Every single rider has a set of brakes on their mountain bike. Whether you ride full suspension or hardtail, with 30 gears or 1, a new bike or an old one, we all need a set of stoppers to keep us from flying down the mountainside, completely and utterly out of control. So, we surveyed over 2,000 mountain bikers to find out which brakes riders think are the best.
#1: Shimano XT Is the Best Mountain Bike Brake
Drum roll please! The best mountain bike brakes, according to Singletracks readers, are Shimano’s XT brakes.
While I would have drawn this article out into a longer list, Shimano’s XT brakes won by such a massive landslide that going beyond the top three highest-voted brake models leads to such a massive drop off that the results don’t appear to be statistically relevant.
Out of 1,570 responses to this question, Shimano brakes collectively, across all of their various models, received 1,022 votes. The XT model itself received 592 votes, which is more than all non-Shimano brakes combined! All other models of brakes, from SRAM, Avid, Hope, Magura, Hayes, Formula, Tektro, and TRP only netted 548 votes.
#2: Shimano XTR
Next up, second place was claimed by Shimano’s XTR model, with 160 votes.
#3: SRAM Guide RSC
Finally, SRAM makes an appearance in third place, with their Guide RSC model claiming 154 votes.
After third place, fourth drops to 70 votes (Shimano Deore) and the results trail off drastically after that… but Shimano still continues to dominate.
While on the surface the brake market appears to have much more competition than, say, the drivetrain market, these numbers seem to indicate that’s not the case. Shimano is an absolute giant in the brake market, and despite SRAM’s latest Guide brakes initially receiving rave reviews, recent quality control and warranty issues haven’t been helping them recover from the generally negative perception of their Avid brand.
And despite the first batch of Shimano’s latest M8000 XT model being plagued with issues, Shimano has reportedly resolved those issues. Most readers apparently still consider Shimano XT to provide strong braking power in a reliable package, and at an affordable price.