JCW Sport Brake Kit Review

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]

You can find the JCW Sport Brake kit at Outmotoring as well as your local MINI dealer. The kit retails for 1065.00.

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

  • Edge

    Good review… I’ve been very happy with my JCW brakes since I picked up the car. 🙂

    The only “missing” JCW performance component now is the JCW Strut Brace… and I’ve heard conflicting stories about whether or not it’s available here in the USA… but all I know is that my MINI dealer has had one on order since they first showed up in the parts system – but still no dice. Oh well, soon.

  • scott

    Nice Job Mike. Any feedback on the amount of brake dust produced – more or less than stock?

  • rick

    Mike, did you get a weight difference between the stock front brake components and the JCW parts?

  • dgszweda

    One question about JCW products. Most likely with the new Mini in 2007, a lot of the JCW components will change (i.e. new intake….) What happens 6 years down the road. Will I be able to purchase brake pads for the JCW brakes? A new intake filter?, new spark plugs….. Most of the time OEM manufacturers make an overrun and the auto parts companies also build replacements. Will JCW still be building replacements for previous owners to maintain their autos?

  • greg

    Does JCW make a rear sway bar to complement the JCW suspension?

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    Hi everyone,


    I’m told that 50 of the JCW Strut Braces are currently in the U.S. but they are being held up by engineering (I don’t know why though). Thus, they should be available real soon. I’ve got my name on a list for one at my dealership as it will make a nice addition to my JCW Sport Suspension I think. 🙂


    I’ve not had the brakes installed too long, but so far, I’m finding that the brakes put off significantly less dust than the stock pads do. They seem on par with the EBC Greenstuff pads (which aren’t great at reducing brake dust even though they claim to be), but no where near as good as the Mintex Redbox pads are. However, for the increase in brake performance, I can live with the amount of dust they are putting off. I’ll know more once I’ve got some more miles on the brakes.


    No, I’m afraid that I didn’t weigh the JCW brakes. I know that a lot of folks get caught up on the weight of their MINIs, but I try not to think about it too much. Thus, I didn’t even think of weighing the brakes when I installed them.

    I was surprised at how heavy the box was that they were delivered in, so I’m sure that they weight quite a bit. However, after holding both the stock calipers and the JCW calipers in my hands at the same time, I’d say that the additional weight (i.e. the difference between the two) isn’t going to be all that much (unless you’re one of those gram counting weight weenies that is [GRIN]).

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    That’s a great question and one I don’t know the answer to. I imagine that only time will tell. I’d like to think that since BMW/MINI are backing the JCW parts that they will ensure that replacement parts will be available for at least a decade after the cars halt production (just as they do for the stock parts). I dunno for sure though.


    As far as I know, JCW doesn’t offer a rear sway bar (at least in the U.S.). However, if you take a look at the photo of my rear suspension in the photo gallery I just posted, you’ll see that I have an ALTA 22mm rear sway bar installed on my car along with my JCW Sport Suspension Kit. The new ALTA bars appear to be coming in red now and they perfectly match the red coils of the JCW Suspension Kit.

  • dgszweda – BMW has a long history of backing their parts for a very long time so I wouldn’t be too concerned. Especially with the talk that BMW will be buying JCW.

    But beyond that replacement pads should be fairy easy to source as it’s a common size caliper.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    D’oh! Sorry guys. I didn’t realize that a photo galery with all of the photos had already been posted. My bad.

    Oh well, now we have two… 🙂

  • JCW strikes again with a low “bang for the buck” upgrade. No stainless lines? No aluminum caliper? Any perceived increase in brake torque might just come from the “uprated” pads.

    I suppose the “John Cooper Works” badging is worth it though. This kit would be well worth it for $600 or less.

    Congrats on a good looking brake kit.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not so sure that the “perceived increase in brake torque” as you call it is coming from just the “uprated” pads. I’ve tried quite a few different types of brake pads on my MINI (front and rear) and none of them have ever come close to matching the “perceived” braking power that I have now with the JCW Brake Kit installed.

    Also, have you taken a good look at the photos? The new pads in the JCW calipers (and the calipers themselves) are significantly larger than the stock ones. The increase in the size of the pads, the increase in the rotor size, and the larger piston size and the stronger caliper design all add up to increased braking performance. Something I don’t think you could get from a different pad compound alone.

    Just my $0.02…

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    Also… Since the JCW bashing is now beginning (as I knew it would [grin]) you have to realize that the JCW “SPORT” Brake Kit was designed for long life street use. It isn’t designed for use on the track like many of the other aftermarket big brake kits are. JCW/MINI wanted a stronger set of brakes that would retain all of the feel and function of the stock brakes only with better performance. The JCW brakes should be long lasting and trouble-free just like the stock brakes are. I for one don’t autocross my cars. I simply wanted a better set of brakes that would elevate the overheating problem that I was having with the stock brakes (for “sport” street driving use only). The JCW Brake Kit is just that. I for one am very impressed with them.

    I have a brand new 2005 MINI and so I didn’t want to stick a set of aftermarket brakes on it that BMW/MINI wouldn’t back. Safety is a big issue to me and so I want to make sure that my car’s ABS, DSC, etc systems are all working as they were designed by BMW/MINI. If I have a problem with my brakes (or the brake-based safety systems), I want it covered by the warranty that I paid for when I bought the car. You just can’t get that with aftermarket brakes. I have nothing against the aftermarket brakes (as I’m sure those Brembos are totally AWESOME), they just weren’t for me at this point in time is all.

    Okay, let the bashing commence… [GRIN}

  • KevinR

    Nice work, as always, Mike!

    I have 2 questions:

    One, has anyone figured out if these brakes will fit under the 16″ X-lite wheels?

    Two, since the parts were installed by you and not a certified MINI tech, is the warranty still intact for these parts?

  • nrkist
    I simply wanted a better set of brakes that would elevate the overheating problem that I was having with the stock brakes (for “sport” street driving use only).

    Mike – if you’re overheating your stock brakes on the street, then we have a major safety problem. Slow it down, cowboy. Way down.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    Hi Kevin,

    As far as the 16″ wheels go, I’m afraid that I’ll have to defer that one to someone else who might know.

    From the information card that came with the JCW Brake Kit, I gather that the ONLY 16″ OEM wheels that will work with the kit are the R87 Double Spokes and the (phantom) R94 5-Spokes as stated here:

    The JCW Brake Kit and What Wheels Fit

    As for the warranty being voided by someone self-installing the JCW Brake Kit, that’s definitely a possibility. If I took my car into the dealership and they found that a problem with the brakes arose from them being improperly installed, then I’m more than sure that they would not cover the cost of the repair. However, if I just took my car into the dealership for warranty work on the brakes (say a caliper failed, etc.), how would they ever know that I installed the brakes myself? I’ve never once been asked to see a proof that shows who installed my other JCW parts. Have you? Thus, I doubt that anything would ever come of it. However, there is that possibility and so if you’re worried about it, then you should indeed have a MINI dealership install your JCW Brake Kit. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like paying the high labor charges the dealers ask to install JCW parts (and I also like working on my own car). Thus, I opted to do the install myself. It’s a VERY easy install for the average “home” mechanic and so I don’t see the point of giving your hard earned money to the dealership if you have the tools and skills to do the install yourself.

    Besides that, you never know what you’re going to get at the dealership either. Here’s a pointer to a current thread going on over on North American Motoring (NAM) where one guy took his MINI into the dealership to have the JCW Brake Kit installed and they totally botched the job by installing his calipers upside down and forgetting to bleed the brake system. He lost the use of his car for nearly a week until they figured it out. Oy!

    anyone else having JCW brake problems???

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    Yes your honor. I’m guilty as charged. It’s just that the MINI is so fun & easy to drive that I didn’t realize I was speeding that much. Gulp! [GRIN]

    Seriously though, you are correct. For “normal” safe driving (which is the way I drive 99.9% of the time), the stock brakes work just fine for me (with plenty of stopping power to go around). It’s just those few instances when I’m showing the car off to a good friend or having a spirited run down the mountain when I run into the over heating problems.

    My driving style is definitely calming down as I get older (and some say a bit wiser), but sometimes the MINI just has to go FAST. I can’t help it. 🙂

  • dgszweda

    As Office Maven has said, the JCW components for me have always been flawless, and peform optimally for what they were built for. This is not suppose to be the ultimate kit. If you want one, you need to go aftermarket. The price is not that bad, considering you will pay almost $2000 for a big brake kit from a known company. You are getting a great street kit that gives a lot of positives with none of the negatives, and you get a great backing for the product. It is great that Vendor A (a small warehouse in Queens) develops a cheaper product, but there is no guarantee that company will be around in two years. Furthermore, the aftermarket kits detract from the value of the car, instead of enhancing it. Almost always you will get additional depreciation whenever you go with aftermarket parts. You can get a hold of the JCW kit for under $1000 from some Mini shops, which really makes this kit great. If you are hung up on brake lines you can replace them, and still probably squeeze under $1000. Not bad in my opinion for a great street brake kit, that looks great, guaranteed to work, enhances the value of the car, and comes with the full factory warranty.

  • Well said dgszweda.

  • KevinR


    I wholeheartedly agree with doing it yourself; and I am quite aware that taking it to a MINI dealer does not guarantee that things will be done right. I just wanted to clarify that not having the MINI dealer do the installation COULD be cause for a warranty problem later on.

    To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I even heard of a warranty claim for brakes or suspension pieces.

  • Kurt

    A++ on the review… very helpful info…

  • minicoopermike

    Great review, Mike! Looking good. Has anybody tried fitting them under 16s? I know what the information card says but perhaps they fit under some of the other wheels?

    I’d rather not have to ditch my 16s w/new F1 GS-D3s but I want the elevated performance of the JCW brake kit to go with my tuning kit, so I might have to bite the bullet and go with 17s.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    If you take a look at some of the close-up photos in the photo gallery, you can see that the larger JCW calipers just barely clear the spokes on my 17″ R98 Web-Spoke wheels. Thus, I imagine that the problem with most of the 16″ OEM MINI wheels is that the spokes of the rims don’t bulge out enough in order to clear the larger calipers. I was wondering why the Web-Spokes didn’t have a “flatter” face to them and now I know.

    BTW… Thanks everyone for all of your positive comments about the review. I’m very glad to hear that everyone’s enjoying it.

  • I agree with nrkist – if you are “cooking” your stock brakes during spirited street driving (during short “jaunts”) – then you are driving entirely too fast on the street. A simple fluid swap (to some Motul or Ate) could help out a lot in this regard. Having said that, however, I don’t question your want to have better brakes.

    I question the “bang for the buck” factor for the JCW kit. For ~$1,000 you get larger (but same material) front rotors, “uprated” calipers (of stock design – floating), and “uprated” and “upsized” pads. Where are the “uprated” lines or fluids? The piston in this JCW caliper is only a few mm larger in diameter than stock.

    For ~$500 you can replace your pads, lines, and rotors all the way around and achieve almost the same effect.

    For ~$900 you can get a BBK or Big Brake Kit that uses a caliper from a very reputable company that has been in the industry for decades and is made from aluminum (better at heat dissipation than iron) and has 4 pistons (vs. JCW’s 1) in a fixed caliper design. This kit I speak of includes uprated and upsized rotors, stainless lines, and uprated pads. At this point, obviously, you won’t be able to obtain brake service from your MINI dealer with this kit.

    By installing the kit yourself (and I applaud you for this) you have taken away some of the allure from JCW – “factory” performance. Your dealer could very well deny you warranty work on your braking system since you installed it yourself and then you might question the JCW vs. aftermarket since you’re stuck servicing it yourself.

  • greg

    Thanks for the reply Mike! A couple questions if I can bend your ear a bit. I have an ’05 mcs/jcw with jcw suspension which I hate to admit I’m a little disapointed in as I don’t feel it’s that much different than the regular “S” suspension and I dropped $2000+ for it to complement the jcw tuning.

    I don’t want to go aftermarket as I wish to stay “pure” Mini parts. Are Mini struts a way to improve upon jcw suspension? I guess the jcw has a rear sway but it’s not set my liking and isn’t adjustable. My other car is a BMW Z4 3.0 with the sport package so that is what I compare my mcs to in the handling dept.

    Also, how is your expertise on tires…?

  • Mykl Milligan

    Im surprised that you dont get rear calipers with this kit specially for just over $1k, i mean all the focus is on the fronts, new calipers rotors and pads whereas the rear only get new pads? I know most of the braking is done by the front but comeon. Plus i would hate the look of having red calipers up front with stock silver ones in the back. Unless you painted the rear to match.

  • Mykl,

    There are no “packaged” aftermarket or JCW brake kits that include uprated rear calipers. The reason is due to the emergency brake incorporated in the stock rear caliper.

    There are no advantages, currently, to having larger calipers in the rear. Several reputable companies in the brake system business have said that the rears “are simply along for the ride.”

  • dgszweda


    Sure you could get a BBK for $900, not sure if it would perform any better in real world street driving. Second, the $900 kit would almost certaintly lower the value of the car, whereas the JCW will certaintly raise the value of the car. Most of these BBK kits are put together by small shops using pieces from a reputable company. There is no guarantee that this company will be around, or if the manufacturer such as Wilwood would continue making that type of caliper. Many people think the $900 kit is a total waste of money and you have to really spend $3000 for a full on StopTech kit. Again, I think each kit has it’s own purpose. If I was on a track all the time, I would not consider getting the JCW kit. If I was into getting the most possible features that I could at the lowest price to emulate the “big boy” brakes, again I would probably not get the JCW kit.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    You have some valid points and I appreciate (and welcome) your well thought out comments. I guess that the JCW vs. aftermarket choice is just one that the owner of the car has to make for themselves.


    I’m really surprised to hear that you are disappointed with your JCW Suspension Kit. I absolutely LOVE mine. I have two brand new 05 MCS’s and so I get to drive the two of them side-by-side all of the time. I can tell a HUGE difference in the handling of the two cars. The MINI with the JCW suspension far out handles the one with the stock SS+ suspension. There’s no comparison at all in my opinion.

    I think that the biggest thing you can do to improve the handling of your JCW Suspension equipped MINI would be to add on a larger rear sway bar. The stock sway bar on the MCS (and the one offered in the full JCW Suspension kit is only 17 mm) whereas the aftermarket ones are commonly 19 mm or 22 mm. I’m afraid that MINI doesn’t offer a larger rear sway bar (probably for liability reasons). I went with an ALTA 22 mm rear sway bar and I love it. I installed the sway bar at the same time I installed my JCW Suspension kit and so maybe a lot of the improvement of the handling of my car is attributable to the sway bar in combination with the uprated JCW suspension. However, I understand that you don’t want to go aftermarket and I respect that decision.

    Lastly, the JCW Suspension kit you have installed on your car does indeed include all new “sport” struts (at least I hope that your dealer installed them for you anyway). The JCW Suspension Kit includes 4 new coil springs (custom matched to the options/weight of your MINI), four new struts, all of the installation nuts & bolts, and two bump-stops for the upper rear control arms.

    As for the tires… I still have the stock Dunlop performance runflats on my car (which are probably the best of all the runflats available). I can tell that they are indeed the limiting factor in the handling of the car, but I don’t have any plans on getting rid of them until they ware out. However, I’m more than sure that replacing them with performance non-runflats would also make a huge difference in the way the car handles.

    I hope this helps some…

  • dgszweda


    I am suprised by your comments as well, since I feel my stock JCW MCS (w/o JCW suspension) feels better than my friends Z4 3.0.

  • michael Boice

    With about 63% of the Mini’s weight over the front axle, a larger rear brake kit will more than likely – at track speeds, cause snap-oversteer.

    Also, larger front brakes can overwork the front tires. Braking prowess is typically limited by tires. So a super-sized front brake kit really requires a tire that is wider; the contact patch becomes narrower front to back, but wider left to right. 215/40/17 is not a bad choice.

    Wilwood does in fact make a great smaller big-brake kit. My only complaint with the JCW kit is that the caliper looks as though someone painted it in their garage – this is an observation from pictures only. hopefully I am wrong.

  • dgszweda,

    I don’t see how a reputable brake system from the likes of StopTech, Brembo, AP Racing, or Wilwood could possibly lower the overall value of one’s MINI.

    JCW out sources their caliper from TRW (who OEM many calipers for many different car makes) – who’s to say JCW will continue supplying aftermarket brakes? JCW doesn’t specialize specifically in the manufacturing of brake systems. Are you going to contact TRW directly for parts in the future if JCW stops importing their brakes?

    The aforementioned aftermarket brake system companies do little more than make brakes. It’s their bread and butter so to speak. Many of their kits include warranties as well.

    If John Cooper Works were a manufacturer of parts then I could see where they get their MSRP figures from. The truth of the matter is that they outsource parts and “tune” them to their taste.

    I’ll hopefully be able to put this system up against my BBK in the future as many of our club members have inquired about the JCW brake kit (such as Minicoopermike).

  • ” I don’t see how a reputable brake system from the likes of StopTech, Brembo, AP Racing, or Wilwood could possibly lower the overall value of one’s MINI.”

    Unfortunately those are the realities of the market that we live in. Best case scenario you’re likely to see if that you don’t lose depreciation from the aftermarket kits.

    And just to reiterate – BMW has a long history with supplying replacement parts for many many years. I seriously doubt this will change with JCW components.

  • “Unfortunately those are the realities of the market that we live in. Best case scenario you’re likely to see if that you don’t lose depreciation from the aftermarket kits.”

    Best case – I put my stock brakes back on, sell the MINI and then sell the BBK separately. A win-win scenario.

    So, Gabe, know of a BMW dealer where I can get ’74 2002 tii parts?

  • michael Boice

    Hey, the Wilwood kit is nearly 6lbs lighter per side! This counts for something…

  • Best case – I put my stock brakes back on, sell the MINI and then sell the BBK separately. A win-win scenario.

    Right – I would do the same if I bought something aftermarket. But neither of us is the average MINI owner wanting better brakes. Most wouldn’t have a clue how to change a caliper let alone a pad.

    I don’t think anyone will argue that the JCW Sport Brakes are the end all be all of the big brake kits (I certainly won’t). However they represent a compelling mix features that most of us are interested in.

    So, Gabe, know of a BMW dealer where I can get ’74 2002 tii parts?

    Well first off I can’t imagine anyone going to a dealer to look for something from a thirty year old car. I would hope by that you’d have a good relationship with an independant mechanic at that point. And obviously this would be an extreme case.

    That said I’ve never needed to buy parts for a early 70’s BMW but I’ve bought many parts for an early 80’s 3 series (at times from dealers).

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    [Hey, the Wilwood kit is nearly 6lbs lighter per side! This counts for something…]

    Uh oh… Here comes the weight weenies. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. [GRIN]

    Yes, but each of my shoes weigh 3 lbs (and yes I do have big feet) so if I just drive bare foot, I can save 6 lbs as well. 🙂

    Just kidding so please don’t take any offense. I just get a kick out of folks who try to make their street cars lighter buy taking out the seats, etc. It reminds me of all the guys I mountain bike with. They’re always trying to save grams on everything they install on their bikes. Heck my bike weighs in at a hefty 45 lbs and I can still beat most of them (on their 28 lb bikes) to the top of the hill with my eyes closed.

  • greg

    Mike. Thanks again for your response. On the question of tires…I have the run flats that came with the sport package. How are they in snow/ice(Cleveland). I’d like to get Yokohamas for good weather and keep the current for bad unless they’re not considered good in snow. If not I need to get snows come winter. As much as I’d like Yoko’s I can’t justify owning 3 sets of tires.

    Will the aftermarket rear sway affect my warranty? thx again,

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    [For ~$500 you can replace your pads, lines, and rotors all the way around and achieve almost the same effect.]

    Thinking back on this one…

    This is interesting as I used to have two nearly identically equipped 1988 16-valve GTIs. One of them had cross-drilled rotors on the front, braided brake lines all around, DOT 5 silicone brake fluid, and fully metallic pads on the front and rear. We took the two cars out and ran some braking tests on them and the stock GTI out braked the modded one nearly every time (not to mention that the cross drilled rotors cracked all of the time and caused the pads to ware out much faster than the stock rotors did – granted this was a long time ago and I’m sure that the technology has gotten better now). After a while, the stock brakes started to fade and the modded car out performed it, but for the first few (critical) stops, the stock car always stopped shorter by quite a few yards.

    I’m not saying that this is the same thing as we’re talking about here (kinda of like apples to oranges and all), but ever since then, I’ve never put much warrant into brake mods like this for street use.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    Alas, I’m from So Cal where the weather is near perfect 365 days of the year (well, except for this year anyway [grin]). Thus, I’m afraid that I don’t have much experience with using the runflats in the snow/ice. I’ll have to defer this one to someone else.

    As for the sway bar… If push came to shove, the dealer probably could refuse related warranty work when having an aftermarket sway bar installed. However, I think that the chances would be very slim. Like all aftermarket mods, it’s kind of a crap shoot. You just have to weigh the advantages vs. the disadvantages and see if the risk is worth taking for you. If you have the ability to work on your own car, you can always reinstall the stock sway bar before taking the car into the dealer if you’re having suspension troubles, etc.

  • greg

    dgszweda. Unfortunately I feel there is no comparison. The Z4 is much tighter handling than anything I’ve ever driven. Although I’m going to test drive a Lotus Elise soon which is consider 2nd best on earth behind the Ferari Enzo.

    Perhaps your friends didn’t have the sport package on their 3.0’s.

  • Gabe,

    “Well first off I can’t imagine anyone going to a dealer to look for something from a thirty year old car. I would hope by that you’d have a good relationship with an independant mechanic at that point. And obviously this would be an extreme case.

    That said I’ve never needed to buy parts for a early 70’s BMW but I’ve bought many parts for an early 80’s 3 series (at times from dealers).”

    My comment was really meant as a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” type of comment.

  • Thanks for clarifying… in that case… you got me 🙂

  • Mike,

    I agree – the most benefit one will see from aftermarket brake parts and systems will be fade resistance. A big brake system will allow one to brake heavily many, many times before fade is introduced.

    I have noticed, however, that with my StopTech system I am able to brake much later (at the track and some cases on the street) than the stock system indicating potentially shorter stopping distances. Anyone who has either ridden in or driven my MINI can attest to the stopping prowess it has with street tires and street brake pads.

    Again, my “beef” is with the cost (and value to an extent) of JCW parts. $500 for an air intake system? $2000 for suspension (that one here claims is not all it is cracked up to be)? $5000 for a supercharger, exhaust, software upgrade, and head (which is also suspect) plus labor. This is an awfullly large price tag just to “keep the warranty.” I have yet to hear of or see a JCW MINI that actually produces the power increase (on a dyno) that they advertise.

    I do see the value of having a factory built JCW or M “type” MINI. This will make the extra $5000-8000 worth it. Just look at a 330ci vs. an M3.

    In this case, as a MINI lover, I would like to be proven wrong. I hope that in the upcoming weeks I can sample the JCW brake kit.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)


    I’ll admit that the JCW stuff is expensive (most of which I think is the dealer’s fault since they charge HUGE labor rates and rarely give discounts on the parts). However, if one shops around, deals can be found when buying the kits from MINI dealers who sell online. My JCW Suspension Kit was only $800 shipped to my door, and my JCW Brake Kit was under $900 shipped to my door (actually well under if you don’t include the shipping costs). Since I installed both of them myself, I saved a lot of money and I didn’t find it too expensive going the JCW route. However, most folks can’t (or don’t) go the same route as I did and so it does cost them a lot more (and the JCW engine kit is a whole other story since it can ONLY be dealer installed – i.e. they usually won’t sell it to you directly).

    I’m also interested to hear your results of driving a MINI with JCW Brakes on it. I’d love to hear how it compares to your StopTech kit. However, you need to keep in mind that the JCW kit is really for street use and is probably half the price of your StopTech kit. Thus, you need to give it a little leeway here. It may not perform as well as you’re big brake kit, but I bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by it. 🙂

    BTW, just so we’re clear. I don’t have any problem whatsoever with aftermarket parts. If you’ve looked over my JCW Suspension Kit review here on Motoringfile you’ll see a conversation about my first 05 MCS which had the JCW Engine kit on it. You’ll also see that for my replacement 05 MCS that I took the aftermarket route instead (19% Pulley/GIAC/JCW Injectors/JCW CAI/Milltek Exhaust) as I felt that I could get more “bang for my buck” going the aftermarket route instead (and I wanted to do the work myself). I’m still SUPER impressed by the JCW 210hp Kit as I don’t think that anything in the aftermarket can come close to matching its smoothness and it’s low-end power, but I wanted a bit more power for less money is all (so that I could pay for my suspension, brakes, and rear-view camera [grin]). In the end, I think that they both have their place. It’s all up to the owner to decide which is best for him/her.

    Thanks again for all of your great comments and feedback.

  • dgszweda


    Interesting. I haven’t lived with a Z4, so I can’t compare too long term. He did have the Sport package. I know that when Sport was turned off, the car was quite a bit under the Mini. I will have to drive it with Sport on some more and really try to get a feel. It is a very fun car though, and I would consider buying one, except that it is only a two seater, which doesn’t work out for me. It is quick though with that 3 liter.

  • Alan

    This is a bit late to the discussion, but the reason no one asks anyone about who installed anything is because all work on your car is tied to its VIN (or the last 7 digits anyway) so any MINI dealer can look up the history of your car. They know what happened and what’s going on. If you have a JCW or a MINI part installed on your car and no record of a dealer doing it, either the dealer never recorded it (which would be considered a mistake I suspect) or you bought the parts from a legit supplier and had them installed by someone other then a dealer.

    It wouldn’t be complicated at all to determine how a component got on there should a warranty issue arise – especially since the timing would be important to see if it was covered, they’d check the records to find the installation date.

  • “My only complaint with the JCW kit is that the caliper looks as though someone painted it in their garage – this is an observation from pictures only. hopefully I am wrong.”

    The uneven looking surface on the calipers isn’t the paint job but the actual metal of the caliper.

  • I think for my money I’m just going to install a pair of balistic parachutes for my 05MCS, so when I really get spirited in my street driving I can stop on a dime. Cheers

  • nrkist
    So, Gabe, know of a BMW dealer where I can get ’74 2002 tii parts?

    I had one of these… [lapses into automotive reverie]… black, euro-spec with the slim chrome bumpers and a roof-mounted antenna. Even had German-language gauges. That was a car. Sigh…

    But, back on topic… I’m thinking I just need one of these kits, a set of these and some of these babies and I’ll have a pretty nice set up for what Mike calls “sport” street driving. I think I’d even end up with better pedal feel than a JCW kit, for less than half the cost.

  • First off I’m talking from experience. I’ve tried Stock, Red Box, Green Stuff, Ferodo 2500, Ferodo 3000, Performance Friction PF97, and Williams pads. I’ve autocrossed, and tracked ALL of these pads. I KNOW Mini brakes.

    Before anyone changes to a big brake kit for the street for “performance reasons” don’t waste your money. If you’re fading your brakes get new high-temp brake fluid like Motul. However unless you’re racing there should be NO reason to fade your brakes on the street. Fluid should be the first thing to go.

    There are several issue with the JCW brake kit.

    1) The odds of Hawk, Ferodo, Performance Friction or anyone else making pads for these brakes any time soon is VERY small. Not enough volume. When/if they do they’ll be very expensive.

    2) The calipers are VERY heavy.

    3) Pad changes take forever compared to most other aftermarket kits

    4) If you can overheat green-stuff pads (so-so street pads) chances are it was the fluid and not the pads you were overheating.

    5) Pads for the other aftermarket kits are VERY well priced and for the most part (depends on kit) there are a vast amount of different pads available.

    6) JCW brakes look like a large set of brakes that came from the factory that someone painted red. They don’t look anywhere near as good as Brembo, Stoptech, Willwood or just about any other kit on the market.

    I can do a pad change on the fronts, jack up to jack down in 20 minutes tops with aftermarket kits that becomes 5 as you don’t have to remove the caliper to replace the pads on most aftermarket brakes. Take off the front wheels, remove the cotter-pin, push in caliper slightly, remove old, replace with new, wheels back on – Done.

    Redbox pads can be overheated in 2 seconds flat they’re junk. If you’ve still got stock MINI fluid change the fluid to Motul or ATE Superblue. Red Box pads are for your grandma not you!


  • Just curious – why all the negativity towards JCW products from a couple of you guys? I don’t think anyone hear thinks that JCW accessories are the last word in performance. That said, I do think they offer good performance, solid engineering, and OEM piece of mind.

    And I still think a few of you are missing the point (and the potential audience) of a mass market product like a OEM brake upgrade.

  • michael Boice

    I actually like JCW…I own an 05 JCW. I’m considering the brake kit for many of the same reasons I chose the JCW engine kit; warranty, designed in conjunction with BMW/Mini’s philosophy.

  • Lee L

    I just think it is funny about all the different opinions here. All you used to read was about how great Green Stuff pads were, now it seesm like everyone is down on them both for lack of real dust reduction and perfomrance.

    Next, seemed like the Mintex Red Rox pads were all that, now I’m reading that they suck.

    Are there any afternmarket pads worth getting at all?

  • greg

    Hi Mike. Thanks AGAIN for your response(s). I appreciate the advise.

    I also appreciate your reply regarding the MCS sport package tires. I have asked this question a few times before and no one has stepped up to give me an answer or opinion (are you there Gabe?).

  • Greg – really really busy lately. Outbound emails are almost nonexistent right now.

    Sport package tires are useless in the snow. I’d highly recommend getting a goood set of all-seasons or snow tires depending on how much white stuff you get in the winter.

  • KevinR

    Just a few thoughts:

    1) Calling Mike a “JCW shill” is way over the line.

    2) I haven’t noticed any “pro-JCW” slant here at MotoringFile.

    3) “pro-MINI” – isn’t that why we’re all here?

    4) Aftermarket parts will lower the value of a car to all but a very, very small minority of potential buyers. Some smart buyers can also tell when someone has recently refitted the stock parts.

    5) In my own experience of modifying cars over the last 25+ years, aftermarket upgrades have a far greater chance of causing problems than factory/dealer upgrades.

    6) In most cases, aftermarket upgrades are cheaper to buy and offer better performance than factory/dealer upgrades.

    And before I’m accused of being a shill, my car is completely stock except for PIAA driving lights and a Blaupunkt Sirius radio.

  • 1) Calling Mike a “JCW shill” is way over the line.

    Yes it is. Mike is one of the most level headed guys I know when it comes to performance parts and what he puts on his MINI.

  • Mike (The Office Maven)

    So I’m a “shameless little JCW shill” now eh…

    I’m afraid that I had to look that one up as I wasn’t familiar with the term. According to my dictionary a “shill” is:

    “a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating”

    I guess that nrkist feels that I work for JCW and that I’m trying to sell their parts for them. I’m afraid that’s just not true though. I wish that I worked for JCW as I bet that would be one heck of a really fun job. 🙂 However, if I did work for them I wouldn’t hide the fact that I did as that’s just not the type of person I am.

    Anyway… I can live with the name calling as it doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit. I respect the fact that nrkist doesn’t agree with me and that he doesn’t like JCW parts. I’m just sorry that he has to resort to name calling is all.

    BTW, just so you all know. I’m just as impressed (if not more so) by the other big brake kits on the market for the MINI (I absolutely LOVE the Brembos). Therefore, I have nothing bad to say about them at all and I actually agree with everything folks are saying about them here. It’s just that for me (and for my wife), the JCW kit offered more of what we were after is all and so that’s the route I took. I’d love to see a nice review of one of the aftermarket big brake kits for the MINI done here on Motoringfile, so one of you guys who has a BBK and really likes it, please do share a review of the kit with us all.

    BTW, thanks KevinR and Gabe for your comments on my behalf. I knew going in that this one was going to get rocky. [GRIN]

  • dgszweda

    Basically I would think this blog/board would have a pro-Mini feel to it, otherwise why would Gabe spend time on this labour of love. Secondly JCW is a product from Mini and therefore would probably be given a slightly more benefit of the doubt. Thirdly, I don’t think you will find any JCW owner bash the aftermarket in general. I love my JCW, but I also just as much love some of the aftermarket parts. I think a set of red 13″ Stoptech brakes look the bomb and perform very well. There is no doubt these are quality brakes that look phenomonal, even better than the JCW. It is just that everyone can’t have everything and therefore some people like some of the aspects of the JCW stuff. Not sure why a lot of people have to bash the JCW products, when no one that is pro JCW bashes aftermarket parts or anybodies decision to use aftermarket parts.

    I think the review is great, and Gabe should keep it up. This is the only place we can get excellent reviews with quality links and pics. Neither NAM or Mini2 have quite the same reviews, so it is refreshing to read them here, even when I may not agree with all of them.

  • Jimbo

    Lee L,

    There are a few decent pads out there. I have had the Hawk HPS pads for 3 weeks and it has been 3 weeks since i had to clean my wheels! It used to be an every-saturday type of chore….Also, while I dont notice too muhc difference driving around town with the Hawk pads, frequent high-speed stops tend to feel better than with stock. Going to the track next month to really find out….Also, there are a few different types of hawk pads, for varying degrees of performance…check out TireRack.com

  • greg

    Thanks Gabe.

  • Paul

    hey guys,

    has anyone tried some real ‘spritted’ driving with this brake kit, does it resist fade completely?


  • rick

    Hi guys,

    I am looking to buy a new Mini in Oct. so I am reviewing all upgrades reviews. I owned for 14 years a Miata with Jackson racing supercharger and JR brake upgrade. They used Hawk pads…No fade, no brake dusk, and had many times to stop from 85+ to 0 in seconds.


  • Aaron Geiger

    I have gone a different route with brakes. I have changed to ATE superblue fluid and installed speedbleeders. This along with the stock brake setup gives me everything I need for the street. When I have a track day, I put Pagid Blue race pads on the front, go have fun at the track, and then put my stock pads back on. I have no brake problems at the track or on the street. Plus all the upgrades cost $200 instead of over $1000!


  • Rich

    My real concern about the kit is how well will these rotors resist warpage? I’ve had a lot of problems with rotor warpage on my Cavalier’s brakes untill I bought a pair of PowerSlot slotted rotors for it. No more warpage at all now. So how well well do the stock MINI brakes, JCW, and aftermarket solutions dissipate heat?

  • Mike Kawasaki

    I just had my dealer install JCW Break kit, following JCW tuning and sports suspension kit. I noticed at the first test drive, the break was really spongy and had my dealer breed the system again. I am not sure if JCW break had a better performance compared with a stock at least during the first impression, though I am hoping a significant difference after break-in. It was still a town driving, and I have not tried yet a hard breaking at tight corner or high speed. Anyone suggest JCW was a right dicision for me.

  • a
  • aslan

    hi… ı want to buy this break kit…but ı don’t know its price…How much is that cost to me?

  • Kaelaria

    So no drilled or slotted rotors, that probably can’t be turned, and you paid $1,000+ for an improvement to a self-confessed 0.1% of your street driving only?

    Does this make a shred of sense?

  • Ah yes… such a nice way to say that you disagree. And let me add that I disagree with your assessment (and assumptions) as well.

  • JOanne

    hi, my friend is taking part in a rally race. he orders his brakes from mini dealership but the brakes was given to someone else. His rally is in august and he needs the brakes as safety measure. Please tell me where can i purchase the JCW Brake upgrade kit and strut brace. Can i get it install in sydney if i purchase it somewhere else?

    URGENT. please help. thanks alot.

  • Mike


  • Erik

    Just got the JCW kit…sorry a bit late to this party. My initial impressions of it were that it felt quite heavy. I was surprised what a difference a few extra pounds of unsprung weight would be.

    It would have been nice to have a lighter caliper and two-piece rotor. Might replace it with a different rotor (If I can source a two piece) when I get motivated to put the SS brake lines in.

    Too early to tell about dust and fade resistance. Pedal feel is pretty good…and they fit well with the 17″ BBS wheels. I have to try my 17″ S-lites, but I’ve heard they will work too.

    Had I to do it over, I might opt for the other kits, but the price wasn’t horrible and the OEM feel is reassuring. For a garage queen that only sees the occasional auto-cross, they will be adequate.

    Overall, I’d rate it a 3.5/5.

    Anybody want lightly used MCS front brake set? I’ll make you a good deal… ;->

  • My initial impressions of it were that it felt quite heavy. I was surprised what a difference a few extra pounds of unsprung weight would be.

    Give me a break… There’s no possible way in the world that you can “feel” the weight difference between the stock MINI brakes and the JCW ones on your car. It’s all in your MIND my friend.

    Boy, I really LOVE the weight weenies!

  • Erik


    Please be professional…I didn’t disrespect you.

    I DO feel a difference driving the car. Maybe it’s in my mind…but I did notice a slight difference between before and after.

    I haven’t done anything else to lighten the car…in fact I even have extra heavy heated leather seats.

    Good article…I enjoyed the discussion…but no need to be rude.

  • Erik

    A wise and mature person posted this earlier on this forum…wonder who it was…

    Anyway… I can live with the name calling as it doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit. I respect the fact that nrkist doesn’t agree with me and that he doesn’t like JCW parts. I’m just sorry that he has to resort to name calling is all.
  • Erik,

    You are quite right. Please except my humble apology. I just get so erked over all the BS that goes on with these cars when it comes to the weight issue. I guarantee that 99.99% of ALL MINI drivers out there would never be able to tell any weight difference whatsoever. If you are tracking your car, then perhaps you did opt for the wrong brake package as the JCW brakes were primarily designed for street use.

    I have two 2005 MCS’s that are used as daily drivers. Both have 17″ OEM wheels and one has the JCW brake kit while the other has stock brakes. The ONLY difference that you can tell between the two cars is that the one with the JCW brakes on it stops MUCH better than the stock one does. We’ve even lined them up and done some very non-scientific 40 mph to 0 mph testing and the JCW equipped car always stops in a shorter distance.

    Anyway, once again I apologize for my comment as it wasn’t my intention to call you a name. “Weight weenie” is just the generalized term I use to describe folks who go out of their way to save a couple of ounces in their MINI’s when it really isn’t going to amount to a whole hill of beans when all is said and done. Unless you’re driving a MINI that’s a dedicated track car, why not just enjoy the car with all of the options you want on it. For me, I’ll take the options I enjoy having and then I’ll just skip a meal and leave my shoes at home and I’ll still be right there with you as far as weight performance goes. 🙂

  • Erik


    The feel I get in the pre/post is almost like changing from my performance tires/wheels to my general use wheels. Or if I drove with my tires a little under-inflated (yes…I can feel that too ;->). Maybe a rotational inertia difference, not a total weight of car difference. Perhaps I misstated it originally.

    I don’t go hard-core minamalist, even for the track stuff…but, like you said, I didn’t expect any different feel.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Besides…I have bigger things to worry about now…my mkIII NAV update is now some dude instad of laura (we named her).

  • Erik,

    Maybe the brakes will feel better for you once they are fully broken/bedded in. All I can tell you is that I really like mine so far. It sucks to have purchased something so expensive that you’re not 100% happy with. I know how that goes though.

    As for your NAV… If it was a MKIV, I could help you out with that one for sure. However, I’m afraid that I don’t have anything to offer you on the older MKIII units.

    Take care…

  • Erik

    2nd impression…

    Just got back from a long bed-in exercise in goofy driving. fast, slow, rest repeat…aaah smell them brakes.

    A guy in an R32 wanted to play…then looked at me kinda strange as I did repeated fast-slow-rest sessions down a relatively unused street.

    I have to say that the brakes do have more bite to them than stock. We’ll see about fade when I next take the car out for some more aggressive driving.

  • RS

    It seems that the rotors and the pads need to replaced every time… any idea what those run??

  • Lance

    I have one of the first factory JCW cars that comes with the brakes, ive only just picked up the car but the brake feel to me is phenomenal. My previous car was an M3 a few years back and I have driven many other high performance cars , I have not tracked the car yet so I cant comment as to their fade etc. 🙂 Also does anyone else find it irritating when people spill brakes “breaks”?

  • JBFromOZ

    a few comments: My MY05 JCW MCS with the JCW brake kit fits happily underneath x-lite 16″ wheels for those who were wondering. secondly as far as the spelling of brakes it seems even JCW got it wrong! the sticker that was applied to the inside firewall of my car

    ATTENTION John Cooper Works sport break installed Part number: 01 29 0 397 302

    I’d imagine this is the same in everyones kit?

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  • Art

    Sounds like the JCW kit might be a worthwhile addition. Does it come with any sort of instruction manual with torque specs? If so, does anyone have a PDF they could post or send? Or is it covered in the haynes or Bentley manuals? Thanks.

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  • Luys

    Did you get heat after installing 19% pulley