With the Shimano XT M8120 disc brake, the Japanese manufacturer enters our group test with a true classic. Retailing at € 420, the XT is comparatively affordable, but is it good enough to secure victory in our 2024 brake comparison test?

Learn more about this comparison test: The best MTB disc brakes – 14 MTB brakes in comparison

Shimano XT | Four pistons | Mineral oil | organic pads | 588 g (Set without rotors) | € 420 (Set without rotor) | Manufacturer’s website

Shimano have long offered a massive range of cycling components, which makes it difficult to stay abreast of their model numbers and abbreviations. This includes everything, from brakes and drivetrains to entire groupsets. The XT sits just below the top-tier XTR model, and is the mid-range option of the three Shimano brakes we tested. Retailing at € 420, it’s cheaper than the SRAM CODE Bronze entry-level model and Shimano’s top tier XTR model, which was developed with weight efficiency in mind.

At 588 grams without rotors, the four-piston Shimano XT is exactly 1 g lighter than average in this test. Often used as an OEM component, the XT is an allround brake with a high-quality feel. With its unmistakable design and additional support brace, it’s distinctly recognisable as a Shimano. The wide clamp is well thought-out and features Shimano’s I-SPEC system, which allows you to attach a dropper remote and shifter directly to the brake clamps, ensuring a tidy cockpit. The clamp is easy to open, and the one-piece design prevents you from losing parts on the trail. Tool-free lever reach adjustment makes it easy to fine tune the brake, although the free stroke screw doesn’t really seem to do much.

Like all Shimano brakes, the XTs use mineral oil, which is relatively harmless on the skin and paint. As long as the oil doesn’t get onto the pads, you should be safe! Moreover, the Shimano brakes are one of the easiest to bleed in the entire test field. Shimano’s “one-way bleed” is designed to prevent air bubbles from getting trapped in the system. Most of the time, you can get away with attaching a full bleed funnel to the port on the lever and squeezing the lever a few times – anyone can do this!

The Shimano XT comes in a discreet grey colour and features a smooth-working lever reach adjustment.

The Shimano XT brake on test

On the trail, the Shimano XT ensures powerful deceleration and has the same snappy on-off feel which is typical of Shimano brakes – it’s much more direct than other brakes from brands like Hope, Trickstuff and Hayes, for example. The brake pads bite hard right from the beginning of the lever stroke, whereby the power is easy to modulate. Deadband transition is very smooth and – like the overall brake feel – very similar to the lightweight Shimano XTR model. On the trail, the XTs are XTRs are pretty much the same, with differences only becoming evident in our lab tests: here the XT falls right in the midfield, slightly ahead of the Shimano SLX and behind the Hayes Dominion T4, with the Shimano XTR following close behind. Fitting a set of Sinter’s Green pads, allows you to increase the braking power of the Shimano XT significantly. The ICE-TECH rotors and pads with cooling fins help to dissipate heat, with the Shimano XT reading 25° C less than the SLX on our laboratory thermometer. Needless to say, this results in less brake fade on long descents. All in all, the Shimano XT brakes leave little to be desired, but don’t stand out for any reason in particular either. Overall, it’s a very solid brake at a fair price.

Our conclusions about the Shimano XT

The Shimano XT impresses with powerful deceleration and good brake feel, striking an overall excellent price-performance ratio. On the trail, it delivers a nearly identical performance as the top tier XTR model, which costs over € 200 more. Both the bleeding and adjustments are easy and straightforward. While the snappy brake feel might not be everyone’s cup of tea, overall, the XT is a solid and powerful brake.


  • Well thought out one-piece clamp
  • Very easy to bleed
  • Plenty of power


  • On/off brake feel might not be everyone’s cup of tea

More info on shimano.com

Find the overview of this comparison test here: The best MTB disc brakes – 14 MTB brakes in comparison

All brakes in test:
Formula Cura 4 | Hayes Dominion T4 | Hope Tech 4 V4 | MAGURA MT5 Pro | MAGURA MT7 | Shimano SLX | Shimano XT | Shimano XTR | SRAM CODE Bronze Stealth | SRAM CODE Ultimate Stealth | SRAM MAVEN Ultimate | Trickstuff MAXIMA | TRP DH-R EVO | TRP Trail EVO |

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Peter Walker