Here at the shop we have a saying that brakes only slow you down, and while we throw around the saying in jest, the truth of the matter is that only the best brakes are capable of stopping you on a dime. Shimano brakes have received universal praise for doing just that for years, and the XT BR-M8120 Disc Brake doesn't fail to impress with its quick-stopping power. With the launch of the new Shimano 8100 series we see some improvements made to the 8120 brakes, but largely they stay the same. You'll see the same 4-piston design for intensely strong stopping power and its improved heat dissipation over the 2-piston model, plus the same lever shape and integrated master cylinder, but with the addition of an extra 10% stopping power over the 8000-series brakes, and reduced rotor noise. The narrow clamp makes for a tidier cockpit to play well with remote lockouts and dropper posts, plus its compatible with the new I-SPEC EV design to save you more space on the bars.
While lighter riders rolling in smoother XC conditions may benefit from the featherweight XT 8100 series brakes, riders who are heavier and more aggressive riders who transition between trail and enduro riding will covet the increased power and modulation of the 8120 when things get steep, technical, and rowdy. Shimano opted to refine the brake levers we saw previously with the 8000 series, with updated Servo-Wave technology to match up with the next generation of I-Spec EV Rapidfire Plus shifters, with two-way release, instant release, and multi-release that offers more control and confidence in your modulation. Unlike previous models, the new 8100-series brake lever is built for both the 8120 and 8100 calipers, allowing your cockpit to feel the same when you transition from your all-mountain rig to your XC rocket. This new clamp features a more inboard clamp position modeled after the 9100 series, creating an extra point of contact between the bar and lever for increased efficiency and control, while minimizing its impact on cockpit real estate.