Motorcycle Brake Rotors Buying Guide

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Motorcycle Brake Rotors Buying Guide

No other section of a motorcycle requires more scrutiny than the braking system. Several parts coordinate to slow down motorcycle wheels to stop at intersections and prevent riders from crashing into wayward automobiles. Central to a motorcycle braking system are brake pads, which provide the force to slow down rotors. In turn, motorcycle rotors cause the two wheels to come to a halt. Any component within a motorcycle braking system that begins to break down causes potentially life-threatening injuries to riders, but the condition of the pads and rotors demand extra attention.

The constant use of the components in a motorcycle brake system means parts break down at a faster rate than other parts on a bike. Motorcycle owners have a number of options for replacing brake rotors. They can visit motorcycle shops and discuss new rotor options with trained professionals or go online and find used rotors from avid motorcyclists on eBay. Before they make a purchasing decision, motorcycle owners should first learn more about motorcycle brake rotors, the two primary types of rotors, the type of driving for which each one is best suited, and the factors involved in coming to a brake rotor purchasing decision.

Motorcycle Brake Rotors Overview

Despite numerous design and mechanical differences, motorcycles and automobiles share some operational similarities, especially when it comes to braking systems. As with a car brake rotor, a motorcycle brake rotor spins in the same direction of the wheel. When the rider applies the brake, the brake pads squeeze the rotor to prevent the wheel from spinning. However, while car brake systems simultaneously slow or stop the rotors on all four wheels, the front and rear brakes on a motorcycle function independently. Motorcycle riders hand operate the front and rear brakes to slow and stop the rotors on each brake. The front brake tends to do a better job of quickly stopping rotors from spinning than the rear brakes. Most motorcycle manufacturers consider brake rotors to be one of the most important safety features on a motorcycle.

Drilled Brake Rotors

Manufacturers produce drilled brake rotors by drilling tiny holes into the rotor surface. This means the rotor possesses less surface area for the brake pads to squeeze, and hence, stop the motorcycle. The design appears to be counterproductive, since the more area to grab, the better the braking performance. Yet, drilled brake rotors have a few advantages that should entice motorcycle enthusiasts to choose the rotors for their bikes. The following chart lists the advantages and disadvantages of drilled brake rotors.


Allows the heat caused by friction to escape

Eliminates gas build up between brake rotor and pad

Quickly removes water collected from puddles


Can weaken rotors over time

Rotors can crack, which reduces lifespan

Most street bikes come with drilled brake motors to remove the heat, gas, and water that can degrade the braking system. Since motorcycle rotors are much more visible than car brake rotors, the drilled holes add a touch of style to the bike's design. A growing number of custom motorcycle shops are employing decorative drilling to design their bikes.

Slotted Brake Rotors

Motorcycle manufacturers carve slots into the rotor's flat metal surface. The slots also remove heat, gas, and water from the braking system, but not at the same rate as drilled brake rotors. However, the slots, which are larger than the holes drilled into a drilled brake rotor, remove more water. This feature is especially important when riders drive through heavy rain. Since slotted brake rotors are more durable than their drilled counterparts, they are the preferred type of motorcycle rotor for performance riders. The downside of slotted brake rotors is that they tend to wear down brake pads rather quickly, which makes slotted rotors inappropriate for commutes and other types of riding that require frequent stops.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Motorcycle Brake Rotors

Because of the constant pressure exerted by brake pads, motorcycle brake rotors typically represent one of the first parts on a motorcycle that requires replacement. On most motorcycle models, bikers can follow a few simple directions and have their new rotor properly secured to the braking system. The problem does not lie in replacing motorcycle brake rotors, but finding the right replacement part. Bikers have several factors to consider before they commit to a specific type of motorcycle brake rotor.


For years, motorcycle experts strongly encouraged riders to replace any part on their machines with parts produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). They premised their advice on compatibility issues, especially from brake parts that must seamlessly integrate into a properly functioning unit. As manufacturers began to develop motorcycle parts using the same technology and logistics, the OED argument has diminished in validity. Motorcycle owners may be able to find aftermarket brake rotors for their bikes that provide the same features as the OEM rotor. For instance, a rotor produced by Kawasaki may work well when replacing a rotor on a Yamaha bike.


The desire to save some cash on motorcycle replacement parts leads some owners to consider used parts. While this works for mostly cosmetic parts, such as a protective frame, motorcycle owners should only consider new brake rotors to replace ones that have fallen into disrepair. Motorcycle rotors need to possess durable materials for the pads to grip for quickly stopping the bike. Rotors that have defects or warp in any way may cause braking issues. Saving a few pounds on a replacement rotor can place motorcycle riders in danger of becoming involved in serious accidents. Moreover, many insurance companies inquire about the condition of the more important safety protection parts on a motorcycle.

Breaker Yards

Breaker yards can be fertile shopping grounds for finding nearly mint condition motorcycle brake rotors. Motorcyclists who cause irreparable damage to other sections of the bike often find ways to recoup some of their losses by selling the damaged bikes to breaker yards. For instance, a biker may choose to sell a motorcycle that possesses an inoperable engine to earn money on the parts of the bike that function properly. Be sure to thoroughly examine a brake rotor on any motorcycle found in a breaker yard before making a buying decision.

Motorcyclist Community

The motorcycling community is considered one of the tightest knit groups. Organised over road trips and consumer education classes promote the different ways bikers network in the motorcycle community. Motorcycle owners can find numerous brake rotor options by just conferring with members of the motorcycle clubs and organisations. Members may have spare rotors for sale that they kept after retiring a bike or fellow bikers can refer someone who needs a motorcycle part to a local shop or another member of the motorcycle community.

Brick and Mortar

The most significant advantage to buying a motorcycle brake rotor in person is to reap the knowledge of professionals who understand motorcycle design and construction. For instance, a motorcycle sales professional knows the type of rotor to recommend and which company produces the best rotor. The professionals also determine if other components of a bike brake system require replacement. In addition, shopping in person allows buyers to feel the rotor for warping or other imperfections.


The Internet continues to grow as a viable option for buying merchandise. This is especially true of motorcycle parts. Buyers can peruse numerous Web portals that offer new or used motorcycle brake rotors. The key is to find sellers that offer physical proof of a rotor's condition and provide secure ways to consummate transactions. The physical proof comes in the form of a rotor photograph that allows buyers to analyse for imperfections or defects. Motorcycle owners who want to buy a brake rotor online should consider one of the leading ecommerce shops, eBay.

How to Buy Motorcycle Brake Rotors on eBay

eBay provides motorcycle rotor buyers with the widest selection of sellers who offer high-quality rotors at affordable prices. All you have to do is utilise eBay's search engine to reduce the number of search results and shorten the length of time you spend on an eBay search. The search engine helps you pinpoint the brake rotor seller who matches your shopping criteria. For instance, you can type "Harley Davidson parts" or "Suzuki parts" to shop for brake rotors by brand. You can also specify by components of the braking system. Whatever search terms you use, the goal is to ensure that you find the right brake rotor for your bike.

The major difference between eBay and other online shops is your ability to examine product photographs of the rotor for sale. You can search for dents and scratches that indicate wear and even detect minor warping. eBay sellers also provide important buying information on their product pages that include accepted payment methods and delivery terms. Search for rotor sellers who have short turnaround times of less than one week. Review the customer feedback that eBay places on seller product pages. Consider sellers who have earned sterling reputations over the past year for selling new or used motorcycle parts.


There may be nothing more exhilarating than moving over the open road on a first-rate motorcycle. Yet, the thrilling rides can take a turn for the worse if the bike's braking system fails. Motorcycle manufacturers produce intricate braking systems to ensure safety. At the heart of the braking system's safety features is the rotor, the part that coordinates with the brake pad and wheels to prompt the bike to come to a timely stop. Motorcycle owners who must replace their brake rotors typically decide between drilled or slotted rotors, and which rotor they choose often depends on the type of riding environment.

Motorcyclists can find great rotor bargains at breaker yards, where owners offer virtually brand new parts that come from bikes that have been irreparably damaged. Breaker yard owners are more likely than motorcycle shop owners to negotiate on price. Buyers have to decide whether to buy rotors produced by the original manufacturer or aftermarket rotors made by a competitor. The uniformity of motorcycle assembly lines means aftermarket rotors may be an affordable way to find a replacement part. Shopping for a replacement rotor can also be conducted online at eBay, where buyers and sellers meet from the comfort of their homes. Brake rotor buyers just need to know what to look for in a rotor before they make their eBay purchasing decisions.

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