There're two things we've found ourselves infatuated with lately. One is hydraulic road disc brakes. The power and modulation really can't be beat and it's allowing frame designers more room with tire clearance which in and of itself, is pretty cool. The other, well we've always been fans of the performance/dollar ratio that Shimano provides with its Ultegra components, but the latest refinements make it a real winner. So what happens if you combine the two? You get a product that we're really excited about: Shimano's Ultegra ST-R8020 STI Shifters & Disc Brake Caliper Set.
This complete shifter/brake lever/caliper trio comes ready to install and accommodates all Shimano 11-speed drivetrains, so if you already own perfectly good mechanical derailleurs, you're in luck and the hydraulic flat mount calipers work with most newer 'cross, gravel, and road framesets. Shimano also includes its dialed OT-SP41 housing and low-friction polymer shift cables that are so smooth and crisp shifting, it'll have you questioning the benefits of electronic groups, and all of the small parts like housing ends, crimps, etc.
As good as the RS685 mechanical/hydro shifter/brake levers were, the R8020's represent a clear upgrade in performance now that Shimano has fully embraced road disc and slots them in under the Ultegra dedicated road series. Installation and maintenance are easy and typical of what we've come to expect from Shimano. The brakes come pre-bled and if you're careful, you can shorten the hoses or route them internally if your frame and fork require, without a bleed. But even if you have to, it’s an easy affair and Shimano's choice of using paint and planet friendly mineral oil gets high praises from us. The R8070 calipers feature excellent and well thought out design features like easy access bleed ports and top-loading pads. The calipers deliver power and modulation in spades and enjoy the IceTech technology that Shimano refined on its mountain bike brakes. Brake pads with cooling fins and ceramic pistons help dissipate heat and insulate so the brakes are as consistent at the bottom of a 7-mile descent with heavy braking as they are at the start. Shimano recommends using IceTech rotors (sold separately) with a stainless steel braking surface sandwiching an alloy core for the best performance and increased safety.
Most drop bar frame and forks will accommodate 140 or 160mm rotors and rear flat mount calipers fit 140mm rotors native and require a Shimano adapter to fit a 160mm rotor. Front calipers run the same adapter and its orientation dictates its rotor size accommodation. Enjoy excellent all-weather performance and consistent, powerful braking and precise mechanical shifting with Shimano's Ultegra ST-R8020 STI Shifters & Disc Brake Caliper Set.