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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 01:21:08 PM   #1
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Default Best BBK for E46 M3

Good morning folks.

Before next track season, I'd like to get a BBK, at least in the front but probably all around. There have been several threads on brake kits in the past, but I haven't seen any comparing the three I'm assuming to be the best, money aside. That is: Brembo, AP Racing, and PFC.

From what I've heard, I believe a PFC 4 piston is the best choice (Bimmerworld's website does say "The absolute best-performing brake system on the market, period!" which is pretty bold). As I understand it the calipers are all machined from a single block of aluminum. I don't have specifications but I believe they are lighter than a comparable Brembo or AP Racing caliper, though maybe not by much.

Basically, I have no plans to sell the car and would like the best brakes possible (car is used on both street and track). So please, teach me about brakes!

Things I'm assuming to be important factors are:
-weight
-availability of pads/pad shape
-rotor diameter/cost
-feel..? I'm guessing they all offer a very firm pedal and good feel vs. stock

I'm also curious if anyone can tell me the reason why I would choose between the Z45 355mm/323mm kits (obviously the rotor size), and the Z31 355mm kit. It seems all three use a 4 piston caliper, 2 piece floating rotors, but the Z31 uses 4 pads rather than 2, and the Z31 is actually a monobloc where the Z45 is cut in half. I suspect it's easier/cheaper to use a 2 pad setup, but 4 pads perform slightly better..? In that case I'm thinking the Z45 355mm is the way to go (bigger rotor is better, right? lol) Is the 323mm kit a significantly cheaper/easier setup to use? It seems the 355mm is only a few hundred more than 323mm, which isn't a huge amount considering the full cost of the kit(s).

I'm thinking the Z29 rear kit (2 piston) will be more than enough brake for me, and that it is a better choice over the Z34 (4 piston) rears in my case. Let me know what you think about this as well.

Feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 01:25:19 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

If I might add, also look at the pad change procedure and pad selection available.
Having a BBK with easy pad change operation is a real advantage when it comes to switching between track and street pads.
I'll let the BBK-educated people chime in as I don't know much about all this, but I'm really happy with my AP-Racing system.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 02:11:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

I think you'd be happy with BBKs from any of the 3 companies you listed. I would avoid stoptech (not on your list, just in case it was working its way there).

The benefit of smaller rotors (~328mm) is you can run 17s and they're lighter. The benefit of larger rotors is more heat capacity and longer life. But, how much heat capacity is needed is a factor of weight, power, and ducting.

Avoid drilled rotors.

For track use, I'd avoid anything that requires the caliper to be removed to change pads.

Consumables cost should be a large factor, if you're tracking. I'd look at the price of pads and rotors of the type you'd be considering, and factor that into your decision. Also, the range of pad types available.

Possible point on the PFC's-- I don't like any of their street compounds, which makes me not want their BBK (this is actually my largest complaint with the stoptech BBK on my M5). Obviously only a factor for street driven cars. That said, I pretty much only run PFC track compounds.

Personally, I wouldn't worry overly much about performance within the options your considering-- all will have awesome performance. I'd concern myself with wear item costs and desired pad compound availability, as you'll be paying for them again and again and again and again. Generally that means a commonly used pad shape and 2 pads per caliper. Larger pads last longer, thicker pads last longer, larger rotors last longer.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 02:19:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

I recommend this article as a MUST read for anyone considering a BBK. This is a real-world comparo on the e92 m3 platform. This was performed by an independent magazine not stoptech.

Search is ur friend.

http://www.stoptech.com/media-center...omparison-test

I would add couple of factors for your consideration as well:
- Are you sure you need a BBK?
1- If you have less than 20 days track time then stay away
2- Have you upgraded to race pads / fluid / lines / duct cooling before putting 5k+ on a BBK?
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 02:23:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmaktabi View Post
I recommend this article as a MUST read for anyone considering a BBK. This is a real-world comparo on the e92 m3 platform. This was performed by an independent magazine not stoptech.

Search is ur friend.

http://www.stoptech.com/media-center...omparison-test

I would add couple of factors for your consideration as well:
- Are you sure you need a BBK?
1- If you have less than 20 days track time then stay away
2- Have you upgraded to race pads / fluid / lines / duct cooling before putting 5k+ on a BBK?
Here are my complaints with stoptech:
1) There's no good street pad option
2) the finish on the calipers is crappy and fades quickly
3) pad knock back SUCKS-- and stoptech seems to suffer from it far more than any other BBK I've experienced
4) On the e46, a LOT more trimming is required for installation. Some of which is a big PITA. Not an issue for race cars, but for street cars where you're keeping the dust shields... very annoying.

I do think they have the slickest pad swap mechanism, though.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 02:26:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obioban View Post
The benefit of smaller rotors (~328mm) is you can run 17s and they're lighter. The benefit of larger rotors is more heat capacity and longer life. But, how much heat capacity is needed is a factor of weight, power, and ducting.
I can run 17" Apex with my PFC Z45/355mm kit. No reason to get 328mm kit besides initial cost which will eventually be greater in the long run with slightly more frequent changes.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 03:25:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

PFC is indeed exceptional. I have their kit on my E92 and got another kit for a friend's Z4MC track car with 480whp. A really fast E92 (2:07 at WGI with R1 tires and TCK suspension, full weight) which belongs to a friend of mine also has their kit and it shrugged the abuse off as if it weren't there.

Its performance is absolutely excellent. I would definitely do it again.

Ignore the Z31 kit. This is the original monobloc kit. You want the Z45/31/29 setup.

The rear Z29 has a very small pad. I suggest the bigger setup if you don't want to be changing pads all the time.

Once the PFC 12 pads are bedded in they barely make noise, so now I no longer swap into my Zrated pads for street use.

I suggest you called Bimmerworld as they'll be able to help steer you in the right direction. If you dial extension 308 you'll get Phil which is who I usually work with.

I don't know if you can get any pads other than PFCs for their kits. I don't mind as I would only run their pads regardless. Archaic and complex bedding procedures are something I do not have patience for.

One thing I will say about PFC is that although their kit is second to none, they don't do replacements all that well. Do not expect to contact them a week before an event and get a new set of pads. I have a entire duplicate set of rotors and pads at home which is what I use when time is tight.

Last edited by SYT_Shadow; Wed, Jul-27-2016 at 03:40:36 PM.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 03:43:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmaktabi View Post
I would add couple of factors for your consideration as well:
- Are you sure you need a BBK?
1- If you have less than 20 days track time then stay away
2- Have you upgraded to race pads / fluid / lines / duct cooling before putting 5k+ on a BBK?
I agree with the 'do you need' part. I tracked my E46M for 3 seasons with PFC DD rotors, pads and SS lines. It worked great.
However, I will say it is different to do 2:23 at WGI with the E46M than to do 2:13, or 2:07..

Ducting for a street car is not going to happen. It is an insane PITA.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 04:29:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flow View Post
If I might add, also look at the pad change procedure and pad selection available.
Having a BBK with easy pad change operation is a real advantage when it comes to switching between track and street pads.
I'll let the BBK-educated people chime in as I don't know much about all this, but I'm really happy with my AP-Racing system.
Good point, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obioban View Post
I think you'd be happy with BBKs from any of the 3 companies you listed. I would avoid stoptech (not on your list, just in case it was working its way there).

The benefit of smaller rotors (~328mm) is you can run 17s and they're lighter. The benefit of larger rotors is more heat capacity and longer life. But, how much heat capacity is needed is a factor of weight, power, and ducting.

Avoid drilled rotors.

For track use, I'd avoid anything that requires the caliper to be removed to change pads.

Consumables cost should be a large factor, if you're tracking. I'd look at the price of pads and rotors of the type you'd be considering, and factor that into your decision. Also, the range of pad types available.

Possible point on the PFC's-- I don't like any of their street compounds, which makes me not want their BBK (this is actually my largest complaint with the stoptech BBK on my M5). Obviously only a factor for street driven cars. That said, I pretty much only run PFC track compounds.

Personally, I wouldn't worry overly much about performance within the options your considering-- all will have awesome performance. I'd concern myself with wear item costs and desired pad compound availability, as you'll be paying for them again and again and again and again. Generally that means a commonly used pad shape and 2 pads per caliper. Larger pads last longer, thicker pads last longer, larger rotors last longer.
Thanks for the words, I wasn't really interested in a ST kit and the more I hear about them the less I want them. I'll be sure to look into the pad swap procedure(s) and wheel compatibility, I'd like to be able to fit 17s for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmaktabi View Post
I recommend this article as a MUST read for anyone considering a BBK. This is a real-world comparo on the e92 m3 platform. This was performed by an independent magazine not stoptech.

Search is ur friend.

http://www.stoptech.com/media-center...omparison-test

I would add couple of factors for your consideration as well:
- Are you sure you need a BBK?
1- If you have less than 20 days track time then stay away
2- Have you upgraded to race pads / fluid / lines / duct cooling before putting 5k+ on a BBK?
Few people NEED a bbk imo. I know stock brakes aren't awful for tracking, I currently run a stoptech kit with oe calipers (slotted rotors, ss lines, "street performance" pads, brembo 600) and I know more performance could be had on track with track pads. However, after spending enough time driving Porsches I know what brakes are supposed to feel like, and I would like to have the same confidence in the M3. There's too much pedal travel which makes it harder to heel toe under hard braking, and easier to accidentally stomp on the gas with my extended throttle pedal (size 14 shoes probably don't help). I've done <20 track days, somewhere around the 10+ range. A bbk might not be necessary but it certainly is a nice upgrade, and is something I would really appreciate every time I drive the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obioban View Post
Here are my complaints with stoptech:
1) There's no good street pad option
2) the finish on the calipers is crappy and fades quickly
3) pad knock back SUCKS-- and stoptech seems to suffer from it far more than any other BBK I've experienced
4) On the e46, a LOT more trimming is required for installation. Some of which is a big PITA. Not an issue for race cars, but for street cars where you're keeping the dust shields... very annoying.

I do think they have the slickest pad swap mechanism, though.
Good information. Again, I'm pretty sure I don't want to go with StopTech.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiXiS 18 View Post
I can run 17" Apex with my PFC Z45/355mm kit. No reason to get 328mm kit besides initial cost which will eventually be greater in the long run with slightly more frequent changes.
That's good to hear! I definitely want to keep the option to run 17s, as I'll for sure be running 17s at least in the winter. Can you comment on the pad swap difficulty and/or procedure for the PFCs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
PFC is indeed exceptional. I have their kit on my E92 and got another kit for a friend's Z4MC track car with 480whp. A really fast E92 (2:07 at WGI with R1 tires and TCK suspension, full weight) which belongs to a friend of mine also has their kit and it shrugged the abuse off as if it weren't there.

Its performance is absolutely excellent. I would definitely do it again.

Ignore the Z31 kit. This is the original monobloc kit. You want the Z45/31/29 setup.

The rear Z29 has a very small pad. I suggest the bigger setup if you don't want to be changing pads all the time.

Once the PFC 12 pads are bedded in they barely make noise, so now I no longer swap into my Zrated pads for street use.

I suggest you called Bimmerworld as they'll be able to help steer you in the right direction. If you dial extension 308 you'll get Phil which is who I usually work with.

I don't know if you can get any pads other than PFCs for their kits. I don't mind as I would only run their pads regardless. Archaic and complex bedding procedures are something I do not have patience for.

One thing I will say about PFC is that although their kit is second to none, they don't do replacements all that well. Do not expect to contact them a week before an event and get a new set of pads. I have a entire duplicate set of rotors and pads at home which is what I use when time is tight.
Interesting, again thanks for the info. So you find the PFC 12 pads adequate/acceptable for street use? I'll do a few track days a year, but most of the time driving the car will be on the street, so I want a good street setup that will work reasonably well in the cold. Doesn't BW stock their pads? I wouldn't have thought that would be a problem, but I don't suspect I'll be going through pads like crazy with only a few, maybe 5+ track days a year. I'd think I can buy pads/rotors far enough in advance that this won't be a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
I agree with the 'do you need' part. I tracked my E46M for 3 seasons with PFC DD rotors, pads and SS lines. It worked great.
However, I will say it is different to do 2:23 at WGI with the E46M than to do 2:13, or 2:07..

Ducting for a street car is not going to happen. It is an insane PITA.
Well, I don't NEED half the stuff I bought for the M3 (probably more). Do I want the benefits of a bbk? Yes. You can argue that I don't have enough experience to necessatate/enjoy the benefits of a full bbk, but I'd say that's BS. I've been spiritedly driving automobiles for years and I'm pretty sure I can appreciate a good set of brakes.


Thank you all for the feedback. At the moment it sounds like the 355mm Z45 kit is the way to go for the fronts, but I still obviously have some thinking/researching to do.
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Old Wed, Jul-27-2016, 04:58:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: Best BBK for E46 M3

Quote:
Originally Posted by BTB View Post

That's good to hear! I definitely want to keep the option to run 17s, as I'll for sure be running 17s at least in the winter. Can you comment on the pad swap difficulty and/or procedure for the PFCs?

Interesting, again thanks for the info. So you find the PFC 12 pads adequate/acceptable for street use? I'll do a few track days a year, but most of the time driving the car will be on the street, so I want a good street setup that will work reasonably well in the cold. Doesn't BW stock their pads? I wouldn't have thought that would be a problem, but I don't suspect I'll be going through pads like crazy with only a few, maybe 5+ track days a year. I'd think I can buy pads/rotors far enough in advance that this won't be a problem.

Well, I don't NEED half the stuff I bought for the M3 (probably more). Do I want the benefits of a bbk? Yes. You can argue that I don't have enough experience to necessatate/enjoy the benefits of a full bbk, but I'd say that's BS. I've been spiritedly driving automobiles for years and I'm pretty sure I can appreciate a good set of brakes.

.
Pad swap of the Z45 is incredibly easy. You remove a bridge, pop them out, done. I seem to recall the rear Z34 is a one piece caliper so you have to remove it, but rear pads wear at half the rate of fronts so you should be fine.

I'm driving my E92 with the PFC12 pads and cold bite is just fine and they squeal very little. I've had other brakes with track pads that would wake up the dead when coming to a stop, but that is not the case with the PFC12s.

I get 30 days out of the front pads so it is not something I swap often! BW does stock them, but the people who run this kit are very serious and seem to buy multiple at a time, so even BW runs out. I have not once had a oh shit moment but as I said, I keep spares at home.

I was not trying to discourage you from buying the PFC BBK. It is an exceptional kit and likely the most track oriented of anything you can buy. I do not 'need' the BBK either but it makes me very happy to brake with my big toe and outbrake whatever, and I mean whatever is in front of me. I have never once had knockback and the confidence to push the braking zones is huge.
I can use slicks and the brakes continue to respond exactly the same.
Another way to put it: a friend of mine comes from Barcelona to the US every year for a month of track days. I let him borrow one of my Ms and he, my brother and I do 9 track days together
He drove my E92 with the PFC kit one session, got out and wired 9k$ to my account for me to bring him a set in my next trip there. They are that good.

The PFC kit is a race kit though. Mine has some pad slap on the street.

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Discussing Best BBK for E46 M3 in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)