Tech Tip: Why you should upgrade your brake rotors

Many advantages to installing nicer rotors on your bike, including cost

Components Tech
Better rotors mean quieter performance, lighter weight, and more efficient heat dissipation.

Better rotors mean quieter performance, lighter weight, and more efficient heat dissipation (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art’s Cyclery. The original post can be found here.

Upgrading to nicer rotors is a relatively cheap way to get superior performance out of one of your bike’s most critical components. In short, better rotors means quieter performance, lighter weight, and more efficient heat dissipation.

If sheer stopping power is your only concern, installing a larger rotor is the easiest way to go.

If sheer stopping power is your only concern, installing a larger rotor is the easiest way to go (click to enlarge).

If sheer stopping power is your only concern, installing a larger rotor is the easiest way to go, albeit at the expense of more rotating weight. Increasing rotor diameter by just one size will create an impressive increase in braking force. Just remember that bigger rotors will likely require new mount-to-caliper adapters, so purchase accordingly.

If you’re running Shimano brakes, upgrading to any Ice-Tech rotor will deliver better temperature control and a significantly lower weight. Ice Technology is Shimano’s process of forging two pieces of stainless steel to an aluminum core in order to rapidly transfer heat away from the rotor, reducing brake fade on long descents. An added benefit of having an aluminum core is reduced rotor weight. These nicer rotors, like Shimano’s RT-86 and RT-99, also utilize aluminum rotor spiders, or carriers, which play a large role in managing heat dissipation and help fight any warping that may occur in high-heat situations.

Beware of the dreaded  “turkey gobble."

Beware of the dreaded “turkey gobble.” (click to enlarge)

For those using SRAM disc brakes, switching to any new Centerline rotor will be a noticeable upgrade. The most obvious difference will be the lack of noise. Older SRAM or AVID brake rotors are infamous for being embarrassingly loud — a sound affectionately dubbed the “turkey gobble” — which was sometimes violent enough to be felt as wheel-wobble. SRAM’s Centerline rotors do an excellent job of maintaining silence during heavy braking, while still delivering excellent stopping power and heat management.

Because rotor upgrades are relatively cheap and braking confidence is a surefire way to increase your speed on the trail, we would highly recommend going for the best rotor that fits within your budget. Once you get a feel for the good stuff, you’ll never go back. When you’re ready to shop for your new rotors, check out ArtsCyclery.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Arts Cyclery

This article was originally published on the Art's Cyclery Blog. Art's Cyclery is dedicated to offering free expert advice, how-to videos, and in-depth product reviews on ArtsCyclery.com to help riders make an educated decision when selecting cycling gear.


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  • d says:

    Sam hill still runs G2 rotors…

    • GuyOnMTB says:

      I have a 180 G2 up front on two bikes. It only makes sound when the caliper comes out of alignment after some hard breaking rounds, and not always will it happen. I fault the movement on the steel bolts ability to bend while under load, which will allow movement in the caliper.

      The “bending” can be mitigated by replacing caliper bolts with Ti bolts. Then there is using automotive brake grease on the back of the pads and/or pistons to further mitigate vibration into the rotor, and also using grease between rotor and hub for the same vibration damping.

      Installing a caliper improperly increases the likelihood of rotor squelch, regardless of rotor.

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