Ok since the HRC pads are no longer available for the RC51 or the 1000RR, I get a lot of requests of what "other" brake pads are recommended so I am going to give my opinion on what I have learned about brake pads over decades of racing, testing and instructing. The original HRC Pad review and info is still on this page it is just way down below everything else & then there is a little write up on brake fluid that might surprise some people...
0. Honda OEM Brake Pads have long since been an industry standard for the best OEM pads. Excellent longevity, stopping power in both wet & dry conditions and great feel from them without being too aggressive on initial bite. Obviously perfectly suited for street riding, but can be used at the track as well. The only real downside is the cost from the local dealerships that usually like to charge a premium at the parts counter.
1. The Vesrah SRJL XX are the best Race pads I have ever used bar none, but they are also the most expensive. Their SRJL line is superb and their less aggressive RJL pads are simply pads you cannot go wrong with, but the cost of the pads along with the sometimes difficult time and effort it takes to acquire them had me looking for alternatives which I found in the following
2. Carbone Lorraine
The Carbone Lorraine
C55/59 & now C60 Race Compound is almost as good as the
Vesrah's, but usually less than half the price. These are
the best value for the dollar you will find on the current market
for brake pads period. Just for the record I started
using the Carbone Lorraine C55's when I could no longer get HRC
pads for OEM calipers and was very skeptical at first simply due
to the low cost of them, but they really get the job done. I like
them because they are powerful and predictable plus the hotter
you get them the better they work. It's like they really enjoy
the abuse. The C60 compound is the latest and greatest. Since
2008 I have turned many racers and trackday junkies on to these
pads and not one SINGLE person has come back to me with a
complaint. In fact every one of them praise the race pads for
their performance and they have solved a lot of issues that
riders were having with other brands of race pads. I am telling
you these are the best kept secret in the racing world as they
really do work exactly like you think a race pad should.
Carbone Lorraine also makes a very formidable street compound the XBK5 that easily pulls double duty for trackdays similar to the Vesrah RJL Line. They are better than some OEM pads, not quite as good as others, but if you have a dealership trying to rape you over OEM brake pad prices then these make excellent alternatives for street use and can easily handle trackday duty as well. if you are turning full on race pace then I do suggest the C60's, but the XBK5 are more than sufficient for normal trackday riders.
3. SBS Dual Carbon
The SBS Dual Carbon's aren't bad either especially for the price point. Like other Race pads they require heat to work, have good initial bite and only a tiny bit of fade when really aggressive, but once you hit that point of fade it NEVER gets any worse. The only real downside to them is they don't work well in the wet and in pouring rain they literally disintegrate into a graphite like mush in just a few track sessions.
4. Galfer pads
Every Galfer pad I have ever sampled including some of their supposedly new stuff over the last couple years no matter how much they cost or how many accolades had been thrown on them all seem to feel wooden to me and have tons of fade. They might just be fine & dandy for the street pace or commuting, but I have had no luck with them at all for track use.
5. Performance Friction
I have only tried Performance Friction pads a couple of times and they have never failed to impress, but they seem to also be difficult to find consistently. I was using the #13 compound this last time around and while pleased with it I still went back to the Carbone Lorraine's when the PF pads wore out.
6. Ferodo Pads
I don't have much experience with Ferodo pads. They sent me a set to test back in 2004 and I think they were allegedly performance street pads called SinterGrip ST. Those were the worst pads I have ever used in my life with no consistency whatsoever. You literally never knew what kind of response you were going to get when you pulled the brake lever. Your mileage may vary and they may have a lot better offerings as well in the way of race pads, but that little test pretty much swayed me away from their brake pads... I have used some of their rotor products with excellent results and their ceramic composite stuff is in a league of its own if you can afford it!
7. EBC Pads (I don't like them)
EDIT 07/12/23 Not wanting to appear biased in my reviews I asked a professional MotoAmerica Racer to evaluate the GPFAX pads against the Carboone Lorraine and his review is pretty much identical to what I have experienced:
The Carbone Lorraine C60 brake pads are an excellent choice for any bike that would otherwise have brake fade or other heat dispersion issues with the brakes. They are designed to run in a higher heat range than most other brake pads. It will take about a lap for them to get warmed up, and even though the difference is noticeable from when they are cold to when theyve been warmed up, once they are in their operating heat range they will give strong and consistent brake feel throughout the rest of the race or track day session. Carbone Lorraine C60 brake pads are also able to stand up to many heat cycles and are incredibly consistent throughout their service life. And as an added plus they do not create excessive dust.
By contrast, EBC GPFAX brake pads work in a lower heat range so they give a good consistent feel up to the point that they are overworked. Ebc pads work well in a bike that does not over utilize its brakes but they do not stand up to multiple heat cycles. They work well when they are new but they will need to be changed more often as their performance will decline after only a few sessions depending on track and circumstances. EBC brake pads also produce a lot of dust.
EDIT 11/28/18 EBC has contacted me and is going to give me the opportunity to test their latest and greatest GPFAX pads made fresh for both the new Kyle Racing R6 Project bike and on my ZX-10R as well. As soon as track season comes alive again for 2019 I will update this page with my results.
The main pad people refer to when it comes to the EBC brand is their "HH" model. On the message forums some people swear by them and others always chime in accordingly, but in my experience they are crap... The backing plates are too thin and the heat causes them to warp which creates parasitic drag on the rotors. I have heard for several years now that EBC created a new kit pad with a thicker backing plate to address the warping issue, but nobody has ever been able to present me with a set of these new kit pads to confirm or test.
Now inevitably someone will pop up & spew out something along the lines of "I've been using them for years and have never had a warping problem", Yea well those are usually the same guys that say their tires "stuck like glue" all day when they review the latest rubber donut for their steed. If they never got the tire to spin up they simply weren't riding it hard enough to find the limit of traction and the same is true with brake pads. Those that don't have problems with the EBC pads are typically guys that aren't riding hard enough to need the HH Sintered pad to begin with and funny enough they are usually the one that praise them the most. A lot of my racer buds used to put EBC stickers on their bikes for contingency money as well, but never actually ran the pads in the bike so be wary of equating what you see on the racetrack to what is really getting the job done...
Couple decades ago when there were no other choices for HH type pads the EBC's were better than most in spite of the warping problem (although I preferred DP pads back then), but huge advances have been made in the technology behind the brake pad compounds and now there are many far better choices out there. In fact I think the OEM honda pads outperform many of the race pads from even just a few years ago. The OEM Honda pads have the feel, feedback and outright stopping power as well as the longevity that puts most race pads to shame from the same time period that the EBC HH pads were initially introduced.
Another interesting little note is EBC Rotors. I've had 2 different customers come forward recently with issues of their brand new EBC rotors eating through new pads like they were butter. It appears that the latest crop of EBC rotors are coming with extremely sharp edges in the slots or holes in the rotor. These sharp edges basically wear the pads down at an almost unbelievable rate until the edges dull enough to slow down the wear... In my opinion it is a design flaw, but what do you really expect from an aftermarket rotor that costs less than half of any other aftermarket rotor on the market...
Difference between Race Pads and Street Pads:
Most Race Pads require more heat than Street Pads to work properly. That means on a cold misty morning if you go ripping down to the end of your street first thing after leaving your house and grab a handful of brake you will pretty much blow right through the stop sign and end up in the middle of the road before you get it stopped. Some are better than others, but in my experience the better the Race Pad is at doing race track stuff the worse it is at managing colder street ride stuff. Obviously this can be alleviated by doing some short brake drags and getting the temp up on the pads, but lets be honest most riders just aren't cognizant enough to be trusted with such a simple, yet important task.
Race Pads Typically wear out faster than Street Pads regardless of whether they are being used on the street or track. This has left more than one rider sitting on the side of the road waiting on a buddy to come pick him up because he misjudged how much pad he really had left for his weekend ride to Eureka Springs or Deals Gap etc.
The benefit of Race pads is that they have a much higher resistance to brake fade when used at prolonged and higher temperatures. They will slow you down much better from excessive speeds than a Street Pad. Additionally race pads are designed to have a tuned amount of initial bite so a racer can have a choice in the way the pad first attacks the rotor. Sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing like when you have 4 Pad monobloc's which means 8 leading edges of brake pad hitting the rotor at the same time causing A LOT of initial bite. In a case like that a pad with less initial bite could help offset the effects etc. What works well for a racer threshold braking and then trailing off as he approaches the apex of a grippy racetrack may not work so well for a street rider needing to scrub speed or slow mid-corner for an unexpected obstacle. Ultimately it is nice to have choices.
Street Pads naturally are the opposite. They generally work really well from cold and as they heat up to normal operating temps they remain consistent in feel, but at or near race pace (or if the rider is abusing the brakes by granny dragging them too often and overbraking) they start to suffer fade in performance. They typically have less initial bite, but are always consistent in the way they build friction to the point they start to fall off.
When changing to a new brake pad compound it is important that you strip the old pad compound off the rotors. The best way is to bead blast the rotor, but not everybody has access to a bead blasting cabinet so you can also use the maroon Scotch-Brite pads & Simple Green to scrub the rotors thoroughly. This is not really a difficult task, but if your fingers don't ache when you are done then you probably didn't scrub them long enough. It takes about 20 minutes (5 minutes per each side of the rotor) to get the job done. Make sure you rinse them well afterwards, cold water does just fine.
Once you try the Simple Green on your brakes it will become a part of your ritual maintenance for cleaning your brakes after each event. Some people use aerosol Brake Cleaners instead of Simple Green & this works well too as long as you don't have a crappy brand that leaves an invisible residue on the rotor & unfortunately many of them do so I tend to stay away from the aerosols altogether.
Best way I have learned to bed in new pads to the peaks and valleys in the rotors is to get the bike up to about 70mph and slow it down to about 30mph 4-5 times in a row with moderate braking pressure DO NOT COME TO A COMPLETE STOP WHILE DOING THIS as that can cause the pad material to melt and stick to the hot rotor. There are 2 ways to glaze your rotors and both of them are from too much heat. If you drag the brakes at slow speeds for too long they overheat and if you panic stop to hard lifting the rear wheel into the air etc they overheat. If they overheat the pad compound melts on the rotor and braking effectiveness is reduced.
Brake Pad Condition:
Change your pads before they are worn out! When you wear the pad material too thin it causes the heat generated by friction during braking to be transmitted through the backing plate of the brake pad and into the braking system. Brake Fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs water from the atmosphere. This water when heated will boil and turn to gas which then makes the brake lines spongy. The older the brake fluid the more time it has had to absorb water and the worse it will perform.
Over the years I have used every brand of brake fluid you can think of from $100 a bottle Castrol SRF to Brembo to Motul RBF600 and unless you are torturing your brakes to the point it boils the brake fluid which I have only seen happen on endurance bikes raced by the cream of the crop racers then all the brake fluids work equally well. Most of the time I use the $2.99 a bottle Valvoline Synpower DOT 3/4 available on the shelf from just about any auto parts store in this country. Because a customer gave me some after a special brake overhaul on a Corbin Sparrow EV I am currently using the ATE Superblue and yet again I notice no difference whatsoever in ANY of the brands. From 4 pad Monobloc's to the GP4's I am running currently I know how to use and abuse the brakes...
Squishy Brake Levers:
I get complaints all the time from both seasoned and new track riders about how their brake lever gets squishy when the brakes get hot and requires a lot more lever pull to get the bike stopped. Brake Fluid is Hygroscopic. It absorbs moisture from the air and the older it gets the more moisture it absorbs. That moisture in the brake fluid when heated during aggressive brake use through the backing plates of the brake pads and into the caliper pistons etc causes the brake fluid to vaporize the water into gas which is now compressible making more lever travel required to get the same amount of braking force at the lever.
Quite simply liquids are not compressible, gasses are.
OEM Style rubber brake lines can exacerbate the condition because they also bulge and flex more than braided steel lines do, but the root cause is too much heat and/or old brake fluid.
Many times when it comes to this condition amongst riders at trackdays it is generally caused by one of two things:
1. The use of brake pads that are not up to the task of trackday or race pace. EBC HH or Galfer pads etc immediately come to mind.
2. Overuse of the brakes (i.e. using the brakes way more than actually required).
RC51 Mods HRC Pads Review
Forget about at new calipers, master cylinders , iron rotors & such... Simply buy a set of the HRC pads:
# 45105-NL3-621 (hard initial bite & the most popular choice)
Part # 45106-NL3-621 (softer intitial bite)
I always thought the RC51's brakes were the best I had ever experienced on a stock bike & even though I had entertained the idea of adding some aftermarket calipers & rotors to the bike for both improved performance & the cool factor I must say after experiencing the HRC pads that I will never deviate from the set-up I have now! If they quit making these pads then I'm going to give up riding the RC51 altogether
The linear feel of the pads is unbelievable & they just scream stopping power! These are probably the best pads I have ever used on a Stainless Steel rotor.
They are kind of pricey & really don't last all that long compared to some other premium brands, but they just make the good brakes on the RC51 even better & most importantly I like the way they perform as they give me confidence which is priceless to me
There are 2 different types of HRC pads one with a hard initial bite & the other where the bite is softer. While the vast majority of riders prefer the hard initial bite I personally prefer the latter as it suits my riding style better. I like to trailbrake very late into the turn & I don't mean just applying the brakes & tipping into the turn sometimes I even apply the brake long after I have already initiated the turn & with the harder biting pads the front end dives as the brake pads grab which as you know isn't a good thing when you are already at or near full lean mid-turn. The softer biting pads allow me to apply the brakes more gradually, but they still have tons of braking force.
& Yes I use them on both the street & track.
is an excerpt from an HRC pad user:
pads are twice the price of the stock pads and are
intended for track use. Most of us that own them use them
for the track and that just isn't normal mileage so
results will vary greatly. I noticed a nice difference
from the stock pads and am very happy with the purchase
(Mine are the hard initial bite pads). I also had a
warping problem with the stock pads, after the first few
track days I found the pad backing had warped and was
casuing a lot of brake-drag. The HRC units are built with
a thicker backing plate to reduce warping and less pad
material as a trade-off. They will not last as long as
the stock pads but the stopping power is nice and the
late braking is worth it for me. My bike is a street
bike/ track day bike, the last 5K miles have been split
evenly between the two. The pads are fine on the street
but it does seem like they need a little warm up before
they really grab, the stock pads seemed a little better
for those first couple stops.
Wear depends completely on the
rider and the track, temp and or use. What I like about
the HRC pads over stock is the ability to trail brake the
front wheel as hard as I want while leaned over and
continuing to have complete control. This helps me
determine what lean angle I choose to apex a turn, the
speed I choose to do it with, and ultimately determines
the level of confidence I have in the bikes ability to
respond to my commands.