Are two-piece rotors worth the extra money?

Tom
Update by Tom Suddard to the Volkswagen Golf GTI project car
Dec 25, 2023 | Volkswagen, VW, brakes, GTI, FCP Euro, Mk7 GTI, 034 Motorsport

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Suspension, power, must be time for brakes on our Mk7 Volkswagen GTI, right?

We’d nearly used up the OEM pads and rotors after 58 laps at the FIRM, so it was clearly time for an upgrade.

However, we weren’t going to install a big brake kit or start changing calipers: Our car has the factory Performance Pack, which means it comes with massive 340mm front/310mm rear brake rotors and big calipers.

The stock brakes actually coped fairly well with hot laps on stock tires, but overheated once we added stickier tires and more power. As an easy first upgrade, we decided to just improve the pads and rotors and see what happens.

And, well, we totally nuked our budget here: 034Motorsport sent us a set of the nicest brake rotors we’ve seen this side of an IMSA car. Its floating front and rear rotor upgrades replace the factory iron rotors with a two-piece floating design, which pairs a replaceable outer ring with an aluminum hat.

In theory, two-piece rotors offer better heat management, better pedal feel, and higher resistance to cracking and warping. Of course, this bling has a price: The fronts cost $950/pair, while the rears list at $924/pair.

Yes, that’s roughly five times the price of OE-equivalent replacement rotors, which can be had for about $180/pair.

Is it worth it? Decide for yourself, but for a street car the answer is probably no. For a dedicated track car, the math gets much closer. Weight weenies pay attention though: This upgrade shaves 18.5 pounds of rotational mass from the car. Neat!

If you race a Miata, these prices are probably making your eyes water: Welcome to the fun of tracking a German car with big, expensive brake parts. (These rotors are larger than the wheels on our Triumph Spitfire.)

But there’s a silver lining: FCP Euro sells these 034Motorsport rotors, as well as most of the other parts we’ve discussed in this installment. And even brake rotors used on a track car are covered by FCP Euro’s lifetime replacement guarantee, which promises to replace any worn parts with new parts.

So in theory, you could race this car indefinitely with a single purchase of pads and rotors–but you might want to tip the UPS driver returning all of your used rotors every weekend.

Fancy rotors installed, it was time for brake pads. And no, we couldn’t just throw dedicated track pads on the car–it’s our daily driver, remember?

So we needed a brake pad that could withstand track days, but didn’t howl and scream at every red light around track.

We decided to try a new compound from Pagid Racing called STREET+. On paper they seemed perfect: Fully street legal, they have a low copper content and the proper accoutrement to control NVH, but they also have a relatively high temperate capacity for a street pad, making them suitable for track days. We used part number T8192SP2001 up front, and T8049SP2001 in the rear.

How will these new brakes work on track? Soon we’ll head back to the FIRM.

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Comments
ConiglioRampante
ConiglioRampante New Reader
6/6/23 10:25 a.m.

Thanks for the continued updates.

Brakes larger than a Spitfire's wheel...that's a perspective I can understand.   

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/6/23 10:48 a.m.

Well, I can say with certainty that two-piece rotors look cooler than the stock rotors. wink

IKR
IKR New Reader
6/6/23 12:28 p.m.

The two pieces look very good but the article may have answered my question are they worth it for a street car that gets driven to the track. Unless the testing reveals a vastly superior wear rate the weight difference isn't worth the cost for a car used just for HPDE. It would be cool if the rotor wear rate gets tracked as this project mirrors the direction I'm going for my VN. Good stuff. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/6/23 1:05 p.m.

In reply to IKR :

In theory your consumables expense can go down, even if life is the same, because you are buying generic 8-on-7" rotors and not brake rotors specific to your vehicle.

You might be able to get cheapo parts store rotors cheaper, but who knows what the iron quality is vs. a rotor specifically made for motorsports?

IKR
IKR New Reader
6/6/23 2:58 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

I was thinking that initially but after seeing the prices for just the rings (not hats) for some of the brands, even using an OEM quality rotor is cheaper. So unless the rings have superior wear characteristics I know which way I'm going.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
6/6/23 3:07 p.m.

No.  Definitely not.  Almost all of us aren't going to be able to discern a performance difference.  Cost is dramatically more for the 2 piece rotors and when you've worn them out, the rotor rings/hardware kit to "renew" them is several times more expensive than the standard rotors.

Let's use my 996 Turbo as an example.  Now I've upgraded it to 997 Turbo brakes, which are 350mm rotors.  FCP Euro has Stebro slotted, 1 piece rotors for $372/pair.  A set of 2 piece Giro Discs are $1300, so 3.5 times more expensive.  The rotor rings and hardware kit is $850, so almost 2.5 times more expensive. 

Let's not even mention the fact that once you've bought the Stebro's from FCP, you're only paying shipping for new sets going forward, but focus on just the purchase price.  Sadly FCP Euro doesn't sell any of the 2 piece rotor options for Porsches. The Girodiscs are 3.5 times as expensive to purchase and 2.5 times as expensive to replace.  Is the small performance advantage enough to offset that huge price differential?  Nope, especially when they both wear out at basically the same rates...

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/6/23 3:23 p.m.
IKR said:

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

I was thinking that initially but after seeing the prices for just the rings (not hats) for some of the brands, even using an OEM quality rotor is cheaper. So unless the rings have superior wear characteristics I know which way I'm going.

I'm finding rotors in the $30 range.

The rotors in the article appear to be application specific and not a generic part, which of course is going to be more expensive than generic parts.

IKR
IKR New Reader
6/6/23 3:33 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
IKR said:

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

I was thinking that initially but after seeing the prices for just the rings (not hats) for some of the brands, even using an OEM quality rotor is cheaper. So unless the rings have superior wear characteristics I know which way I'm going.

I'm finding rotors in the $30 range.

The rotors in the article appear to be application specific and not a generic part, which of course is going to be more expensive than generic parts.

For my application, Hyundai Veloster N, my experience mirrors that of docwyte's but I'll look again.

Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
6/6/23 4:20 p.m.

Something not mentioned is how a slotted rotor bites harder than a plain blank surface.  The machined edge grabs onto the pad harder.  That can either be a good thing or bad.  It also makes a repetitive groaning sound.  I have them on some of my cars and it is tolerable.  On this particular car, it was not...at least to me.  It did get better after a lot of track miles, though.  The edges of those slots were slowly getting worn to be more rounded.

spedracer
spedracer New Reader
6/6/23 6:28 p.m.

I have two-piece rotors on my Miata and can get just the rotor rings (vented, non-directional) for ~ $30 each. Currently trying a set of higher-end rotors with the fancy slots, directionally vented, etc. I'm bad at keeping notes, but they don't seem to be at all worth it. Feel/performance is honestly not perceptible to me. Pad life doesn't seem to be significantly different. I bought them "used"-but-BNIB, but they are something like 5x the price. I'm stock powered but with a Dynapro 11.75" BBK, I think taking the time to add brake ducts is way more likely to net me longer pad life compared to bling rotors.

I have seen a hardware kit, from Coleman (IIRC), that is supposed to make standard 2-piece hat/rotors into floating rotors. Haven't used them, but I wonder how much of a difference that would actually make, if any.

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