Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper

Vital Rating:
Stopping On a Dime
Vital Review

Braking power and usability are things I’m always searching for on my bikes, and on today’s 450s, more stopping power is a welcomed attribute, especially if it’s usable and manageable stopping power. Outside of rotors and brakes pads, the general public doesn’t have much in the way of options. The last few years of walking through the pits at a national, I’ve looked at the factory calipers on certain team bikes and wondered how much of a difference they make. Well, Ride Engineering new Billet Front Brake Caliper is for those looking to maximize the stopping power on today’s fast bikes that are only getting faster.

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to try out Ride Engineering’s 2013 Honda CRF450R, and after spending the day on it one of the things I was most impressed with was their brake caliper unit. After talking to Adrian Ciomo from Ride Engineering, I had one to try out. I have used a few different brands of rotors and brake pads, but I’m always looking for any advantage in the braking department.

Machined from billet aluminum, the Billet Front Brake Caliper is offered in anodized black or machined silver (for that nice factory look). The Ride Engineering unit has larger pistons than the stock Nissin caliper for more power, is lighter, and has machined openings for better venting to keep the temperature down under heavy abuse. Despite the large openings, the caliper actually stiffer than the stock unit, allowing less flex for a more solid and consistent feel.

Installation is fairly straightforward. I threw in some new pads, greased the sliding pins, bolted up the brake line and started the patience practice that is bleeding brakes. If you plan on using the caliper with a stock sized rotor, you will need a different bracket from Ride Engineering, but if you already have an oversized rotor kit, the majority of the brackets in those kits will work instead.

Once everything was bolted up and ready, I rolled around the pits and broke in the new pads before going out for some laps. The first thing I noticed was that there was bit more travel in the lever, but with a more progressive brake feel. The stock unit had a strong lever feel but almost no modulation; the brake would go from complete disengagement to locking up with little movement between. The Ride caliper was strong but progressive throughout the lever pull, starting light while building stronger without an unexpected grabbing point.

VitalMX test rider, Mike Lindsay has now used the Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper on three different machines and has come away impressed. Here he airs out the Ride Eng. 2013 Honda CRF450R in his first ride with the brake system.

The gradual power increase is a bonus for me, with moderate feedback under small grabs and usable power when the track is hard packed. On fast straights, I could ease into heavy braking without the brake suddenly grabbing and tucking the front end. Landing directly in a corner, there is plenty of power to allow me to hit my line with ease (If you’re a fan of a stiff immediate feel you can try out a braided steel brake line). I even spent time swapping the Billet Front Brake Caliper back and forth between my KX250F and KX450F, with both oversized and stock sized rotors and found a gain on each setup. Even with the stock sized rotor, I found the caliper offered better progression and more power.

The Ride Eng.’s new caliper will work on any modern Honda CR/CRF, Suzuki RM-Z, Kawasaki KX-F, and WR Yamaha (to use on a YZ/YZF model you must have an 11mm front master cylinder of one of the other models listed).

At $374.95, the Ride Engineering brake caliper is about the same price as the highest end oversized rotor kits. In return it can give the more powerful action of an oversize rotor and with more manageable feel and a marginal amount more work for installation. After swapping back and forth over and over, I’m convinced the caliper by itself is better than an oversized rotor kit on its own. If you are looking for the ultimate braking advantage though, the best result would be to combine the caliper with anoversized rotor to allow more control over your setup (and wouldn’t you know it, Ride Engineering sells 270mm Oversized Rotor Kits with Galfer rotors for all of the Japanese OEM machines as well).

The only downside with the caliper is price and price alone, and some people might see a rotor kit as less work and less cost. However, if you’re looking for that Supercross, stop-on-a-dime power the Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper and Oversized Rotor Kit are the ticket. This is an excellent product and I'm giving it a 4.5 star rating with the only marks against it being price and that it is not yet available for every bike ( it will not work on newer Yamaha's or any KTM's).

For more information on the Billet Front Brake Caliper and other Ride Engineering products, visit www.ride-engineering.com.

- Michael Lindsay


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