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      09-07-2009, 06:20 PM   #1
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E92 M3 AP Racing BBK Review (long)

OK, I admit it, I’ve been holding out on you all. Now it’s out: I have AP Racing brakes front and rear on my E92 M3.

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They are absolutely phenomenal – I’ve done three track days so far and they handle the heat with ease and deliver consistent braking and modulation over and over all day long on the track. They’re well-mannered on the street, too – quiet and smooth with absolutely no bad habits.

So, how did I end up with AP Racing, the brakes that most people don’t think of when they look at BBK’s?

Well, I spend enough time at the track that I decided that I wanted a track brake setup that I could just turn up and drive. I looked at Stoptech, Brembo and AP Racing BBK’s, and chose the AP Racing product.

You don't hear much about AP Racing in the aftermarket. The only place I’d seen their brakes on M3’s was in pictures of the E92 M3 GT2 and GT4. AP Racing’s HQ is in the south of England where more purpose-built race cars are made than the rest of the world combined. If you check the www.APRacing.com website Monday after a Formula 1 race, they post congratulations to the podium teams with AP Racing parts (they make brakes and clutches). Often it's three for three. Beyond their European presence, their catalog has pages of calipers and rotors purpose-built for NASCAR and other North American racing series.

After a lot of research and analysis, I concluded that AP Racing was the best choice for two reasons: physical size and customer service.

Size matters because of heat. Bigger chunks of metal do a better job of averaging out the heat spikes that happen on the track. With the marginal supply of cooling air on the M3, I wanted the biggest rotors and calipers I could find that would still fit under my 18” rims. AP Racing’s 18”-rim-friendly front rotors are bigger than both Brembo and Stoptech at 368mm, and the AP CP5555 calipers are huge. Everyone is hot for smaller and lighter, but I'll happily put up with an extra half-pound of aluminum if it keeps my brakes cool.

I also mentioned service as a deciding factor. Chris from Brake Pro’s was extraordinarily helpful through the whole process. I asked a lot of dumb questions and tested his patience at every turn, I’m sure. He was quick to respond and made sure I had the information I needed to make up my mind. I purchased the Brake Pro’s AP Racing kits from Renn Spec, and Simon and Gary were also exceptional to deal with. I was very pleased with the whole process.

Upon receipt, the kits were complete, beautifully finished, with quality workmanship throughout. It was impressive. The caliper finish is some kind of special paint that’s tougher than powder coating and cleans really easily. As far as installation was concerned, they went on easily and everything was perfect.

The fronts require a 10 or 12mm spacer for clearance with BMW OEM 18” front rims, and Simon made it easy by supplying the Macht Schnell product with black bolts to match the factory bolts on the rear. BMW OEM 18x9.5” rear rims fit without spacers front and rear; that was important to me because I run a square track setup. Of course, BMW OEM 19’s fit without spacers at either end.

So, what do I think now that I have them and I’ve run three track days? They’re amazing. No hint of fade, ever. Great modulation. Easy to manage. I’ve had to learn braking all over again – it’s way too easy to be lazy and just brake late all the time. After three outings, there is no ridging on the rotors, the pads are straight and barely worn at all. These things are phenomenal!

The biggest surprise of all was the Mintex Xtreme Motorsport pads that come with the Brake Pro’s kits. They are a cross-over street/track pad with a 1300 degree MOT. They’re as good as any track pad I’ve ever used and I don’t have to change them before and after every outing.

Now I just change my tires, round up my gas cans and head for the track. It’s a beautiful thing!
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      09-07-2009, 06:44 PM   #2
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sounds amazing! i need some...stock brakes fade
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      09-07-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info.
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      09-07-2009, 08:31 PM   #4
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Well said John, good to hear.

Can you comment on the $$$?

I have heard from others there is a price premium to get the AP brakes over say a Brembo setup
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      09-07-2009, 10:07 PM   #5
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Well said John, good to hear.

Can you comment on the $$$?

I have heard from others there is a price premium to get the AP brakes over say a Brembo setup
I'm not actually sure about the pricing compared to the competition. I'm confident that they cost more than the Stoptech's, but I don't know about the Brembo's. I was happy with the pricing I got from Renn Spec, and along the way Brake Pro's put them "on special" so the pricing improved even more.

I'd summarize it as "less than Brembo, more than Stoptech, shop around".
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      09-07-2009, 10:49 PM   #6
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Thanks for the review, I've been considering these for a little while. I'm favoring Stop Tech as I had them on my last car, but these are second on my list. Again, thanks
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      09-07-2009, 10:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for the review, I've been considering these for a little while. I'm favoring Stop Tech as I had them on my last car, but these are second on my list. Again, thanks
Stoptech's are great - I had them on my last car.
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      09-07-2009, 11:06 PM   #8
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How's the balance with the brakes on the front only? This is the setup I had on my old S4 with stop techs up front, but that was different b/c the standard rears on that car were crap.
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      09-08-2009, 12:27 AM   #9
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How's the balance with the brakes on the front only? This is the setup I had on my old S4 with stop techs up front, but that was different b/c the standard rears on that car were crap.
It's too bad I don't have a photo of the rears - they're on the car!

I did drive the front-only setup for a few weeks while the rears were on backorder and I ran two track days in June that way. It drove fine as far as balance was concerned (I had Pagid RS19 pads on the rear) even on the track in the wet. However, the rear rotors were about 50 degrees Celsius hotter than the fronts and the fluid in the rear calipers continued to take a beating. It might have been ok on a long-run basis if I'd had put some effort into finding a pad combo to balance the heat load front and rear, but since I had the rear BBK on order, I didn't bother. They were fine on the street.

Once I installed the AP Racing rear kit the rear rotors run 50 degrees cooler than the fronts. I've spent two days trail-braking into hairpins and sweepers and the balance is perfect.
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      09-08-2009, 05:39 AM   #10
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That's a very helpful review. I plan to run a square 18" setup as well.

What pad options do you have with the AP Racing brakes? Also, how much are the replacement disks?
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      09-08-2009, 10:47 AM   #11
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That's a very helpful review. I plan to run a square 18" setup as well.

What pad options do you have with the AP Racing brakes? Also, how much are the replacement disks?
This is not an exhaustive list of alternate pads - I'm sure that Brake Pro's can provide a longer list if you contact them. For my purposes, I only looked long enough to make sure that I had choices that would work for me before I bought the kits. I wanted to be sure that if I didn't like the Mintex pads, I could switch to something else. It turns out I really like the Mintex pads.

Other than the Mintex pads they come with:

Front pads for the CP5555 caliper: Hawk - HB109; Ferodo - FRP3054; Pagid - 1903; Performance Friction - 7790; Porterfield - AP7790;

Rear pads for the CP5306 caliper: Ferodo - FRP3083; Pagid -20345;

I don't know how much the replacement rotors would cost - you should contact Brake Pro's directly for that information.
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      09-08-2009, 01:08 PM   #12
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Here's a closer shot of that front rotor showing the strap drive system:





Great choice, we're running the 7100/7150 setup as well and couldn't be happier. We're about to get some track use on these in the next few weeks.
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      09-08-2009, 01:51 PM   #13
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Wow JAJ, yes, you really managed to hold out on us all. Good thing you came clean with this thread!

Can you elaborate a bit more on the finer points of the track performance of this system? You say that they are easy to modulate and you can be lazy and brake late. How noticable is the difference compared to stock? Is it more of a confidence issue, or a pure objective performance benefit, or both (I suspect it is the latter)?

Thanks, and ENJOY!
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      09-08-2009, 03:18 PM   #14
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Wow, those BBK look amazing.
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      09-08-2009, 11:14 PM   #15
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Wow JAJ, yes, you really managed to hold out on us all. Good thing you came clean with this thread!

Can you elaborate a bit more on the finer points of the track performance of this system? You say that they are easy to modulate and you can be lazy and brake late. How noticable is the difference compared to stock? Is it more of a confidence issue, or a pure objective performance benefit, or both (I suspect it is the latter)?

Thanks, and ENJOY!
I do open lapping days at Mission Raceway Park, a short 1.8 mile track with 9 corners. Very technical, high fuel consumption, murder on brakes.

With the factory brakes, I had to brake early and essentially let the howling (with RS-19's) be my guide to brake management. If I went beyond the high pitched howl, they'd start to fade badly and the pedal would head toward the floor. Heel and toe was challenging, to say the least. Every corner was a combo of brake management and steering rhythm. You could go fast, but every time out was a challenge to make sure you didn't overheat and lose the brakes for the day.

The AP brakes don't object to anything I've done with them so far. There's a hairpin at the end of the Mission pit straight. I tried going deeper and deeper into the hairpin, and finally knocked nearly 300' off my braking point. At that point I was running out of tires instead. The brakes were fine, but the car was so out of balance on the corner entry that my times got worse. That's why I said I had to re-learn braking - they'll do anything I ask so now I'm working on better questions, if you catch my drift.

There is a confidence issue too. I ran one day recently at Portland International Raceway. I had a great instructor who really knew the track, but I kept having trouble with the visual of staying full throttle much deeper into the corners than I'd ever gone before. I only had 80 minutes of track time to get readjusted, and I really need another hour or two to get it right.

So, to answer your question - "it's both" - confidence and outright performance at a totally new level (at least for me in this car).

Last edited by JAJ; 09-09-2009 at 10:11 AM.
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      09-09-2009, 07:42 AM   #16
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I do open lapping days at Mission Raceway Park, a short 1.8 mile track with 9 corners. Very technical, high fuel consumption, murder on brakes.

With the factory brakes, I had to brake early and essentially let the howing (with RS-19's) be my guide to brake management. If I went beyond the high pitched howl, they'd start to fade badly and the pedal would head toward the floor. Heel and toe was challenging, to say the least. Every corner was a combo of brake management and steering rhythm. You could go fast, but every time out was a challenge to make sure you didn't overheat and lose the brakes for the day.

The AP brakes don't object to anything I've done with them so far. There's a hairpin at the end of the Mission pit straight. I tried going deeper and deeper into the hairpin, and finally knocked nearly 300' off my braking point. At that point I was running out of tires instead. The brakes were fine, but the car was so out of balance on the corner entry that my times got worse. That's why I said I had to re-learn braking - they'll do anything I ask so now I'm working on better questions, if you catch my drift.

There is a confidence issue too. I ran one day recently at Portland International Raceway. I had a great instructor who really knew the track, but I kept having trouble with the visual of staying full throttle much deeper into the corners than I'd ever gone before. I only had 80 minutes of track time to get readjusted, and I really need another hour or two to get it right.

So, to answer your question - "it's both" - confidence and outright performance at a totally new level (at least for me in this car).
Thanks for the detailed feedback. Yes, by "latter", I also meant "both"--poor wording. I am not surprised that a high quality setup like this one will yield improvements on both fronts.

Another question: I found that SS line and Castrol fluid improved pedal feel/firmness significantly in the stock setup. What lines and fluid were you running with the stock system?
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      09-09-2009, 10:10 AM   #17
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Thanks for the detailed feedback. Yes, by "latter", I also meant "both"--poor wording. I am not surprised that a high quality setup like this one will yield improvements on both fronts.

Another question: I found that SS line and Castrol fluid improved pedal feel/firmness significantly in the stock setup. What lines and fluid were you running with the stock system?
With the stock brakes I was running Stoptech stainless lines and Castrol SRF fluid . The AP Racing kits come with Goodridge lines and I still have two liters of SRF so that's what I'm using with them. I'm planning to stay with SRF so I only have to flush them once a year, and maybe bleed them once or twice.

In mid August, after two hard days at the track with 90-degree plus weather the brake pedal was still firm and at the top of its travel. I was going to bleed them and decided there was nothing to gain, so I didn't bother. They're that good.
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      09-09-2009, 11:56 AM   #18
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With the stock brakes I was running Stoptech stainless lines and Castrol SRF fluid . The AP Racing kits come with Goodridge lines and I still have two liters of SRF so that's what I'm using with them. I'm planning to stay with SRF so I only have to flush them once a year, and maybe bleed them once or twice.

In mid August, after two hard days at the track with 90-degree plus weather the brake pedal was still firm and at the top of its travel. I was going to bleed them and decided there was nothing to gain, so I didn't bother. They're that good.
OK. Thanks for the info.
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      09-10-2009, 09:51 AM   #19
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so you say you were getting fade and howling with the stock brakes + StopTech SS Lines + Castrol SRF Fluid + Pagid RS19's on all corners?


What pads are u running @ the track on the AP BBK?

Is ur AP BBK 4-pot or 6-pot?
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      09-10-2009, 10:16 AM   #20
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There is a confidence issue too. I ran one day recently at Portland International Raceway. I had a great instructor who really knew the track, but I kept having trouble with the visual of staying full throttle much deeper into the corners than I'd ever gone before. I only had 80 minutes of track time to get readjusted, and I really need another hour or two to get it right.

So, to answer your question - "it's both" - confidence and outright performance at a totally new level (at least for me in this car).
Thanks for the write up... and don't rea 08M3's recent update on the Moton's. You may end up spending more money!!
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Let me get this straight... You are swapping out parts designed by some of the top engineers in the world because some guys sponsored by a company told you it's "better??" But when you ask the same guy about tracking, "oh no, I have a kid now" or "I just detailed my car." or "i just got new tires."
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      09-10-2009, 08:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAJ View Post
This is not an exhaustive list of alternate pads - I'm sure that Brake Pro's can provide a longer list if you contact them. For my purposes, I only looked long enough to make sure that I had choices that would work for me before I bought the kits. I wanted to be sure that if I didn't like the Mintex pads, I could switch to something else. It turns out I really like the Mintex pads.

Other than the Mintex pads they come with:

Front pads for the CP5555 caliper: Hawk - HB109; Ferodo - FRP3054; Pagid - 1903; Performance Friction - 7790; Porterfield - AP7790;

Rear pads for the CP5306 caliper: Ferodo - FRP3083; Pagid -20345;

I don't know how much the replacement rotors would cost - you should contact Brake Pro's directly for that information.
Thanks...just what I was looking for. The reason I ask is from experience with my UUC kit on my 330. Easy to find rotors since they are the stock M3 rotors with plenty of choices (OEM, OEM-Euro, and UUC to name a few). The problem is brake pads for the front. Unless I go direct from UUC, I have to mod the pad to get them to fit under the bridge.

I tried to contact EAS (ahem....) via PM about rotor prices for the AP kit, still haven't found anything out yet.
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      09-10-2009, 08:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjae1976 View Post
Thanks...just what I was looking for. The reason I ask is from experience with my UUC kit on my 330. Easy to find rotors since they are the stock M3 rotors with plenty of choices (OEM, OEM-Euro, and UUC to name a few). The problem is brake pads for the front. Unless I go direct from UUC, I have to mod the pad to get them to fit under the bridge.

I tried to contact EAS (ahem....) via PM about rotor prices for the AP kit, still haven't found anything out yet.
I don't have a PM from you, can you forward a copy to me? I'll need to know if you want slotted or x-drilled option as well.
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