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I wanted to convert my trekking bike to a mountain bike, and replace the Deore XT V-Brakes with disc brakes. However, the bike still has a perfectly functional Deore XT groupset (9-speed; unsure about the type).

Googling the BR-M8000 set, I noticed it says it is 'I-Spec-II;, which seems to be some shifter and brake lever mount integration. Will I be able to combine these two or am I forced to replace my shifters too (and thus probably keep with the times and pick a 10-speed groupset?)

Or is this just playing into Shimano's planned obsolescence hand?

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I-Spec-II is just some marketing hyperbole for shaping the brake levers and shifters so they fit together nicely. It does not mean you have to have matching brake and shift levers.

You probably should be able to combine M8000 levers with older XT shifters, unless the XT shifters have a shape that does not work with the levers. Comparing pictures of the brake levers with you existing ones should give you a good idea. If Shimano brakes won't work there are lots of non-Shimano options from the likes of Tektro etc.

Beware that upgrading whole groupsets on older bikes can be problematic as frame geometry standards (bottom bracket width, chainline and rear hub spacing) have changed on modern bikes. If you bike does not have proper disc brake attachment points then really the solution is to go for a whole new bike.

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If you have a 9 speed XT drivetrain, your dealing with model numbers of shifters, derailleur's m750, m760 or some m770's, when they went to 10 speed with model m773 and above. If your shifter is a clamp-band shifter (mounts to handle bar via its own circular clamp), you can use any mechanical or hydraulic brake lever which will also clamp onto the bar independently of the clamp band shifter. If your XT shifter is an i-spec mount (integrated with your current XT V-brake lever) then you're dealing with the i-spec B system, which is NOT compatible with i-spec II.

However, there are some work-arounds and options available. If you are satisfied with mechanical disc brakes which are activated by a cable system, your current v-brake lever will be appropriate and you don't have to change anything in your cockpit. An m750, 60, 70 model brake lever is i-spec B type as are the same series of 9 speed shifters.

If your heart is set on hydraulic brakes, you'll need i-spec B compatible brake levers (the m8000 XT is I spec II and not compatible with i-spec B shifters). Some hydraulic brake lever model numbers that are I spec B: BL-675 B (Deore LX), BL-m820 (Saint), BL-S700 & 7000 series (Alfine), BL-785 B (XT). There are more possibilities if the m8000 series lever needs to be used. Read on.

Another option holds if you have the i-spec B shifters currently and want to run the m8000 levers. This would entail buying the compatible top part of the shifter that includes a bar clamp. Essentially you're replacing the i-spec part of the shifter with the clamp. This will also come with the indicator window. I do not believe there is an optional part that is the clamp without the indicator. A clamp on shifter, again, allows the use of any brake lever.

Finally you can mate the incompatible i-spec B shifter to an i-spec II brake lever if you'd like to purchase problem solvers' integration piece. The "ReMatch 1.1" will mate an I spec II brake lever to an I spec A or B shifter.

So you have some options. Power to the people!

  • Argenti's answer includes a key point that needs to be addressed first thing: is your bike frame able to have disc brake calipers mounted? The frame will have disc brake caliper mounting points on the rear triangle-- usually low on the left seat stay by the drop out. Some bikes come with mounting points for both rim brakes and disc brakes. Same is true for forks. Some frames and forks come with only one type of brake mount. One can use two different braking systems-- disc up front, rim brakes at the rear, by having a front fork with the disc brake mounting points. – Jeff Oct 23 at 0:23

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