Shimano introduces road hydro disc brakes for mechanical shifting

Shimano offer road hydraulic disc brakes with mechanical shifting for the first time

by Mat Brett   March 31, 2014  

Shimano is introducing road hydraulic disc brakes for use with mechanical shifting for the first time. Shimano has also launched a new version of its 105 groupset giving the opportunity for 105-equipped 11-speed bikes with hydraulic braking and mechanical shifting.

Shimano released hydraulic disc brakes for the road last year, but the hydraulic braking mechanism was integrated into the Di2 electronic lever (ST-R785). That meant that if you wanted hydraulic disc braking with a road groupset from Shimano, you had to have electronic shifting too; you couldn’t have hydraulic braking and mechanical (cable-operated) shifting.

That has changed now that Shimano has launched the ST-RS685 (main picture), a compact hydraulic disc brake lever for mechanical shifting, so you use regular derailleurs and regular cables. Shimano see this as an Ultegra level product but it is compatible with the mechanical version of Shimano’s top-end Dura-Ace groupset and it also works with the new 105 groupset that was launched today

Shimano has included a mineral oil reservoir and brake system in the mechanical lever, while managing to keep that lever compact. The lever features a 10mm reach adjustment to customise the fit for people with smaller or larger hands.

The brake caliper Shimano introduced last year, the R785, has been replaced by the RS785 (Shimano has slung an S in there). The new brake caliper, which works with both electronic and mechanical shifting levers, has improved cable routing, according to Shimano.

"The [old] R785 uses a banjo fitting for the hose which fits onto the outside of the caliper," says Mark Greshon, Shimano's UK brand manager.

"The new [RS785] caliper doesn’t use a banjo fitting, it uses a direct hose connection which goes straight to the top of the caliper. Also, it has a slightly slimmer design so it looks a little better for road bike use.

"The main reason for switching to this new caliper is that in certain situations, especially if the frame manufacturer chooses to mount the caliper on the inside of the rear triangle, it’s possible to catch your heel on the outside of the banjo [with the R785]. With this new caliper [the RS785], the hose is completely in line to improve heel clearance."

Shimano equips its hydraulic disc brakes with Ice technology that features a clad rotor blade with a three-layer sandwich structure of stainless steel and aluminum. Shimano says that this provides a better radiation performance that reduces the temperature while braking.

There are two Freeza SM-RT99 rotor size options: 140mm is the standard with 160mm as an option for people who want more brake power.

Shimano also have a new high-end disc compatible wheel, the RX830, to go with the road disc brakes. Check out our previous report for details on that.

Shimano say that the ST-RS685 (the lever) and BR-RS785 (the caliper) will be available from August.

33 user comments

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No one wants to catch their heel on their banjo now do they...

posted by nug8321 [28 posts]
31st March 2014 - 15:29

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No, actually, tom_w, I do have that info. I'll add it now. My mistake.

posted by Mat Brett [1814 posts]
31st March 2014 - 15:31

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A very important piece of equipment this..how many of us have been waiting on discs for our winter steeds only to be put off by mechanical only. Assuming price is ok(ish) this is a game changer.

As mentioned in another comment very cleaver design work from Shimano.

posted by NeilXDavis [111 posts]
31st March 2014 - 15:34

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+1 for 'game changer'

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posted by harman_mogul [113 posts]
31st March 2014 - 15:50

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I am meh on disc brakes* and want to know what Campag's response is, but this is the first disc brake I could in all honesty use. Cable is a waste of time IMO and SRAM....

*its happening so no point worrying about it.

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posted by mrmo [1022 posts]
31st March 2014 - 16:40

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Great stuff.

Now if they can just take all the shifting gubbins out, at last we can have singlespeed drop bars with hydraulics. (or bar end shifters for your tourer). I realise they'd sell about five a year....but I'd buy a pair. Only viable option at the minute is TRP Hylex...

posted by munded [52 posts]
31st March 2014 - 16:40

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There is my next winter bike sorted! I have been looking ahead to what I would get for my new longer commute through next winter, I want it to be disk, can't justify Ultegra so this looks fantastic!

Only problem then is that my winter commuter will have 11 speed and my summer bike a measly 10... I don't need 11, I don't need 11, I don't need 11....... Dang that Durace Di2 is spendy but how will my summer bike hold it's head up in the shed if the winter bike out blags it.

posted by paulrbarnard [95 posts]
31st March 2014 - 16:43

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Superb, this is exactly why I bought my cross bike disc ready last year in the blind hope they would do a mechanical version.
Happy days.

posted by Saintyl [15 posts]
31st March 2014 - 17:12

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nice - this is proper progression but I dread to think of the cost of those levers and the heartbreak involved in smashing one to bits in a prang. Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.

Still, this helps settle my decision to prolong the lifespan of the 9 speed stuff on my cx (mechanical) disc bike and wait for these rather than stick that old fangled 10 speed gubbins on now.

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posted by joemmo [773 posts]
31st March 2014 - 17:24

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Buggerations, just purchased Ultegra with Trp HyRds for the new Kinesis. Oh well, justifies a future upgrade (or even a new bike...)

posted by geargrinderbeard [30 posts]
31st March 2014 - 17:40

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Blimey, an almost unanimously positive response to a road disk brake article. I have to agree though - this is the missing link that opens up a lot of people's upgrade paths. They're nice looking too, let's hope they work as good as they look.

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posted by andyspaceman [213 posts]
31st March 2014 - 17:42

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This gives me hope that in a few years' time I won't be spending weeknights tearing my hair out trying to get my cable discs working nicely.

posted by bollandinho [48 posts]
31st March 2014 - 17:43

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I am sure that TRP do a full hydraulic lever for drops with no gears involved

posted by mattsccm [244 posts]
31st March 2014 - 18:20

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"Ice" technology featuring "Freeza" discs. I feel like their trying to make me form an opinion of how it's going to perform but for the life of me I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

posted by Nick T [751 posts]
31st March 2014 - 18:57

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great stuff, but only 11-speed mechanical group compatible, not backwards to 10-speed sadly.

posted by Metjas [270 posts]
31st March 2014 - 19:00

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So I got a disc bike, upgraded it to TRP Parabox, and it has a current gen 105 rear derailer so these levers could be just the ticket when I step up from 9 to 11 speed, assuming that the pricing has come down a bit by then. Not sure about the logic of a three layer disc, surely that's asking it quite nicely to warp if you do manage to over heat it.

posted by Initialised [104 posts]
31st March 2014 - 19:17

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Yay!
11 sp only? Boo!

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posted by alotronic [245 posts]
31st March 2014 - 19:17

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Now I just have to wait for Merlin to have them on offer.

posted by IanW1968 [133 posts]
31st March 2014 - 21:15

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To those people complaining there's no 10 speed, just leave out a cog on the 11 speed (reports suggest the 14t). It fits on the 10 speed freehub and works fine, apparently.

posted by drmatthewhardy [285 posts]
31st March 2014 - 22:03

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joemmo wrote:
nice - this is proper progression but I dread to think of the cost of those levers and the heartbreak involved in smashing one to bits in a prang.

In 20 years of crashing MTB's I've never broken a hydro lever. People worry a rotor will sever a leg while disregarding a century of exposed chain rings flying all over the place willy-nilly. It's just not an issue.

If you are setting out to crash in a Cat 3 crit, don't bring your sunny Sunday bike Smile

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [437 posts]
31st March 2014 - 22:50

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A certain US site are quoting 699 dollars for levers and callipers. Which we all know in bicycle currency exchange is 699 pounds.

posted by eddie11 [75 posts]
31st March 2014 - 23:23

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KiwiMike wrote:
joemmo wrote:
nice - this is proper progression but I dread to think of the cost of those levers and the heartbreak involved in smashing one to bits in a prang.

In 20 years of crashing MTB's I've never broken a hydro lever. People worry a rotor will sever a leg while disregarding a century of exposed chain rings flying all over the place willy-nilly. It's just not an issue.

If you are setting out to crash in a Cat 3 crit, don't bring your sunny Sunday bike Smile

No, me neither but I have smashed an sti lever in a relatively innocuous crash, they are more exposed than a flat bar lever so a concentration of 2 expensive mechanisms at that point would be a concern for me personally. As for the rotor danger, I couldn't give a monkeys if these ever get uci approval for racing or not, I'm just glad they are becoming a real option on road bikes for the hoi polloi.

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posted by joemmo [773 posts]
31st March 2014 - 23:34

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Hmmm, am I the only one wondering April fools...

Just hoping it isn't, cause I'll be taking a pair of these the minute they hit the shelves if so.

posted by Angeld [6 posts]
1st April 2014 - 13:23

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Angeld wrote:
Hmmm, am I the only one wondering April fools...

Had me worried but:

by Mat Brett March 31, 2014

2013 Focus Cayo Evo --- 2013 Boardman CX Team (hit by car, RIP) Sad

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posted by IngloriousLou [2 posts]
1st April 2014 - 20:25

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Still not sure on disks, this is going the way of convincing the majority though which will eventually mean me

Specialized Allez 2009, Campagnolo Centaur 10, Campagnolo Shamal Wheels. 8.3kg

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posted by Miles253 [193 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 6:11

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£700 - is it goldplated!?!?! In my book thats way too much even if i had 11 SPD to start with. If you are on 10spd, makes Hope and TRP options the only way to go. Shame as it looks a nice bit of kit (unlike the hideous SRAM attempt). And as its Shimano you know it will work.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [208 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 17:07

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pastaman wrote:
£700 - is it goldplated!?!?!

It's a lot, isn't it ? Mind you, even given that most of them will end up being shipped as part of groupset on a new bike, when was the last time anyone paid the RRP for a group or brake set ? (Surely they'll be about a tenner on Merlin soon enough....)

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posted by fukawitribe [296 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 22:30

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[snip]

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posted by fukawitribe [296 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 22:31

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given that the Di2 levers and hydraulics are £499, i'd be surprised if the mechanical setup was £200 more

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
2nd April 2014 - 22:37

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Yes they are real and the UK SRP is £499, the same as the Di2 version.

posted by mister p [2 posts]
4th April 2014 - 10:00

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