There's no motorsport discipline where skimping on brakes in considered an acceptable practice, so why would you do it on your bike? If you're building up a new bike or looking to improve braking performance of an existing one, the Ultegra BR-R8000 Brake Calipers provide the performance of Shimano's premier group at a price that is palatable. Increasing power and creating a more predictable, linear brake path marks some of the exciting refinements on the new Ultegra brakes—and, considering that there's no rosy alternative to stopping with brakes, we're not at all embarrassed to call refinements in brake technology exciting.
Receiving trickle-down technology from Dura-Ace calipers, the R8000 calipers are designed for R9100 and R8000 series dual control levers, but will work equally well with 11-speed levers from previous Ultegra and Dura-Ace groups that are designed to pull cable ratios required for SLR-EV calipers.
These brakes receive the same angular shapes that define the rest of the Ultegra group, especially the cranks. These lines not only offer a more muscular look, they also help create better aerodynamics and increase rigidity, thus improving power. A stabilizer spanning larger pivots acts as a brace and prevents any torsional flex, creating better brake sensitivity and modulation. The new R8000 also clears tires up to 28mm, which is quickly becoming our go-to width for riding tarmac and makes for a more comfortable and efficient ride by better managing imperfections in the road surface.
Just like the brakes in the 9100 Dura-Ace group, the brake release lever moves to a closed position in-line with the arch of the caliper, helping to improve aerodynamics. (We love the irony of brakes that make you faster.) The lever is easy to open on-the-fly if you're eyeing a 1,300-watt romp to the line and want to make sure the pads don't rub the rim. If a pre-finale puncture threatens your chances of winning from the break, a barrel adjuster allows for quick adjustment of cable tension if you get a wider or narrower rim from neutral support.
Pivoting pad cartridges allows for easy adjustment and the R55C4 included pads are designed for alloy rims. The better feel and power afforded by these new calipers add confidence when scrubbing speed down a long mountain descent and may have you questioning if the added weight of disc brakes is even needed on road bikes.