5 Limitations of Stock Brakes and the Upgrades That Overcome Them

Big Brake Kit

big brake kit

A pattern we’ve observed among enthusiasts is that there is a severe thirst for power, but not for braking capacity. The truth is, any car that has been modified for more power absolutely needs a brake upgrade. Think about it. If a car has 20% more power and the stock braking system isn’t upgraded to come to terms with that power increment, the car is simply not equipped to handle that power.

However, the benefits of a better performing braking system don’t just apply to modified cars. At the heart of it, brakes are a safety feature first and foremost and even a car that has minor or no modifications will benefit from performance brakes.

Here are the biggest issues with the braking system in a stock car and the suggested performance brake upgrades to overcome them:

1. The stock brake rotors are not designed to dissipate maximum heat

Certain performance models such as the Baleno RS come with disc brakes on all 4 wheels but even in those situations, the rotors don’t have sufficient heat venting. They are also limited further by their size. Now, obviously, a bigger brake rotor leads to more surface area and increases braking capacity. But, the reasons for installing drilled and vented rotors aren’t as obvious:

Any set of brake pads are designed to work ideally at a certain range of temperature. As you go beyond this ideal temperature, the coefficient of friction comes down, meaning you need to apply much more force to achieve the same stopping power. In addition, certain brake pads release a gas due to the excess heat, causing a jacket of air between the rotor and the pad, thus resulting in brake fade.

The solution:
Drilled and vented brake rotors.

While the repercussions could be bad, the solution is actually simpler than you would think. By upgrading the stock rotors to a drilled and vented rotor of the same diameter or to a larger diameter in case of higher power levels, the braking performance can be increased drastically. The airflow of a drilled and vented brake rotor enables the brake assembly to operate at a temperature that is much closer to its ideal temperature.

Lateral view of brake rotor

Further, any gases that arise from the friction between the pad and rotor is easily pushed out through the vents, leading to much better braking performance.

2. Stock Brake Pads compromise on performance

The primary goal of manufacturing stock brake pads is simple: achieve a certain level of braking performance at lower as well as moderately high temperatures. The problem with this approach is that it leads to a compromise in braking performance, just to make sure that the pads operate above a minimum standard in a wider range of temperatures. Besides everything else, the OEM pads are built to cost – which means compromises massively in terms of outright braking performance.

The solution:
Performance Brake Pads

Performance brake pads

The philosophy behind performance brake pads is simple: they are created to maximize braking performance for specific use cases. Rather than making a brake pad that offers a minimum level of performance in a wide range of temperatures and compromised for cost, performance brake pads guarantee maximum performance in a specific range of temperatures. Accordingly, a street car would benefit from employing a set of brake pads that offer good performance at a lower temperature, whereas you would need brake pads that stay consistent at much higher temperatures for racing, spirited driving, and other purposes that demand intensive braking such as regular hill descents.

3. Stock Brake Lines are prone to failure

Although stock rubber brake lines have come a long way from the old days, they still aren’t the ideal solution. Rocks and other debris shooting up from the ground can tamper the rubber covering, potentially causing brake failure. Further, the stock brake lines don’t give you the best pedal feel because as the pressure goes up on the pedal, the rubber brake lines bulge – reducing both pedal feel and braking power.

The solution:
Steel braided brake lines

steel braided brake lines

Steel braided brake lines are built to be durable and heavy-duty. They have a strong core responsible for carrying brake fluid. This core has a protective layer around it. A stainless steel pipe surrounds this assembly and a braided protective layer encases the entire brake line. Given how the core is much more rigid, the brake pipes do not bulge, resulting in a much better pedal feel. Further, the brake lines are much more resilient to debris and rocks due to their construction.

4. The stock master cylinder isn’t designed for performance

Braking systems are typically hydraulic, with the brake fluid that is located in the master cylinder being responsible for translating the driver’s input on the brake pedal to the calipers. However, most cars have a master cylinder that comes with some obvious limitations. This is primarily because the pressure that the brake fluid places on the calipers is a function of the size of the piston in the master cylinder.

The solution:
Performance Master Cylinders

Performance Master Cylinder

A Performance Master Cylinder has a larger piston, and hence, it pushes out more brake fluid towards the calipers, resulting in better braking performance. A counterpoint could be made, that since the piston is larger, a larger effort is required to generate the same brake pressure. However, thanks to modified lever positions, you can get the same braking performance with even lesser effort compared to stock braking systems. Further, the cylinder is made from tough, heavy-duty materials.
All of these factors make performance master cylinders one of the simplest, most straightforward ways to increase braking performance.

5. Stock brakes aren’t suitable for high-powered builds

When a car is modified beyond its initial identity, then the brakes need to evolve with the change as well. For example, if a Honda City VTEC is modified from its initial state of 100bhp to 200bhp+, then changing just the rotors, brake lines, and pads simply aren’t enough to keep up with the power upgrade. Such cases demand a more holistic braking solution.

The Solution:
Big Brake Kits

Big Brake Kit

When a car is unrecognizably more powerful than its stock form, it calls for a big brake kit. Essentially, a big brake kit is an all-in-one package that comes with the works: performance rotors, bigger pads, matching calipers (in red of course), steel brake lines, and so on. Thanks to our association with some of the world’s leading aftermarket brands, we are able to offer the very best big brake kits to some of our most powerful modified cars.

In addition to the above points, we feel it’s important to mention that every car is designed differently. And very often, aftermarket parts have to be manufactured specifically for each model. Given how this is the case, it isn’t hard to believe that certain upgrades, such as upgrading rear drum brakes to disc brakes for example, simply can’t be done for all cars. The best practice for enthusiasts is always to talk to us on what is possible and what isn’t before planning an upgrade.

To sum up, it’s clear that there are numerous aftermarket performance braking solutions. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and it really all depends on the application and the demands that it places on your brakes. However, increasing a car’s braking performance has become far more affordable today than ever before. And while it could get confusing at times to truly understand what kind of braking system your car needs, we can always help guide your decision.

Race Concepts translates its racing R&D to premium performance upgrades to customers. We bring to you the best materials available and use only trusted brands for master cylinders, brake lines, calipers, rotors, and pads. Interested in a brake upgrade? Launch an inquiry right now!

3 reasons why coilovers are just what your car needs

Among all the products that we offer here at Race Concepts, we seem to get the highest number of questions about coilover suspension systems. The first and most frequently asked question is always about ride height. Then it goes to ride comfort, stability at higher speeds and so on. So, we thought we’d write a quick blog about suspension systems to address, and hopefully answer these questions.

The alternatives are make-shift solutions

It is crucial to understand that stance is not everything. Handling is also an important parameter, and when ignored, it can be upsetting and dangerous.

Let’s set the record straight right now. A lowered ride height is a bi-product of a quality suspension system, and not the primary purpose of it. Typically, to lower the ride height, car owners change the springs on their stock suspension system, but hang on to the same damper. This results in a suspension setup that is highly prone to failure, simply because that sort of spring-damper pairing simply isn’t designed to work together. Stock dampers are designed to only travel within a certain range. Lowering it beyond its working stroke will make the damper bottom out easily, thus resulting in an unpleasant ride.

So essentially, this method of lowering the ride height leads to poor ride quality, reduced damper life and also poor damper control. In other words, the suspension maintains a lower ride height, but fails to do its actual job.

Better ride comfort

To get an adequately lowered ride height as well as much better handling, the most popular solution the world over is to install a ‘coil over shock absorber’ type of system or, coilovers for short. A coilover suspension system consists of a heavy duty spring coiled over an equally robust damper. In this case, the spring and damper are designed in tandem, to work with each other and offer the best ride comfort as well as a lowered ride height. Since the working length of the damper is meant to work with a lowered ride height, it does not compromise on overall suspension performance.

However, the benefits of having a coilover suspension doesn’t just end at the ride height. You will notice an instant improvement in the handling and ride quality of the car. Typically, the car feels a lot more planted and gives you the ability to make razor sharp movements, even at higher speeds. Since the suspension is completely tuneable, you can find the perfect balance of firm and soft feel in the same car.

What’s more? Unlike OEM dampers which are usually built to cost, coilovers are made with highly durable materials, making them heavy-duty too. Not only are they incredibly durable, the dampers are no longer use-and-throw: they can be serviced. So even if the initial expense of installing a new set of coilovers on your car is relatively high, the cost of running the car is significantly lower.

Much higher customizability

To paraphrase, the whole point of having a suspension is to get the tyres to be in contact with the ground as much as possible, because your car can only do the amazing things that it’s capable of when the tyres are in contact with the surface. So, before you even think about what type of coilover system you want to install in your car, figure out what kind of driving you will be doing. Are you a city slicker, highway cruiser or occasional trackday junkie?

These are the sort of questions that will inform your choice. The customizability that coilover suspension systems offer can get overwhelming. There are multiple areas of improving your handling such as:

  • Camber adjustment to give better footprint to the tyres under acceleration and cornering.
  • Independent ride height control to get the perfect stance and lower centre of gravity. This leads to improved overall dynamics and reduced overall drag.
  • Independent Preload Adjustment to increase or decrease spring stiffness to suit the application.
  • Rebound Adjustment to set the precise damper setting to get spot on stiffness as desired.
  • All new top mounts and anchor mounts for most applications with bearing mounts to remove the sloppiness of aged suspension components and giving firmer steering response with low top mount friction.
  • Lighter construction, resulting is lower unsprung mass and lesser wear on steering components.
  • With reduced overall suspension travel, steering and chassis components have lower rate of wear and tear, especially with regard to stabilizer link rod, tie rod ends, ball joint and lower arm ends.

These are the inherent benefits of a coilover suspension system versus any other solution

Another factor to consider for city sleepers is progressive rate springs in the coilover. A progressive rate spring is basically a spring whose spring rate is variable through the length of the damper. Such springs are much more streetable because they contribute significantly to the roll control of the vehicle, giving you much better handling on tighter city roads. Further improving overall braking stability and reducing braking distance too. So in other words, makes your car safer overall.

To sum up, it is definitely an attractive proposition to lower your car by just changing the springs on your stock suspension. However, it is a much wiser and cost-effective decision in the long run, to invest in a coilover suspension system that is designed for both lower ride heights and higher ride control.

The coilovers that we use here at Race Concepts are a result of over a decade’s worth of R&D on the race track. Fill in our enquiry form and get a quote for your car.

Why Racing Could Be The Marketing Solution For A Stuttering Automotive Industry

The recently released movie, Ford vs Ferrari or Le Mans ’66 as it’s known in Europe, has been creating a buzz among auto enthusiasts and casual motorists alike. And despite the thrills and spills explored in the movie while telling the compelling tale of how Ford decided to conquer Le Mans, there was actually a very corporate reason at the heart of Ford’s actions, and it wasn’t Ford’s enthusiasm for racing. It was their enthusiasm to sell cars.

In fact, since time immemorial, motorsport, and touring car racing in particular, has been the go-to method of marketing an automotive brand. Just take a look at how the landscape of the British Touring Car Championship changed in the 60s. The racing series went from being dominated by Mini Coopers to becoming a hotbed for competition between Ford and Mini. Why did this happen? This happened because it was a no-brainer for General Motors to market the shiny new Ford Cortina by pitting it against the most popular cars in Britain and beating them on the race track.

Jim Clark on his way to victory in the 1964 British Touring Car Championship ©Autocar magazine

There was simply no better way of marketing their brand.

This hasn’t changed all that much since then. One visit to a touring car racing series in Europe and you will see that customers are able to watch the race and then buy the car that won, at the track itself.

There is a very specific reason for this type of marketing: The ethos of a touring car racing series is the use of cars that are available to everyone. It is a way of showing customers and enthusiasts the true potential of the cars they are buying, and when you consider the slowdown of the automotive sector, leveraging motorsport to market an automotive brand is proving to be as effective as ever.

The reason for the existence of a touring car racing series is multi-faceted. Yes, the overtakes, the crashes and the drama of touring car racing are gripping, but it also makes business sense.

To further understand how racing and business are interrelated, let us look at a more recent example, here in India. When Volkswagen launched in India, there was a whole lot of gaggle about the advertising campaign that launched their mainstays: the Beetle, the Polo and the Vento. A few years after they’d launched, the advertising campaigns were limited to their bigger flagships, and to market their more economical customer cars, they used motorsport.

India saw the likes of the Polo cup, the Vento cup and the Ameo cup. Volkswagen soon became a major player in all forms of racing across the nation. Polos proved to be incredibly popular in the Rallying format and Ventos had expanded beyond being a ‘cup car’ and had entered the Indian Touring Car Championship, the very top level of Touring Car racing in India.

The VW Vento trailing Race Concepts’ Honda City in Round 1 of the championship 2019 ©Anand Philar

This made sense, not just when it came to amping up the appeal of the car, but also when it came to marketing the car itself. Volkswagen perhaps realized that the cost of running a racing series was comparable, if not lesser than running a major ad campaign across traditional media formats, but that’s not all. It also presented them with an opportunity to consistently generate a unique vein of content and a way to engage their customers and potential clients.

This leads us to an important realization: that investing marketing monies in racing is worthwhile simply because it appeals to the right audience, and also helps create marketing material that is wildly different from the competition. It seems to have worked too, with sales of VW cars going up by 4% in September 2019 alone.

So how would a manufacturer go about building a race car?

The answer is simple. They don’t. One look any Rallying grid or Touring Car series will tell you that while manufacturers provide support, not all of them take on the hassle of building the race car themselves. This task is delegated to a dedicated racing team. This is true with how the Ford Cortinas were built by Lotus in the 60s and is true today with how all the VW Polos you see in Indian rallying are tuned by privateers.

This type of relationship is still in a nascent stage in India, with Mahindra and Volkswagen being one of the few manufacturers to see value in using motorsport to market their brand on the rally circuit, but the trend is catching on in touring car racing.

So how do you choose the right privateer to partner with?

A good way of understanding which privateer is the right one to back is to see if they’ve had success against a factory-backed team. Why so? Because, when a private team goes up against a factory team, it is a David and Goliath battle. The funds that go behind the racing programs, the manpower and the depth of the parts bin are worlds apart when you compare a factory team to a privateer. So, when a private team outperforms a factory racing team, it is a measure of their mettle.

To sum up, from the very beginning of the sport, touring car racing has always been a way for manufacturers to create awareness and marketing material for their brands. However, the role of a manufacturer in racing goes far beyond that. A manufacturer’s involvement isn’t just a way to uniquely market the brand to an exceedingly relevant audience. It is also perhaps the only way that the entire motorsport ecosystem, including drivers, teams, stewards, organizers and of course, the manufacturers themselves can grow and become a part of something much bigger.

Race Concepts is a leading racing team in India that competes across all formats of the sport. The team currently holds the lap record in all major circuits in the country and also has what could well be the world’s fastest FWD 1.5l SOHC Honda City in the world in its stable.