Monoblock caliper

A new concept of brake caliper that, over the years, would revolutionise the braking systems first of cars and then of motorbikes.

Brembo monoblock calipers are an example of the maximum performance level that can be reached by a motorbike caliper. Another solution first introduced by Brembo, thanks to its amazing ability for innovation.

It all began in the late 1980s, in Brembo’s racing department. There was an on-going dialogue between the various designers (working on both products and processes), with no lack of mutual spurring and competitive spirit. And it was in that context that the workshop head (a brilliant technician who’s an expert in NC machines and who, just a few years earlier and despite the limited resources available at that time, had managed to apply the machining from solid method to produce the semi-loaded calipers that made up the 2-piece calipers supplied to the F1 teams) decided to move the limit of his own creativity and the company’s innovation capacity up another few notches,

Our man went to see the engineers and offered them another challenge: to design a monoblock caliper - an inconceivable solution even for the most daring minds because of the huge production difficulties.

The designer engineers were all too well aware of the benefits of a caliper obtained from a single block of metal: compared with a caliper made from two pieces joined with screws, this type would guarantee greater stiffness and reduced weight. At the same time, it wouldn’t suffer the problems caused by the differing hot thermal dilation between the aluminium of the semi-loaded calipers and the steel of the fixing screws. It was a fascinating solution that could produce exceptional braking performance, but it was considered infeasible: machining the inside of a caliper with the tools available at that time was a challenge bordering on the impossible.

With a multitude of doubts and some secret hopes, the engineers finally took up the challenge and agreed to design the first monoblock caliper.

The task was a daunting one but, yet again, the perseverance and genius of those involved meant that the first monoblock caliper finally emerged in 1987. And, already the following year, it made its very first appearance in Formula 1. A result that gave Brembo a significant competitive advantage over its competitors.

There was a long way to go though, from Formula 1 to the World Championship Grand Prix. The reduced dimension of the motorbike calipers compared with those used in Formula 1 made the machining of the inside of the caliper even more complicated. The main problem lay in producing a tool of the right size to enter the “pocket” (the seat of the 2 brake pads) of the caliper, and that could machine the piston seats. It took various years of studies and tests to overcome this stumbling block, not to mention the use of special solutions from the clock-making world. After a lot of hard work, Brembo finally came up with the first monoblock brake caliper for motorbikes towards the end of 1992, once again ahead of all the rest.

The first trials on the track were carried out with the Yamaha 500 of Wayne Rainey and Luca Cadalora at Phillip Island during some private tests in January 1993. They continued throughout the pre-championship winter tests, with various teams. In the opening race, at Eastern Creek in Australia on 28th March 1993, the first to use the monoblock caliper on the track were the Hondas of Mick Doohan and Daryl Beattie, along with Doug Chandler’s Cagiva. Yamaha waited until the third race, in Suzuka, before adopting them once and for all. The first track victory came three races later, with the German GP in Hockenheim, where Daryl Beattie won the very first motorbike race with a monoblock caliper.

For the fine tuning of products that will subsequently be used on street bikes, the track experience is fundamental for Brembo. That’s why it took another 13 years, until 2006, before the monoblock brake caliper was fitted on a production motorbike as original equipment.

So the story of the monoblock caliper is a 20-year saga - a true professional adventure that finally enabled Brembo to disprove the umpteenth taboo.