High-end race brakes in a trail-ready package.

The primary difference between these XTR M9020 Trail Brakes and their Race-oriented brethren is the presence of the Servo-wave Cam. In the race brakes, Shimano decided the weight savings outweighed the benefit of a tightly-controlled braking path, but knew that in downhill, enduro, or trail-oriented applications, that super-defined path would be a welcome feature for riders who depend on their brakes to keep them out of the trees.

At first glance, they don’t appear that different from the previous generation, but you can’t judge a book by its cover. The caliper and master cylinder are now magnesium, and the levers are carbon fiber. Shimano’s also made a number of small improvements to manage heat buildup better, but recommends the new Freeza rotors for maximum performance with these brakes.

The new M9020 brake levers are also compatible with the latest generation of Shimano's I-Spec design, I-Spec II. If you've got a pair of I-Spec II shift levers, you can save valuable cockpit real estate by mounting both the shift and brake levers with one clamp.

  • Trail brakes that embrace all-mountain abuse
  • Magnesium and titanium blend weight and heat dissipation
  • Carbon levers shed every possible gram
  • Engagement is refined for optimal modulation
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

Great stopping power

    You will have all the confidence you need going downhill.

    Watch out for piston leaks

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Before reviewing the M9020 brakes I'll start with reviewing the previous XTR M988 trail version. I've had the XTR M988 Trail now for 5 years and am going to finally hang them up. The power on them was insane whereas the power on M9020 felt like they had a little more Modulation and less on/off power. People usually fault Shimano for this feel, but personally when I'm charging down steep sections and need the brakes and I only need my index finger to work the brakes so I have all my other digits to hang onto the bars... I'll take it.

    My warning is for potential brake pad contamination through leaking pistons. I've noticed on the M9020 brakes that this occurred after about 4 months of riding, I've bled them since and they seem to be working okay but I've also moved these brakes to a DJ bike I rarely ride. I've been running the M988 instead on my other full time bikes but now have encountered the same contamination issue. I hate to rebleed brakes once a year (as this is necessary) to keep them running good. Great brakes, but it's like owning a FIAT, not reliable.

    Great Brakes!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    Tons of power! All I need could with one finger braking. They don't fade like the Saints do. Maybe a little more power than the XTs, but loads more bike bling factor!

    My review on the xtr

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I love mine. I take them downhill riding sometimes and beat them up hard, and there not even specificly designed for downhill like the Saint is. reading these and other reviews from backcountry and the internet, It seems like the brakes are “hit or miss. For me, My free stroke screw makes a difference, my lever bites at the same point every time, the stopping power is great!!!

    Set and Forget

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Most reliable brake on the market. Seems like a few others have had some issues with their brakes, but I can't say the same for mine. I bled mine when i mounted them on my bike 1.5 years ago and havent had to touch them ever since. Shimano brakes tend to have a reputation to be a bit grabby and lacking in modulation compared to some other brakes on the market. I wouldnt really deny that, but will say that i've gotten used to how quickly the brake ramps up.

    Shimano Product Fail

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I have a pair of these (XTR Trail BL-M9020), and they are horrible.

    One, they’re afflicted with the "WANDERING BITE POINT" issue (well-said, Justin B). With that, rotor pad rub comes and goes. I’ve spent much time and money trying to resolve this, but no-go. This is quite frustrating, and dangerous.

    Two, the “Free stroke adjustment” screw accomplishes nothing.

    I too will be taking this up with CC and/or Shimano.

    Wandering bite point and bad piston ret

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    So I have been riding XTR brakes for ever. These appear to be faulty or something. I have bled them a 1000 times and the engagement on the brakes moves. It is terribly inconsistent and the piston often don't retrace. Every ride I have to adjust the caliper so they are not rubbing the rotor. Not sure what happened here Shimano.

    were these the M9020 or the M9000? I have the M9000 and they are so bad that I'm thinking about getting the M9020

    Mine were the 9020. I sent them to Shimano and they sent me a new set. Turn around was fast. New set seems to not suffer from the issue.

    Have had the exact same problem and so have many others. Honestly think this is a manufacturer defect which is very unlike Shimano. Should be recalled until fixed. Will be discussing options with Competitive.

    Unanswered Question

    Can the brake levers be switched ("moto style"), as in left lever-rear brake, right lever - front brake WITHOUT a bleed?

    Best Goodest.

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    You know how Shimano makes nice brakes? These are the best ones. Even the most affordable Shimano brakes are powerful, quiet, an reliable, but the XTR M9020 brakes have the best finish, and additional features to keep them cool (and when it comes to hydraulic brakes, cool is strong) Pair them up with the SM-RT99 "Freeza" rotors, and get finned cooling surfaces on the rotors, caliper bodies, and pads. That's a lot of surface area to dissipate heat! XTR caliper bodies are also one piece, rather than 2 pieces bolted together, so they are a bit stronger. The m9020 levers feel great under the hand. The dimpled surface noticeably increases grip, even with gloves on.

    As with with any new disc brakes, bu sure to take some time to "bed in" the rotors and pads before hitting the trail with several long controlled stops from moderate speed. This will ensure that material from the pads deposits evenly on the rotors and keeps things quiet for a long time!

    Best Brake Ever!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    The new XTR Trail brakes are hands down the best brake I have ever used. They are stiff, well modulated, and all of shimano's cooling technology really keeps the system running well even when braking heavily for long duration.

    Best Brake Ever!

    What is the hose length on the XTR M9020 Trail pre-bled rear brake ??

    The un-cut hose length for the rear brake is 1700mm and the front is 1000mm.

    Solid Stoppers

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    The new XTR M9020s are pretty rad. They have the same stopping power and modulation that we all love about Shimano brakes but with fancy bits like a carbon lever.

    My one issue with the M9020s is the lack of an effective stroke adjustment. There's a small screw on the master cylinder to adjust free stroke, but it doesn't seem to do much, if anything.

    Even without the stroke adjust though, the XTR Trails are still my favorite brakes.

    Also, I'm sure this isn't warranty-friendly (so tread lightly!) but if you find yourself without the Shimano "funnel" bleed kit, the two syringe Avid kit will work with XTRs if you remove the threaded fitting from one syringe and the plunger from the other.

    Solid Stoppers


    Darn straight about the free stroke, it barely does anything, kinda frustrating.

    You're also right about the Avid syringes. They will work in a pinch, just make sure there's ZERO dot fluid left over in them, if any of that gets into the mineral oil system in the shimanos it will destroy the seals inside pretty darn quick.

    That being said, the funnel is like 6 bucks.