Ever since driving Steve's car at Curborough (Low Flying, ) I have wanted to upgrade to big brakes. So in performing my Zetec engine swap I had a good excuse. Not only would the car weight a little more (although actually it ended up only a couple of kg's heavier), but more importantly, I'd be arriving at the bends going just a bit quicker. I would need some good stopping power to match my extra going power. Couple that with the fact that I've never really been very happy with the standard brakes, finding them lacking in feel and initial bite. There, justified - that was easy.
The next part was deciding on who's brakes to use. With the engine project coming towards it's end my bank balance was looking a little under the weather so I pretty much had to rule out the Caterham offering of AP's with the vented discs. The other normal option is a kit offered by James Whiting which use Alcon calipers but retain the standard discs. When I drove Steve's and Jason's car back to back I had preferred the feel of the AP set-up, it had a very nice firm pedal and loads of stopping power. From this I decided I really wanted to go the vented disc route as this increases the swept area of the pad. However, the Alcon kit is a very good price, and I knew Jason had done many hard miles with no problems on his.
I can't quite remember how I found out about them, but I came across Hi-Spec Motorsport who were advertising a straightforward kit to fit a Caterham. I comprised of machined 4-pot Ali calipers, pads, ventilated discs and hoses + fittings to suit. The price was better than both the AP and Alcon kits and all looked very good. It is fair to say after ordering their kit, I and another 7 owner who was ordering the same kit, had a few problems. The kit offered didn't fit with the caliper being too wide and the disc being too large so that the wheel clashed. This was discovered before any parts got to me, and after some messing about it was agreed that they would supply revised discs and their racing caliper which is slimmer as it does away with the big boot seals. This didn't concern me as I am meticulous about keeping my car clean. Once the kit arrived, everything bolted straight into place and making the hoses was straightforward. The biggest problem with fitting them was bleeding all the air out. They were assembled with some kind of special grease which dissolved in the brake fluid and turned it red. I wanted to remove this, but it did mean several sessions, but it was easy to see when the fresh fluid was coming through.
In use they are fantastic. When I first got the car on the road they were a little too good and I found it too easy to lock a front wheel. This completely went when I changed to my rather old Yoko A510's for some Yoko 032R's when I changed to the Ford axle. I did learn to control the better, but they would catch me out if I had to brake suddenly. I have come to the conclusion that the tires were just a little too hard, both age and compound, to offer enough road grip. The only other problem was that they suffered from a very annoying squeal which was really rather loud. I tried copper grease on the back of the pads and then borrowed some different pads but to no avail. I eventually cured this by making some plates that fitted between the pad and the pistons. These were made out of some stainless steel sheet and replicated the outline of the back of the pad with a bit that fitted over the center bolt to hold them in place. With some copper grease applied I have not had the problem since.
The ventilated discs do come with a weight penalty but this is offset by the much lighter calipers. Having changed to Ali front hubs means I now have a hug assembly lighter than standard but with much improved brakes. The feel with the 032R's is really great and I've only managed to lock up a wheel once all year and that was when I was trying to impresses a colleague from work on my old test run route.

The Final Specification:

Hi-Spec Racing 4 Calipers
  253mm Diameter, 22mm Thick Ventilated & Groved Discs
  Green Stuff DP2003
  Brackets to suit Caterham uprights
  350mm Braided Hose & Fittings - loose to allow me to measure and make up.
Brakes In Place
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