Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Product Review: Centric 120 Series Rotors and Stoptech Street Performance Pads

In my third long term post about my S2000, I mentioned that I had needed to change the front brake pads and rotors. Not wanting to pay an exorbitant amount for the OEM Honda brake pads and rotors, I did a little digging around and found what I believe to be the best pad and rotor combination for my driving needs.

StopTech Street Performance Brake Pads


Image Courtesy of The Tire Rack
When I had my 1997 Honda Accord LX back during my time in college, I had already experienced two different sets of aftermarket brake pads: Brembo Sport brake pads and the Hawk HPS Street brake pads. Between the two set of pads, I was most satisfied with the Brembo Sport brake pads. Unfortunately, they are not available for the S2000 (at least they were not at the time of this review), and I never liked the fact that the Hawk HPS pads performed somewhat poorly when cold. Luckily, StopTech had recently introduced the Street Performance pads for the S2000. Knowing that StopTech is a reputable manufacturer of brake components, I was intrigued enough to give them a shot.

The most interesting part about these brake pads is that they are "pre-scorched." This means, according to the box at least, that these brake pads will offer OEM like stopping power before being broken in. Pre-scorching also apparently ensures that these brake pads offer OEM like brake feel and stopping power while the pads are still cold. Sounds too good to be true, right? I am happy to report that StopTech's statement about pre-scorching seems to be true. During the first few days of use, I felt no difference in stopping power or feel between the StopTech pads and the OEM Honda pads. As my use progressed, I noticed the car's stopping distance becoming shorter, and the amount of force I needed to apply to the brake pedal coming to a stop light getting less. After being properly broken in, the pads definitely offer much more stopping power than the OEM Honda pads when warmed up.

Of course, this additional stopping power does come at a price. The StopTech pads are probably the dustiest and noisiest pads that I have used to date. During my first two weeks of use, before the pads were fully broken in, stopping was still a fairly quiet affair. After the pads were broken in though, stopping, especially when cold, became extremely noisy. The sound does go away after the pads get warm. Unfortunately, my daily commute to work is not that long, so the pads seldom have enough time to warm up to full operating temperature. Extra brake dust is also an issue with these pads too. My Enkei RPF1 wheels usually end up being covered in brake dust within about three weeks. I often forget how shiny my wheels are until I wash my car and scrub it all off.

Centric 120 Series Plain Rotors

Image Courtesy of The Tire Rack

Having to never needed to replace the front rotors on my S2000 until now, it took me a little while to come to a decision on what rotors to pick. I had originally thought that getting rotors from StopTech would help alleviate the noise issue. Unfortunately, StopTech only offers replacement rotors that are slotted or cross-drilled, which I just could not justify spending the extra money on fancy rotors when I would not have the time to use them on an autocross or track day. I have also heard that slotted and cross-drilled rotors have a tendency to wear out brake pads faster, which would have also made little financial sense. I was about to bite the bullet and just get a set of StopTech slotted brake rotors when I came across reviews on the Centric 120 Series which seemed good, so I figured they would be worth a shot.

There really is not too much to say about the Centric 120 Series plain rotors. They work just as well as the OEM Honda rotors and cost less. I think the best part about these rotors are the painted vents and rotor hat. The paint hides the rust that the OEM Honda rotors tend to exhibit after a few months.

While I cannot comment on the effectiveness of this brake pad and rotor combination on an autocross or track, I can safely say that this combination works well in daily driving and for spirited thrashing about on windy roads. The StopTech pads work well in the daily grind of stop-and-go traffic, offering OEM like stopping power. Take your car up to a canyon or mountain road for some spirited driving, where the pads and rotors can get properly warmed up, and the stopping power and brake feel far surpasses the OEM pads and rotors. The best part? This pad and rotor combination is not that expensive either. The StopTech Street Performance pads cost $53 for the front axle set on Tire Rack, and the Centric 120 Series plain rotors cost $53 each. If you are looking for a good setup for improved brake feel and stopping in daily diving and spirited driving, the StopTech Street Performance brake pads and Centric 120 Series plain rotors make an excellent combo.