Quite a bit has been written about the various upgrade paths one can take with the stock MINI brakes. On one end of the spectrum you have your stock calipers and rotors with upgraded pads. Then on the other (much more expensive end) you have your $2500 Brembo kits that may or may not be plated in gold. And right in the middle is the JCW Sport brake kit.
Now regardless of which you choose, most of us can agree on one thing: the stock set-up is in need of some type of upgrade if you plan on hitting the track. This is especially with the higher output of a Cooper S. When I was looking at my choices, my sights were planted firmly in that intermediate category between the pad upgrades and the gold plated $2500 brake kits. What swayed me into the JCW camp was the performance I got used to while autocrossing a JCW MCS last spring and the OEM benefits that cause many of us to go for JCW products in the first place.
After a long day at the track last summer with my own MINI, it was evident that my stock brakes were one of the weaker points of the car. While I was surprised at the lack of epic fade I had been expecting, the stock brakes simply didn’t give me the confidence that I would have liked. Leaving the track that day, I knew I had to make a change. After a bit of research, I had the JCW brake kit on the way via the fine folks at Morristown MINI.
It’s probably worth mentioning that there are a couple of kits out there that offer as much bang for the buck (if not more). For instance both Detroit Tuned and Webb Motorsports have kits in a similar price range that offer the benefits of larger size rotors with standard pad sizes (which allow more freedom to choose replacement brake pads) and lighter weight calipers and rotors. All very important things for heavy track use.
However the JCW brake kit holds it’s own in one important area; price. Somewhat surprisingly the JCW brake kit is a competitively priced alternative to aftermarket kits. Add to that performance that is on par (or close enough for 95% of us) with many of those same kits and you have a JCW product that may just be one of the better buys out there.
Installation is very straightforward if you’ve done brakes before. However, be prepared to use all of the 200 break-in miles to get them up to proper performance. In fact, it wasn’t until I had just about 200 miles on the brakes that they started to feel like other JCW equipped cars I had driven. Once broken in however, the stopping power was addictive.
But it wasn’t until the first track day that I felt the full benefit of the kit. Turn six at the Autobahn Country Club’s north track is known for being a little tricky. With my stock set-up I was a little reluctant to push and go deep into the corner. With the JCW brake kit I was able to brake much later and still feel completely confident. Best yet, at the end of the day I had very little fade. The brakes felt almost as good as they did going into the track eight hours before.
Yes, there are a couple of downsides to the kit. First off, the pad sizing is not entirely standard. That means for the near future aftermarket pad choice will be about…. zero. That said, I’ve heard from several tuners that will be offering something soon.
Another check in the not-so-good column is the weight of the calipers. Instead of making them out of aluminum (as with some aftermarket kits), the JCW brake kit is crafted out of the same heavy steel that the stock kit uses. While the weight certainly isn’t noticable while driving and shouldn’t be considered a major downside, it’s still there nonetheless. Because of this, if you’re doing more than one or two track days a year I’d not recommend the JCW Brake kit.
Despite this, I would recommend the kit to anyone who wants to go one step further than a stock pad or rotor upgrade. The JCW brake kit combines increased stopping power, reduction in fade, and OEM peace of mind that nothing else can quite match. All with a price that is hard to beat.
MotoringFile Rating: 4.5 (out of five)
Where to Buy
You can find the JCW Sport Brake kit at several MotoringFile sponsors:
Knauz MINI (mention MotoringFile and get a discount)
Morristown MINI (mention MotoringFile and get a discount)
What comes in the kit
- Front rotor: 34 11 6 768 933
- Left front caliper: 34 11 6 770 191
- Right front caliper: 34 11 6 770 192
- Backing plate/mounting hardware: 34 11 6 770 414
- Caliper rebuild kit: 34 11 6 769 277
- Replacement front brake pads – Jurid 612 HA: 34 11 6 770 251
- Replacement rear brake pads – Jurid 180 HA: 34 21 6 770 252
Full JCW Brake kit: 34 11 0 393 455 = $ 1,065.00
The brake kit tested comes from Morristown MINI and was priced around $800 with the MotoringFile discount. This makes the JCW Brake kit one of the lowest-priced full brake kit on the market. More info can be found here.
OEM wheels that fit the JCW Brake Kit
[ JCW Sport Brake Kit Reader Review ] MotoringFile
[ JCW Sport Brake Kit in Detail ] MotoringFile