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If someone were to list motorcycling's five most significant innovations, disc brakes would surely be included near the top. Oddly though, as far as disc brakes are concerned, it took the motorcycle industry two decades to catch up with the rest of the mechanized world. The automotive and aircraft industries have been using disc brakes since the 1940's. It wasn't until the late 1960's that disc brakes became popular among motorcycle manufacturers.

Actually, the aircraft industry should be credited for pioneering disc brake technology and it was Dunlop Aviation in England who did the pioneering. When World War II began, aircraft still used expanding drum brakes but as war planes got heavier and faster, it was obvious that a new type of brake system was necessary. Dunlop Aviation took up the challenge and by the late 1940's had developed the disc brake.

Even though disc brakes improved braking performance, further improvement was necessary for wet conditions. Dunlop Aviation again took the initiative, introducing sintered metal disc brake pads in 1955.

The ability of this new material to penetrate the film of water that forms on a disc was a major improvement over the organic friction materials. Based on this success, Dunlop Aviation was later commissioned by the British Government to incorporate sintered disc brake technology for motorcycle applications. Thus was born DP BRAKES.

To this day sintered metal still provides state-of-the-art braking performance. The world's major motorcycle manufacturers have recognized the benefits of sintered metal. Today, over 95 percent of motorcycles produced are fitted with sintered metal brake pads as original equipment.

DP BRAKES position in the motorcycle market is unique because it is the only manufacturer that concentrates 100 percent of its production on sintered metal pads.

We came across DP brake while we were reconfiguring the brake system on our CBR1000rr GP bike. After speaking in depth with a representative of theirs we wanted to inspect and test them ourselves. In both tests we used there xrace titanium compounds and compare them to an oem sintered pad and a ferodo racing pad. In the OEM vs DP test, the pads were squeezing on stainless rotors on a Ducati 999. This gave a good representation of the contrast that would be made between a high-quality OEM brake system and what upgrading pads can do to bring out more of its potential.

 

Ducati has always been known for their more aggressive, race oriented bike handling and power delivery. The 999 was no exception. After proper bedding, the OEM pads delivered moderate bite and provided linear deceleration on hard braking up until you start generating significant heat swell on rapid, repetitive braking. A fairly typical occurrence even with high quality sports bike showing that the OEM setup is good for Street use but once taken to the track and applied in higher stress applications it begins to fall short. Once we swapped out the OEM pads with the DP X-Race pads, we immediately noticed a slightly more aggressive bite even before the bedding was finished. After the pads were properly bedded to the stainless rotors, we put it through its paces on some local twisty roads. We found the pads offered a slightly stronger bite all around but more importantly that linear deceleration that we went over before did not Plateau at the most extreme of brake pressures. This is great because even on non race bikes, it gives the rider more confidence in knowing that all the brake power that they'll ever need is there with the addition of predictability in the most trying of situations. 

One of the more interesting components of this pad is the ceramic coating sprayed onto the rear of the pad to isolate heat away from the caliper pistons. For a brake system to include this (from an engineers perspective) is quite a nerdy treat. Applying ceramic coating to pads is not a cheap process. It adds cost to the products Manufacturing however the benefit far outweighs the extra cost. The ceramic layer that clads the rear of the pad isolates Heat from the Pistons of the calipers while reflecting the heat back into the thermal mass of the pad itself which as you drive into the wind, is being cooled passively. They also incorporate titanium in there sintering mix. This was a very interesting approach because titanium, the lightweight and very strong, is a terrible thermal conductor as far as metals are concerned. So why include titanium in a centered mix of metal that is supposed to scrub against some type of steel or ceramic rotor and slow your vehicle down? The reason is that the titanium provides a strong medium in The Matrix for structural stability while not undergoing the same thermal changes that the other metals do in the mix upon its heat Cycles. This stability translates to more consistent pad pressure on the surface area where the pad comes in contact with the rotor. It also reduces heat swell from the pad itself and helps translate it back into the rotor body. Because brake rotors have much more thermal Mass capacity then brake pads they serve as way better heat sinks for when heat is generated between the pad and rotor. Matrix stability is inherently important as well since when that heat is generated and absorbed by the pad body it's possible to be overworked thermally and thus Matrix / Bond integrity will be derogated.

As for our results with the CBR, we found all the benefits that were presenting themselves in the Ducati where are amplified by the higher-quality components used on the race bike. For example our calipers utilize titanium Pistons so that when combined with pads like this that have ceramic backing, the heat was kept separated from the brake fluid even better. As for the pad/blade matchup, we had them squeezing against Braketech Iron Axis rotors. The iron rotors have a higher coefficient of friction than the stainless along with better thermal stability as dynamic heat sinks. The combination of the X Race pads with the Axis rotors resulted in a much more aggressive bite but with predictable linear characteristics linked to linked to brake pressure. This resulted in break markers being moved 10 to 20 ft closer to turns at medium and high speeds. The better quality rotors also allowed the pads to be used more aggressively without the fear of brake fade or glazing. In the future we plan on testing these pads on the Braketech CMC rotors that brake tech offers so we can better observe there wear characteristics and breaking performance on composite blades. For now we I would absolutely recommend them for both track use and Street use as they Inspire confidence well in both iterations. When compared to other companies like Ferodo, EBC, and Brembo, we found their pricing to be much more competitive and the performance able to cater to a larger window of rotor selection. DP brakes a widely available and are made in the UK. They cover almost all kinds of sport bikes and can be purchased at your local dealer. We also sell them through our website since we want to make sure that our customers are using products that we hold significant confidence in, especially on our own machines. If there are any additional questions you might have please email us at speedshop@liracing.org for more information.