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Gear Review: Shimano SLX Disc Brakes

After over 10 years of solid service my Hope Mono Minis disc brakes had started to show their age. Luckily for me the husband had a brand new pair of Shimano SLX disc brakes in the shed!

Pricing up a complete service and all the spare parts versus some shiny new brakes meant it was time to move on from the Mono Minis. The Hope brakes have been excellent. Pretty much fit and forget since I built up the bike nearly 10 years ago. As much as I would have loved to update to a new pair of Hope Tech 3 E4’s, at over £300 for a new pair, the price was a bit out of my budget.

The Shimano SLX disc brakes had been purchased a couple of years ago for a bike upgrade that never happened. You can pick up a pair for just over £200 from Chain Reaction Cycles.

This perfect combination of a rider tunable SLX M7100 brake lever and a two-piston disc brake caliper delivers top-level Shimano braking performance all across the mountain. Enjoy stable and versatile high-performance braking control from the lightweight caliper that’s quick and easy to install. Furthermore, its lever allows for greater flexibility with an action-optimised cockpit layout, so you can weave your mountain bike around the most aggressive trails in style.

Chain Reaction Cycles

The Shimano SLX brakes come pre-bled and fully assembled so they are, in theory, ready to fit and ride. My bike has some over-size disc rotors so new adaptors were needed. Both the callipers and levers were easy to bolt on and get into the correct position. My 2012 Orange 5 only has internal routing for the rear brake, so the rear did need to be bled once fitted. Shimano brakes have one way bleeding. One way oil routing plus a funnel tool with mineral oil provides an easy and clean bleeding system. Compared to bleeding the Hope’s these were a doddle and it was extremely straight-forward to remove all the air from the system.

I was really impressed with the amount of adjustment in the levers. With a simple twist of a dial it was easy to adjust them to your preferred position. I have tiny hands and they still offer enough adjustment to make them comfortable to use and still have plenty of length in the lever.

They also fit very nicely onto the handlebars. I use SRAM gears but because the SLX brakes are very minimal and streamline in their look they still can be positioned so everything fits nicely next to each other, you don’t have to compromise.

After a long period off the bike and some pretty wet weather it was time to get out and put the new brakes through their paces. My main concern about the SLX brakes was a lack of modulation. But I need not to have worried! The braking power is delivered smoothly and equally throughout the pull of the lever. They feel very light to use, the lever has little resistance making one-finger braking feel effortless. But they are not lacking in power, with plenty of stopping ability. Even after one ride I feel like I can trust these brakes.

So far so good for the Shimano brakes. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to test these on some proper descents soon!

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