Shimano launches improved XTR brakes and featherweight tubular 29er wheels

  • By Spencer Powlison
  • Published Apr. 19, 2013
  • Updated Jul. 30, 2014 at 6:42 PM EDT
For the first time in its mountain bike history, Shimano is using carbon in the construction of its brakes, in the arm and bar clamp. The new XTR tubular wheels are very expensive, more-so than anything else we've seen, but they are light and anything built to Shimano's durability standard should withstand the test of time. Plus, tubulars never go out of style. Photo: Logan VonBokel |

MONTEREY, Calif. (VN) — Shimano released an updated and improved version of its venerable XTR brakes this week at the Volkswagen Sea Otter Classic. This isn’t a wholesale revision of the M985 model, but the M987 sports notable enhancements that shave a bit of weight and improve performance.

As Shimano gradually implements new materials like carbon fiber and magnesium into its line-up, cross-country racers are enjoying lighter, faster equipment.

The M987’s new rotors are immediately noticeable — several fins have been added to the design, which Shimano claims improves their ability to cool the system by as much as 40 degrees Celsius.

Why better cooling? The new, light gray calipers — a departure from XTR’s ordinarily dark color tones — are made from magnesium, which does not dissipate heat well on its own. This technology, coupled with carbon brake levers (both firsts for Shimano) have managed to shave 80 grams off a complete brakeset.

Tubular 29er XTR wheelset

Beyond brakes, this traditionally aluminum-centric company continues to venture into the world of alternative materials. Shimano also unveiled a carbon-rimmed, tubular 29er XTR wheelset this week.

Sparing little expense, these hoops clock in at approximately 1,300g, depending on axle type. Furthermore, the 28-spoke carbon rims weigh an inertia-killing 280g. Clearly, this wheelset was designed with sponsored racers like Emily Batty and Sam Schultz in mind, and with a price tag of $3,199 for the pair, it’s likely that they’ll be limited to the elite echelon of the sport for the time being.

FILED UNDER: 29er / Bikes and Tech / MTB TAGS: / /

Spencer Powlison

Spencer Powlison

When it comes to bike racing, Spencer is a jack-of-all-trades. He loves pinning on a number, whether it’s in a local criterium, a mountain bike enduro, a cyclocross national championship, or a gran fondo. Name any cycling discipline, and more likely than not, Spencer has ridden or raced it. He has been lucky enough to work in the bike industry for the majority of his adult life, from his time turning wrenches in a Vermont bike shop to his five-year tenure at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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