When we contacted Spiegler Performance Parts about the handlebar kit for our naked R1 project bike ("Strip Search", Sept. '08), the company sent over a set of ABM rotors and Carbone Lorraine brake pads for the bike in addition to the other goodies. The rotors promptly ended up buried in New Guy's office, and the archeological expedition recovered them too late to include in that story. Once found, however, we promptly installed them as our naked R1's stock brakes-in contrast to other test units we've tried-were wooden and lacked power.
The ABM Peak rotors ($310 each) are made from a proprietary blend of stainless steel that is said to perform as well as iron but retain the benefits of stainless steel (such as corrosion resistance). The full-floating rotors are mounted to titanium-anodized aluminum carriers with similarly finished buttons, with plenty of movement available for expansion and contraction. A wave pattern reduces weight, and the pair of ABM discs is a half-pound lighter than the six-pound pair of standard units, a significant savings. We installed the set of Carbone Lorraine SBK-5 sintered brake pads ($56 per caliper), and the bike was already equipped with a set of Spiegler's stainless steel brake lines, which are available in a variety of colors and retail for $110.
The new rotors and pads took longer than expected to bed in, but with that accomplished the setup transformed the R1's binders, providing more stopping power and reduced lever effort. At low speeds just a light touch is required and the brakes border on being grabby; with more speed, however, that turns into linear response and easy modulation, with brick-wall stopping available from a light, two-fingered pull. The company does offer other compounds of pads with different characteristics, and we'd suspect that an alternative compound would reduce low-speed touchiness at the expense of overall effort. Still, we're more than happy with the SBK-5's performance.
In addition to better stopping power, the lighter rotors make our project bike's steering even quicker, leaving the R1 feeling like it's lost more weight than the scales would indicate. Of course, a lighter front end makes our naked R1 even more susceptible to one-wheel shenanigans, but we're not complaining. Overall, we're impressed with the ABM/Carbone Lorraine setup as it raises the R1's canyon-riding fun factor-something the bike already excelled at-by a noticeable notch.