You've asked for it, now you've got it: The incredibly popular Porterfield R4-S brake pads are coming for the DB11 and New Vantage!!
I've had quite a few people ask me about better pads for their new-gen Astons. The same complaints about brake squeal and dust from the last generation of cars continued over to the new ones. Not only that, some people don't like how "grabby" the brakes can be.
While the biggest complaint I’ve heard about the brakes of the DB11 and New Vantage is the brake squeal, the reduction in initial bite (being less grabby") is what you’ll notice most about the R4-S pads, so let’s discuss that.
Initial bite is how quickly and strongly the brakes react when you first press the brake pedal:
-If you lightly press the brake pedal and you barely feel the brakes doing anything, that's a low initial bite.
-If you lightly press the brake pedal and the brakes come on strongly and abruptly, that's a a high initial bite.
Brakes with a high initial bite are considered "grabby" - that is, the pads quickly bite into the rotor and grab hold even when you're barely pressing the brake pedal. While this can be good for spirited driving and track days, it can be a pain to deal with in normal driving.
Porterfield R4-S pads have a lower initial bite than the OEM pads. This was the main observation my tester had from his first few days of use.
“The initial bite is greatly reduced. But the new ones have a nice progressive feel so it is easy to know just how much pressure you need to apply. Great in stop and go traffic.
It surprised me at first how much of [the initial bite] was gone but the new pads had a good feel so you quickly know how much pressure to apply. Nice and progressive.”
This also applies when you're parking or maneuvering in other tight places. In these low-speed situations, grabby brakes are that much more noticeable.
“I noticed too with the [OEM] pads when backing out of the garage the car would go from 5mph to zero because they were so grabby. The new ones I could back out smoothly.”
So here’s the takeaway from all that: the reduced initial bite means you need to press the brake pedal more to get the same amount of braking as the original pads. That makes them easier to control smoothly but also requires you to adapt to the extra braking input needed. If you’ve been driving your DB11 or New Vantage for a while and are used to being extra-careful with low-speed braking, it’ll take a bit of getting used to needing to press the brake pedal a bit more. But once you get used to it, you’ll be overall much happier with the brakes as a whole.
With that out of the way, I’m happy to say that everyone’s major complaint has indeed been solved:
“They’re great! No noise whatsoever.”
This is the big one, despite being buried in my rambling blog. Even though brake squeal is what you all really wanted to address, I needed to focus on the change in initial bite as that’s what will be most noticeable. With brake squeal gone, you’ll immediately focus on the reduced initial bite so I needed to discuss that. Okay, good, continuing on.
You may have noticed that the OEM pads had a couple of cylindrical weights attached to each pad. These are meant to dampen vibrations in the pads that cause brake squeal. Obviously since brake squeal is still an issue, they don’t really do the job. The Porterfield R4-S pads don’t have the weights, nor do they need them.
The last big thing is brake dust. We haven’t had enough miles quite yet to say whether or not there’s a drastic reduction in brake dust, but I think we’ll see a similar reduction in dust as we did when using the R4-S pads on the DB9 and V8 Vantage.
I think that pretty much covers it: No more horrendous brake squeal, the brakes are less grabby and more progressive, and there’s probably less dust, but you’ll need to get used to the change in brake feel. Production is about to start on the first batch of pads, so stay tuned as they’ll be available soon!
New Product Listings
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve teamed up with ECPS. They make beautiful, high-quality carbon fiber and we can offer them at reasonable prices. I’m adding more listings so keep checking back as more is on the way.
And, of course, the aforementioned Porterfield R4-S brake pads are coming very soon for the DB11 and New Vantage!