Since its inception to the market place in 1992, the stellar XTR group was rife with innovation and super high-quality finishes never before seen on a mountain bike components. The crankset for each generation set new standards as did the shifting components. One thing the engineers seem to struggle with were the XTR disc brakes. Technically, they worked, but not without issue. Poor modulation, lack of power for it's class and noisy pad contact were some of the nagging problems.
For the 980 series XTR, Shimano went back to the drawing board and started from scratch. Rendering what many now believe to be the best disc brake design ever released. The first thing you will notice are the astonishing good looks and polished silver finish. Beauty is more than skin deep in this case. The brake has a compact lever design that features a 2 finger, 13mm wide lever. The fluid is held in an integrated barrel reservoir with a hinged handle bar. The hinged clamp is iSpec compatible, which means it will allow a 980 series shifter to be attached to the clamp so you will only have one clamp for both brake and shifter on your handlebar. A beefed up, high power hose connects the lever to the caliper. The polished silver calipers have an oversized 22mm ceramic piston. Although it is much larger than it's predecessor, it is lighter and far more powerful. Unique pad design has monster fins for cooling. The resin pad with alloy plate comes stock and a metal pad with titanium back plate is optional. This unit is pre-bled, meaning, the hose is attached to both the lever and calipers and is ready for action, right out of the box.
All of these design elements add up to a near perfect braking system that is lighter and more than 10% more powerful than the previous XTR design. Once again, Shimano proves to the industry that when they focus on a particular component, no one can make it better.