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

Written By: Mike

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    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?).

  • http://motoringfile.com 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.

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    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?

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    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… ;->

  • http://www.TheOfficeMaven.com Mike (The Office Maven)
    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.
  • http://www.TheOfficeMaven.com Mike (The Office Maven)


    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).

  • http://www.TheOfficeMaven.com Mike (The Office Maven)


    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?

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » Archive » MF Review: JCW Brake Kit()

  • 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.

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » Archive » New JCW Options for 2006()

  • Luys

    Did you get heat after installing 19% pulley

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