Anodized Radi-CAL Competition Brake Kits

“Radi-CAL” is a blanket term used to describe AP Racing’s patented asymmetrical brake caliper design. Radi-Cal technology is grounded in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA), and allows for organic, alien-looking designs that are a radical departure from conventional caliper designs of the past. Calipers leveraging the Radi-CAL design philosophy are widely considered the pinnacle of current brake caliper technology. Since their inception in 2007, these revolutionary calipers have amassed a lengthy string of race victories at all levels of professional motorsport, while redefining brake performance expectations. Please click here for the AP Racing Radi-CAL story.

While our standard Essex Designed AP Racing Competition Brake Kits remain an excellent choice for chasing lap times, our Radi-CAL Competition Brake Kits bring the bleeding edge of racing brake technology to the common enthusiast. These systems include all of the standard features of our Competition BBK's, but leverage AP Racing's Pro5000R Radi-CAL's to increase stiffness, lower mass, and optimize cooling and wheel fitment.

The key benefits of the Radi-CAL design are:

  • Massive Stiffness Increase- A 30+ % increase in both static and dynamic stiffness allows for far less deflection under load, which means superior pedal feel & modulation, more even pad wear, and longer caliper service life.
  • Considerable Mass Reduction- Removing all extraneous caliper mass lowers the caliper weight, despite the huge stiffness increases.
  • Optimized Airflow- Air moves around and through the caliper more efficiently, providing superior heat evacuation.
  • Efficient Packaging- The wide, asymmetric caliper profile and internal porting allows the caliper to fit into tighter spaces.

Hard Anodized Finish

The first obvious weakness when looking at a typical aftermarket caliper is the finish. Most aftermarket calipers come in a painted finish, whether they are red, black, or gold. That painted finish is designed to look pretty and prevent corrosion in harsh winter environment. Unfortunately, for all of the compliments painted calipers generate, there is an associated price if you drive the car in a track environment. That price is the chipping, flaking, fading, color shift, and general degradation of that finish in a fairly short period of time. Some OEM calipers can go from the as-delivered color to a nasty shade of brown in as little as one weekend. While this is typically worn as a badge of honor among our more hardcore customers, let’s face it…they still look terrible. More importantly however, all of those bits of paint end up in places they’re not supposed to, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Why does this happen? Heat. Paint and powder coat cannot adequately handle track temperatures. Powder coat also has some notorious issues with shrinkage. The powder coat layer expands and grows when the caliper is heated. When it cools, the powder coat doesn’t necessarily shrink in step with the caliper body itself. What’s left is a loose shell of finish hanging limply on the caliper body. That shell then cracks and falls to pieces.

Paint can also have similar issues depending on how it is applied. If you were to line up a few aftermarket calipers from the same manufacturer, you would likely see that the painted finish on each of those calipers is slightly different. Some have a thicker coat, some thinner, slightly different shades of red, etc. Painting is to some extent an art form, and must be performed in a tightly controlled environment. If it isn’t, you’re always going to see variation. A thick coat makes the part look soft around the edges, and is prone to cracking off in the same manner as the powder coat described above, leaving the underlying finish exposed. A part without enough paint will look uneven, and will not protect the underlying aluminum particularly well either. In addition to problems with cracking, flaking, and uneven application, paint and powder coat also experience extreme color shift when heated. Red becomes maroon or black, gold becomes brown, and black just gets uglier.

The calipers we are using in the Essex Radi-CAL Competition Kits are ultra-lightweight, stiff, and durable under all track conditions. The finish is a hard anodizing, which is the business under track conditions. When raw aluminum reacts with the oxygen in the air, a hard surface film develops on aluminum which prevents further degradation. The process is called oxidation, and you can think of it like rust. The anodizing process leverages this natural phenomenon, and takes it a step further to produce an extremely hard protective layer of aluminum oxide on the aluminum. It does so by running an electrical current through an acid bath, and dying it to the desired color. If you want to know more, Google it.

The result is a finish that is far more appropriate for racetrack use. Anodizing creates a uniform surface that is much more abrasion resistant than paint or powder coat. That means if you ding an anodized caliper with a box wrench when bleeding it, a big chunk of the finish isn’t going to chip off into your hand. While anodized calipers will still exhibit color shift, it will take a lot more heat to get them to change, and they won’t change as dramatically. More importantly though, you aren’t going to have bits of anodizing sticking to the sides of your pistons.




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