Vortex Superbike Carbon Brake Pad review

Speed Control

Braking is something that I have been working on both as a skill and finding the right setup for me.  I have been to both ends of the spectrum of feel versus power.  At some point I would like to gather the cross section of components and test them all for a truly fair comparison.  However today that I am going to focus on my initial thoughts on a set of Vortex Carbon superbike pads.   These are new from Vortex and are part of a lineup that includes a superbike sinter, off road, and street compounds.  Since I am exploring BrakeTech’s Iron Axis rotor I went with their suggestion of running with carbon pads over sinter.  To my surprise I was actually warned over the phone that these may not be the best choice for a 600 due to a high level of heat needed to get them to work.  I decided to give them a try anyways.



The test setup for my initial test was on a 2007 GSX-R600 with the Brembo brake calipers from a 2011.  Stock sized BrakeTech Axis iron rotors, Galfer Superbike brake lines and a stock Nissin master cylinder.  I am still waiting on a fancy-pants master that will be the subject of another review later.  My reference for comparison is the Ferodo CP1 carbon race pad that is recommended and sold by BrakeTech.

Cold and Wet

Having a race coming up at Sonoma Raceway I was looking forward to putting in some hot laps and really work on my lines in preparation.  However mother nature had other plans.  I only ended up running one session before lunch.  I needed to bed the pads so before heading to the hot pit I made a few passes to see how they felt in the pit.  The initial pull yielded the same friction as a 2×4 against drywall.  A series of 35-15 got the feel to come up a little so I headed out onto track. The track was damp and the air temp was around 50*F.  Of course I was also running slicks.  Despite having warmers on, as soon as I rolled onto the track they had cooled off.  I could not push hard enough to get heat back into the tires.  I was sliding around a lot under braking and really could do nothing more than bed the brakes.  Despite the difficulties I was able to get a good lever feel.


Finally Some Sun

After lunch the sun came out and the rain abated.  With a track drying out my times started to drop and I could finally test the brakes.  Sonoma is not a high-speed track however there are a number of places that you brake hard and deep.  You have to brake far more often than the other tracks which I run in a season.  This provided a good preview of what to expect.  The first pull or two provided a weak response however half the way into a lap grip came up.  I think that the iron rotors help in this department as they will transfer more heat to the pads more than a stock stainless rotor.  The initial bite was reasonably high.  I found myself adding a little too much brake when I had only intended to drag the brakes.  However the release was very smooth and allowed me to trail brake deep into turn 9 for example.  The overall power was excellent as well.  I was able to plow the front end into the ground as needed.  In fact I was bottoming out my forks and got a lot of chatter over the bumps into turn 11.  I will be lowering the air-gap in the forks to help prevent this.

Stoppies and Ice cream


For the cost I decided to give the Vortex pads a try and I will be leaving them in the bike for AFM round 2.  After a full race weekend I should be able to judge wear and performance at proper hot lap times.   I would say that compared to other carbon pads you need more heat to get them working, however you are rewarded with a slightly higher initial bite and a slightly lower lever effort for the same deceleration.  The other interesting note is fitment.  I had problems with the Ferodo’s chattering badly without the anti-rattle clips.  I did not have this problem with Vesrah or the Vortex pads.  The clips add quite a bit of drag to the caliper which is only a big deal when you are being anal retentive on a race bike.  Probably no bearing on the street what so ever.  The image below shows why this happened.  The tabs that locate the pads are considerably smaller on the CP1 versus the VSC.  The Vortex matches the OEM brembo pads and did not rattle.  IMG_2284

If anyone wants to donate some linear potentiometers I would love to chart the differences between sintered on stainless and carbon on iron.

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