The Powerbrake Big Brake Kit Was Designed for Off-Roaders – It Features Billet Calipers Along with Race-Inspired Pads & Rotors
It all circles back to weight. How much weight are you adding to your rig and how hard are you pushing the limits within your braking system?
After a recent 2000-mile / 2-week trip through Colorado, Utah, and back to Sacramento, we realized just how important our braking system was. We were loaded with gear. Our 4Runner was pushing easily 1400lbs of weight. That’s just under 300lbs of the vehicle’s 1700lb payload rating.
Our newly mounted CVT Mt. Hood rooftop tent weighed in at over 200lbs alone (we have since sold it due to the weight). We were running a full-width steel bumper, full steel skid plates, winch, tire swing out, full-size spare 35″‘ tire, and much more.
Needless to say, the 4Runner was running heavy and the brakes were paying the price of the added weight. After countless Colorado grades, intense back-to-back trail systems, and wheeling up and down peaks every single day for 2-weeks straight, I could feel the brakes taking more pressure to get the job done.
Let’s back up a bit. Before we dive into the Powerbrakes, let’s find out how we got here.
Find Powerbrake Online:
- Powerbrake Big Brake Kit 5th Gen 4Runner: Check Price
The Powerbrake X-Line Big Brake Kit is compatible with the 2010-2022 model ranges.
Other Aftermarket Brakes
I ran a set of Powerstop Brakes a few years ago on my first 5th Gen 4Runner build and they left a bit to be desired. After traversing intense descents and braking hard on rocky terrain, our braking system started to reach extremely hot temperatures. Shortly after heating up the rotors and pads, we crossed a few freezing cold rivers almost in the dead of winter. After hitting those rivers, the rotors warped. Now, this wasn’t a life-or-death situation but the brakes did begin to judder upon braking at, or around the 30-50mph braking range with momentum from around 60-70mph. If you’ve never experienced brake judder, it makes for a pretty poor driving experience, to say the least.
I attribute the judder to warped discs from hard wheeling and the Powerstops not being able to handle extreme off-roading temperature swings. On-road, the brakes were great. Off-road, they didn’t live up to our expectations. With that said, I ended up going back to the factory brakes. The factory brakes on the 4Runner really are great. The four-piston cast calipers along with the factory pads and rotors are strong enough for most drivers out there.
After the Powerstops, I took my 4Runner back into the service center and said “throw brand new OE pads and rotors on”. I didn’t want to deal with aftermarket brakes again until I was certain that a brand could live up to the demands we put our brakes through. That was about 4 years ago on another build.
Upgrade Factory Brakes?
Fast forward to the present day and my recent 2000+ mile road trip. Even though the factory brakes on the 4Runner are great, they just aren’t good enough to keep up with the demand that we put them through with all the loaded weight on our rigs.
I know some will argue this point but when you’re loading 1000+ lbs of constant weight on your rig, the braking system will get much hotter much faster with all that weight. When brakes get hotter than they’re expected to get, the compounds in the pads will fade faster, that is a fact. Once your pads start to fade, a reduction in stopping power will occur. Once you lose stopping power, you start putting yourself and others on the road at risk.
After multiple descents down harsh grades, the factory brakes on Jade (our current 2016 4Runner) started to scream. The pedal response and ultimately the effectiveness of our brakes started to decline over a 10-day period. The brakes were getting really hot. I genuinely felt bad for my rig that I was riding her so hard. I could feel the brake fade and reduced brake performance by the time I came down from the grades in Colorado and into Utah.
It was taking longer to slow the rig and was requiring more pedal effort. I was hammering on the brakes to get my loaded rig to fully stop. Jade was top-heavy, rear heavy, loaded with un-sprung rotational 35″ of shear M/T mass, and boy… she was NOT happy. I started to leverage the lower gears down the grades in order to preserve my brakes but the crew I was with was pushing 75mph the whole time. I just couldn’t keep up.
I was hard on the gas and even harder on the brakes.
This is when I knew I was ready for a big brake kit. Something that could keep up with my rig on a simple 10-day trip loaded with gear traveling through the mountains up and down steep grades.
Weight Is the Enemy
The growing off-road and overland market has created a large demand for well-engineered, big brake upgrade solutions. A large majority of the off-road community will outfit their trucks with roof-top tents, full-width steel bumpers, long-range fuel tanks, water tanks, additional battery systems, drawer storage systems, additional spare wheel/tire packages, and more. The list really keeps going. Guys are building heavy rigs… almost too heavy for what they’re actually intended for.
All of these accessories significantly increase vehicle weight, which negatively affects brake performance and results in longer stopping distances. Larger tires are also becoming increasingly popular on our rigs which add lots of rotational mass.
As you know, larger tires weigh a lot more than factory tires. We’re talking upwards of 60-75lbs a tire (depending on the tire size). This additional rotational mass in adding 70lbs+ per tire on a set of 35 x 12.5″ tires for example, severely affects brake performance, leading to increased stopping distances.
Even if you’re running the lightest forged wheels on the market, you’re still in the red on the weight gains from larger tires; especially if you’re running a full-size spare loaded with air, mounted on a spare (I didn’t mean to rhyme that well).
What’s the point, Brenan? For the umpteenth time, weight is the enemy.
But, weight is inevitable when building these rigs, so upgraded big brakes designed to handle the weight is the best logical next step.
Big Brake Kits
In addition to all the weight we add, we’re also adding more power; intakes, exhaust systems, superchargers, coil packs, etc. More power equates to a faster rig, and a faster rig eventually needs to stop. When our trucks start moving at fast speeds with a nearly maxed payload rating and need to stop, it results in increased brake temperatures, ultimately brake fade, and will degrade much faster than a stock weight vehicle.
Why Big Brakes?
They might just save your life. I know it sounds dramatic but they really are the difference between life or death for some. If you’re pulling extensive road trips up and down intense grades, your factory brakes will suffer, and you’re potentially putting yourself, your family, and others on the road at risk. When you add more weight, you need better brakes, period. They are just as important as the weight in mods you have installed. They compliment each other and it should not go unnoticed.
Big brakes deliver significantly improved braking system performance, reduce brake fade and vastly improve pedal feel and modulation. The performance gains achieved when outfitting your rig with a big brake kit vastly outweigh the benefits that can be achieved from the factory rotors and pads. A big brake kit is going to give you a larger braking system (large 350-370x34mm rotors, 6-piston calipers vs. 4-piston calipers, and larger pads), a better braking pad/rotor compound, and so much more. Big brakes provide big stopping power, better heat dissipation, and an increase in the braking system’s life expectancy. These are brakes you can depend on.
Now, what brand of big brake should you choose? With so many options on the market, it should be easy, right? Not really.
Let’s look at Powerbrake and determine why they are THE off-road Toyota 4×4 race application of choice in South Africa and continue to grow in North America. These brakes will take market share from companies like Wilwood, and below, I am going to tell you why.
They were designed for off-road use. Period.
The majority of the kits on the market are not designed for intense off-road and extreme 4×4 applications.
Powerbrake, on the other hand, has specifically designed this braking system for extreme off-road 4×4 use. Their civilian X-Line 4×4 big brake kits (street + trail) feature direct technology transfer from their R-Line (competition race) off-road race brake systems that have been used by professional Toyota racing teams on Hilux trucks in the infamous Dakar Race Rally. The Dakar Rally, first held in 1978–79, covers up to 9,300 miles and is considered among the most grueling in race truck rally events. Just watch this video, insane.
The Powerbrake off-road race brake systems have proven themselves time and again in conditions ranging from the scorching deserts of South America, the Middle East, and Africa to the snow-covered forests of Europe and the fast gravel tracks of Mongolia. Powerbrake has supplied their 4×4 big brake kits to customers in over 25 countries and the kits have earned a staggeringly impressive reputation for performance and durability.
If you’re looking for the highest quality off-road-focused brake kit, look no further. Powerbrake is the market leader in many other countries outside of the USA and is quickly gaining traction here in the states.
These big brake kits were designed through deep involvement and collaboration in international off-road racing. The exact same technology, features, and materials found in the Dakar Rally winning R-Line can be found in the civilian X-Line 4×4 big brake kits. When they claim “direct technology transfer” from their race to their civilian brake systems, they mean it.
Powerbrake Big Brake Kit Options (Stage 1 Vs. Stage 2)
Powerbrake offers two kit options: Stage-1 and Stage-2
Both kits feature the exact same X-Line 6-piston off-road calipers, caliper mounting brackets, high-performance brake pads, and stainless-steel braided brake lines. The only difference between the Stage-1 and Stage-2 kits is the rotors.
- Stage-1 Rotors: 350x34mm (13.7″) 1-piece with 48 x directional cooling vanes
- Stage-2 Rotors: 350x34Tmm (13.7″) 2-piece floating disc assemblies with 72 x directional cooling vanes
Their Stage-2 kit takes the disc technology a step further and is the closest you can get to a Dakar Rally ready braking system.
Brake Pad Compounds
Powerbrake PB01 Compound (supplied as standard)
The PB01 compound is a high-friction, low-met material. It is a very well-balanced high-performance pad that offers a high friction coefficient and good fade resistance in 4×4 overland and general off-road applications. Pad wear life is good and the pad runs smooth and quiet for a performance pad at this level. The PB01 friction material surfaces are scorched at the factory during a process that significantly reduces the on-car bed-in time required. We supply our PB01 pad compound with all X-Line 4×4 big brake kits (both Stage-1 and Stage-2) unless the customer chooses to option-up to our PB05 pad compound below (at additional cost).
Powerbrake PB05 Compound (optional upgrade)
Our PB05 compound is in our opinion the very best pad compound on the world market for 4×4 overland vehicles. This ultra-high-performance material offers a further step up in performance and fade resistance over our PBO1 compound. Stopping power, pedal feel, and modulation are simply unmatched when opting for the PB05 compound. For the additional cost of around 8% over the base price of a (Stage-1) X-Line 4×4 big brake kit, we highly recommend this upgrade option. In addition to its class-leading performance, this pad compound will offer a longer wear life than our PB01 compound as well.
Machined Billet Aluminum 4×4 Calipers
These calipers are unlike anything you’ve seen on the market.
They are likely one of the lightest aftermarket calipers offered for the 4Runnner and Tacoma in today’s big brake kit market. They feature a stunning red anodizing finish pictured here but they are also offered in a hard anodizing as well. That finish is more of a gunmetal grey. Both color options feature laser-etched “Powerbrake” logos along with the manufacturing data and part number information on the other side. When you hold these calipers, you will be blown away by the quality.
Heat Temperature Monitoring Calipers
The calipers feature a built-in heat measuring system that no other caliper on the market has. Powerbrake calls it their “Maximum Temperature Recording (MTR) System” and this system provides a permanent record of the maximum operating temperature reached by the caliper. Powerbrake originally integrated this on their R-Line (race series) calipers for championship racing and has since integrated this same technology into X-Line calipers.
The MTR provides valuable data to support brake fluid choice, pad choice, and other braking component changes. The Max Temp Recording system is unique to Powerbrake. No one else features this technology on their big brake kits or any brake kits for that matter.
Heat Temperature Monitoring Rotors
The rotors also feature a built-in maximum temperature recording system. Each color of the rotor markings will change to a certain color depending on the max operating temperature reached by the rotor. This helps provide you with the feedback you need to better determine which pads are best suited for your specific needs.
Recessed Bleeder Valves
Powerbrake calipers feature recessed bleeder nipples on both the outboard and inboard sides of the caliper. These are designed to stay tucked safely behind billet walls so that they don’t get damaged from rocks and debris when wheeling hard and driving fast.
Stainless Steel Brake Lines & Banjo Fittings
The supplied brake line hoses are very nice. I was particularly impressed with the banjo fittings and the hardware used to assemble the whole brake line itself.
After researching the company, and then installing these brakes, I am confident that Powerbrake is going to be the industry leader when it comes to off-road and overland big brake kits in the USA. Powerbrake is already the industry leader in many other countries, it’s just a matter of time before the majority of our market; Tacoma, 4Runner, Tundra, GX, and FJ realize just how powerful this braking system really is.
We have a full step-by-step installation guide dropping soon.