Everyone has heard about the carbon/carbon brake rotors used on MotoGP bikes: incredible braking power and only half the weight of steel. The problem with these brakes is that they are ineffective at lower temperatures; in fact, MotoGP teams have been known to run shrouds covering the brakes on cold test days (or when letting journalists ride their bikes) to help retain heat in the rotors. This characteristic makes them basically useless for street riders, which is why streetbikes are still using iron rotors.
A company called Braketech claims to have come up with the solution: ceramic rotors. They claim that their ceramic rotors work great at all temperatures, offer equal or better performance and feel to iron rotors, and weigh about the same as carbon/carbon rotors. On the Braketech web site, they give a sample weight for a 2004 Yamaha R1: the stock rotors weigh in at 3 lbs 3.0oz each, while Braketech’s ceramic rotors weigh only 1 lb 1.2oz per side!
While this is the first application we know of for street motorcycles, ceramic discs have been available for some time on street cars. Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) come standard on the Porsche 911 GT2 (MSRP $191,700!!!), and Porsche claims that, aside from being lighter, they offer more powerful braking while lasting longer than standard rotors. Ferrari also offers ceramic brakes on some of its road-going models, and claims similar benefits.
Everyone knows that reducing the weight of your motorcycle brings numerous performance benefits, but those benefits are multiplied when reducing unsprung, reciprocating weight such as wheels, tires, or brakes. Because the weights of rapidly spinning components like wheels or brakes creates a gyroscopic effect that resists motion, lightening these parts will improve the action of the suspension as well as make the bike easier to turn.
So Braketech’s AXISCeramic rotors sound like the ultimate braking setup for the street, right? Well, they are priced to match, starting at $1600 per pair! Still, if you are looking to build the ultimate street machine and price is no object, these may be the brakes for you. The real question is, do they work as well as Braketech claims? We will try to get our hands on a set for testing so we can let you know.