The brake is one of the most crucial parts of the motorcycle, especially for the off-road bike. Without it, riders won’t be able to control the bike and most likely will crash. In most cases, the off-road bikes are coming with the stock brakes and they don’t disappoint. However, those who are super picky about the brakes or want to have an extra boost may want to have a brake modification. So, what are the facts about these brakes, anyway?
When taking about the off-road machines, the best stock brakes so far is the Brembo brand, used by KTM. They use the combination of Galfer rotors, Brembo brakes, and brake steel braided lines, proven to be the most satisfying. It is most progressive as well as powerful as the same time. This kind of arrangement can be a great inspiration for promising brake quality.
Then there is floating or fixed rotor, where each has its own strength and flaw. A fixed type is more solid but lighter when compared to floating rotor. But it is prone to warpage, especially when hot. The floating rotor is heavier and costlier but it allows riders to have better control as well as the ability to ‘play’ with the brake.
Most teams may use oversize rotors because it is faster in dissipating heat so it can prolong the brake pad’s life as well as improving the stopping power. Most stock off-road bikes come have 260 or 270mm for the front side and 240 or 245mm for the back. For aftermarket items, the size is between 270 and 280mm. With the bigger rotor, caliper change is also needed.
Another important part of the brake is the steel braided lines which can reduce the expansion when the braking fluid becomes hot. This will protect the lever engagement, keeping it consistent as well as staying in place for longer time. This line is considered better than the standard nylon or rubber line in terms that the lever feels more consistent, which is essential for riders.
Caliper is another part of the brake that can increase the stopping power quite significantly. Aftermarket calipers, like MotoStuff or Ride Engineering, are considered better because they have bigger pistons as well. Bigger pistons are responsible for increasing the lever power. Another great function of the caliper is the progressive feel when using the brake.
Brake lever is another part that is crucial enough for the control and handle. Most riders like to choose the adjustable ARC front side lever because of its different lever ratio degrees, allowing them more flexibility and freedom. Dialing a personal setting would be easy with this adjustable lever, making it perfect for riders who want to have a closer grab in the handlebar or for those wanting to have a touchy feel at its beginning pull.
Riders can choose to use DOT 5 or DOT 4 brake fluid; there is nothing wrong or right about them. However, they should never mix the two together because they are completely different. DOT 4 is based on glycol oil while DOT 5 is from silicone. When the two are mixed together, it will create a less powerful and mushy effect for the brake – which makes it completely useless. Some riders like to stick to DOT 4 because of its high boiling point, which is perfect for the modification work.
And the final part is the brake pads, available with different materials to provide different feel, power, and response. However, stock pads are longer lasting than the aftermarket items, and they don’t have the super grabby feel. Some of the sintered pads are just as good as the OEM items but they don’t prove to be more superior to the standard ones.
Combining each part may require extra time and efforts, especially for the trial and error system. But such a thing can be great for the performance and power of the bike.