Baer’s new Drag Brake Kits cut 40 pounds from S550 Mustangs
Words by Cam Benty; Photos by Jonathan Ertz
Performance fans know power-to-weight is the magical ratio that makes slow cars fast and fast cars faster. So, reducing weight in today’s heavy muscle cars would seem like an obvious move, as long as safety and drivability are not compromised. Right?
The folks at Baer have an idea you probably didn’t know could be done: lightening the brake package on a late model Mustang, while improving the stopping power of the vehicle. Best of all, the install is a total bolt on — as long as you are clear on the rear end package on your specific vehicle.
So, how much lighter did this make our street/strip project Mustang? With the package we chose, the total rotating mass weight savings was 40.4 pounds (8.6 front, 31.8 rear). That’s a huge difference that makes terrific sense, especially for street/strip cars that must serve double duty. Note that Baer also offers a true Drag Brake front brake package that achieves an even deeper weight reduction over the factory system for owners who will spend more time at the track.
With the personal investment required to own and modify one of these modern machines already stratospheric, clearly Baer’s engineers worked hard to build something performance fans can appreciate across the board. And the price won’t break the bank!
The upgrade for late model S550 2015-17 Mustangs is quite simple to install, for anyone who has ever changed brake pads on their vehicle. It is simply a matter of properly supporting the car, removing the wheel, unbolting the caliper, pulling off the old rotor, and installing the new Baer parts with fresh brake pads. In the case of the rear brakes, where you are replacing the calipers, the brakes will need to be bled to remove air from the lines — another fairly normal operation for brake upgrades.
The Baer Brake systems for S550 Mustangs are direct replacements for the heavy stock parts. With drilled, slotted, and directionally specific (one side is different from the other) high-performance aftermarket brake parts, the zinc-plated rotors are far better at managing heat dissipation and deliver stunning good looks.
The front rotors we used here are Baer’s EradiSpeed+ made for late model GT and EcoBoost Mustangs. We selected this since it offers a significant reduction in weight and is designed for cars that will spend the majority of the driving time on the street.
The EradiSpeed+ rotor found in this article uses two-piece brake rotors that work with the factory four-piston Ford calipers. The mounting “hat” that attaches the rotor is made from anodized black 6061-T6 aluminum for its light weight and extreme durability. Measuring 14 inches in diameter, they are as cool appearing as they are a functional improvement. If you have plans to go with smaller than 17-inch wheels, it is important to check for clearance — and is generally not advisable.
The rear drag brake package not only includes an 11.625×0.810-inch wide directional rotor that matches the earlier noted package for looks and attributes, but also a Baer SS4+ four-piston caliper. The latter bolts onto the stock spindle, so no additional cutting, grinding, or welding is required. While the rotor slips in place over the wheel lugs, the brake caliper swap requires full bleeding of the brake system — aided by a bleed kit that Baer offers for at-home, do-it-yourself folks.
Added features that may not leap out at you, according to Baer, are the specially designed rotor vanes apparent when looking at the narrow side of the rotor. The directionally-vaned rotor structure acts like a centrifugal pump, aiding greatly in cooling and fast temperature recovery in repetitive stops. In addition, National Aerospace Standard rotor hardware makes these rotors amazingly safe, which is why they can withstand racing and everyday use.
One point to note is that the Baer rear SS4+ Drag Brake system is not compatible with the factory parking brake. It does, however, use a very common Hawk (#HB540F.480) brake pad very popular with street performance Mustang fans. In addition, brake calipers can be had in either clear (natural) or red coloration standard, or any of a rainbow of colors for an additional fee.
On the road
In testing, the Baer Brake upgrade provided excellent stopping and retained all of the factory anti-lock braking features Ford intended. The reduction of weight is significant, especially since it is rotational weight that is magnified at higher speeds — so this is an exponential improvement as speed increases. This also means there is less clamping force required by the caliper to stop the centrifugal force of the wheel due to the reduction in weight. While this is hard to discern from behind the wheel, the reduction of force will help reduce wear and should shorten braking distance.
Better braking and 40 pounds less weight – that sounds like a winning combination.
Front — (PN# 2261041) 14-inch rotor, front EradiSpeed+ Rotor
Rear — (PN# 4262695) 11.62-inch rotor, SS4+ Drag Race Brake System
Source: Baer Brakes, Baer.com