Brembo Z04 Brake Pad Review
We were lucky enough to get our hands on a set of Brembo Z04 brake pads to try out at Brands Hatch and first impressions are that I’m very impressed I have to say.
We’ve been running the EBC GPFAX for the last couple of seasons which is a pad I already rate highly so I was sceptical about whether the Z04 could really be worth the considerably higher price tag at £225 for a front set versus the £85 for the EBC’s. Simon at WSC Performance (www.wscperformance.co.uk) sells a lot of Brembo stuff and was keen for us to try some out so we happily obliged.
Brands Hatch Indy configuration is a good circuit for testing something like brake pads as its short and with only a few turns you get plenty of opportunities to run the same corner over and over, experimenting with your braking markers and analysing how quickly you’ve scrubbed off speed. There’s also a good mix of short sharp hard braking points like the run up to druids, versus the much longer entry to Paddock Hill bend where you’re on the brakes longer and lighter with less overall brake pressure.
Before we swapped the pads we gave the discs a good clean up with some fine wet and dry and brake cleaner to get rid of any residue from the EBC’s. Setup wise, we run stock R6 callipers with Brembo HPK discs and a Brembo RCS 19 master cylinder on the 18mm pivot setting
So how were they; the biggest difference for me in the Z04s is the sheer stopping power you get. The change isn’t immediately obvious that you’re on a different pad because they’re not super sharp, the EBC’s possibly even have more initial bite dare I say it. But after a couple of laps at full speed the subtleties of the Z04 start to come to the fore and suddenly you realise that you’re running 10 metres extra neutral throttle before you can get back on the gas at Paddock Hill bend because you’re scrubbing off speed that much faster than you were before in the braking zone.
As the sessions developed it became apparent just how much extra stopping power you get with the Z04. It’s not just the case that you’re slowing down a bit quicker for the same amount of pressure on the brake lever, but you’re actually using less pressure and still stopping quicker. The advantage of this for me is that you can be much more precise with your first and last few percent of brake input when you’re not working so hard in the middle ninety percent.
In that desperate attempt to be the last one on the brakes I can sometimes be guilty of going from zero, to maximum brakes too quickly and this unsettles the bike especially going over the crest on the way into Paddock. When you don’t have to hang on the lever so hard in the middle part of the braking you can be more refined with the rest of your inputs meaning that the initial brakes and the final release as you head toward the apex can be much smoother. This is something that will develop further the more we use them but within a couple of sessions I was noticeably more fluid going to and getting off of the brakes.
As I said, the initial bite on the Z04 probably isn’t as sharp as some other pads but when you’ve got so much stopping power this isn’t a problem and may even be a good thing as the bike seemed more settled going from wide open throttle to full brakes.
The feel from the Z04 was fantastic too. Racing on a mixed grid with modern 1000cc bikes in the Street Stock class means you often need to play to the strengths of a 600cc and rely on late braking and higher corner speeds to stay on terms with the bigger bikes. Consequently I like my bike quite ‘front-endy’ and I’d like to think (even if I do say so myself!) that I have a good feel for what the front end is doing. Braking is such an important part of geometry and weight distribution on corner entry and I really felt like the Z04’s gave a great feel and precision to what you’re doing with that front tyre contact patch.
With regard to the general practicalities of living with the things, they came in quickly with minimal time needed to warm them up. They were pretty good straight out of the box to be honest and certainly much better than something like the SBS Dual Carbon which are no use to you at all until they’ve got some heat in them.
The weather played the game and made sure that we had all possible conditions to test them out in from warm (ish) sunshine to heavy rain and hail and the Z04’s were still great in the wet too with plenty enough power and feel still in the worsening conditions.
If I had one issue with the EBC’s it would be that we were getting through a lot of them. Racing two classes leads to fairly busy weekends when we’re away with North Gloucester, two qualifying sessions, six races and six sessions in Friday testing. It probably wouldn’t be fair to say that the EBCs don’t last well as we do a lot on them, but changing pads every two race weekends can get costly.
Having done only one round on the Z04s it’s too early to comment on their longevity or how well they maintain performances as they start to wear but I have heard good things about them having a longer lifespan than other racing pads so I’m hopeful that we won’t be replacing them too often.
In summary, I’m a convert to the merit of bloody expensive brake pads – these ones at least anyway. I’m not the fastest guy on the grid at a club meeting, although at the point of writing I am leading the championship of the two classes I race in (sorry it might not happen again so had to get that one in while I still can!) but I’d like to think I have a decent feel for a bike and understand the mechanics of what thing is doing so consequently also have an ok feel testing out different parts.
The reality of the situation is that ultimately we’re talking about small percentages and it’s down to you to decide whether you need it, want it, or even if the value you will get from that little bit of extra performance warrants the extra expenditure. However, if the answer to any of the above is yes then I’d say go for it. Get yourself over to ww.wscperformance.co.uk and you won’t be disappointed.