After upping the performance of my 2005 MCS (19% Pulley/GIAC/JCW Injectors/JCW CAI/Milltek Exhaust) and installing the JCW Suspension Kit (along with an ALTA 22mm rear sway bar), I was finding that I was beginning to seriously out driving the car’s stock brakes. I tried upgrading the pads from the stock ones to EBC GreenStuff and Mintex Redbox pads, but that just didn’t seem to help any. My brakes were getting too hot and just couldn’t seem to cope with the upgraded power and handling of the car (I’m driving it much harder now without even noticing that I’m doing so and the stock brakes just can’t keep up). Since I’ve always been impressed with JCW’s part kits, I decided to give their “Sport Brake kit” a try.
I went ahead and self-installed the JCW Brake Kit on my 2005 MINI Cooper S yesterday. The installation was straight forward with the only challenging parts being the bleeding of the front brakes and the retracting of the rear brake caliper pistons in order to be able to fit in the new “sport” rear brake pads. The installation took right around four hours and was on par with doing a brake job on the car. Any home mechanic who has the skills to do their own brake job can quite easily install the JCW brake kit. The front calipers come pre-assembled with the pads already installed. Therefore all you need to do is unbolt the existing rotors & calipers and swap in the new ones. For the rears, all you are doing is simply installing a new set of pads.
For more information on swapping the rotors & pads (and for tips on how to retract the rear brake caliper pistons) see Randy Webb’s Brake Pad/Rotor Change How-to
In order to bleed the front brakes, I picked up a one man bleeder kit from my local auto parts store for a whopping $7. The self-bleeder kit worked great and allowed me to quickly and easily bleed the front brakes all by myself after installing the new JCW front calipers. The self-bleeder kit comes with a small bottle (to capture the old brake fluid being expelled) that has an anti-siphon valve on top which prevents air from being sucked back into the caliper while you are bleeding/pumping the brakes. Basically, you hook a small clear hose up from the bleeder valve on the brake caliper to the anti-siphon attachment on the top of the waste bottle, make sure that the car’s brake fluid reservoir is topped off with DOT 4 brake fluid (available at your local auto parts store or from your MINI/BMW dealer), and then you open the bleeder valve on the caliper and pump the brake pedal a few times in order to purge all of the air from the system. I’m absolutely amazed at just how well the one man bleeder kit works. It’s the best $7 I’ve ever spent!
For more information on bleeding the MINI’s brakes see Randy Webb’s Brake Bleed How-to
I haven’t had the JCW Brake Kit installed very long yet, but I immediately could tell a huge difference in the feel of the brakes and I’m no longer over heating my rotors and pads like I was before. It takes much less pedal force to achieve the same amount of stopping power as the stock brakes and there’s still plenty more stopping power available for those emergency situations that might arise. For the money and the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your warranty is in tact (and that the JCW brakes will work properly with your ABS, ASC, and/or DSC systems) I think that the JCW Brake Kit is really hard to beat.
In the end, I’m VERY happy with the JCW Brake Kit. I purchased the kit because I was having real problems with overheating of the stock brakes. The JCW Brakes took care of this problem perfectly. They also look great on the MINI, and retain my (brand new) car’s factory warranty for the braking system.
I’ve been impressed by just about everything that JCW has put out for the MINI. I know a lot of folks argue that their parts are expensive (some even say over priced) and that you can get more “bang for your buck” going the aftermarket route, but I think that every single parts kit JCW puts together for the MINI works flawlessly with the car. The kits are so smooth and so well integrated that I’ve always been very impressed. The JCW Brake Kit is no exception. They’re easy to install and very well engineered and put together. It’s a perfect match for the car.
Rating: 4.5 (out of five)
[See photos of the entire installation process here]
And finally, you can read MINI’s official information on the JCW brake kit in this previous MotoringFile article: JCW Sport Brake Kit in Detail