Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes actual weights and detail photos

Thanks to our friends over at Wheelworks in New Zealand, (who’ve sent us some interesting articles before) we’ve got some actual weights on the new Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes.

Mounted up to this gorgeous Independent Fabrication road bike, they’re currently using a Campy crank until their longer 177.5 Dura Ace cranks arrive, and use larger 160mm rotors since 140mm Freeza rotors aren’t available for the rear. Personally, I’d stick with 160mm rotors front and rear, but that’s just me. Click through for their weigh in photos, install notes and first impressions…

Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes actual weights and detail photos

Levers both come in at 255g each.

Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes actual weights and detail photos

Calipers are 98g, finned IceTech brake pads are 20g and a 160mm Centerlock rotor is 116g.

GUEST REVIEW – First impressions from Tristan at Wheelworks NZ

I was super lucky to get an early production version of the new R785 hydraulic road disc brake system and fit it onto my Independent Fabrication. I’m writing a full review for NZ Road Cyclist magazine but I know there is quite a bit of interest around this kit so I wanted to write a short overview.

In the box
The boxed R785 ‘kit’ includes the following:

  • Two Di2 STI shifters
  • Two brake calipers
  • Two sets of finned brake pads
  • Two hoses (different lengths; one front and one rear) with all the required olives and barbs. There are no spare olives or barbs.
  • Two bottles of Shimano mineral oil brake fluid
  • EL-EW02 tool to remove and install Di2 wires

There are no adapters or rotors in the kit – you’ll need to organize these separately. I really like how Shimano no longer includes adapters as there are now many different ‘standards’ so it makes a lot of sense to leave them out of the box.

I used the new Freeza rotors in 160mm front and rear. I’d like a 140mm rear but it’s not available until March. Freeza rotors are only available in the splined Center Lock interface.

Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes actual weights and detail photos

The Freeza rotors use a similar construction to the ICE rotors where aluminum is sandwiched between two steel sections. The steel deals well with the friction of braking without wearing out and the aluminum draws the heat away. The Freeza section of the rotor incorporates aluminum fins which expand the rotor’s surface area increasing cooling.

The supplied finned pads use an aluminum backing to draw heat away from the pad and into the finned area.

The calipers use ceramic pistons to insulate the caliper and brake fluid from heat.

The R785 Di2 levers will work with any Shimano e-tube Di2 components: Ultegra 10 speed 6770 or 11 speed 6870 or DuraAce 11 speed 9070. I chose 9070 because the polished silver highlights match the bike.

Over the past year Shimano has created the awesome si.shimano website and has removed most of the printed manuals from the component boxes. The info on the si site is really good and well worth the read when it’s your first time installing a new component. Using the dealer manual (“DM” on the website) the installation was very straight forward, however I do have a lot of experience with Shimano’s hydraulic mountain bike brakes.

The only non-standard tool required is the yellow cup for bleeding the brakes (which is not included in the kit) however this tool has been required on mountain bike brakes over the past few years so should be commonplace by now.

A hydraulic hose cutter makes things a lot easier and neater – I use an old Avid tool but there are plenty of options on the market now.

The most difficult thing about the install was getting the hoods back in place! Each hood can be peeled back from both the front and the rear, and the front uses 6 small plugs to hold onto the lever body…I found these plugs a nightmare to seat correctly but ended up using an awl to gently push each one into the lever body.

The shape of the levers is very similar to the other Shimano Di2 levers and is narrower through the body than the equivalent mechanical version. The R785 lever extends upwards more at the ‘point’ but not nearly as much as the SRAM hydraulic lever, and in real-life the lever looks far less bulbous than it does in photos.

Shimano SH-R785 road bike hydraulic disc brakes actual weights and detail photos

The brake lever blades have a pronounced hook at the bottom and are very comfortable when braking from either the hoods or the drops.

The Di2 side of the install is as easy or difficult as you make it – if you have previous experience with Di2 you’ll know how straight-forward the basics are but how difficult it can be to hide the wires and make a nice, clean install.

Unlike other Di2 shifters there is only one e-tube port on each shifter. Sprint or climbing shifters cannot plug into the STI.

Once installed I updated the firmware with the SM-PCE1 box. It frustrates me that this box cannot also charge the system – seems like a wasted opportunity.

I’d initially ordered a pair of the new XTR M987 magnesium calipers to save some weight and because I hoped they looked like the polished M985 calipers, however they’re a matte silver which didn’t look good on the bike, and the weight saving of 20g per caliper didn’t justify the price (to me). It’s also worth mentioning that the calipers that come with the R785 levers aren’t black – they’re closer to the same (very nice) dark gray color scheme as the CX-77 brakes, though this doesn’t come through well in photos where they often appear completely black.

It’s honestly hard to explain how good the braking is to a typical roadie. The whole “I can lock my brakes up on my rim-brakes” argument is just total crap – disc brakes are still limited by the tire’s traction and won’t give you more power but what they will give you is an amazing amount of control over that power. Bringing the brake right to the limit of tire-traction is easy and smooth, with almost zero effort required.

In the dry the brakes are better than, say, DuraAce 9000 rim brakes. In the wet it’s just another level: there is no appreciable loss of power from the brake. In the wet the extra control and modulation really shine. To give an example: I took it really easy down a steep, twisty, wet descent but at the bottom had opened up a huge gap on the guys I normally ride with who said they had been on the limit pushing to try and keep up.

These brakes squeal and honk less than other discs I’ve used or seen but do let out the occasional noise. In early testing, very occasionally I’ll get a slight noise before the rotor warms up – generally this has been in the rain.

If you’ve ridden Shimano’s hydraulic mountain bike brakes then these R785s won’t be much of a surprise as they feel very similar. That’s a huge compliment.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these disc brakes outperform the best rim brakes by a considerable margin.

Enough has been written about Di2 shifting that I don’t really need to echo: simply put it’s amazing, especially the front derailleur. While waiting for the 177.5mm DuraAce cranks to arrive I’ve been using a pair of square-taper Campagnolo Record 39/53 cranks and the shifting is amazing with the DuraAce chain.

I do find I get occasional false-positives with the non-textured shift paddle. I hit the paddle, it feels like it’s engaged the button, but no shift. This reminds me of the first generation 7090 DuraAce shifters and I find it strange because the 9070 and 6870 shifters don’t seem to have these mis-shifts.

Weight: All-up these are about 350 grams heavier than an Ultegra Di2 lever and rim brake, and 110 grams heavier than an Ultegra Di2 lever and cable-operated disc brake.

In comparison to rim brakes the frame and hubs will also be heavier to accommodate the disc brakes, however some of this weight might be able to be reclaimed by using lighter disc-specific rims.

Aero: The calipers positioned in reasonably clean air plus the Freeza rotors creating a wash of turbulence to cool the calipers probably don’t translate into a super-aero setup. I’m sure there will be some empirical testing done on this as disc brakes enter the mainstream but for now it’s just a guess that a traditional rim brake would be more aero.

No doubt over time disc brakes will get lighter and if they’re starting to be used on racing bikes they’ll get more aero. For the time being these downsides mean the brakes are best suited for people who ride in the rain and don’t view an uber light bike as the most important measure.

After using the road version of Avid’s BB-7s for many years and setting up quite a few bikes with Shimano’s mechanical CX-75 and CX-77 brakes I really can’t recommend the R785 hydraulic enough. If you’ve committed to a disc brake road bike the only reason to choose one of these other options is a slight weight decrease, however in terms of lever feel and power the R785 is a long way ahead. For those who ride hilly terrain in the wet this brake is the current gold-standard.

I’m more than happy to answer questions but please do me a favor and ride this brake or another high-end disc brake before making “there is no need for discs as my rim brakes work well-enough” comments.

Huge thanks to Tristan for sending this in!


  1. Curious to see how the brake line hooks up to the master cylinder. Also curious as to what type of material they used for the MC body. Also, do they use their common MTB brake lines or are they specific to the MCs? Care to enlighten? Having worked on the S700 from SRAM (and not enjoyed it) I’m hoping that Shimano has a cleaner, more practical set up that is less prone to dissimilar material issues and uses a commonly available brake line.

  2. I love the action of my xt disc on my mt. bike and am sure the feel would be the same for a road bike. I have overheated my rims and had groves gouged in them from overheating on the down hills. I ride in PV where speeds get up to 45 mph and disc would be the preferred stoppers. Further, it doesn’t rain here but, Ive ridden in dense fog and had my rim brakes completely fail. Other than that if I ride dry flat, all the time rim brakes are ok.

    I wish that I could adapt these to my current frame.

  3. This is the best thing ever, will wait for a while before I get them as its basically a whole new bike. Riding in this weather through London traffic is slightly panic inducing to say the least.

  4. Thanks for the post, got to ride these at Interbike this year and was blown away by how good they feel. Shimano may never be the lightest (SRAM) or the prettiest (Campy) but the engineering and longevity of their products make them the best all round.

  5. what’s the weight difference to a mechanical Ultegra set up? You said 350g to the Di2 version, so I imagine it’s more like 450 – 500g over the regular Ultegra?

  6. @DP – hubs are a pair of polished DT Swiss 240s. They’re 28h Center Lock with an 11 speed Shimano freehub fitted. I choose these when I built the bike a few years ago because I was able to fit a Campag freehub body.

  7. Two Questions:

    1) Shifter Rattle.
    – SRAM S700 rattle a ton, did you notice this on the Shimano hydro break shifter?

    2) Break Lever Throw.
    – SRAM S700 required the lever to hit my handlebar or beyond (if I changed the angle). Any ability with Shimano levers to control the reach and throw of the hydraulic lever?

    Great review! For the crappy Seattle rain disc breaks are definitely the way to go!

  8. I ride next to Tristan a lot and have not heard any lever rattle at all. TT?

    My IF runs cable discs on Dura Ace and there’s no rattle at all.

    In comparison – my campy 11 speed levers rattle a lot on the roads over here (we have mainly quite rough chip roads – not smooth blacktop)

  9. In regards to frame weight for CX bikes, they will probably be slightly lighter in the long run. The seatstays will be able to be pared down to save weight and increase vertical compliance. The forks will need a couple more layers of carbon (if carbon), but at the same time lose the cantilever studs. Road bikes though will probably gain little weight in the front fork having a disc mount instead of a hole in the fork crown.

  10. I just took delivery of the R785 system before Xmas. It took a while to get installed with my bike shop being closed over the holiday period. I finally picked up the built bike on Saturday with Dura Ace Di2 throughout with the new hydraulic brakes.

    Having previously used BB7 cable disc brakes, I can honestly say that these new brakes are leagues ahead, its like chalk and cheese. The touch and feel of the brakes are just awe inspiring!

    1) No rattle or noise so far. The lever feels solid in hand, and the ergonomics are similar to other Dura Ace or Ultregra hoods, although the top of the levers do look bulbus, you don’t ever get your hands on the top and you quickly get used to it. I’ve taken the bike offroad (Cyclocross circuit) and it was so quiet. The only sound of the bike is the whir of the electronic shifting and the chain slap when going over bumpy terrain.
    2) The brakes where bled as per instructions and when fully pressed still have about 2 cm before hitting the bar (on the front brake) and 1cm (on the back brake). There is a screw adjustment under the hood to adjust stroke engagement.

    Without a doubt these are the best brakes I have ever used (with the exception of XTR for Mountain bike).

    This mornings ride involved my usual hill climbing route, with light rain and very wet roads. The brakes performed beautifully, and the only limiting factor was traction of the rubber on the road. The brakes engagement is instant and not effected by wet rotors.

    I don’t think I’d bother waiting for the Dura Ace level of the R785, its just so damn good right now. The only thing you’ll save is a few grams and some bling looking carbon on the levers 🙂 Lifes too short, live the dream now!

  11. After posting a few months ago about my experiences with heat issues on road discs (I’ve been using both mech and hydro discs for about 3 years) I can say that these freeza discs are amazing. On the 1in3s near where I live the old ice techs were bluing, fading, and glazing pads even on a 180/160 combo. After waiting patiently for the damn things to hit the shops, freeza discs (130g for the 180 rotor), are running about half the temperature. And that’s with non ice tech pads. Amazing. I’m sure 160mm will be fine even for my brutal hills, but they’re not in the UK shops yet.

  12. I’m with @case. Every other brand gets dragged over the coals and then Shimano releases a butt ugly rotored deep sea anchor and everybody can hardly wait to buy it on a website and then complain to their local IBD about how long their installation is taking/costs and what are they doing about their warranty/return.

  13. Whatever! I’m so not interested to make my 13.2 pound bike heavier, it works. I’ve decscended many mountains on my carbon tubulars (1040g). Why complicate things if you don’t need them. They also ruined the look of a beautiful bike.

  14. Tristan,
    While the SM-PCE1 does not allow for charging, the new SM-BCR2 which is the charger you will be using on that system both charges the battery and allows for firmware updates.

  15. @MB – Because the primary advantage that Shimano has with hydraulic road components is the empty cavern in their shift body, left over after removing the mechanical guts of a shifter, in which to hide a master cylinder. All one has to do it compare the R785 body to that hideous SRAM debacle to figure this out.

    According to my Shimano tech rep, there will never be a mechanical hydraulic group from Shimano, ever. Personally, I prefer mechanical shifting, but I understand why Shimano decided this.

  16. The only two gripes I have at the moment are:
    1) Shimano don’t make 140mm rotors in 6-bolt Ice-Tech. I don’t know anyone who runs Centre Lock. The XT-Saint RT86 Ice-Tech 6-Bolt Disc Rotor 160mm I currently have weigh 113g each.
    2) My bike frame comes with quick release front and rear, so getting the wheel aligned can be a pain (I’ve got two sets of wheels – one for road, one for Cyclocross and constantly swapping). The clearance from the rotor to the pads is so small, its easy to get rubbing if not aligned perfectly. Thru Axle would solve this!

  17. CruXCrosser,
    Shimano does make the IceTech rotor in 140mm 6bolt. they do not make the IceTech Freeza rotors in 6bolt, though, which is probably what you meant.

  18. I was lucky enough to receive my R785 set, here in New Zealand 2 months ago. These were fitted to an S-Work Crux with Ultegra Di2 and running Deore XT Centrelock hubs/Stan’s Ironcross Rims/Specialized 2BR Cross Tyres.

    At the time Shimano Freeza discs of any sort were not available, I have been running Avid HSX 160/140mm Centrelock Rotors. This is unlikely marriage, but the they have been 100% noise free in the dry, wet, dust and mud!
    I haven’t had any heat related issues or rotors glazing up.
    The braking performance is outstanding, one finger braking riding in the hoods. I have had number of rides in the local mountain bike parks with mates on their mountain bikes – the brake performance has been excellent, the front brakes bites – so requires a little care in its use.

    As Tristan stated the hoods are mission to reseat, but a spoke and hairspray helps the process along. Hairspray also helps retain them in position.

    The SM-BRC2 with Internal Battery and E-Tube Project, is so simple to dial in the Firmware updates, front derailleur adjustments and the other customisable functions.

    I read initial R785 test reviews complaining of lever rattle – I haven’t experienced this on or off-road. I have used my Crux on road with 25c tyres, New Zealand has some pretty harsh chip roads, but no lever rattle.

    Initially sceptical of hydraulic disc, I have to say their performance in fantastic and highly recommend them.

  19. Most of the heat related issues on road discs are long term. I got through my first front disc in 5 months, pads glaze and need emery paper to revive them. Most brakes these days don’t boil, so fading is the worst you’ll get, but these regular high temperatures cause very high wear rates. I’Vw decided that if you can smell your brakes, or the discs are bluing then you’ll get long term trouble. The freezas solve all this at source. The problem that I can see happening is with freeza discs only in centrelok loads of people will run their fave 6 bolt hubs and other rotors. If you do that with 140s you’ll be in serious trouble.

  20. @greg
    Would you be able to tell me where they are available? I’ve been searching the internet for “Shimano ice tech 6 bolt rotor 140mm” and it only returns links to the 160mm version: Shimano Deore XT SM-RT86 Ice-Tech 6 Bolt Rotor.

    Just to continue the discussion on ride experience with the R785 system, a couple more observations:

    1) The front of the bike is definitely top heavy. This means that leaning your bike against a pole can be a bit more challenging, as the steering will swing to the side the bike is leaning, and potentially fall over. Likewise if you take you hands off the bars while waiting at traffic lights, the bars will swing about 90 degrees to left or right depending on which way the bike is leaning. This wasn’t an issue with the previous shifters (SRAM Force).

    2) If you are upgrading from a cable disc brake system, there is weight savings to be made. I have upgraded a stock CruX Disc Expert which had SRAM Force shifters, rear mech, Apex front mech, Shimano Tiagra 12-28 cassette, etc. To the R785 + Dura Ace Di2 (front and rear derailleur, cassette 11-28, 3-port junction A, KMC 11sp chain) and shaved about 70g off.

    Just to confirm Tony’s observation above, there is definitely no rattle. It is super solid and noise free!

    The R785 kit I got through my bike shop and Shimano dealer had a 20mm post mount adapter included in the kit. So not sure why Tristan’s system didn’t?

    If I can get 140mm rotors, I’ll be able to remove the post mount adapters 🙂

    I personally think the disc brakes look great! But bike design and aesthetics can be a very personal thing.

  21. @Case,
    “Every other brand gets dragged over the coals and then Shimano releases a butt ugly rotored deep sea anchor and everybody can hardly wait to buy it on a website”
    You may not like the look (XT calipers aren’t exactly sexy), but people get excited about Shimano products because they’re usually finished when they hit the market. Don’t get me wrong- I love my XX1, but have no question that a Shimano version would be much better made and the details better ironed out before I ever saw it.

  22. Shimano’s innovation is also one of it’s weaknesses. They have long required system integration that requires a big investment from the consumer, and limits the use of aftermarket parts. To use this set-up the buyer has to commit to centerlock hubs (making all their other wheels useless) and the expense of Di2 shifting, whether they want it or not. I prefer the approach used by Sram, and Campy, and Suntour (but I’m going back): innovations that don’t create new standards that require big cash layout from bike owners.

  23. @Graves: I was told the exact opposite from my Shimano Tech Rep, that there would absolutely be a mechanical/hydraulic setup in the (near) future. Di2 came first because they can profit the most and it made the project easier with all of the extra space available in Di2 shifters?

  24. @CXisfun – cool. Hope you’re right. In the meantime I’ll be grabbing some TRP Hy/Rds which by most accounts are pretty awesome and so much cheaper than going CL and Di2. Sounds like they’ll be back in stock late next week at the earliest.

  25. @Tim A

    I understand your point, but I didn’t say what you attributed to me, that was @scott. I was just mentioning how so many who post here jump on the Shimano pole without hesitation. They just obsoleted road 10sp for cry eye! Sure, their parts are nice, but where are you all going to go when they move on to the newest innovation and leave you holding your twig two or three years later? They make something obsolete for no reason other than to make you upgrade. That’s reason enough for me to not want their stuff.

  26. @Mudrock: Like SRAM’s XX1, you mean? A setup that required many people to go out and get a new rear wheel to use their drivetrain? Or do you mean like Campy and their completely different freehub body design from SRAM/Shimano? Campy, SRAM, Shimano, everyone has their own integrated designs. You don’t HAVE to use CenterLock hubs with this group, you could use RT86 rotors with your 6-bolt hubs, done.

  27. “Unlike other Di2 shifters there is only one e-tube port on each shifter. Sprint or climbing shifters cannot plug into the STI.”

    That’s too bad, I wonder if that will be corrected by the time Shimano releases the Ultegra branded version.

  28. I have a Volagi Liscio with the Red 22 RHD, unfortunately interim swapped for the mechanical levers with BB7 calipers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the BB7 setup and in all honesty, if I had not experienced the RHDs I might be singing their praise but after the few months on the RHD before the recall, I cannot wait for the version 2 upgrade. If the Shimano system is as good, and I read it might be better, it must be truly amazing.

  29. <>

    @Graves: Your Shimano rep is ill-informed. Mechanical hydraulic road discs from Shimano were announced earlier this month simultaneous with the new 11-speed 105 group set. Available this summer as non-group specific, but considered Ultegra-level.

What do you think?