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Why Harley Performance Rotors Are Better Than Standard Rotors

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Rotors

Why Choose SMT‘s High-Performance Rotors for Your Harley?

Motorcycle rotors, aka brake discs or brake rotors, are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of making your Harley faster and higher performing. In fact, the job of motorcycle rotors is the exact opposite, to make you slow down. But here is a difference between standard Harley rotors and Harley high-performance rotors.There are various types of Harley motorcycle rotors, and the choice depends on your preferences, riding style, and the bike’s intended use. But if you’re looking for a better ride, performance parts are always a choice that never disappoints.To understand why, let’s look at the types of motorcycle rotors, what makes a rotor a high-performance rotor, and why Harley Performance Rotors are better than standard rotors.

Common Types of Harley Motorcycle Rotors

The types of motorcycle rotors include:

  • Solid Rotors: Basic, one-piece rotors made from a solid piece of metal. They are simple and cost-effective, commonly found on entry-level and commuter motorcycles.
  • Vented Rotors: The next step up is vented rotors, which have channels or holes in them to improve heat dissipation. The vents help to reduce brake fade by dissipating heat more efficiently, making them suitable for more demanding riding conditions.
  • Drilled Rotors: Holes drilled into the rotor aid in heat dissipation and water dispersion. They are often used in high-performance motorcycles and enhance braking performance, especially in wet conditions.
  • Slotted Rotors: Shallow slots machined into the disc surface help maintain a clean contact surface for the brake pads, prevent glazing, and improve brake performance.
  • Floating Rotors: There are two parts to floating rotors, a center hub and an outer rotor ring. The floating design allows for better heat expansion and contraction, reducing the risk of warping. Floating rotors are often found in high-performance and sport motorcycles.

Standard vs. High-Performance Harley Rotors

For everyday commuting or casual riding (though arguably Harley riders are not casual riders), standard solid rotors are fine. The solid rotor is also better for use in cooler climates (and there, as we shall see, high-performance solid rotors). If you race your Harley, though, you definitely want high-performance motorcycle rotors.

The Advantages of High-Performance Rotors

The five advantages of high-performance motorcycle rotors include:
  1. Better Heat Dissipation: High-performance rotors are designed with advanced materials and construction to dissipate heat more effectively. This is crucial for reducing brake fade during intense or prolonged braking.
  2. Reduced Weight: Some high-performance rotors use lightweight materials like carbon-ceramic composites or aluminum, reducing unsprung weight and enhancing overall performance.
  3. Improved Stopping Power: Provide better bite and responsiveness, improving the overall braking performance of your Harley motorcycle.
  4. Enhanced Durability: Materials used in high-performance rotors are better able to withstand higher temperatures and stress without warping or deteriorating.
  5. Design: High-performance motorcycle rotors may feature specific designs, such as the drilled or slotted patterns discussed above, to optimize braking efficiency and reduce the risk of brake pad glazing.

SMT Harley PR-1 High-Performance Rotors

SMT’s PR-1 high-performance rotor for Harley motorcycles is designed to offer the best and smoothest braking that SMT offers. Our motorcycle racing rotors are currently available in all sizes and have two choices of braking surfaces to fit your particular riding environment.If you’re racing where temps are high and you experience hard braking, choose the vented PR-1 rotor. The vented braking surface helps cool your rotor surface and cool your entire braking system. Hot rotors result in a hot fluid resulting in brake fade, which you definitely do not want on a racetrack. If you are racing primarily in cooler weather, consider the solid PR-1 rotor a better option, as a too-cold rotor is just as bad as a too-hot rotor.The PR-1 rotor is manufactured from lightweight 420 stainless steel. There is an aluminum center option for further weight reduction, as well as additional heat displacement. For a distinctive look, the PR-1 high-performance rotor is also available in a black double cut (a contrasting type cut) option.
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Harley High-Performance Rotors FAQs

  1. What is the purpose of motorcycle rotors? Motorcycle rotors, also known as brake discs, work in conjunction with brake calipers and pads to slow down and stop the motorcycle by converting kinetic energy into heat.
  2. What are standard motorcycle rotors? Standard motorcycle rotors are the stock or factory-installed brake discs that come with the motorcycle. They are designed to meet the basic braking needs of the bike and provide satisfactory performance under normal riding conditions.
  3. How do higher-performance motorcycle rotors differ from standard motorcycle rotors? Higher-performance motorcycle rotors are engineered to deliver superior braking performance. They may feature advanced materials, improved heat dissipation, and enhanced design for better-stopping power, reduced brake fade, and overall improved performance under demanding riding conditions.
  4. What materials are commonly used in motorcycle rotors? Motorcycle rotors are often made from cast iron, stainless steel, or a composite of both. Some high-performance rotors may also incorporate lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, stainless steel, aluminum, or ceramic to reduce weight and improve heat dissipation.
  5. Do higher-performance rotors improve stopping power? Yes. Higher-performance rotors improve stopping power with better heat dissipation and reduced brake fade. This is particularly beneficial for Harley riders who favor aggressive or track riding.
  6. Are there any drawbacks to using higher-performance rotors? High-performance motorcycle rotors are generally more expensive than standard rotors, though the higher cost is what you are paying for to get higher performance. Some high-performance rotor materials may require more careful maintenance and, in certain cases, may not be as durable for everyday commuting as standard rotors.
  7. Can I upgrade my Harley motorcycle with higher performance rotors? Yes, but it’s essential to ensure compatibility with your Harley’s brake system. SMT PR-1 high-performance rotors are made to fit any Harley motorcycle.
  8. How do I know when it’s time to replace my Harley motorcycle rotors? Signs of worn or damaged rotors include vibrations during braking, reduced braking performance, uneven wear, or visible cracks. Regularly inspect your rotors during routine maintenance; if you notice any of these signs, replace the rotors promptly.
  9. Do motorcycle rotors come in different sizes? Yes, motorcycle rotors come in various sizes to fit different makes and models. It’s important to choose rotors that are compatible with your specific Harley motorcycle to ensure proper fitment and functionality.
  10. Are there specific maintenance requirements for high-performance rotors? Maintenance requirements vary depending on the materials used for the high-performance rotor. Some high-performance rotors may require more frequent inspections, and it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
PR-1 Vented Motorcycle Polished Rotor

SMT Performance Rotors

See our full range of motorcycle rotors. Questions? Get in touch, we’re happy to help by email, phone, or chat.