August 16, 2011

Horse Sense: Back when Baer Brake Systems was Baer Racing, the company gave the World Challenge series fits with its turquoise Fox racer, so Baer knows Mustang brakes. While inactive, the racer is still in the Baer shops to this day.

The pin-drive caliper's increased mass-it weighs 12 pounds compared to the pad-guided caliper's 8.5 pounds-also makes it more heat tolerant

Name one thing the Corvette and Mustang hobbies have in common. Hint-look in the wheelwells.

If this one stumps you, then you've temporarily overlooked the PBR brake caliper from Australia. Long used on Corvettes and standard Mustang Cobra fare from 1994 until today, the PBR sliding caliper offers great performance at a reasonable price. Those are good reasons why both Chevy and Ford use it, and why Baer Brake Systems made the PBR caliper the mainstay of its street-performance brake line.

What's new is PBR has improved its two-piston caliper significantly. It's found on the C5 Corvette and now at Baer as well. The new caliper has added material for strength, and PBR changed the way the caliper is located, revised the pad shape, and improved a few other details. The result is a considerably more rigid, harder-clamping caliper with longer-lasting, less-expensive pads.

Baer offers the new caliper in its GT kits. The caliper supplements, but does not replace, the original PBR pad-guided caliper used on Baer's proven Track and Sport kits, as well as on C4 Corvettes, Mustang Cobras, and our open-track project car, among others.

The new pin-drive caliper benefits from the same advantages the familiar pad-guided caliper does. Since this is a PBR brake, the engineering behind it is from one of the world's largest brake manufacturers. From the get-go it has been designed as a street brake, so it is fully outfitted with the appropriate dust seals, extra beef to withstand years of use, attention to antisqueal properties, and so on. Its wide distribution gives it good economies of scale to keep the price in line and ensure a wide range of brake pads are available.

What the pin-guided caliper offers beyond the pad-guided version is mainly extra clamping force. This comes from the redesigned caliper body-which is a bit bulkier than the pad-guided unit-making it more rigid. It does not come from the hydraulics, as both the pin-drive and pad-guided calipers have the same number and size pistons, so there is no change in that part of the system. The brake pedal should have better modulation, however, due to more hydraulic pressure going into the pads and less into flexing the caliper.

The pin-drive caliper's increased mass-it weighs 12 pounds compared to the pad-guided caliper's 8.5 pounds-also makes it more heat tolerant. Baer says this should aid caliper longevity.

Baer sent us an early pair of these calipers so we could try them on our open-track project car. Our '96 GT road racer was already sporting a Baer Track kit with pad-guided calipers, so this was a simple bolt-on swap, which we've detailed in the photos. For those starting with stock brakes, the only difference would be adding the Baer calipers-which is nothing more than slipping off the old ones and sliding on the new ones. Easy stuff.

At deadline we had just put the new calipers on the car, so we'll report later on how they feel, after we get a bit of time on them. For now, Baer should have plenty of these brakes in stock.

What's Available

The bottom line with Baer Brakes is that it can build any brake system or item you'd like, and the kits take care of the vast majority of needs. Here's a quick overview of Baer's standard offerings.

Rotor Caliper
Kit Name Diameter Type Remarks
Sport 12-in PGC Street, drag applications
Track 13-in PGC Hi-perf street/open track/road race
GT 13-in PDC Hi-perf street/open track/road race

Note: PGC = pad-guided caliper, PDC = pin-drive caliper. All systems bolt to SN-95 ('94-'04) spindles w/o modification. In Baer Brake shorthand, GT means it has a pin-drive caliper; Track or Sport denotes pad-guided calipers.

Rotor Type And Sizing

Due mainly to its different pad shape, the pin-drive calipers cannot successfully interface with all of Baer's Mustang rotors. The single-piece, 13.11-inch-diameter rotors pose no problems with either caliper, but when stepping up to Eradispeed two-piece designs, there is one for the pad-guided and another for the pin-drive calipers. The Sport and Track Eradispeed rotors are a touch thinner and have a larger-diameter bolt-circle pad. The GT Eradispeed is slightly thicker and uses a smaller-diameter bolt-circle pad to clear the caliper's larger pads.

So, if you already have a Track kit, for example, and upgrade to the pin-drive calipers, you can use the standard Track kit rotors. If you have Track kit Eradispeed rotors, however, you'll need to replace them with pin-drive-specific Eradispeed rotors.

Brake Checks

Because they are regular-production items with PBR, the new pin-drive calipers are reasonably priced, as these things go. At press time, pricing had been set on the GT kit for late-model Mustangs-$795 with plain rotors. Popular options-actually they're as popular as the cheerleaders in high school-include rotor slotting, cross drilling, and zinc washing. Typically, meaning 90 percent of the time, customers ask for slotted and drilled rotors, which adds $100 to the retail price. Should you want to upgrade only your calipers, the pin-drive units go for $245 fully loaded with pads.

A GT Plus kit is in the works. It will offer a thicker, two-piece rotor, but there was no pricing on this at our deadline. The standard GT rotor thickness is 1.10 inches, while the GT Plus two-piece rotor measures 1.25 inches.

Caliper color is another option. Black with machined "Baer" script and the Baer Claw logo is standard. Powdercoated calipers can be had in gloss black, red, blue, yellow, or orange. Completely polished calipers are another option, sporting red paint for the Baer script and logo.

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