Brake calipers

The se­crets be­hind the most po­tent part of any bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - Chris Dabbs MCN tech­ni­cal ex­pert of over 20 years, for­mer racer and road tester

‘Op­posed-pis­ton calipers are more ro­bust, giv­ing more power and feel’

For­get that high-revving 1000cc four­cylin­der en­gine, your hy­draulic disc brakes are the most ‘pow­er­ful’ part of your bike. It might take seven sec­onds or less to get to 100mph, but your binders will bring you to a halt in half that time as the brakes turn that en­ergy into heat.

In a hy­draulic sys­tem the brak­ing force is pro­por­tional to hy­draulic pres­sure placed on the brake pad from the lever or pedal, the power and feel come from dif­fer­ent de­signs. The sim­plest caliper de­sign, seen on mopeds and 125s, will have one or two caliper pistons on one side of the disc, us­ing a slid­ing de­sign to pull the op­pos­ing pads into con­tact. But a sin­gle brake pipe lim­its avail­able pres­sure and the caliper de­sign can flex un­der hard use, dis­tort­ing feel.

Op­posed pis­ton calipers per­form bet­ter be­cause pres­sure ap­plied to the pads and disc is equalised and the de­sign is far more ro­bust so that it can cope bet­ter with high hy­draulic pres­sure. Two, four and six-pis­ton de­signs al­low larger pads to be used on larger discs for more power. The strong­est calipers are made from a sin­gle block of metal .

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