Wrist: Aaron Frank
MSRP (2011): $11,999
Mods: Brembo master cylinder, Core Moto brake lines, EBC brake pads
Brembo’s 19RCS master cylinder is two levers in one, offering you a choice of 18mm or 20mm
The most touted upgrade on Suzuki’s latest GSX-Rs is the move to upmarket Brembo Monobloc brake calipers. Swanky stoppers add undeniable curb-appeal, but for those of us accustomed to the eyeball-flattening stopping power of most Brembo-equipped European sportbikes, the Gixxer’s braking performance doesn’t measure up. The problem is the master cylinder: Instead of a matching Brembo component, Suzuki spec'd a less-expensive Nissin unit that lacks both power and feel.
Upgrading to Brembo’s 19RCS radial master cylinder ($365.95; www.brembo.com) is a quick and reasonably affordable solution that delivers braking performance better than the best production European sportbikes. The Brembo master features a larger-volume, 19mm piston—1.5mm larger than the Nissin’s—to increase braking force, and a trick, variable-adjustment pivot point to fine-tune lever feel. Turning a roller-cam inside the lever instantly switches the inter-axis measurement (the distance between the lever pivot and plunger) from 18mm to 20mm, both of which offer more leverage than the stock, 16mm measurement. Brembo recommends the 20mm setting, which provides maximum braking power and minimum lever travel, for street use. The 18mm setting sacrifices some outright power for greater lever travel, making it easier to modulate for racetrack use. Feed-back in either position is consistent and confident.
Core Moto stainless-steel brake lines are built-to-order. You pick the color of the lines
The Brembo master cylinder is machined from billet aluminum, with details such as a folding lever and micro-adjustment wheel that come straight from the Italian firm’s MotoGP components. An integrated brake-light micro-switch allows streetbike fitment without fussing with an inline switch.
The remainder of the GSX-R’s braking system was upgraded at the same time. The OE rubber lines were replaced with stainless-steel alternatives from Core Moto ($99 front, $59 rear; www.coremoto.com) to ensure rock-solid, expansion-free fluid transfer. The stock pads were jettisoned in favor of EBC’s recommended “track-day” setup, which consists of EPFA-HH sintered pads for the front and FA-HH pads for the rear ($38.95 per pair; www.ebcbrakes.com).
Grippy pads, more efficient lines and a more powerful, more responsive master cylinder make this one of the best-braking sportbikes we’ve ever ridden, on par with a factory Superbike. Braking response is instant and almost overwhelming, and remains concentrated in the first half of the lever travel so you can use just one or two fingers without crushing your remaining knuckles against the bar. Brake fade and excess lever travel, meanwhile, have been banished for good , so brake feel and force remain consistent throughout a track session.. Bang-for-the-buck, this is the most meaningful mod we’ve made to this bike yet, finally making good on the world-class braking promise the Brembo name infers.