2024-05-11 – Review: Braketech Stainless Steel Ventilated Brake Pistons

Anyone who knows me probably knows that my motorcycle upgrades tend to be done to either address a problem area, measure data, or expedite maintenance tasks. I may upgrade other things that make sense at the time (when the engine was being rebuilt, I also had the head polished since it was already apart).

To be noted: This is an unpaid and unsolicited review. I received no compensation. I purchased my parts, like most, from Wicked Racing in Pennsylvania.

This upgrade was done to address a problem area. As my pace improves I’ve begun to encounter more brake fade than I care for on my 2020 Triumph Daytona 765. This hasn’t happened much at faster tracks, such as Buttonwillow, Laguna, or Thunderhill but at harder braking tracks, like Sonoma and the Ridge, it has been a very real thing. I recall a pretty decent session at the Ridge last year when I was having to adjust the remote brake lever adjuster up to twice per lap. Having the brake lever come back to your knuckles when you’re trying to come down from ~130 mph+ to 35 mph is confidence sapping. Brand new brake pads will help (I use the Vesrah RJL-XX pads) but I remember a session where I was getting appreciable brake fade on day-old pads.

I suspect that part of this is due to the overall brake system design, namely, small-ish rotors on the Daytona (and the same on the Street Triple RS). Triumph has used 310mm Brembo rotors for 10+ years on the Daytonas (and Street Triples) and they aren’t particularly thick (4.5 or 5mm). The smaller and thinner rotors definitely help keep unsprung weight down, which is fantastic either at faster tracks with less hard braking or if you’re in the slower half of the A group (or in B or C) but as you go faster, this can be a thing.

Generally speaking, the Vesrah RJL-XX pads have exhibited minimal fade when brand new and they start at about 7.8-7.9 mm (including the backing plate). At the Ridge, I’d start to bump into brake fade at ~1mm of wear, even less on a hot day.

For reference, my Daytona has a tune, polished head, full exhaust, and the bike comes stock with the Stylema calipers and I have replaced the stock MCS master cylinder with the RCS Corsa Corta (mostly because I really like the thin lever on the RCS Corsa Corta). I use Motul RBF660 brake fluid and have installed Stahlbus brake bleeders on the calipers and the master cylinder to expedite brake flushes and bleeding. Over the winter I did do an ABS bypass set of Venhill lines but left the ABS pump intact with plugs (I loathe error lights on the dash, which would happen if I removed the electronics of the ABS pump). Incidentally, brake lever feel was not improved by doing this because I think the stock braided lines and overall braking system are all quite good out of the box.

For some additional perspective, I have an Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory and that bike comes with 330 mm rotors and the m50 calipers stock. I did replace the stock master cylinder with the same RCS Corsa Corta on that bike and the Stahlbus bleeders. At the Ridge last year, I encountered only a small bit of brake fade–not huge, but noticeable. On that bike later last year I added the OEM Aprilia brake ducts. These definitely look trick but after installing them, I’ve also not encountered any brake fade. Now I can’t ride that bike quite as quickly as I can the Daytona, but it also weighs a good 70 lbs more than the Daytona so that probably brings the overall package to being pretty close between the two bikes.

That being said, over the winter I ordered and had the Braketech stainless steel ventilated brake pistons installed into the Daytona’s Stylema calipers. I wanted to get a few track days in and measure pad thickness before and after events before making any judgements.

Braketech stainless steel ventilated pistons freshly installed

After setting new PBs on the Daytona at Sonoma this year and being able to ride consistent sessions with decent times (for me, on the faster end of the A group), and having done 3 full days there this year so far, I can say that I am a huge fan of the upgraded pistons. I have yet to experience any fade at Sonoma. I even went to my last Sonoma day with roughly 2mm wear on the pads going in and still didn’t experience fade. At a pace slightly slower last year with the original pistons, I most certainly would have encountered fade with pads worn this much. I had complete confidence in the brakes, especially in all the hard braking zones. Brake feel, as before, was outstanding and the bite was progressive just as before (which is my preference in a brake pad).

Some added bonuses:

  • Brake dust doesn’t seem to stick to the pistons like it does with the original aluminum pistons so it’s easier to clean the calipers.
  • I’m able to get more useful life out of the brake pads because there isn’t any noticeable fade with 2mm of wear; the catch is that I’ll need to keep a closer eye on the brake pad material because I obviously don’t want to run out of material. Realistically, the pistons will pay for themselves with about 4-5 sets of brake pads because I can use the same pads longer.
  • These brake pistons seem to retract better than the aluminum–I’ve never had the front wheel spin so easily when on a stand. I’m assuming the same is true on track which means a small bit less rolling resistance.

With this upgrade, at my present pace at least at Sonoma, I don’t feel a need to go any further with brake upgrades. If I run into fade in the future, I believe I have three options:

  • Brake cooling ducts – there aren’t a lot of options for the Daytona. Strauss (German) makes some but I’ve never seen them in person, also might be tricky to fit I they interfere with my front suspension potentiometer.
  • 320 mm upgraded rotors – UKRS sells a kit or I could manually source the exact parts I want. I have two front wheels so this would be an expensive upgrade.
  • Castrol SRF brake fluid or RBF700 – not sure that brake fluid would do it. Most brake fluid is very hygroscopic and the higher the temperature rating you go, the more moisture it absorbs. The Castrol SRF has a high temperature rating and it is formulated differently, it is a silicon ester based fluid. Changing brake fluid is not that big of a deal with the Stahlbus bleeders though and certainly the least expensive and easiest thing to try.
Stahlbus brake bleeders on the stock Stylema calipers, cap removed for illustration purposes
Aprilia OEM carbon brake ducts, which serve the same purpose of keeping the pads and hence brake fluid, cooler in order to minimize brake fade.

Is this upgrade right for you? Please make sure all of your brake components are solid first–you should have even wear on your brake pads consistently (not angled to the front or rear of one pad indicating that the pads and/or pistons aren’t moving equidistant. Make sure your brake fluid is reasonably fresh, the right temperature for you, and is well-bled. Make sure you’re using the appropriate brake pads for your riding. Of course, make sure that your calipers and the pistons are clean.

Another consideration for racing is that upgrading brake pistons may not be legal in your race series or class. Check on that to stay series compliant.