I feel one aspect of a bike’s performance that is often over looked is the brake system. Most of us including myself have over looked this area more times than not. Some of us typically will go buy a new or used bike, drop money on an exhaust, wheels, graphics and maybe even race fuel. After all when you spend almost ten grand on a new bike you think the brakes are top notch off the showroom floor right? Or in my case, feel that you are not fast enough to notice the benefits of an aftermarket brake system. When Ride Engineering sent us there Billet Front Brake Caliper and steel braided brake line I was excited to give it a go. I was anxious as I felt this was my chance to see if this would be money well spent, even for the average blue collar, nine to fiver like myself. Keefer was nice enough to let me test this part and I gave it a go to see if this is something I would want to spend my own hard earned money on. Maybe more importantly, would I even notice a difference?
The Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper is born from billet aluminum. Being made from billet aluminum instead of cast as most stock/production calipers are made, gives the Ride Engineering unit a stronger, less flexible body. This helps with a more precise feel at the lever while riding. It also has larger pistons than the Nissin units (that comes stock on most Japanese bikes). The Ride Engineering Billet Front Brake Caliper also incorporates large fins to help dissipate heat and aid in cooling when hard on the brakes. It comes in black or a polished aluminum finish, utilizes the stock brake pads and hardware for your bike. Ride Engineering offers this caliper for most bikes that use Nissin units like Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki.
We tested the Ride Engineering billet front caliper on our 2018 Honda CRF450R test bike, which just so happens to be the same bike I own as well. Booya!!!!! When it arrived I was so excited that even after a long day at work, I rushed home and went right to the garage to install. Yes, I still get excited about new parts for my dirt bike even in my mid thirties. The Ride Engineering Caliper takes a little time to install as you need to attach your old brake line or you can purchase a steel braided line from Ride Engineering like we did. Bleeding is not as much of a hassle if you own a vacuum bleeder, but in my case, I don't have one, it’s a little more difficult because I have to call on the wife or kids to help me bleed, old school style.
My first test with the Ride Engineering Caliper and Steel Braided Brake Line was at a local moto track that I am very comfortable with. When hitting the track it took a couple laps to get the hang of the new found feeling at the lever. Upon my first on track assessment I honestly thought I had a slight mushy feel at the lever, but as I started to pick up the pace I was mistaken. The feel at the lever was not mushy or soft but a far more progressive feel. This made it a lot easier to modulate the braking power coming into corners. The stock set up has a very firm feel and at times the braking can feel very grabby. This always made me feel uneasy, scared to cover the front brake (while in a corner) and especially in any sort of deep rut. I felt like I would almost lock up the front brake if there were any rocks, bumps or any inconsistency within the rut. The Billet Front Brake Caliper and its progressive feel at the lever gave me much more confidence everywhere on the track. Now I was able to modulate the braking as well as keep my finger on the lever throughout the whole corner without it being to grabby. This helped keep the Honda’s front tire from lifting out of ruts, which happens often with me. Don’t for one second think that there is not a lot of stopping power to go along with this progressive feel. I never felt as if I was lacking braking power or wanted more front brake. The harder you pull in the lever the quicker you stop and you are able to tell that you have more braking power available over the stock caliper within a lap or two. I also noticed a more consistent lever pressure no matter how long my moto was. I had some fading with my stock front brake, but fading wasn't as apparent with the Ride unit.
As you can see even the everyday nine to fiver can benefit from some better braking. I was quite surprised at what I have learned in testing this product. This is definitely at the top of my “to buy” list behind hand guards (Sorry Keefer) when I save up my pennies to buy my next bike, which is soon! Shhhhhhhh. Don’t tell the wife! The Ride Engineering Billet Caliper retails for $399.95 and the steel braided brake line is $69.95. Add that up and that is less than an aftermarket exhaust, but yet actually lowered my lap times, increased my corner speed and added that cool factory look to my bike. It was a Win.Win. -Matthew Sirevaag, 200 lbs. Moto Novice, Full Time Electrician And Full Time Dirt Bike Lover