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Big Brake Kits

When it comes to performance in relation to stopping power, as a general rule; for every $2 invested in power/performance, it is best to invest $1 in brake system upgrades. This is a fairly simple assertion and largely evident, since the more power you produce, the harder it’ll be to rein your beast in once it’s running at speed.

However, this train of logic leads to another which is; what kind of brake system you’ll need to create balanced and optimal performance, and here we come face-to-face with a bit of a crossroads moment. You can, of course, assemble individual parts such as consumer brake rotors, brake pads, or even identify performance consumer brake kits to get your hurtling piece of machinery stopped in a reasonable manner.

However, if you want maximum power and controllability you’ll need something entirely different. In this case, you’ll need a big brake kit instead. Consequently, this time out, the topical focus will be oriented to what we refer to as big brake kits as a primer. So, lets get started, shall we?

What are big brake kits (BBK)?

As one might assume, big brake ‘kits’ include all components necessary to upgrade a performance vehicle’s braking system on the basis of a single-package price. However, in this event, everything is ‘bigger’; meaning more sophisticated design, engineering, and primary braking components i.e. rotors, calipers, pads etc.; while supporting-components are equally substantial throughout including; rotor rings, fluid and fluid lines, sensors, and fittings.

These packaged systems are usually applicable to serious high-performance needs including full-stop racing, street performance, and any other vehicle that ‘needs’ to go like a scalded cat, but stop on a dime. Consequently, you should begin with accepted premier brake manufacturers such as StopTech, EBC, Brembo, and others; in addition to discussing your needs with third-party providers like Buybrakes.com.

Again, don’t go ‘big’ unless your needs suit your purpose, but as I said, those kinds of issues can be easily resolved while talking with a reputable third-party brake systems expert.

Why BBK systems are different

Perhaps it would be easier if BBK systems were nothing more than beefier components hung on either the front or back end of your hot rod’s suspension components, but that’s not how the world of high-performance braking works. In this case, many past customers saw the cost of BBK systems as being cost-challenging, and consequently assumed that they could ‘get away’ with a more sophisticated system on only one axle, in order to save money while searching for better performance braking.

Unfortunately, that solution only applied to part of the puzzle, since there’s was a secondary ‘soft problem’ involved called ‘balance’. In that case, if they altered the intrinsic balance of the performance car, all the mono-axle big brake solutions in the world wouldn’t keep them from losing control under hard-braking, going sideways, falling off the road, and ending up in the kitty litter or worse.

Consequently, and over time, most premier BBK manufacturers began to ‘design balance into their systems’, by developing minimal cost packaging, while still delivering beefier components such as larger diameter rotors and supporting components that customers could apply to both axles simultaneously. In the end of the day, and particularly in the case of today’s performance aftermarket, it made sense at the time, and it still makes sense today.

How typical BBK kits are applied in various performance segments

As suggested earlier, big brake kits are primarily oriented to suit serious performance requirements. Here are the three primary segments that apply:

Street performance

In this case today’s BBK packages are available for nearly all vehicle brands targeting street racers to customized show car builds. Some of the typical brands include; Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Dodge, Jeep, Audi, Mitsubishi, and Ford.

The range of associated components typically include 4-6 piston caliper designs, larger pads utilizing more exotic materials and, of course, larger-diameter rotors. Kit fittings elements also typically include heavy-duty lines, rotor rings, and a requirement for heavy DOT fluids.

The goal of these systems is to be applicable to standard suspension mounts and fittings, thereby allowing increase stopping power, while not having to alter relating core suspension geometries etc.

Factory-based and/or Spec-racing divisions

As one might expect BBK kits are available for variously popular spec-racing applications include street racing, track-only, and/or alternative events such as SCCA amateur and Pro Solo competitions. These systems offer similar kit values as street-performance packages, including a need for enhanced fluid and fitment requirements.

To ensure that you’re on the right ‘track’ discuss your braking needs with an expert third-party brake provider such as BuyBrakes.com, but additionally ensure that you discuss any associated technical requirements including involvement with the ACCUS, FIA and/or SCCA rulebooks.

Purpose-built racing divisions
This is the top of the pyramid, and all components here are top-line and specialized for particular types of racing competitions. Some of these include; IMSA, SCCA, and FIA classes, in addition to various NASCAR divisional series, NHRA divisional series, IHRA divisional series, WoO divisional series, SCORE divisional series and others.

What major big brake kit brands are in the market?

Depending on the particular performance need premier brand some big brake kits will be more useful than others. However, there certainly three major brake brands should be included in your BBK search. These include:

Certainly, this only a sample of manufacturer’s who offer big brake products; however, this list should get you started in the right direction. Once again, after you’re comfortable with what’s available, then take time to discuss your situation with top-line provider like Buybrakes.com in order to round out your BBK experience.