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Review: Shimano XT RT86 Ice-Tech brake disc rotor

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There are many possibilities when it comes to improving the power of the brake system in our mountain bike. From changing the brake pads, to change the disc with one of better quality or larger diameter, increasing the braking capability of our system.

Ice Tech Rotor Testing

There are a variety of brake disc rotors on the market, fixed discs, floating, with different designs, but the discs with Shimano Ice Tech technology caught our attention and we decided to try one of their discs with our brake pads, seeing that the results presented in their web were promising  ( link here).

Shimano Ice Tech Technology

The Ice Tech technology that Shimano provides, consists of a disc whose contact surface is manufactured as a sandwich made of stainless steel and aluminium, with the outside part made of stainless steel and the inner part made of aluminium. This construction enhances the heat removal, because aluminium has a much higher thermal conductivity than stainless steel. Theoretically, in this way the heat should move quickly from the outer surface of steel to the aluminium, keeping the contact surface with the brake pads cooler and improving braking. Let's see if it really is so effective.

Detail Shimano Ice TechDetail Shimano Ice Tech

Shimano Ice Tech technology details

Installation and test

We started installing the disc on the front wheel of one of our bikes with Shimano brakes, and this time we used RAHOX pads for Shimano with HyperSpeed compound.

Shimano Ice Tech Rotor Installation

Disc rotor after the first hard brake series

We started doing the disc rotor bedding in and fully seat of the brake pads, with a series of hard braking followed by a route of about 35 km where the brakes are used frequently but not in a very demanding conditions. In this first contact we noticed a curious feature of these discs, and it's the sound these discs make. Is quite “different” and deeper than normal steel discs. The explanation comes from the sandwich style manufacturing with aluminium, and although this does not affect its operation or annoying more than steel discs, draws attention the first time. Along this route the brakes were gradually improving, and when we had about 10-15km, the whole system had settled and braked with all its power.

During this first not very demanding route, we noticed that with this disc rotor the system was braking very good with lots of power and no fading, but we did not notice a remarkable improvement over the replaced disc which was a Shimano XT RT76, basically the same disc without Ice Tech technology.

For the final test of Shimano RT86, we chose a more technical route with a very steep descent of more than 1km, so we could see the improvements provided by these discs especially in reducing the fading and heat on the braking surface.

Brake Force and Fading Effect Shimano Ice-Tech

Heat at Rotor Surface Shimano Ice-Tech

Braking power and temperature curves (From Shimano website)

At the beginning of the descent the differences were not remarkable, with as good performance as his "cheaper brother" the RT76, but as we progressed and the disc began to heat up, we began to feel the Ice Tech effect. The brake feel barely changed from beginning to end, providing a good bite when hot throughout the entire descent with little variation. In steel discs we would have noticed a sharper change in biting and brake power as the descent progressed, but the Ice Tech allowed us to keep a very stable and constant brake feeling. When we got down, it was clearly coldest than a steel disc, and kept almost the same feeling that in the beginning of the descent.

Conclusions

The advantages of the Ice Tech technology have convinced us, but we must know of the over price on Shimano XT RT76 against conventional discs, which for many people can be more than enough.

Also mention that the brake track of these discs, having an aluminium core, is not as shock resistant as conventional and can be bent more easily.

The stability in the braking feel that the Ice-Tech disc provides, is something to rating positive, because it allows having more stopping power when the descents are long and the brake system gets very hot. Keep in mind that the proper functioning of the braking system depends on many other factors such as maintenance, type of used brake pads, etc.., but clearly these discs bring an extra benefit. If also combined with good brake pads, the brake system can improve almost immediately.

Shimano Ice Tech logo

Shimano Ice-Tech Logo


 
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