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FAQ
WHAT DOES "BEDDING-IN" BRAKE PADS REALLY MEAN?

Much like a new set of pistons and rings in a freshly bored cylinder, these moving parts need to mate to function properly. Looking at the ground surface of a new brake pad and rotor [new or used] under magnification, the surface looks like a bunch of hills and valleys. Until these parts are mated, only the peaks are making contact. If you try to use the brakes hard before they bed-in, you run the risk of over-heating and carbonizing the surface of the pad. This means performance will suffer dramatically and a glazed surface will likely result...you'll probably hear your brakes complaining via a loud annoying brake squeal. Before installing new pads, clean the brake rotors by using medium grit sandpaper on the pad track followed by wiping them down with a clean rag and acetone or denatured alcohol. Allow some time to bed-in your new brakes by following the manufacturer recommendations and you'll find they'll work much better.

Racers: contact us for specifics.

 
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DOT 5 AND DOT 5.1 BRAKE FLUID?
DOT 5 is a silicone based synthetic fluid originally designed for use in military and government vehicles where regular maintenance could be problematic. Although not hygroscopic in the traditional sense, water molecules will still find their way into your hydraulics creating globules rather than being suspended as with traditional DOT 3/4 & 5.1 fluids…the end result is the same: contamination. DOT 5 Silicone was never intended for serious high performance application. Harley Davidson uses it I suspect because it won't ruin your paint if you're all thumbs and miss the toilet a lot. Interesting aside; HD's sporting wing; Buell, has switched to a higher performance DOT 4 in all their 2000 models. DOT 5.1, albeit confusing in designation (thank the D.O.T. for that), is effectively a lighter viscosity synthetic poly glycol fluid with DOT 4 performance parameters. It was developed for use in mechanical ABS systems that require a higher cyclic rate capability.
 
MY FRIEND TELLS ME CAST IRON BRAKE ROTORS WILL CRACK AND COME APART, IS THIS TRUE?
Traditional materials and manufacturing methods have kept the door open to problems associated with thermal stress fracturing or simply put, cracking. This phenomenon is primarily focused on the use of gray irons and particularly individual mold casting. That process creates difficult to control porosity problems during the casting procedure. Porosity weakens the structure and reliability suffers. We address this core issue in several areas by spec’ing high grade Ductile Iron, not Gray iron. Then using a computer controlled continuous cast process to produce high quality heat treated iron ingots (giant bars, often referred to as billet). These are then cut into plates with highly specialized saws and CNC machined. The rotors are double disk ground to a tight tolerance and finish to insure flatness and parallelism. This material and method eliminates porosity, creates a homogenous and consistent grain matrix structure that is both very stable and very strong.
 
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER CAST IRON BRAKE ROTORS OVER STAINLESS STEEL?
Over the years, cast iron has proven itself to be an excellent rotor material providing superior "feel" and producing a higher coefficient of friction at the friction couple. If you're looking for genuinely improved performance in terms of both braking power and modulation, then this is for you. If rain and or high humidity is the rule and rust potential a concern, you may wish to consider the alternative in our new AXIS range which is now offered in premium 400 series Stainless Steel as well.
 
CAN I USE ANY BRAKE PAD MATERIAL ON CAST IRON?

Generally speaking, most organic (semi-metallic) brake pads are good for use on iron rotors. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer for details regarding specific use for this application. Ferodo Platinum, CP1, CP211, CP911, CP901, 4004F, 3485F, 3410F and I/D450 are all good for this. Although the various sintered metal pads will perform quite well, they generally operate at substantially higher interface temperatures (by as much as 150 degrees [F] at peak). The result is usually shortened life span of the rotor and as such, sintered metal pads are universally not recommended unless specifically denoted otherwise.

  • Gray Iron rotors: Sintered metal pads ARE NOT RECOMMENDED for use under any conditions.
  • When in doubt, always default to organic brake pads.

For interested in a more detailed explanation on this issue, click here for Tech Talk: Sintered vs. Organic

 
I'VE READ IN ADS THAT"LASER CUTTING" ROTORS IS BEST, IS THIS TRUE?
Laser cutting is simply a cheaper (read: less expensive) method of manufacturing in smaller volume. At the Ferodo R&D Facility, the same method is employed when doing prototype development of backplate shapes for testing. It's less costly to laser cut than to produce stamping dies for low volume production or testing.
 
CAN I USE "RACE COMPOUNDS" ON THE STREET?
In most cases, a conditional yes. All our race pads can be used on the street by experienced, knowledgeable and highly skilled riders. Since race compounds are specifically designed for use in extreme conditions, their main advantage is higher torque values and improved fade resistance. But this can typically only be fully realized in conditions where high thermal and inertial loads are encountered (meaning: when you're really working your brakes hard and really need them to work...). Ferodo race pads are manufactured in short run production batches. Combined with a nonstop R&D effort to improve their performance characteristics means they're generally more expensive.
 
THERE ARE SO MANY COMPOUNDS, WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
There's tremendous variety in pad materials due to continual R&D and the specialization of motorcycling environments and conditions. Brake pad requirements at the Blackwater Enduro (a mud fest) are significantly different than what the custom Harley rider is looking for and dramatically different from the parameters of World Superbike. Check out our section on brake pads for a description of materials and their intended usage.
 
WHY DO MY BRAKES SQUEAL?

Brake squeal is simply a high frequency vibration between the brake pad and rotor, the energy created from this is heard in the form of sound waves. Typically, this situation is usually encountered during low to mid energy applications of the brake. It can be caused by a number of factors;

  • Glazed pads or rotors (often caused by aerosol brake claners)
  • Inadequate piston retraction within the caliper causing brake drag (old seals).
  • Miss-aligned caliper (or bracket, as found on single action calipers)
  • Single Action calipers with bent [floating] pins or inadequate lubrication of the pins, not allowing the caliper to properly float.
  • Brake rotors with excessive run-out.
  • Brake pad backplates warped (often the culprit for spongy levers too…)
  • Bound up (or bent) forks or miss-aligned wheel centering causing the forks to bind, putting excessive pressure on the caliper and/or rotor. If involved in a front end crash, good idea to check run-out on axle too.
  • Buildup of road grime and brake dust on the piston seal area effecting proper piston retraction. When’s the last time the calipers were rebuilt? Racers should do that annually.
  • Flush the brake fluid thoroughly at least once a year, more often in humid climates or if used in severe conditions…it’s cheap insurance! Old contaminated fluid diminishes the overall performance potential of the brake system and can lead to more expensive problems.
 


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