be the best brake…..

  2. I love mr anal

    Greg just got owned!

  3. greg

    how did i get owned? I feel Mr anals answar altogether misses the point i was trying to make.

    Bike magazine (tze german one) and bikeradar as far as i know measures the power produced by the brakes on/at the rotor. The strenght of the brakes is thus quantified, ia the use of the word word “scientific”. I’m not trying to instigate a debating which is the better brake – saints or [insert other brake name]. I’m asking if the quote from the article above – a quote i read as “no other brake is as powerful yet so well modulated as the saint” – can be followed up by actual measurements other than a matching of the braking characteristics preferences of the Dirt squad/testers.

    I strongly believe the Saints to be awesome brakes – hell i even almost bought em, but got some R0′s due to a killer bargain at CRC (hopefully they will prove less finicky than T1s when servicing…). My point is though that the description of a products needs to be a) accurate and when it is appropriate b) back it up with scientific tests. The description above is quite at odds with alot of the feedback i have read concerning the brakes in question – most notably on Ridemonkey (there’s an own thread about em). If a review is to be read as credible and not just another piece of hyporama, then the description of a products better reflect the real world experiences of its users. :)

    1. tragic

      Full scientific report for every single product in the Dirt100 please, I concur! Then there could be a separate publication for every single product too, 100 Dirt100s all 100 pages long with graphs, statistics, full product analysis etc. That’s why we’re all Dirt fans after all, ‘cos we love graphs.

      1. greg

        yes, sorry forgot. All we care about are hype. Nm, now back to the regular schedueled program…

        to think that raving about a product could raise the demand for a very simple test to back the claims one are making so forcefully… Madness really. ;)

        That being said – i would absolutely love to compare the new saint and zee brakes to the brakes presented in the list linked to above.

        happy trails to you all.

  4. Mr anal

    I apologise Greg, I think my response was a bit mean…. I hear what you are saying

  5. Eoin

    I love Dirt comments, nearly every thread has a “Not only do I think you are wrong, but I hate your mother” type comment, followed by the same commenter coming back an hour later to say “Sorry for the part about your mother, to be fair you have some valid points”. :P

  6. stubob

    My new Saints are shite. Loads of power but the consistency of the bite is all over the place – and yes I’ve bled them. Should have followed my heart and gone for the new Hope V4′s. Damn you shimano

    1. Hank Stamper

      “Loads of power but the consistency of the bite is all over the place”

      Having the same experience with mine. Considering going back to The One’s – which in my “opinion” had more “balls out” stopping power than these new Saints.

  7. gabe

    “Loads of power but the consistency of the bite is all over the place”
    Do you mean the pads engage the disc at different amounts of lever pull? (if that makes sense, I cant think of a better way to word it.sorry) That can mean only one thing. air moving from reservoir to hose and back again. Time for a re bleed/top up. Unless you have a really bent disc pushing the pistons home as it passes, but with the large pad retraction given by servowave this is unlikely.

    Also im confused about the wherabouts of the “blow off valve” mentioned by Greg. Not greg bashing, as i think his question is valid, but i dont think they have a blow off valve. seems a bad idea for a brake….

    I have a sain m810 up front and a mono m4 rear. the saint kicks arse all day long any weather, any temp, any steepness of hill. I have actually had onlookers comment on the power/controll offered by my front brake as i panic-stoppie into corners next to them. i have nothing bad to say about the brake.
    actually yes i do. standard cables are poop. get goodridge. throw away goodridge fitting instructions.fit using common sense….

    1. Robbie

      Hoses Gabe, hoses. Cables are what change your gears. Hydraulic brakes use HOSES.

  8. stubob

    Hi Gabe, thanks for your engineering opinion – sounds fairly reasonable. But take it from me, as someone who has ridden them and is mechanically minded, these new saint brakes (and I’ve had a warranty replacement on one now) aren’t very good at all…..
    If I’m hammering a trail I want to know that my brakes are going act predictably on every occasion – these don’t. And at £400+ thats a bitter pill to swallow.
    Avoid them. Wish I had

    1. Gabe

      I’m intruiged…I have been thinking of buying an m810 rear caliper to match the front, then putting a pair of new Zee levers on them. Not so sure about the idea now. may stick with 810 levers. Cannot imagine what would cause this unpredictability of bite point if its not a bleed issue. Perhaps a sticky piston in the caliper but that should be predictable, it will either retract or it won’t, shouldn’t sometimes retract and sometimes not. Does it get worse if the brake is hot? Otherwise it must be something at the lever end but i cannot imagine what. On a similar note I have been trying to work out what the fuck could have happened to Gwins brakes on “that” run. To have to entirely seperate systems fail simultaniously seems so unlikely as to be impossible. But maybe if the lever has some sort of weak link that would explain your issue and his…. Gonna have to find out more before I buy new stuff.

      And @ Robbie. Yeah, you got me. Hold my hands up to that one :s

  9. Kyle

    Tbf i agree with gregg. having used a wide range of brakes, id like to know if they are actually the most powerful as they all claim the same stats when they are released (most this, better that). saint stuff rules when it comes to your cranks or mech but as for hubs and brakes they make very big claims about how good they are. me, its hope all the way for hubs and its very hard for myself to see past the build quality of a hope brake.

  10. chris-m

    Apologies for the essay, but…
    .
    It’s all a matter of opinion, but I have found the Saints to have great modulation and fantastic power (non-dyno tested, granted). Having seen many sold, I haven’t seen any returned for any problems thus far. The brakes from Shimano I have seen problems with were XTR with leaking callipers and two issues with XT (having fitted 20-30 sets, including my own, that’s nominal). Overall, with the amount of sets that have been sold (and owning some XT also) Shimano brakes are, IME, superb. Oh, and they also come with a two year warranty. If there are any downsides, it’s that they don’t have individual parts, just new callipers and/or levers. No seals, pistons, etc, unlike Hope.
    .
    Hope are great. I’m not a fan of their lever shape (and large reservoir), but as that’s totally personal, you can’t fault their quality, reliability, cost of spares and brake pads. They are hard to beat. They seemed expensive a few years back, but with Avid, Formula, Magura and Shimano producing brakes above £200 each, they seem good value now.
    .
    Formula are super powerful, but have little modulation (if that’s what you like – just like Hayes). The models I have seen are made with some spindley parts, such as tiny alloy bolts to shave weight (and they’re a hell of a lot of money!) and like Avid, they don’t seem to last. I haven’t seen that many though (about 5 sets), so could be rare.
    .
    Then there’s Avid. They just don’t seem to last long at all. They work well, are powerful and then their lever and calliper seals go to pot after a short while. The new upgraded lever internals do seen better though!
    .
    So, IMHO, it’s not just about power, it’s about availability of spares, warranty, quality of design and value for money. Everything seems to be getting so flaming expensive, but I guess this is a sign of things to come. Prices aren’t going to come down any time soon and someone will always experience problems with an item they buy, especially with the shear volume of product that is made.
    .
    I have no problem recommending Shimano. If I see a problem with them and they make me reconsider that recommendation, then I’ll act appropriately, until then, they are without doubt the best brakes available at the moment.

  11. fastboyslim

    I bought a set of 2013 Saint to replace my Formula The one’s. To my shock the Formula’s are back on after a weeks riding. The Saints suck, less powerful, weigh more and to top it all off they rattle like a tool box. The brake pad fits loose in the caliper so they rattle so bad. When pulling the brake lever and rocking the bike back and forth the pad knocks so bad. They look stunning though.

  12. Dans160

    They need to be bled very carefully. Throw shimanos bleed instructions out of the window and use the formula approach. Take your time bleeding them and they will work brilliantly and consistently. Mine have been superb and much better than the f1s they replaced. Out of the box they were almost unuseable.

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