NTPOG Carbotech Panther Review

Author: William Howell

Overall Impressions
These brake pads work just as advertised, except for one small (big) detail. First, the good stuff. They provide tremendous braking power with much less pedal effort. I would estimate that I get about twice the braking power with only half the pedal effort. As far as performance is concerned, these pads are top-notch. The only complaint I have is the inordinate amount of dust. Carbotech advertises these pads as being low dusting. Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of low dusting, I think that maybe the dust a little worse than stock pads. WRONG! These things dust like crazy. After one day's worth of driving, I have the equivalent amount of dust that I got in one month's worth of driving on stock pads. The only other little thing (which is not a big deal to me), is that the pads do make more noise than stock. What I mean is that the pads squeal more, even with shims. It is the price you pay when upgrading to high performance (in this case, streetable RACE) pads. Overall, I would recommend these pads to autocrossers and road racers alike, who are looking for a streetable pad that really performs on the track. These pads are not for someone looking for a high performance street pad. The main problem that I have run into using these pads on the street is the brake dust. If the brake dust has never been wet, it is easily washed off with water and some detergent. However, if the brake dust gets wet and is allowed to dry on the wheel, it is almost impossible to remove. I have tried almost everything (at least everything that won't destroy the wheel's finish) to no avail. I just recently ordered another set of stock Honda pads that I will use on the street, and I will use the Panthers at the track. Here are some pictures of the Carbotech pads vs. the stock pads.


Installation Impressions
Carbotech supplies shims for both front and rear pads, but the pads were an exact replica of the stock pads (besides the lining) so I used the stock shims instead. Actually, the stock shims fit the Carbotech pads better than the supplied shims. I am not going to go over the install step by step, but here are a few tips. If you have never replaced brake pads before, buy the Helm's manual. It explains the process step by step. The front pads install like most disk brake pads. There were no surprises changing the fronts, although I would recommend a handy tool that you can buy at Sears that is made to compress caliper pistons. On the rear, however, instead of compressing the pistons, you have to turn the pistons with something (I used a large chisel, hey it's the only thing that was large enough to turn it) to compress them. Of course, when you compress the pistons in the calipers (front or rear), it is much easier to do if you loosen the bleed valve and let some of the excess fluid bleed out (this is not necessary). Be aware that if you loosen the bleed valves, you will need to bleed the brake system when you are done installing the pads. If you do not turn your rotors (it is usually not necessary), Carbotech recommends that you scrub the disk surface with a scrub pad and water. This supposedly gets rid of the glazing from the stock pads.

Performance Impressions
The pads when cold are a little slick. Almost like stopping with wet brakes. They heat up quickly, however, and once they are heated up they stop like mad!! For the street, the pads are perhaps a bit too noisy. However, on the track, the noise is not an issue. Dust is also a problem on the street, but I didn't notice any excessive dusting during the autocross.

The track performance of these pads is amazing. I felt like I was able to brake later before a turn, and I was able to control the car while braking harder. I didn't use ABS as much because the brakes are easier to modulate without using ABS with the Carbotech pads. During the time that I have used these pads, I have noticed that the rotors are much cleaner (I don't know any other way of describing it). The surface is much smoother and shinier. Larry at Carbotech told me that the Panthers do not glaze the rotors like the stock pads, so maybe that is what I was noticing. For track use, I am very happy with the Panther compound, but it is NOT suitable for street use. The pads are an excellent choice if you want tremendous braking power without having to replace rotors every couple of events.

I finally was able to clean my stock wheels using some wheel cleaner and A LOT of elbow grease. Afterward, I reinstalled some stock Honda pads. I use the Honda pads on the street and change the front pads for autocross use. Changing the pads at the track doesn't take very long since I have to take the wheels off anyway. I would estimate that it takes about 10 minutes to change the front pads alone. Performance has not diminished, and the pads grip like hell. Highly recommended to racers looking for a grippy pad that doesn't eat rotors for lunch. However, I still DO NOT recommend these pads for street use because of the extreme amount of dust that is generated by these pads.

This page last updated 4/3/01.