I know people have been waiting for this entry – the fitting of the big brake kit! Not a bad subject for the blog’s 300th post if you ask me!
As mentioned previously, on Monday (aka Pi Day – 3/14/16) I made my way over to Balance Auto and no time was wasted in getting the Focus in the air and starting the removal of the original front brakes. Jackie was able to book me in almost immediately which was great – just waiting for the weekend to pass and Monday to come around seemed hard enough because I was so excited about this. After having this kit on my wishlist for so long it was incredible to finally see it before me, and see its components making their way onto the car.
I’m very pleased with the progress the car has seen in the last couple of months. Not only has the Focus seen a noticeable increase in performance, but I’ve also been able to cross three of the larger items off of my wishlist – the header, the tune, and now the BBK. Certainly a good start to the year!
Anyway, let’s move on to photos from the day. The car was promptly put on one of the hoists and the front wheels were pulled off and set aside. It wasn’t long before stock components started coming off – one of the original rotors was already off when this photo was taken in fact. You can see it in the pile.
The wheel wells were a little dirty naturally. Full Spring detail, coming soon.
Jackie not only lets me run free with my cameras at his shop – which I really appreciate – but before he threw on the new rotor he set it on its edge alongside the original and told me to come over and grab the standard comparison shot.
At this point I switched and started photographing the passenger side because the lighting was better. Haha
Important note – those paying extra attention will notice the original caliper in the background, hanging by the brake line. You shouldn’t do this but since the line was being replaced anyway it didn’t matter so we didn’t care. Otherwise, the caliper should have been removed or hung by another method.
With the mounting bracket fitted, next up was the new 4-piston caliper.
This was probably my favourite shot from the day and it wasn’t even taken with my proper camera, but with my phone instead. The little balcony in the shop and the stairs leading up to it allow for some nice overhead photos.
With the new calipers, rotors, and pads in place, it was then time to install the new brake lines to connect everything.
Then of course, came the bleeding of the system.
With the BBK fully installed, I took the chance to get a couple of final shots before we put the wheels back on.
With the car back on the ground I hopped in and took it out for its first test. There was a noise coming from the passenger side so I pulled it back in and it was quickly determined that the cause was the brake pad retainer contacting the rotor. A quick buzz with a die grinder gave it the clearance it needed and road test number two commenced.
Side note – those aren’t chips in the finish of the caliper and bolts but paint marks from the factory showing the hardware was tightened.
All went smoothly, I performed the required hard stops to bed in the brakes properly (the procedure is outlined in their instructions for anyone unsure of how to do so), and reported back to Jackie and the guys that they worked extremely well.
After leaving the shop I stopped at a car wash for a quick rinse and then parked the car for a few photos.
Of course just as I did, guess what happened…
The snow was super light but it did get rather cold in just a few minutes so I didn’t hang around for long. With the fat spokes of the Tarmacs the brakes are kept somewhat hidden making the upgrade somewhat subtle…but then you notice that bit of red showing through.
I couldn’t resist throwing in a quick comparison with the Need for Speed version of my car. This is how I determined I wanted red calipers as opposed to blue in the first place. Apparently I should adjust the paint colour on the virtual version though…
So how do they compare to the original brakes? It seems unnecessary to say it, but they do bite much, much harder. These bring the car to a halt incredibly fast and are really easy to modulate too – some of my friends specifically asked if they were, or if they went from no bite to suddenly throwing me into the steering wheel. These can stop the car just as gently and smoothly as the standard brakes.
Where they also differ from the standard brakes would be in terms of dust and noise though. There is a significant increase in brake dust buildup – although having white wheels helps to really show it – and the pads are a bit noisier. Neither of these attributes are necessarily bad, but I am considering changing to lower dust pads just to keep the wheels cleaner for longer, considering how many meets and events I attend with the car. I’ll run them as-is for a little while before making up my mind on that though.
Thanks once again to Rebel Devil Customs and V-MAXX for the kit, and to Jackie at Balance Auto Garage for the install!