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Friday, July 23, 2010

Products review

StopTech Big Brakes
When tuning your vehicle, mostly tuning the engine and suspension to go and turn faster, most people like to leave brakes as the last item. In my opinion brakes should be one of the first things that needed to be upgraded when the engine will be prducing signifigantly more power. I have installed a couple sets of StopTech brakes in the past and found the product to be absolutly first class. Yesm they are expensive but worth every dollar.

The install is very straight forward. Calipers and rotors come marked left and right. The
stainless steel lines and pads are all universal. Remove the front calipers, remove the original bridges for the pads and remove the rotors. Install the rotors and the new brakets for the calipers. The Pads sit inside the caliper so there are no "bridges" like stock. The brackets are machined so there is no adjusting. You can even install the calipers first and slide the pads after with the caliper torqued down. This makes for very fast changing of pads, you just need a special tool or a very strong set of hands to push the pistons back. I do use my own lube. Either straight brake grease or brake grease and anti seize. I use alot on the edges where the pads will slide. As with all pads without shims or backing plates I use a lot of grease on the back of the pads and it helps reduce brake squeel a lot. You will also need to bleed the brakes after you replaced the brake lines. Maybe the best part is that the Hawk/Stoptech pads accepted the OEM brake wear sensors! For the size of the rotors they were pretty light weight as well.

The best part about the brake kit is how it looks. If you have thin spoke wheels it really sets off your wheels and the rest of your car, espcially if the old brakes were rusty and/or discoloured from age. When most people look at tuned cars aswell and they see the brake upgrade they usually assume the car is tuned properly and that it so fast it required a brake upgrade.

When driving the pedal feel is VERY firm. I really like a hard brake pedal for a couple reasons. First it inspires confidence in the brakes and the quick engagement of the brakes when applied. Second, if there is a problem with the brakes due to a leak or faulty part you will know right away when the pedal becomes much softer. And third you barely have to touch the brake pedal to make the car stop fast.

The kits I installed all used the ST-40 Calipers (4 piston) and either used the 332mm or the 355mm directionally vented and crossed drilled full floating rotors. Go for the Gold cadnium rust proof plating too, it looks great.
I also installed an E46 M3 kit to a 330ci and the retrofit was very easy, only a VERY small amount of grinding on the front knuckles to accept the M3 brackets. This lets you fit the thicker M3 rotors.


  1. Hello Cal

    I have a couple of questions about brakes.

    I currently have JCW Gen1 brakes on my R56 MCS and looking to upgrade to JCW brembo. I don't know if it is worth it or not. Would you recommend it?

    What are the pros and cons of after market brake lines?

    If I get the JCW Brembo brakes, can I move the JCW Gen1 front brake to the back? i.e. JCW Brembo (front) JCW Gen1 (back). Will that work?


  2. Thank you for the Post Allan
    This is a very common interest for a lot of Mini owners.
    First the JCW Brembo front brake kit is pretty expensive. There are the regular Brembo and StopTech branded upgrade kits along with a couple others too choose from aswell. Of course the JCW is the favorite among Mini and JCW owners. JCW products in my opinion are of top quality and of course Brembo is aswell. I would recommend the upgrade as it is very suitable for street and performance driving.
    The stainless braided aftermarket brake lines to most people are the best upgarde when you compare cost/part. The feeling on the high, firm brake pedal just feels great because your touching brake every 20 seconds when driving in the city. You get more brake pressure at the brakes because the stainless lines don t expand like the OEM rubber hoses so braking now "feels" easier. It takes less effort to perform the same stop. The firm pedal just inspires a lot more confidence of RIGHT NOW braking when driving the car fast. As far as cons I can t really say there are many except the price. 1 set of lines is usually anywhere from $90 to $200 for the high quality like Earls or Goodrich depending on make/model. I have never heard of them getting brittle or prone to leakage any more than the OEM rubber hoses would be.
    Unfortunatly front Front brakes can not be retrofitted to the rear axle. Not without a great deal of work. The rear calipers on your Mini have the parking brake incorporated in them and of course the front calipers do not have a parking brake. Also the rear rotors on your Mini are not vented where the fronts are making for a much thicker unit that would not fit in the rear carrier without major modification. The good news is over 60% of the weight in your Mini is at the front since it is a front engine/front drive layout. This means somewhere around 70-80% of the braking comes from the front brakes. Plus if you have a JCW Gen 1 upgrade the rear will already have the JCW pad upgrade in the back as they come with the Gen JCW brake kit. Even the Gen 1 JCW brake kit is very appealing to a lot of Mini drivers and if your brakes are still in good shape you may be able to get decent money back on A BUY&SELL like craigslist
    I have personnally not seen the 4 piston R56 setup retrofitted to an R53 yet so I am interested to see if there are any minor modification needed but I don t think there will be. Depending on the wheels you run you may need small spacers but that should be it. I have seen a StopTech and Brembo kit installed and they looked very nice and fit perfectly. thanks again for the post Allan