Shimano XT 203mm Ice Tech Rotors- Assessment
The braking system is very crucial for all riders. It dictates how fast can you stop and how gradual you want the bike to decrease the velocity when going really fast. It is essential for any mountain bike to have a good pair of dependable brakes. From coaster hubs to cantilever brakes to calipers to mechanical disc brakes and now hydraulic disc brakes, cycling has gone a long way on research and development on brakes.
When Shimano launched their hydraulic brakes, I waited for a good two years before I finally upgraded my mechanical disc brakes to Deore Hydraulic disc brakes. The first design of the Shimano XT hydraulic brakes was demoted after two years so it was like buying the Shimano XT design when it first came out. I had no issues with my Shimano Deore Hydraulic brakes but I upgraded my rotors to Alligator Wind Cutters 203mm.
The Alligator Wind Cutters
It was a nice bling to my freeride bike. In my former bike, I rocked a 180mm front rotor and 160mm rear rotor. But when I got a full-suspension MTB, I got big and used the gold Alligators to flash some bling. Sure, they say bigger rotors got stronger stopping power, but does it really count? For me, I just like the way it looks. Period.
As years passed, the Alligator Wind Cutters warped and I had my trusty bike mechanic tweak it back into its original state. Whenever I hear the “swishing” sound, it was time to visit my local bike shop and had my mechanic use his magic touch and bend the big rotors back to its straightness.
The gold Alligators were beautiful… its design was like the back of an exquisite dragon… yet I cannot take that imperfection into our epic ride where there would be long descents and gnarly downhills. What if my brakes fail due to the warped rotors? I decided to take on the Shimano XT Ice Tech challenge.
The Shimano XT 203mm Ice Tech rotors
I got the Shimano XT 203mm Ice Tech rotors in Glorious Ride Bike shop in Anonas Road, Quezon City. They knew that I was going on an epic ride in Mt. Ugo. The owner, staff and mechanics were all supportive in making sure that the weapon of choice for the ride was in tip top condition.
We changed the rotors, 203mm front and back. I did not need spacers anymore because I used to rock 203s so there was no issue with that. If you are to use the big rotors for the first time, you should clear first with your fork and frame if it can accommodate the big diameter rotors.
Assessment of the Ice Tech rotors
When the Shimano XT 203mm Ice Tech Rotors SM-RT86 came out, I said I am going to have those rotors. It looks good and because it has a different construction from the usual one piece rotor, I think it would lessen the big rotor warping. Upon further research, I found out that steel and aluminum are mixed into the rotor to quicken the cooling of the rotor when used excessively. The aluminum is sandwiched between two steel plates for the rotor. The aluminum is said to cool faster and the steel plates are for stability and better braking surface.
And because Shimano produced the 6 bolt technology on the rotor (aside from their centerlock), it can be used with any normal hub. This baby was meant to be an upgrade for riders with warped rotors.
I like the 203mm rotors because I want things BIG. It adds grandeur to my big hit bike. But if you are reading this, I’d say the 180mm rotors are just right. Yet if you want it extreme, go get the 203mm rotors. Period.
Stopping power: It works well. Of course there’s a lot of factors why you brake fine. The tires, the brake pads, the terrain PLUS!!! the rotors of course! It has been my habit to use the anti- lock braking system (meaning I pull the lever and release, pull and release, pull and release) when I go downhill. I do it so as not to overheat the brakes. But with the Ice Technology invented by Shimano, do I really have to use the Anti-lock braking system? YES. It’s all part of the technique in riding. Kill the speed when necessary. And then you’ll be fine. These rotors just don’t heat up that much, plus it looks so damn good.
Warping– no warping yet. I haven’t heard that “swishing” sound since we installed the rotors. I hope I never will.
Wet– We rode in rain, mud, and hot conditions using the rotor. The braking sound of wet and dirty rotors was heard for a short while but once it was cleaned by the pads, no more annoying sound.
Aesthetics– The rotors are designed well. Function plus form. If you think the design sucks, taste is relative.
Weight– 169g for the 203mm rotor. If you want to go lighter, go get the 160mm or 180mm model.
Performance– We live in a tropical country where there is no snow, but there is lots of sunny and rainy weather. If it is hot, the ride is too hot. If it is rainy, expect to get wet and muddy. It held up to the abuse and conditions of the islands here in the Philippines. We went downhill for a whole day and it didn’t fail me.
If you want to know more than what I already wrote here, please click on the video below and watch it.
If you plan to upgrade your rotors to a bigger diameter size, choose the XT Ice tech rotors. The two piece design plus the material construction of the rotor is top notch. Shimano has a whole research and development team working on making our lives better on the bike. I trust them for that. You can get the other brands and spend more, but do you really want that? I say, stick with the trusted brand and the quality of what you paid for is worth it.
The Shimano XT 203 mm Ice tech rotors are available at Glorious Bike Shop in Anonas road, Quezon City. Just ask the friendly sales people there about the rotors and they are willing to help. Here is the map and directions on how to go to Glorious Ride bike shop.