Ridden and Rated: 5 Four-Piston Brakes

Nov 17, 2017
by Mike Levy  



You might have the best suspension money can buy, the tackiest tires in the world, and the latest and greatest in geometry numbers, but you're not going to get far or have much fun if you're running a set of sub-par disc brakes that couldn't stop a 90lb cross-country racer. Brakes are, without a doubt, one of the most polarizing and personal components on a bike, and what one rider loves is another rider's kryptonite. Some people, like myself, put control and modulation at the top of the wishlist, but there are plenty of others who care for nothing but to feel like they've hit the side of a house when pulling hard on the levers. And if you're looking for that kind of feeling when you drop anchor, you're probably going to want a set of four-piston brakes.

There was a time when four-piston calipers were pretty much only seen on big-travel bikes, but the rise of the enduro and all-mountain genres has seen two extra pistons pop up on relatively lightweight stoppers meant for all-around riding. More power is usually more better, especially if that power is controllable, and there are many four-piston options to choose from these days, the five below being only some of the most common.

Yes, there are plenty of others to pick from, including Hope's brakes and entire catalogs of from SRAM and Shimano, but we're going to stick to the models that we can comment on with authority. These are brakes that we've used rigorously, and in some cases we've even spent loads of time on two or three versions of the same brake.








As the high-performance arm of Tektro, TRP had their standard Quadiem SL's on Aaron Gwin's bike at the beginning of last year's World Cup downhill season, but it wasn't long until he showed up at the races with a version tailor-made to his liking: the G-Spec Quadiem. The $199.99 USD (without rotor) G-Spec Quadiem is a four-piston brake that's aimed at, surprise surprise, downhilling or any kind of riding that requires a focus on big power.

What's the difference between the G-Spec Quadiem and the non-Gwin model? TRP forges the G-Spec master cylinder and perch before putting it through a hand polishing process and anodizing, whereas the normal Quadiem sees a cast top-end that doesn't receive the same treatment and skips a few aesthetic touches. The standard Quadiem costs $50 USD less for this reason.

G-Spec Quadiem Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / downhill
• Four-piston caliper
• Mineral oil system
• Ceramic/steel pistons
• CNC two-piece caliper
• Tool-free indexed reach adjust
• Polished, anodized finish
• Weight: 317-grams (front, w/o rotor and hardware)
• MSRP: $199.99 USD (without rotor)
www.trpbrakes.com

If you're in need a decent amount of power but know that modulation is the be-all and end-all of control, TRP's Quadiems might be just the ticket given that they have more feeling to them than a Marvin Gaye album after three too many drinks. The modulation on tap is impressive, but they've also proved to be extremely reliable - I put a set on my bike more than six months ago and there have been literally zero hiccups in performance since. That said, there are two foibles to note. First, there's no contact point adjustment, which may or may not matter to you. Second, while they have more than enough power, especially once you've fitted a set of metallic pads (they come stock with semi-metallic pads), they don't quite match what Shimano or SRAM offer with their four-piston stoppers.

TRP G-Spec Quadiem review


• Amazing modulation
• Proven to be very reliable
• Shimano pads fit

• Might be difficult to get small parts from your LBS
• Less outright power than some four-piston brakes
• No contact point adjustment










The Direttissima brake can be summed up in four words: maximum German, maximum power. Maximum price, too, if you want to add a few more words. Trickstuff manufactures the Direttissima in Germany rather than farming out the labor, and while that no doubt is a factor in their €375 (per end) cost, it also allows Trickstuff to machine a stunning looking brake and offer it in a load of different color options.

The caliper is a two-piece unit that is home to four Teflon coated pistons, and you can run Trickstuff's own slightly thicker pads or a set of Shimano pads, while the top end sees four cartridge bearings at each lever pivot. That's right, four bearings.

Direttissima Details

• Intended use: downhill, enduro
• Four-piston caliper
• Mineral oil
• Goodridge or standard hose options
• Pick your own colour options
• Weight: front brake - 277g / Daechle 203mm rotor - 192g
• Made in Germany
• MSRP: €375 each / $396 USD (aprox)
www.trickstuff.de

Our set of Direttissima brakes weren't trouble-free - Aston had an oil leak issue and broke a rotor, issues that Trickstuff tell us they've addressed - but these things have enough power to make anyone happy, regardless of how much you weigh or what you're pointing your bike down. Lever feel is extremely light, and the ergonomics are spot-on, but again, it's really their outright stopping ability that sets Trickstuff's four-piston brake apart from the crowd. Modulation is decent but not amazing, as is often the case when it comes to dealing with such power. Drawbacks? Their hefty price tag is the obvious one, of course, and also the fact that they require a zillion different tiny hex keys when it comes time to work on them. There's no contact point adjustment, and tuning lever reach requires one of those pint-sized hex keys.

Trickstuff Direttissima review


• All the power
• Not too common
• Shimano pads fit

• All the power but only some of the modulation
• Not too common
• Small parts and service might be challenging
• Expensive










It's the Germans again, but you'll likely already know this name. Magura's range of brakes is massive, and they've never been shy about mixing and matching components to come up with a different system, which is exactly what they've done with their MT Trail brake. Sure, only the front end of the MT Trail employs a four-piston caliper, but Magura says that it's for a good reason: the disparity in power between the four-piston caliper and the softer action of the two-piston MT8 caliper closely match the difference in traction produced by the front and rear wheels. In other words, power where you need it and less where you, er, need less.

MT Trail Details

• Intended use: all-mountain
• Four-piston front, two-piston rear
• Mineral oil system
• Carbon or alloy lever
• fiber-reinforced, injection-molded master cylinder
• Five-year leak proof warranty
• MSRP: $292 USD (without rotor)
www.magura.com

The front and rear brakes share the same master cylinder, so the four-piston caliper has smaller pistons to balance the feel at the lever. The non-matching calipers also require different brake pads; four small pads are used on the MT7 front caliper, while the two-piston MT8 block out back calls for, you guessed it, two brake pads. Do the mismatched calipers make a world of difference on the trail? RC says no, but the concept is sound.

Magura has long owned the crown when it comes to modulation, and while TRP has a case for having at least one of their hands on that prize, it's the Germans that still call it their own. Regardless of whether the mismatched calipers make any difference, the MT Trail setup is one that offers that familiar Magura feel. That is, not an overwhelming amount of initial bite, but a very linear ramp-up in power that's easy to control all the way up to locking the wheel. There's no contact point adjustment, and the reach setting requires a hex key to tune, but that won't matter one bit to those who like that Magura control. One thing to note is that Magura's ergonomics - the lever shape, pivot location, and how it swings through its travel - is a bit different than your more common SRAM or Shimano design, and that takes a bit of getting used to.

MT Trail review


• Excellent modulation
• Proven to be very reliable
• Unique ergonomics

• Middle of the road power
• Different calipers require different pads front and rear
• Unique ergonomics









We can't talk about four-piston brakes without also talking about SRAM's Code, and especially because the newest version was just released earlier this year. The $244 USD RSC model is the top-end Code, and its lever body is quite similar to the more trail-riding oriented Guide brake, including the cam activated cup seal and port system.

The biggest difference up top is the Code's reservoir that holds 30-percent more fluid than the Guide reservoir, which is designed to help the Code feel the consistent for the duration of a run, no matter how steep or long it happens to be.
Code RSC Details

• Intended use: downhill / enduro
• Four-piston caliper
• Larger fluid volume
• Aluminum lever blade
• Reach adjust, pad contact point adjust (RSC)
• Bleeding Edge caliper fitting
• DOT 5.1 fluid
• Weight: 294 grams (actual, front caliper w/pads, hose, and lever)
• MSRP: $244 USD (RSC)
www.sram.com

At the other end, the Code uses 15mm and 16mm pistons - the larger size versus the Guide's 14mm and 16mm pistons is said to help increase the amount of power by 15-percent. Unlike many other brakes, the Codes come with metallic brake pads already installed, and it's the same pad design as used with the previous generation of Code.

No one can say that SRAM (or any brand) has a perfect reliability record, but our set of Code RSC brakes proved to be not only reliable but also controllable and powerful. Yes, Kazimer did manage to get them to squeal a bit during a big, steep descent, but that seemed to be a one-off event and they've been silent ever since. The RSC model isn't exactly inexpensive, so my advice would be to save nearly $100 USD per end and pick up the Code R model that forgoes the contact point adjustment.

Code RSC review


• Good balance of modulation and power
• Proven to be very reliable, consistent
• Parts easy to find

• Not the most powerful
• Our test set squealed










There was a time when you were looking at a set of Saint brakes if you wanted four pistons in each caliper. Yes, there were a few others to choose from, but back then it was Shimano that the very large majority of riders picked. There are more options now, of course, but Shimano's Saint brake is still among the most popular and most powerful.

Shimano has filled the Saint's spec sheet with all sorts of talking points and features, but it's the Servo Wave lever pivot that is responsible for a lot of the brake's powerful feel.

Saint Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / downhill
• Four-piston caliper
• Mineral oil system
• Ceramic insulated pistons
• Two-piece caliper
• Tool-free reach adjust
• Ice Tech cooling
• MSRP: $244.99 USD
www.shimano.com

The caliper is home to differently sized, self-insulating ceramic pistons, and the large pads clamp down onto a three-layer rotor Ice Tech rotor that's said to help manage heat build-up. The rotor also has finned central splines, and even the pads sport fins that protrude out the top of the caliper, all in an effort to increase surface area and dissipate heat.

Okay, so we haven't actually done a standalone review of the Saint brake, but we have tested a handful of bikes that came spec'd with Shimano's four-piston stoppers and we can say that the Saint power is still there. The Servo Wave pivot gives a falling rate feeling at the lever where the finger effort actually lessens once you get past the first few millimeters of pull, but then the power comes on like an avalanche and you end up slowing down in a hurry. They come up short in modulation compared to everything shown here except the Trickstuff Direttissima, but that hard initial bite is what wins a lot of riders over. Shimano has had a bit of consistency issue over the last while, however, with inconsistent contact point action across a number of their models, so that's something to keep in mind.


• Loads of power
• Easy to find parts for
• Some riders love the immediate power

• Consistency issues with some brakes
• Some riders dislike the immediate power







So, is there a winner from all those words? Yes and no. They will all stop you and your bike, of course, but each brake goes about it in a different way, with different features, and at different price points. But because value is a subjective thing, let's focus on the objective: outright power and modulation.

Power - All five of these four-piston brakes offer ample power for anyone's needs, but there's only one with enough oomph to bring a large family sedan to a screeching stop. Unfortunately, a set of them will also cost nearly as much as a well-used sedan. Trickstuff's Direttissima brake isn't perfect, but it is a work of art, and it's also the most powerful brake of the bunch. While probably overkill for those who either don't weigh much or don't ride steep, sustained descents, it's the one to choose if you simply want the most power possible.

Modulation - SRAM's stoppers always rank high in this department, but it's Magura and TRP that get the nod when it comes to control. Both have power to spare (although Magura does edge out TRP here), yet it's the intuitive feel and management of that power that sets these two apart from the rest.

All-Around Use - The German-made Direttissima brake is quite the thing, but its power comes on too quickly for my liking. Magura has both the power and the control, but I just don't gel with the ergonomics. Shimano's Saint brake, while powerful, lacks in modulation and has been a bit too inconsistent for me to get behind. That leaves SRAM's new Code RSC and the TRP Quadiem, with the former winning when it comes to power and the latter being my choice, just barely, if we're talking about modulation. Of the five brakes shown here, the TRP Quadiem would be my pick.

Previous Ridden and Rated articles:
Ridden and Rated: 7 Long-Travel 29ers
Ridden and Rated: 5 Trail Bikes
Ridden and Rated: 6 Platform Pedals
Ridden and Rated: 6 Tires for Rugged Trails
Ridden and Rated: 5 Trail Knee Guards
Ridden and Rated: 6 Dropper Posts


296 Comments

  • + 329
 I wouldve liked to see how Hope V4's measured up in this list. Then again, Im a Hope fan boy....
  • + 38
 I second this. I am only 165 lbs. I use the E4's on both my trail and DH bike.
  • + 4
 agree. i've only owned the Zee M640 brakes. i just switched to Tech 3 X2 (i know, 4 pistons down to 2). so far these brakes are great. not a huge fan of bleeding them, very sloppy. i think Shimano has a better set up when it comes to that.
they could have added E4 or V4 to the test, although the V4 are actually their "DH" model.
  • + 28
 Was a massive hope fanboy till I went to Whistler. Would have been easier to find unicorn tears than parts in a store so I could service the brakes. Great brakes, but finding parts at short notice is tricky.
  • + 9
 @OzMike: what parts did you need? Any SRAM hose will fit, and the hose fittings are reusable. Pads should be available in Whistler.
  • + 38
 They don't need to compare the V4's to any of these. They are far superior to any brake on this list. Then again I'm another Hope fanboy as well.
  • + 11
 @inventor: huh? they bleed very similar to Shimano. Fill the lever resivor, then suck from the caliper as you reset the pistons. Top off the lever as you go. Shimano needs a cup to attach, but otherwise, pretty similar.
  • + 5
 @OzMike: I found Hope pads in that little shop tucked away behind the grocery store in the square (forgot the name of it)
  • + 2
 @bman33: Evolution?
  • + 0
 @nuttypoolog: oh nuttypoo....haha
  • + 1
 @pbullard2017: I think that's it by looking at Google Maps of the village
  • + 1
 @bman33: Gateway Bikes? The one with a green yellow and red sign says Bike Co. on the door?
  • + 5
 or XT's for that matter.
  • + 7
 @inventor: My last set of Zees (actually 2.5 sets after warranty replacements) has me loving my guides. I think the new bleeding edge port and simplified bleed process takes the win these days. You don't have to try and degas the fluid anymore, and it resembles the steps in Shmano's very logical process more. Shimano's are easy to get a good bleed on, almost impossible to get a perfect bleed on. Even the transparent saints that Shimano took to trade shows had air bubbles behind every piston, and throughout the calipers.

I've always wanted to try hopes though. Does the bleed process still involve basically pouring fluid into the lever body?
  • - 6
flag Endurahbrah (Nov 17, 2017 at 9:53) (Below Threshold)
 @loganm2977: Yes, they have a video which describes the bleeding process. I have E4's and they are a pain in the ass to bleed! Don't let the fanboys tell you different.
  • + 14
 @OzMike: A friend of mine rebuilt his Hope e4's in an auto-repair shop in the mongolian desert
  • + 21
 Hope makes the best brakes on the market for every application. Easiest to bleed and service that I've come across, and few companies can give you parts for old models like hope does. I also find they are much more predictable in their ramp up than any other brake, and even my E4's give me enough power to lap the bike park all day without arm pump. Also, their bite point and reach adjuster makes my brakes feel perfect all the time regardless of any slight long-term shifting that happens in any brake.
  • + 9
 ...and I'm a huge Hope fanboy
  • + 5
 @Endurahbrah: if you use a squeeze bottle with a small spout to pour into the lever, not a big deal. Can be a pain on a shaky bike stand. But, right tools, right job. I will take Hope over anything out there now. That said, lots of good brakes on the market. yes, I am a fan boy.
  • + 5
 @Coldspringer: thats a story worth a few beers.
  • + 2
 @Endurahbrah: compared to Shimanos quick and dirty bleed with the funnel they are more difficult to bleed, that's true. Then again, my V4s with the old Tech lever (before Tech3) need less bleeding than my Zees. The Zees seem stronger than the V4s, but on a wet day i always wish for my V4s when i'm on the Zees. Different brakes for different folks, i think.
  • - 33
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 17, 2017 at 11:03) (Below Threshold)
 I tried three sets of hopes in a series of parking lot test: all shared the folliwing characteric: poor modulation and woody/ metallic feel as if pads were completely worn out. If you like that then look no further since their reliability record is great. I personally prefer to buy new Srams every two years though... also XTs would be great if they were consistent. They aren’t, even the “improved”, recalled model. They are deadly if ridden on chunk without bleeding the day before. The lever can stiffen up a lot mid ride making for rather sketchy moments in wet or loose conditions. Then since it stiffens up a lot, you can’t keep your fingers on the levers because shaking bars make your fingers press on lever a bit and while the anount of free stroke on majority of brakes is enough to make it not noticeable, on XTs the pads will engage like... old Formulas
  • + 25
 Hope Brakes can be bled like a moto brake, you don't even need a syringe. Just pump up the lever and open up the bleed port on the caliper, fill as you go. By far simpler than anything that requires a syringe.
  • + 12
 @WAKIdesigns: ??? "Poor modulation woody/metallic". Whomever's brakes you tried must have had zero clue how to properly set up brakes and/or had shit pads installed. Were they new or not burned in yet. My Hopes are each 3 plus years hold (Tech 3 /E4's) on my DH and trail bikes, wide range of modulation depend on taste. Don't overheat on extended DH runs (I live in Colorado so we have those) like mineral oil can. Every person I know running them loves them. Can be a pain to bleed, but I have never heard any say poor modulation.

And, cheaper that a set of "Srams every two years" since mine will be on four years during next season. Ride what you like. However, everything is better than what we had ten years ago.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: You have to actually bed the pads and rotors. Takes 15 minutes of pedalling around on flat ground. I bedded the first 2 sets I bought. When I bought the 3rd set, I just slapped them on and went riding, huge mistake. It was like having greased rotors. Once bedded, you can swap wheels with no issues. I have had zero issues with pump or fade.
  • - 6
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 17, 2017 at 11:26) (Below Threshold)
 @bman33: considering all three pairs belonging to three different people felt very similar I keep having my doubts. Especially that two people I know got rid of their sets for these two reasons. And since some people on the internet make ridiculous claims like "my Formulas The One are reliable and have plenty of modulation" I will have to rely on my own experience... 3 pairs of Srams in 6 years (considering resale value) equal a price of one set of Hopes... No other brake than Guides allowed me to use front brake on a steep and wet granite faces. I refuse to be a fanboi of any system and pretty much any part of the bike, apart from Renthal Lite bars and Maxxis Minion DHF tyres. Therefore I will not swear by anything like most owners of Hope stuff swear by their belongings. Which reminds me of crossfitters and people who just started some diet. That is exactly why I would love to see Hopes in this test
  • + 5
 @bman33: I have a set of Tech X2's (2 piston) from 2011. They still work and I have had zero issues. Running an 8 inch rotor, they worked rediculusly well. Have the Tech EVO's, Tech3 X2 and E4's also. I think they are some of the best modulating brakes around. Problem is, I don't think people have taken the time to bed them. If anyone jumped on my bikes, the brakes just work. Really good. I am well over 200lbs, so they have to work even better for the pencil thin, average joes out there.. Wink
  • + 2
 Hopes... best ever. this is poppycock!
  • + 11
 @WAKIdesigns: every 2 years? freakin' Walmart/Ikea throw-away garbage business model over here. Buy something good, buy it once. use it on the next 3 bikes you build up.
  • - 10
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 17, 2017 at 11:43) (Below Threshold)
 @Sweatypants: I don't throw away the majority of bike parts that I don't want anymore to the Ocean, I sell them... Bedding in. Owners of 5 samples don't know about this, including bike brand owner... come on... I mean everything is possible. I give you the benefit of doubt. My wallet on another hand...
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: the only time my hopes felt like you talk about was when I had a set of sintered pads I burned the crap out of. Super steep section. Way too much brake. Anyway after that they felt exactly as you described changed the pads and now they feel great. Much better than my sram guides. The Guides are nice but there not the same as the hopes. Long descents I feel better at the bottom of the run with the hopes than the fade my guides experience.
  • + 3
 @USMC: that's what I was thinking too. I prefer the organic pads, even in my V4's. The metal pads are just too much.
  • + 4
 My 10 year old hope v2 vented are still better than any of these plus I only had to buy them once, change pads and fluid when needed. Who said hope was expensive..
  • + 5
 @oldschool43: Wish I hadn't bedded my Hopes as well as I did. Too bloody strong. Progressive as f*ck but I have to kink my finger and gently carress the lever closer to the piston so as to reduce the power. They are also not very consistent as they seem to get better every ride.
  • + 2
 @KonaChina: whistler bike co.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Wonder if they were running the metal pads? I found those needed to much heat in them to keep the friction/power consistent and that was riding at the Whistler bike park but maybe I didn’t bed them in properly. I switched back to the the pad material that came with the brakes and haven’t bothered trying metal since. Both sets of my Tech 3 E4s once bedded have been great. I’m at the end of my 3rd summer on them and they are the overall best brakes I’ve owned for consistency, adjustment, and modulation. Occasionally I would like more power on my DHbike so I may try a set of V4s next summer.

Surprised no mention of the warranty issue with master cylinders on the Guides but I guess once it’s sorted the brakes are good?
  • + 2
 brembos boys or just spray your callipers red for 5hp
  • + 2
 I’d trust Hope brakes with my life. But then I see value in proper design and engineering and understand that comes with a cost. Had some Formula’s once, they were terrible and Hayes likewise.
  • - 6
flag thenotoriousmic (Nov 17, 2017 at 17:26) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: absolutely bang on there. I’ve always been a fan of hope brakes but they’re feeling very dated these days. Don’t have a lot of power but also have poor modulation. Feel like you need two hands to pull the leaver which doesn’t feel particularly nice on the finger anyway. Best rotors in the game though.

Also spot on about the xt’s mine are an absolute death trap over breaking bumps. My guides are so much better it’s laughable.
  • + 1
 @choppertank3e: Most times I can one finger brake. In super steep stuff I just use one finger, 2 fingers at speed. I have better feel in my fingers with 2. I too had a set that got better and better on one bike, the next set I bought I didn't bed and couldn't understand why they didn't work. Didn't like the full metallic pads. I have my contact point at around half pull. Never wished for more power.
  • + 1
 @dover1: Yep. Seems google maps had the name wrong. I knew that's the shop where Dylan Sherrard shot our Precept "love at first sight" commercial. And I bought a pair of braking pads from them on my first visit to Whistler. Nice shop.
  • + 5
 Tech evo m4, best brakes I've ever owned. Modulation for days. Super easy to maintain and bleed. Ignore the epic bleed solutions method and follow the official video and to can't go wrong.
  • - 3
 @solidautomech: quite frankly when I hear an argument "X thing is fantastic if you know the Y trick" it does not make me less sceptical of it. And yes, in at least 3 cases the hope brakes that I tried had metallic pads.
  • + 0
 V4's don't have the power of the zee or saint , but still decent (think more XT). They take some getting use to - they make more power at the end of the stroke compared to Shimano, which conversely are quite grabby initially. The modulation of the v4 is awesome and you really notice this on off camber roots and slippy sections. Feather a Shimano all you want it doesn't have the same feel. Other main issue with the Shimano is inconsistent level feel and getting trapped air. My hopes have been faultless... my only complaint is they have say 80% of the power of the saints.. but then again get off them brakes anyway!
  • + 4
 They didn't bother with hope because they blow all these brakes out of the water
  • + 1
 It must be a joke, there is no Hope (fan boy too) Big Grin
  • + 0
 One brake to rule them all
  • + 3
 So I am going to go out on a limb and say that Hope is the way to go...I've been contemplating the purchase and weighing the cost...guess its time to pull the trigger.
  • + 1
 @OzMike: small hope parts are so cheap, I always have them on hand. I have olives, inserts, and all sorts of fittings around. $20 and you are basically bulletproof. I don't think small parts are easier to find than with hope. And if you're not great with Google....pick up the phone and call hope, they will likely send them to you for free. Good luck even finding a number to call Sram, let alone finding parts for a lot of their brakes.

My girlfriend broke a SRAM lever once, carbon x0 brakes. Do you know how many variants there were, how hard they were to get, and how expensive they were?! Ugh
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: so which was it, woody or metallic? Lol
  • + 5
 @rumblefish255: this article should've a note up top saying "If you are using Hope brakes, disregard this article, you already found the best brakes ever made"
  • - 5
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 19, 2017 at 10:45) (Below Threshold)
 @jclaremt well, this is a thread dominated with Hope fanbois. I've been in many such discussions. If you ended up in a comment thread with Shimano fanbois you'd be amazed how great those breaks are. Hope guys tell you: oh you must bed them in properly. Shimano boys: you have to bleed them properly.
  • + 3
 Never had any other than Hope. From C2 over to now V4 and E4. Simply best.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Formula The Ones crush any Shimano brake they've made in the past 10 years, if you wanna go that route and fumble about trying to justify something else. that's fine. Shimanos are DECENT, bleeding into "good" mostly because of the price point. XTs are "just fine" for trail riding and reliable and cheap, i've been and continue to be plenty pleased with mine. the lever feel and power is nothing compared to The Ones or Hopes. to try and say otherwise is ridiculous. I've had Formulas, Shimanos, Maguras, Hopes, SRAMs... its not a comparison, if only partially negated by price if you're on a budget. if you're buying a $3500+ bicycle, you can pay the couple hundred bucks more for the best brake. if you're not, the $190 you pay for a set of Shimanos is perfect.
  • - 5
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 19, 2017 at 13:56) (Below Threshold)
 Sorry mate, maybe C series from Formula are good. Maybe they got better modulation and don't leak. Everything before is just expensive avid with no modulation. Perfect for lever draggers, worthless in low grip situations. I base that opinion on my own set of R1s and many brakes I saw on the work benches of local workshops. Apart from that, the spare parts are hard to obtain in Sweden. At least when you need them fast. So nobody will convince me to this stuff. I can think of getting M4s with resin pads after what I've read here, byt I'd rather run Elixir 5 than a set of Formulas again. And my XTs 8000 with 203mm rotors worked well for bike park riding for me as long as they were freshly bled. Good grip strength and not braking that much. Best luck that I had with brakes were 2010 Saints. But I'm not that stupid to shove it down peoples throats that it's the only thing worth buying. Brake system fanbois are worse than wheelsize debaters...
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: we'll god forbid we be judged by the Almighty Waki!

I'm a fan of products that work and companies who support their product. And for me, Shimano's have been inconsistent (m8000's being the worse, but previous generation XTR's are little better), SRAM/AVIDS have felt horrible, leaked (Juicy/Elixir/Level), and the latest hot weather seal issue...yeah, I've had a bunch of failures. Hope have not been flawless, I had one leaky m4 caliper back in 2005 or so, which was machined out of tolerance. But I've had at least 6 pair since, m4, m6, tech2 m4 times two, tech 3 e4, and Evo race x2 - all have worked perfectly for me. As such, I'll follow the trend - buy what works from a company who's been good to me. None have felt like metallic wood, whatever the heck that means. Does that make me a fan boy?
  • + 4
 Dear Hope, please keep up making brakes that work, reliably. And keep treating your customers like humans. I.e. keep creating fanboys.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: It's not a diet waki! It's a lifestyle.... Remember that!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: bled my Shimano slx once in 3 years and done.... Things have never let me down... Bit less modulation than other brands but still up to snuff once u figure em out... No, I'm not a fan boy... After all, they are slx..
  • + 1
 @Sweatypants: still on my slx not even xt and they have been faultless.. Even on random park days... Modulation isn't as good as the others but still good enough to manual with... Stopping power is on point... I can't complain.
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 20, 2017 at 5:15) (Below Threshold)
 @FLATLlNE: so you are giving me shit for preaching that everything is arbitrary?! Wow man, what kind of a fundamentalist am I? Like a Buddhist Jihadist? Namasteeeeeee BOOOOOM!!!!!

@bohns1 - according to everything written above, your testimony is false since it is absolutely impossible, since your brakes are not from Hope. Nor they are Formulae. There is no hope for you.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I guess not.. Haha... I'll just keep using what works for me..
  • + 10
 It's a shame we weren't asked. Maybe next time!
  • + 2
 @hopetech: if you read down through, it seems you still have a presence!
  • + 1
 @Lastpikd I copied Gwin with his Quadiem calipers and Slate levers for the front, but am using a Slate caliper and Slate lever on the rear as the Quadiem was overpowered. I wanted to go with MT7 front, MT5 rear, MT7 levers, but at the price point to stopping-power and modulation-adjust, the modified TRP brake configuration sits at a lower price point, but is equal to the performance of the MT7-MT5 combo.
  • + 1
 @loganm2977: unfortunately, yes. that's the one thing i like about the Shimano threaded cup. it's much cleaner. now, i don't care that much, but it is cleaner. i also use the zip tie trick (zip tie the levers, leave overnight, fill reservoir, done). i did have to bleed my breaks after i shortened the hose, the rear wasn't bad though. the front was much worse, but i did also slice open my finger at the same time. good thing i had superglue near by! lmao! yeah, i about took my finger off! i'll buy the correct tool next time.
  • + 131
 I have ___________ and they are the best brakes. Your review is wrong.
  • + 102
 oh man, I had ________ once and they were a pain in the ass, changed to ............. and never looked back
  • + 90
 Cantilever brakes with koolstop pads and a Ringle booster
  • + 3
 @bishopsmike: this /thread
  • + 2
 "f*ck you. Youre wrong."
  • - 1
 *Insert brain numbing pun here and take up whole comment section.*
  • + 4
 coaster brakes ftw
  • + 7
 @ismasan: No way! I've only ever owned _________ and they're clearly the best. They handle the local greenway NO PROBLEM. I rode ................ on a beat up rental bike on unfamiliar trails in terrible weather while I was traveling one time and they SUCKED.
  • + 1
 @skiwenric: stop like a brake?
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: brake like a stoppie
  • + 26
 As someone who likes these rare comparisons, I hate to complain, but why compare brakes that aren’t all in the same catagory? If you have Shimano and Sram’s most powerful brakes why are you comparing them to MT5’s which are trail brakes?
  • + 4
 The MT5s are a downhill rated brake. The only difference between them and the MT7 is lever adjustabilty and they come with 1 piece pads. I have three sets, from a hardtail to my DH bike. Plenty of power and modulation with one finger, even under my 235 pounds.
  • + 10
 Trail brake with a 2 piston caliper in the rear, either a fill set of MT5s or 7s would have been a better comparison, especially given the fact that a) this was a "4 piston" brake comparison, and b) lack of power was one of the complaints.
  • + 2
 @maxyedor: while I love Mt trails on my hardtail I agree they don't belong here, they are just not designed with the same goal as the other 3.
  • + 4
 @carym: Agreed, everyone else's dh brakes vs a trail bike brake? Doesn't make much sense... I'm another big guy and like you have MT7s on all my bikes as the best balance of power and modulation.
  • + 3
 I had horrible luck with the MT5s. Had to bleed and replace pads about every other month. Lost all braking power on the top of multiple big rides. Got the Hope V4s and they do the job alot better.
  • + 1
 @slayerdegnar: i had as well as they came with a popped piston after my bike that had them was shipped to me. Took me a while to bleed them properly, and I actually bought ZEEs during my learning process/ bleeding attempts.. but I figured it out, love them, sold the Zees brand new and also got rid of my XTs on my trails bike and got other Mt5s... right now I have low budget mt trail (mt5 front Mt 4 rear) on the trail bike.. fantastic combination tbh
  • + 30
 Oh give me a brake! ....... Seriously, give me one (or two)
  • + 16
 Whoa!! Slow down now. No sense in overheating the conversation
  • + 8
 are you just here to pad your ego?
  • + 22
 Don't be Dot-y, be more fluid and modulate your opinion on this review. I Hope this isn't too padded or written in code, I'm no saint but sometimes drag on.
  • + 8
 These puns make me squeal, think my eyes need a bleed
  • + 4
 PB puns never stop!
  • - 4
flag winethinker (Nov 17, 2017 at 9:31) (Below Threshold)
 @JoeRSB: Stop!
  • + 6
 Where's the modulator to shut this thread down?
  • + 2
 @JesseE: He's taking a break
  • + 1
 Lever alone. She doesnt want 4 pistons.
  • + 25
 I was told more brake pistons was to improve modulation, not to increase brake power. At least I thought Hope said they dropped the four and six pot calipers for a larger dual piston caliper because it was more reliable and equally powerful. For a long while, the Magura Gustav two piston brake used to be one of the most powerful brakes out there, not the four pot Shimano XT caliper.
  • + 16
 this needs to be higher up. Adding pistons doesn't add power but it will help with modulation. What affects power really is the size of the slave pistons, so having four small pistons isn't necessarily more powerful than having two large pistons.
  • + 4
 I still believe my old Gustavs are more powerful then my saints. I may dig them outta the spare parts bin to refresh my memory. They were heavy but oh the power. I changed to short levers on them as the long levers made them as grabby as George Bush Sr.
  • + 3
 @the-argos: It's all about the area of the pistons (caliper) compared to the area of the master cyclinder (lever).

With one piston you can only go with so much area before the piston gets too big and won't play nice with the rotor and frame design. With multiple pistons you can get more area by running them side by side. You can also vary the size of the pistons which allows you to tweak the feel.
  • - 1
 @bogey: Geometry matters too, not only the area. A narrow long pad will create less drag than a wide short (or square) pad with the same area.
  • + 1
 @onemind123: Gustavs were amazing power wise, not sure anything compares, still running a set. Only brake I have used in recent years that compares is the MT5/7 with sintered pads, light weight, better modulation and no rotor drag.
  • + 21
 @mikelevy you nit picked all the other brakes in your test for difficulty of finding small parts and such but you seemed to have glazed over the fact that the shimano has NO spare parts. The fact that if you bend the lever on your dh brake doing dh things and then you have to buy the whole assembly is absurd, I cant speak for the trick stuff brakes because they are not supported in canada but every other brake is easy to get small parts for.
  • + 13
 I quickly found a lever only online for $23 usd and a whole lever/master assembly can be had for $59 ?
  • + 0
 @DARKSTAR63: try to deal with shimano canada, it seems like its all or nothing with those guys
  • + 3
 @Tr011: That's too bad. Fortunately I have not had many issues, the one time I called Shimano here on an unrelated concern they were helpful.
  • + 1
 @DARKSTAR63: So I figured I would delve deeper and shimano canada does in fact have lever blades, however the current stock is 0 with no eta
  • + 1
 You get spare parts for the Saint in Germany.
  • + 4
 @Tr011: Yeah in Canada they really screw over the suppliers and shops. Its usually cheaper to get Shimano parts from CRC than Shimano Canada as well. So sometimes the bike shop will be paying more for parts than you can get them from CRC.
  • + 5
 I wish you could rebuild the levers and replace pistons on the shimano stuff. I have had both fail on saint and zee brakes
  • + 4
 I was wondering about this. From what I understand none of the Shimano, Magura, or Sram brakes are actually serviceable beyond bleeding and replacing level blades - if a piston seal goes you throw the whole cylinder unit out and replace it new. I wouldn't consider that "spare parts" at that point, and it's definitely not inline with any environmental considerations!

The TRP by contrast (and it sounds like maybe the Trickstuff) is completely user serviceable much like my old Avid Elixirs (which, largely thanks to being so serviceable, lasted for years).
  • + 4
 @delusional: Sram for sure has service kits for all their brakes as well as most of the small tid bits you might break while riding, magura and hope also have service parts. Trp I dont know about since they are fairly new in Canada.
  • + 2
 @Tr011: They do? That means you can replace things like seals in the lever and caliper? That's great news if so!The impression I'd got from recent articles on NSMB was that both Sram and Magura had gone down the same road as Shimano and weren't able to be rebuilt like that.
  • + 1
 @delusional: if you check the sram service page it gives you a full service breakdown as well as the parts you need
  • + 4
 Levers you should easily be able to find. As for other parts...it's a demand issue. The demand for Shimano spare parts is so low, there's no business case for offering them. Especially when their stuff is so cheap to begin with...who would buy a $20 lever rebuild kit when the entire lever/MC assembly is only $30?
  • + 1
 @TheRaven: because a saint master cylinder isnt $30 neither is xtr, can you imagine explaining to someone with fancy ass xtr brakes that they need to buy a $150 master cyclinder because theirs is leaking
  • + 2
 @Tr011: Sure pick the two most expensive brakes Shimano offers. If you are concerned about money buy Zee or XT. Same as Saint and XTR minus some bling.

Also I bought a new XTR M987 MC two months ago for $55 and JUST sold a new Saint one a week ago for $50.
Dunno where you are paying $150 for one but that's a ripoff...you can buy an entire front or rear assembly of either for $160-180 at any given time.

And no, I can't imagine explaining to someone with fancy ass xtr brakes that they need to buy a $150 master cylinder because theirs is leaking. It's very difficult to imagine things that never happen.
  • - 2
 @TheRaven: Im not talking about some internet guy buying used stuff off ebay or pinkbike buy/sell. Msrp on a saint master cylinder is $106 cad
  • - 2
 @TheRaven: and the xtr msrp is $140, do you not think there should be a $20 service kit for someone like this?
  • + 6
 @Tr011: Neither am I. I'm talking about brand new parts, available from legit dealers.

But no, I do not believe there needs to be a $20 service kit for a $30 lever assembly, or a $30 service kit for a $50 lever assembly (in the case of XTR and Saint), especially when we are talking about things that have a less than 0.1% ROF. Again, business case. SRAM offers these things because there is sufficient demand. In the case of Shimano, there is not.
  • - 3
 @TheRaven: I would happily buy a $20 rebuild kit for a $30 part. Why would I throw away something that can be repaired?
  • + 3
 @delusional: Who said anything about throwing anything away?
  • - 2
 @TheRaven: what else are you supposed to do with your leaky shimano if there is no $20 service kit
  • + 4
 @Tr011: Certainly not throwing away a bunch of perfectly good parts! If you somehow end up as one of the 0.1% with a MC assembly that leaks, you still have a lot of good parts there. Bin that thing or ebay it!

I managed to crack a piston on one of my Saint calipers this summer. I replaced the caliper, but I sure as hell didn't throw away the one with the cracked piston! I now have an almost complete set of spare caliper parts. I highly doubt i'll ever use any of them...seeing as though I can't count how many shimano brakesets i've run over the years, the only two breaks i've ever had were my fault...but perhaps a riding buddy will need something down the road (trail).
  • + 2
 @delusional: Universal cycle.com carries a huge supply of small parts for brakes.
  • + 2
 @TheRaven: agree with you mate. Keep it in the garage and give it to a buddy who need a rebuild. Sharing give you a lot of bike karma
  • + 22
 Shimano Zee's - Best combination of power, modulation, and cost. End of article.
  • + 5
 Was waiting for this. They are usually $120-130 per end at Merlin. That's incredible. At that price, nothing is even in the same league.
  • + 2
 Also, Shimano doesn't openly advertise this but the ZEE master cylinder is better than the whole lot of I-Spec 2 units.
  • + 2
 This. Mine going strong but had issues with lever sticking down. Warranty sorted this Quick bleed in my opinion. 30 minutes bleed every few months keeps them sweet
  • + 1
 @superman-4: couldn't agree more
  • + 1
 That's what I needed to hear. Thank you very much.
  • + 17
 I'm just here for the ensuing clusterfuck in the comment section
  • + 1
 Did you bring the popcorn, I forgot the chips... Frown
  • + 11
 i gotta say the Hope deserve at least to be included in the comparison.
price, power, modulation, appearance, quadruple threat!!

Hope bleed trick? the old teal and black shimano clamp and sponge/ hook barrel assembly thingy that is useless now that shimano gave us a used condom and mini home depot bucket.....
that clamp will catch your over fill, and then i go back and "moto-burp" the caliper....

hope rules.
  • + 15
 What about the Hope V4's??
  • + 19
 They're the best, so this is a test of the best of the rest...
  • + 5
 Yep agreed,just get a set of hopes and fuck the rest off.
  • + 13
 No Hope V4/E4 ?????????????????
  • + 9
 Hope. Unlike the other companies who make brakes that's are sometimes good and sometimes problematic, Hope product s have always worked well for me. They just work. I've owned 5 or 6 sets of hope brakes in the last 12 or so years Also - with Hope, if you have an issue, you can easily reach a human, who'll treat you like a human! They give solid support and care about the folks riding their product, and they care that their product works for the folks riding them.
  • + 9
 Agreed with all who mentioned lack of hope. You have the Über rare Trickstuff in the list which even in Germany most online Shops don't stock...... Serious journalism. Super.
  • + 1
 Hope availability around here is about the same as Trickstuff, never seen them in person. And that's not very far from Pinkbike headquarters. Wouldn't mind seeing both tho...
  • + 7
 You compare Magura MT Trail against Saint and then mark weaknesses that don't exist in Magura's top gravity model MT7. Rather unfair towards Magura. I'm on 2017 MT7s and absolutely love these brakes; the power, modulation, ergonomics and looks are all top notch.
  • + 9
 You guys are missing out if you haven't had enough time with Hope brakes to include them... best option out there.
  • + 6
 RE. The intro - the most underrated aspect of braking is the tyre you are running. It’s amazing the impact of braking on different tyres (and obviously different surfaces) but it’s equally amazing how little this is discussed in the general MTB community.

Give me amazing tyres and shit brakes any day ...
Not the other way round ever
  • + 0
 Give me a bike with minions and I'll make it work no matter the shape they're in. No need to change your tire everyday depending on what you ride
  • + 1
 This! I've had a bitch of a time with my DH bike and the Guide R brakes it came with, to the point of doing a day with a rear brake that couldn't lock up the tire without unweighting the tire. Worked fine as my DHF's were new and the front brake was fine.
  • + 5
 The thumbs down on Shimano a little bit of a reach ... My 820's are consistent and I have no trouble with modulation either. Not something you could say about the 810's, they were an on/off switch. My current set is also still going strong after several seasons of abuse. I personally think if you are in the market for a 4 piston stopper there is no better choice.
  • + 1
 I agree. I actually made the exact opposite experience of what is reported here.
Riding Shimano XT and SAINT all the way they have been my most consistent breaks by far.

When riding SRAM/Avid Code in the European Alps in altitudes from 10'000 down to 2000 feet, on hot summer days or then also on cloudy humid days, my breaking pressure point on the breaks was all over the place and pretty much impossible to adjust.
This was super annoying and also lead to tyring hands all the time.
Changed completely to Shimano config and am all happy now.
  • + 5
 4 pot brake test. - Ok, let's give it a try. Power, modulation, sexyness, steeeze..... - This looks promising, I'm sure PB staff will test everything on a big fuck off DH bike going downhill over 60kph speeds hitting insane tracks that pushes bikes way over its limits..... yeaaaah I'm almost theeeere.... wait.... a Lefty....
  • - 2
 You mean that lefty that is stiffer than a 36 or a lyric? You mean that lefty that works on braking bumps while everything else binds up?
.. Yours, triggered lefty user
  • + 7
 We mean the Lefty that Jerome refused to run.
  • + 1
 ...Or maybe its just the best photo of the brake happened to be on a Lefty. Of course not, much better to assume they are useless.
  • + 6
 @Thustlewhumber: Jerome is sponsored by SRAM...
  • + 1
 @Bahh: The lefty isn't specced on a dh bike where the limits of the brakes could be best tested
  • + 1
 @Bahh: He's also sponsored by Cannondale, so its fair to assume he'd be on a Lefty... it was quite a topic when he ditched the Lefty for the Pike
  • + 6
 rate the single most expensive brake available, completely miss any of hopes offerings all having better availability and being put as oem parts on some bikes.
  • + 7
 My reading comprehension is lacking today. I read the headline and was trying to figure out how 5-piston brakes work.
  • + 4
 I had Hope E4s on my touring tandem with Hope's 203 mm floating rotors. Absolutely smoked them doing a panic stop from 45 MPH on a 10% downhill grade. Warped both front and rear rotors. Finished our tour of Skye with pulsing brakes. Put the brakes and a new set of rotors on my solo MTB where they seem to be fine. That MTB is my winter commuter, so modulation is critical on ice. No issues.

I contacted Hope about the tandem and they responded and told me that I am out of my expletive> mind to use those brakes on a 450 lb bike/riders/gear package. They suggested that I switch over to the V4.

I did that with Shimano Ice Tech 203 mm rotors and last fall we rode the tandem up the Outer Hebrides. Then we had it in the SF Bay area. Both involved steep descents. No trouble. If I have trouble again the only place left to go is Trick Stuff.

I have not had any trouble bleeding the Hope brakes. I use an automotive hand vacuum pump at the caliper and pour fluid in the reservoir as needed. One note: I prefer the DOT fluid because if I need to get some in a remote location I don't loose a day.

I have Avid's on an older MTB. I have had no issues, but I did have to buy a special bleeding kit. I guess that is not too much of an issue.

I also built a reduced cost bike with a lower end Tektro brake set. No problems with them. Again, a brand specific bleeding kit since I don't have any other mineral oil brakes.

A bit of takeaway: Hope does make good products, and any comparison of MTB brakes should have included them. They also have very good customer support. As for the other brands, I have used several and have not had any issues. Correct installation and regular maintenance help a lot.
  • + 7
 Yet again the best candidate is left out... The fact that Hope isn't on this list is borderline insulting...
  • + 2
 I'm not insulted... I'm just really disappointed.
  • + 2
 tbh, if Hope were mineral oil... I would go that route...I figure out the magura bleeding and Im sticking to them now.
  • + 5
 I have the Shimano Zee and I personally think they are a better option than the Saint. I used to own old Avid Code 5 brakes - they were powerfull AF, but were a torture to bleed...
  • + 3
 More than power and modulation, I find lever reach and contact point adjustment to be my most important criteria. I prefer have my levers close to the bar, with very little throw until contact, so I get less arm pump. The Code RSCs work really well for me in that regard, but I hear good things about the new adjustable lever for the Maguras.
  • + 4
 Saints & Zee: "Consistency issues with some brakes" yes! went to warranty, gave me brand news... still the lever never seems to brake in the same spot! why??
  • + 3
 Probably because you haven't done a proper bleed or you've squeezed the brake after the bike has laid with the lever a little upside down, that gets air in straight away.
  • + 3
 @Bahh: even bleed on LBS still the touch point isnt always the same... getting a little bit tired!!
  • + 9
 @luis-beri: There is a trick in bleeding Shimano Saints or Shimano brakes for that matter.
After a complete bleed, ride your bike for a few minutes and pump the brakes repeatedly.
After that do a mini bleed through the lever assembly. You won't believe how much air is left after the complete bleed.
Attach the funnel, fill it halfway with oil and squeeze the lever firmly and let it snap back into position. Rotate the lever assembly around 45 degrees and repeat the procedure. Repeat until you no longer see bubbles coming up.
  • + 2
 @luis-beri: I noticed I had this issue straight after the bike had been on an uplift trailer. At the top of each run the brake would be inconsistent for the first few corners. When I got home I left the bike vertical against the wall for a couple of hours (to mimic the position it was on the trailer), then did a mini bleed. Lots of bubbles came out and the issue went away.
  • + 1
 @flashpoint50: So true with the Saint bleed. I also put the wheel back on after the bleed with the pads and leave the funnel on. I then flick the leaver in different positions to get more of the air out. This also makes the contact point much closer than if you just do it with the bleed block.
Pro tip: do a mini bleed (just add funnel with fluid and flick the leaver) to fill up the master cylinder every 5-7 rides. I have cooked 2 master cylinders because I think the master cylinder got dry. I was unable to push fluid up from the calliper after that.
  • + 1
 @flashpoint50: thanks!! gonna try it!!
  • + 2
 Trickstuff speaking, the boss himself:

I would like to remind that our customers have the choice from a variety of hoses (Kevlar or braided stainless steel made by Goodridge) and four rotor diameters: 160, 180, 203 and 223.
Whenever you feel your DIRETTISSIMA to be too strong just reduce the rotor diameter and/or chose the more elastic Kevlar hoses. Both solutions help to reduce the extreme bite and to improve the modulation.

As far as I can see on the pics the other brakes were tested with 180 rotors, but the DIRETTISSIMA with 203. Additionally our brake was equipped with the power enhancing Goodridge hoses - this is the configuration the Polygon Worldcup team (Mick and Tracy Hannah, Alex Fayolle) use to comply with their needs.

Keeping this in mind nobody should be afraid of too much power. You can customize the Direttissima to your very personal needs and you'll be happy. And: The human mind and body are very flexible and adapt easily to new challenges - just reduce your finger force and get used to the power...

The mentioned reliabilty issue has been solved: The leak was a singular event (what a shame - a leaking brake on Aston's bike, grrrr!) and the rotors have been reinforced. Since we have these new rotors no single failure occured.

Have fun! Klaus Liedler
  • + 2
 I searched for the word "paid" in the comments and didnt come up with a single post. Had he picked the SRAM stopper it would have shown up 50 times with people suggesting it was all a bullshit setup by SRAM who paid them to do it. Weird.
  • + 2
 Sram must really be paying this website well to hammer home the point that their brakes are reliable and consistent during the middle of a massive voluntary recall, so that people will continue to have faith in their product.
  • + 2
 "Fan boi" or not Hope brakes are some of the most popular in use so having a review like this without them is a bit lazy...in my very humble opinion!

@mikelevy you may have already answered this but I'm at work and aint got time but, any reason why Hope were omitted Mike?
  • + 2
 I’ve had the worst luck with sram brakes or any of their product for that matter. My few sets of shimano XT have been pretty solid. Lever bite point consistency can be a bit frustrating but they always work. I like how far the pads pull back from the rotors. My hope V4s are pretty good... not crazy power but great modulation. Getting all the positions timed and center takes a bit of patience, but I put up with it because they look and feel oh so quality. They don’t feel like a throw away product
  • + 2
 I have MT-5's with Galfer metallic pads.. The rear has become inconsistent and I can't get a good bleed on it despite following the NSMB recommendations. The modulation is really nice but I miss Shimano XT hard hitting power. I switched from the XT's wanting more modulation. I am a little crazy about brakes. I think about buying Saints but the inconsistency reports are cause for concern. Hope V4's seem like a safer choice but may not have the same intoxicating hit of stopping power.
Where will the madness stop?
  • + 1
 I get what you are saying! haha
  • + 4
 In a 4 piston brake shoot off why would you test the Trail version of the Magura Brake and not the MT7 which is their actual 4 piston brake?
  • + 4
 Because this is article summarizing reviews they've already done. They had a Magura review that sort of fits. And no Hope review hence no Hope.
  • + 1
 @acali: But I know Pinkbike was at the Magura Press Camp where we rode MT7's on the New Carbine 29'r. seems like a lost opportunity.
  • + 1
 I liked my V4 so much I "hopeified" my other bike's Shimano Saint brakes. Now the Saint uses the same Galfer pads, although the green version, made specifically for Saint. I also use a Hope Floating Rotor with the Saints on the front wheel. Now the Saint brakes are not as immediate, so I don't crash if I sneeze and squeeze the front brake to fast. Especially on icy roads.
But my front brake on the V4 has an issue that will need to be resolves. When I brake a little all the time like in Downhill, then the brake handle comes closer and closer to the handlebar until it hurts the fingers holding the handlebar. Not acceptable on a £600 brake setup, so going back for warranty at CRC.
  • + 1
 If you don't have ABS integrated to your DNK, Hope could be a bit dangerous. My wife almost did salto over the handle bar at the first ride with new Tech# V4... Smile )))) The bite is instant and powerful. I like this. It is challenging, but once you become familiar with them, you don't want to exchange them for anything else.
  • + 2
 Use the bite point adjustment and back it off a bit, gives it a bit more play before all the power comes on.
  • + 1
 On the Code squeal: out of curiosity, did you use the same bike for each of these and just swap out the brakes? I ask because, in my experience, if a new brake is properly bed in and there isn't a chance for pad/rotor contamination - the culprit has always been a poorly finished disc brake mount. Get the Park disc brake facing tool, and friggen use it
  • + 1
 The Magura MT Trail brakes are NOT 4-Piston brakes! Only the front caliper is... Magura MT7 brakes should be used in this comparison. MT7s are the most consistent and reliable brakes I have ridden to date. Power is insane and their 1-finger levers are the most comfortable brake lever I have ridden.
  • + 1
 You forgot to mention that Trickstuff has some serious supply difficulties... ask people how long they waited until they got their brakes. I considered buying them but both price and supply difficulties made me buy some Hopes. Sorry Trickstuff. Whistler opens in May.
  • + 4
 SRAM - our test brakes squealed - do any SRAM brakes not squeal like stuck pigs???
  • + 3
 i would have put MT5/7's instead of the MT trail, as all the others are 4 pot front and rear, also 2nd the call for hopes to have been tested.
  • + 2
 Hope clearly didn't come up with a high enough bid to be featured in this article. To include those German Trickstuff monstrosity things over a set of Hopes to be reviewed is quite simply a joke.
  • + 1
 They were unsure about the impact of Brexit : p
  • + 1
 Sram Guide RE- old Code caliper, new guide lever. These are the cheapest brakes going, and they are just brilliant. Its no coincidence that pro's are choosing old code over new. I bet they would be right up there on the dyno power test too.
  • + 2
 GSPEC - Proven to win world cups! But not enough power... LMAO.. Somebody's getting paid, paid to smoke crack and not think. Always carry a knife, so you can cut through media BS.
  • + 3
 Am I the only one that doesn't care for tool-free adjustments? Once I set them up at the beginning I don't need to adjust them again and then they only add weight and bulk
  • + 1
 In all the 25 years i have been riding and racing mountain bikes I've never had a set of brakes i have been 100% happy with. This day and age with modern tech and designs these now should be 100% reliable and with prefect modulation and loads of power. For some reason no one can get it totally right. Its about time someone got their act together and sorted it once and for all.
  • + 4
 No mention of maintenance? Shimano is super easy to bleed quickly with no mess...
  • + 5
 Quick word on how you find the Hope E4 fits in?
  • + 6
 On top of the rest, that's where.
  • + 2
 For constant, reliable brakes that are easy to setup, and have pads cost less than most others, Hope wins. Only drawback is you can't find pads at EVERY shop. You can use any SRAM hose on a Hope brake, and the Hope hardware is re-useable. So I'd trade pad availablity for ease of replacing a damaged hose on the road.
  • + 5
 Code set squealed? First time ever that this happened haha
  • + 1
 If Shimano brakes are too powerful for your taste, you can switch the brake fluid. For example this one will slightly increase modulation and decrease power: Bleedkit Gold Hydraulic Fluid.

I've been using it for more than a year now on XTR brakes, works great.
  • + 3
 2011 AVID CODE all day long... WTF did they stop making them???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 4
 All these new brake standards are bullshit! V-Brakes for life!
  • + 1
 Nice to be able to compare different company's innovations. Now if only they would change the mounting points to a "new standard" we could get back to comparing apples to oranges again.
  • + 2
 And a question for the comment section. Hope E4 or V4 for all mountain/Enduro? I have my own opinion but keen to see where the comments go.
  • + 1
 Just a combination of personal preference and how much you weigh, if you're on the larger side I'd go with the V4's. Personally I run the V4's on my trail bike with the bite point adjuster backed off a bit to allow a little bit more modulation before I feel them really coming on.

Edit* That being said, I live in an area where the terrain can warrant having bigger brakes.
  • + 1
 I can give you 2 data points since I have Hope brakes on 2 bikes. I weigh about 18 stone (255 lbs). That leaves me well over the Clydesdale level. I have the E4 on my trail MTB. I have the V4 on my touring tandem where the load is about 450 lbs including wife and gear. Rotor size and construction also come into play here. Larger rotor means more mass to dissipate heat. Vented? Ice Tech?

Questions:
1) How much do you weigh?
2) How aggressive do you ride.
3) How steep are your descents?
4) How long are your descents?
5) How large a rotor can you fit to your fork?

I ride in a fairly flat area. I am a XXL. I used to be aggressive but I have mellowed over the last 30 years. My hills are wimpy. I can fit a 180 rotor without issue. I have had no issues with the Hope E4 with plain old steel rotors on my MTB.

I like to go to remote places on the tandem. The combined weight of tandem + 2 x riders + gear for 3 weeks = YUGE! Factor in the speed on a long, steep paved Scottish B road. The H4 with floating rotors were out of their league on my tandem. Speed and weight make the difference.

If you go for the V4 you will spend more money right away. If you go for the E4 you may be spending money for new calipers. Pay your money and take your chance.
  • + 2
 I’m running V4’s up front with 203 rotors and E4 out back with 183’s. Power in spades for shore or whistler riding.
  • + 4
 Hopes are the best!!! Why are they not here?
  • + 1
 I guess I was lucky, but I have never felt inconsistency with the Saint lever. It feels more consistent and accurate than V4 actually. Just have to use Galfer pads to get rid of the on-off feel.
  • + 3
 If Saints are good enough for the Stoppie King (Bernard Kerr) they're good enough for all of us.
  • + 3
 Mike Levy, did you miss out a page of the review by mistake? I Hope you did.
  • + 3
 Shimano fanboy, I blindly like them best. Never used a bad Shimano product.
  • + 1
 Just send me all of the brakes used in this test, plus a set of 4 piston Hopes. I'll try them all and get back to everyone, Uhhhhhhh.......and send me that bike too. XL.
????
  • + 0
 I guess since Saint has been out on the market for so long, it's ok to call them out for being inconsistent. I love how the reviews have changed over time from SHIMANO MAKES THE BEST EVER to calling out the inconsistency and unreliability. In 2020 when Shimano finally gets around to updating these with the new BEST BRAKE EVER the process will start again. The reality is that Shimano is an innovative company that is resting on their past glory and now that their quality control is falling off there is zero reason to buy them
  • + 1
 Its called the xt 4 pot
  • + 2
 Couldn't agree more. I was out of the buying game for a while, so all my stuff was circa 2005, when Shimano quality was excellent, fast forward a decade to me entering the market again, and you have inconsistent brake engagement points, free hubs that disintegrate, and subpar rear derailleurs like the m772.
And while we're on the topic, why did Shimano go with the bleeder syringe? Their pre syringe brakes that I have multiple of work just as well and don't require them to be reverse bled. Just put the bleed screw at the top of the piston, and you'll never have an issue.
And yes, I've got the bleed kit, and multiple Shimano newer style brakes, they're no better.
I do love the mineral oil, though.
  • + 2
 I don't think Shimano will be around forever in mountain biking at this rate. Or if they are, it will be at a loss as a division in the company but help them maintain their global brand image so people still buy their road bike products. I am appalled by the lack of quality control these days. That and overall design. You really can't flip over a bike with Shimano brakes without expecting some surprises when it's rubber side down again, that's absurd.
  • + 6
 Wibblywobbly (and woofer2609) speak the truth, and this article is classic Levy-journalism. Shimano has been resting on their laurels and current models have had known-issues for a long time, including the whole time Levy has been pushing their sales. They do have good power though, which is important in a brake (unlike "good modulation"). If you really want to learn about brakes, spend some time riding them yourself (ideally), or check out some of the European magazine tests. A good hint I can give is: if you have to put an article through google translate to read it (and it was in German), then you probably have a review that is at least somewhat objective and worth reading. Pinkbike reviews, particularly anything brake-related written by Mike Levy is guaranteed to be a sales article - pushing sales for whatever is fresh at the time. I'm not sure if he's pushed to do it by PB or does it by free will, but real "tests" will have actual measurements, comparative ratings, and an actual winner. Downvote if you like, but I just think people's hard earned money should be spent on the best product - not fattening pockets of companies who don't deserve it.
  • + 0
 My MT Trail have been shit from day one. I still get a spongy lever for the rear brake after like 5 bleeds with 3 different methods. Front power is not great at all despite a very firm lever, need to have a 200mm rotor to stop my 80kgs. Wanted to try Magura but disappointed. Will go back to Shimano, most likely Saints.
  • + 5
 First time Magura bleed can be tricky, same as any other brake. You just have to forget everything you know about bleeding and start from scratch. Nsmb.com has nice guide that helped me a lot. I was frustrated with Shimano bleed after Avids as well and this switch was no different. Both my Shimanos and Maguras are superconsistent now and need 0 attention.
  • + 2
 It's most likely a bad master cylinder. I had a similar issue, Magura first sent me a new caliper, later a new master cylinder, the latter fixed the problem. Also check what pads you have, power is very dependent on which of the 3 models of pads you're running.
  • + 1
 @kanasasa: I actually did this bleed after spending hours online trying to find a solution... No luck unfortunately

@genericmk: good to know. Warranty has expired, when i got the brakes my MC was leaking but stopped after the first ride so I didn't care to send it for warranty. Should have... Might try to get a new MC. Thanks!
  • + 0
 I had problems with my Magura MT5. I think I got the bleed right (finally), but pads seems to get contaminated all the time and can't be centered for more than one ride. It's the only thing in my bike that gives me problems consistently, I just can't have them working properly, there's always something.
  • + 2
 @passwordpinkbike: your brake pistons are probably dry, take pads off and push pistons out just a bit (hold easy one to force the other one out). Dip a cotton swab (q-tip) in brake oil and clean/lube pistons, press them in/out a couple of times till they start moving together. Once done + bleed right they should be very consistent.
  • + 1
 @kanasasa: I have actually done that with the hope silicone lubricant, no effect... Thanks
  • + 1
 @passwordpinkbike: tried like 3 different pairs of pads, thinking I got mine contaminated... Nope. These brakes are a nightmare I tell you
  • + 1
 @genericmk: certainly agree in regards to pads, the one piece resin pads that come stock on the MT5's are average at best, the MT7's or swiss stop sintered make an amazing difference.
  • + 3
 Four piston brakes on trail bikes= “Fat guy on a little bike” -tommy boy
  • + 3
 What is this, fat shaming?

I am 250 pounds geared up. I use Saint for trail riding, because I need the stopping power.
  • + 1
 Now that internal routing is a thing, would be curious to know what the outer diameter measurement is of each companies brake lines. Have had issues routing certain brands...
  • + 1
 those trickstuff brakes...expensive, not with the best modulation, weak for crashes, but damn you touch the lever....pure fetish
  • - 1
 No matter what brake you buy the best thing you can have is the knowledge to trouble shoot and work on your own brakes. I also see some folks talking about brakes lasting "years", sure they do but who really wants to run the same ol brake for "years" lol. With that mentality we would all have an iPhone 3. I personally strive to upgrade shit with in the two year mark. Keeps things exciting and helps keep the local shop in buisness.
  • + 2
 Stam Guides were not reviewed as it is common knowledge that they are absolute garbage.
  • + 2
 Laughed right out loud on any Sram brake that is rated at "proven reliability"
  • + 0
 No mention of the ice tech pads rattling super bad on saint brakes. Wasn't stoked on that when I bought my first pair. Otherwise they're solid brakes for enduro riding on steep dh trails.
  • + 1
 Just got a pair of TRP Slate T4s installed. Still ended up cheaper than Zees and came with bleed kit and mineral oil. Will see how they perform.
  • + 1
 i like trick stuff because of the colors. I always wondered about the stopping power until this article. But where do you buy these brakes in the USA and who supports them?
  • + 0
 Shimano XTR M9000 Race levers with Shimano Saint M820 calipers and H03C Metallic pads. Best set up I have ever had. The best way to set the contact point is during the bleed anyway.
  • + 1
 The Saint Lever pushes more mineral oil, than the M9000. M9000 is made for two piston brakes.
  • + 2
 A curious comparison, some lesser known brands versus Sram and Magura but yet no Hopes. Hmmm
  • + 3
 Sweet, a complication of some brakes completely inferior to hopes.
  • + 2
 I guess the hopes must be way better than this class of competition if they don't even need to compare them to the rest lol.
  • + 3
 I was Hoping to see some brakes from the UK... :/
  • + 2
 did hope not want to pay for advertising ?
  • + 2
 Saints or magura. Mt5 or 7s The rest will just disappoint you
  • + 1
 Excelent article, but i miss the Hope breaks ant the new XT piston, i think would be great on pice-quality segment
  • + 2
 avid code silver, the best brake so far, the best Smile
  • + 2
 No Hope?! Lame a million times lame Pinkbike...
  • + 1
 Where’s BREMBO/BERINGER when you want/need a MTB brakeset to rule them all!?
  • + 1
 About to get me some of those TRP silvers and this came out just at the right time to prompt me into buying.
  • + 2
 Just ordered the non G TRP's.
  • + 3
 Code's for life!
  • + 2
 Shimano... shimano....shimano
  • + 1
 your codes squealed 'a bit'? Mine howl like an angry turkey if they get remotely moist (but not at all when dry)
  • + 1
 Use a gas burner and kill it with fire!
  • + 1
 But which brake is the best for the 1km backwheel-coaster-manual-whatever down your favourite gently sloping road...?!?!
  • + 1
 Homosapien Balance
  • + 1
 All my 1 km plus coaster manuals have been on slx but I am looking at the trp option for sure. Zee is great for power but a little to much for long manuals.
  • + 1
 Does tektro make a four pot brake and can you use potato juice as brake fluid?
  • + 1
 Shimano and SRAM are both great on my bikes, but I've definitely gone OTB more on the Shimano stoppers.
  • + 1
 Nice information.Thankyou Pinkbike!!
  • + 1
 Shimano Saint brakes = piece of shit
  • + 1
 SRAM fan boy right here!!! Guides and Codes for the win Big Grin
  • + 1
 I had 4 piston Shimano XT calipers over 10 years ago....
  • + 1
 Awesome article, thanks Pinkbike!
  • + 1
 Brakes ?? Don't know, I never touched'em ..... Smile aahahahhaaa
  • + 1
 Codes... reliable... get the F*ck out of here
  • + 1
 The new ones are lol... not so much for the taper bore shit codes haha
  • + 1
 I'd try out those TRPs for 200 each. Not a bad price.
  • + 1
 What forks are these, in the picture of the Magura brakes?
  • + 2
 I could be wrong, but I believe it’s a lefty.
  • + 2
 That’s a Lefty
  • + 1
 @FindDigRideRepeat @pipomax: Cheers thanks. I do know the old ones had these slotted IS mounts (which required a tightening torque of 9Nm even though the brake calipers weren't designed for that) but I have never looked closely at a modern one.
  • - 3
 If you don't like the " immediate power " of the Saints, switch to organic pads ( I run them in the back, no more skids ).
Magura are crap, Hopes are the best quality but power is so so. Codes are decent but look cheap. My 2 cents, I'm out.
  • + 0
 Don't use organic/resin pads kids, they suck. They absorb contaminants and the power blows. May as well save money and buy SLX brakes if you're gonna do that to your Saints.
  • + 0
 @miff: read again, use in the back so I don't skid. They don't lock up as easy, and save your rotors. Yes they suck in wet conditions but in CA it's dry. Instead of spouting off, recognize different conditions, different set ups.
  • + 1
 I just wanna know what fork those maguras are bolted to
  • + 1
 Zee's work perfect for me. Love em
  • + 0
 Thanks Pinkbike! Nice comparison! Good choice of candidates and relevant topic, as 4-piston-brakes are quite popular today.
  • + 0
 Shimano simple, easy and the best get over it they cornered the market and the rest suck
  • + 1
 Would love to have Formula Cura there too.
  • + 1
 "More power is usually more better," shouldn't that be betterer? lolz
  • + 1
 A Sram brake product that squeals? No....
  • + 1
 Yeah only code
  • + 0
 SRAM Guide Ultimate's - wont lie they're awesome!
  • + 0
 Shimano Saint M810 Disc Brakes. 4 Life !!!
  • + 1
 Breaking news!
  • + 0
 Modulation is for brake riders on a Sunday drive.
  • - 2
 And Sram Guide
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