If you’re rockin' 2 piston brakes and you feel like your brakes lose power while descending or just straight up don’t have much power from the get go, then you’ll greatly benefit from an upgrade to 4 piston brakes. Plain and simple.
You’ll also be able to ride faster with better brakes! But wait, how can having better brakes make you ride faster? Isn’t their only purpose to slow you down? Well yes. BUT if you have confidence that your brakes will in fact slow you down, you’ll feel more confident to let ‘er rip and ride fast. With those XT M8000’s on steep trails, I was constantly holding the brakes to keep me moving at a more moderate, slower pace because I seriously didn’t think I could grab brake at the bottom of that section to stop me if I was moving quick. After going back to my preferred brakes, the SRAM Codes, I could just totally let off the brakes and carry speed downhill because I knew that at the bottom of that steep bit I could grab a fistful of brakes and slow down REAL QUICK.
But even if you’re in an area that doesn’t have steep, rough terrain like the Pacific Northwest, then a 4 piston brake upgrade still might be a worthwhile upgrade for you. Riding in any area with any vertical descending will be benefited from more powerful brakes. There’s really never a bad time to have more powerful brakes when riding down anything, so even if you’re just going up and down a couple hundred feet then you’ll be happy you’ve got more power to slow you down. Also if you’re a larger person, a more powerful brake will definitely keep your speed in check better.
The only time you just really don’t need 4 piston brakes is if you live in an area with mostly XC riding. 4 piston brakes will be slightly heavier than 2 piston brakes, so if you live in a flat area and mainly ride cross country and don’t need more stopping power, then a 2 piston brake is probably better for you.
And honestly, to really reach and try to find a downside, it would be that 4 piston brake take slightly more maintenance. 2 piston calipers use 2 pistons with 2 seals, and 4 piston calipers use 4 pistons with 4 seals. With more seals, comes technically more seals to clean and maintain. But seriously this is reallyyy reaching to even find a downside.
One thing worth mentioning is that most 2 piston brakes that come stock on complete bikes, and even some 4 piston brakes, will have organic brake pads pre-installed in them. So if you have 2 piston brakes and just want a smidge more power, check to see if you have organic brake pads. If you do, swap those out with metallic pads and you’ll slightly increase your power while descending. If you’re not sure of what you have, you can always email us photos of your brake pad setup and we can help you out. But if you definitely want a noticeable power increase, then let’s get you some brakes!