April 01, 2012
Performance Brakes Done Right
Kelly Huffman: Although KTMs are known for strong stock brakes, there’s always room for improvement, right? To find out, I’ve been testing the Galfer Tsunami Oversize Rotor kit on a 2012 KTM 200 XC-W. The kit includes the 270mm rotor, the caliper bracket and new brake pads.
Right away I was impressed with the machining and finish quality. But the factory KTM front brake system is so good, I was a bit skeptical there would be much improvement in braking performance.
The installation was straightforward and only took about 30 minutes, which included weighing the old and new components, and taking a few pictures and notes. The OEM rotor weighed 1 pound, 0.2 ounces. The new replacement weighed in at 1 pound, 7.8 ounces. There are no surprises there, of course. I expected the new unit to weigh more, with the larger 270mm diameter rotor and aluminum caliper spacing mount.
Everything fit perfectly, and the instructions were clear and concise. On bikes such as the XC-W, with the magnetic pickup for the speedometer on the rotor, remove the circlip and re-install the pickup in the machined hole in the Tsunami rotor. Put some blue Loctite on the mounting bolts, torque to factory specs and put on the wheel.
I installed mine on a Friday afternoon, then tested the brakes gently in my driveway a few times to seat the pads before loading up for the 28th Annual Red River Dirt Rider’s Enduro in Bulcher, Texas. It is a challenging race held where the infamous Red Bull Last Man Standing races were held a few years ago. It would be a great place to test out the new system.
By the end of the first test section, I felt like the pads were broken in, and the stopping power was working really well. This race is popular due to the diverse terrain and excellent course setup with the tight, wooded trails. I was hard on the brakes the whole race and never experienced any fade. (Although the improved stopping power never let me down, I did seem aware of the additional weight on the front axle.)
The next weekend, we raced a hare scrambles put on by Texas Xtreme Off Road Racing. It was a two-day event on a short course without much technical terrain, and with a lot of high-speed grass track and open sections.
I really liked the grab of the Galfer system. I also noticed that under fast, hard braking, there was less vibration transmitted into the bars, especially in sections with bad ruts and corners with deep braking bumps. I attributed this to the floating-type rotor.
The factory KTM front brake is a fantastic system and will stop the front wheel in a hurry. But this Galfer system offers an improvement in stopping power, and requires much less effort—a light touch goes a long way.
Even with the slight weight increase, the stronger stopping power and less vibration transmitted into the bars make this system a good value. The installation was easy and the quality is excellent. If you are looking at replacing your worn OEM brake components, or wanting to upgrade, the Galfer Tsunami kit is a great choice.
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