Kettle Cycles SiCCC carbon fiber ceramic mountain bike brake rotors

When Kettle Cycles fired up their Kickstarter campaign for their ultra lightweight SiCCC rotors, I salivated. The Silicon Carbide, Carbon Fiber and Ceramic mix promised excellent heat dissipation and fade free performance alongside major gram savings.

It’s an enticing proposition, for sure, and they absolutely meet their weight goals. The two 160mm rotors I received both came in at exactly 55g each. That’s about half what a typical steel or steel/alloy rotor tips in at, so we’re off to a good start. Now that I have a little over a hundred trail miles on them, are they meeting the performance claims?


Kettle Cycles SiCCC carbon fiber ceramic mountain bike brake rotors

The rotors come packaged with instructions indicating the proper torque measurements and fair warning that you may hear some crunching noises as you tighten the bolts…and that those noises are OK. The upper end of the torque limit isn’t terribly high, but it was enough to make the rotors mount securely to the new Industry Nine Torch hubs.

Kettle Cycles SiCCC carbon fiber ceramic mountain bike brake rotors

Construction and details all look good. No fraying or unsightly carbon panels. Just consistent woven carbon fiber. Installation is straightforward, and I heard minimal “crunching” as I tightened the bolts up to 4nm, the recommended max. Once the wheels were on the bike, they were fairly straight, but there was a bit of rubbing on both front and rear. I have no problem mashing a metal rotor into shape, but with these, I used a delicate touch to try to bend them. The effort was not successful, but the rotors did feel solid. There were no creaking, cracking or crunching noises that sounded like a hundred bucks flushing down the toilet.

So, they’re installed with a slight rubbing in a few spots, but it’s not really noticeable when riding.


Kettle Cycles SiCCC carbon fiber ceramic mountain bike brake rotors

The key to getting the best performance from these is a proper bed in. Above, you can see the a glaze starting for form on the contact surface. Note the splotchy “transfer film” gloss…that means it’s not completely bedded in. You want a consistent, smooth glaze over the entire braking surface.

I started with brand new CL Brakes VX Sintered Metallic pads. Kettle Cycles co-founder Aaron Stephens says they’ve found Magura’s metallic Endurance pads to work very well with them, and the general word on the street is that metallic pads are the way to go here.

This photo was taken after several parking lot slow-downs and about 10 miles on a XC loop with intentional brake dragging and slowing. At this point, braking was no where near what most people would consider safe, but it was improving. Aaron warned me the bed in process could take much longer than with metal rotors. He wasn’t joking.

The front squealed pretty bad, the rear only slightly less. As a test, I swapped in SwissStop Disc 30 organic pads in the front and things actually improved and got quieter. I had a bit more bite. Over time, the squealing has all but stopped on both ends of the bike.

Kettle Cycles SiCCC carbon fiber ceramic mountain bike brake rotors

After several more rides topped off with ~53 miles of solo effort at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, the brakes are about where they’re likely to stay with the current setup. That is to say about 70% to 80% of the bite/grabbiness of what most of us are used to.

And that’s OK.

Aaron says the idea was to offer consistent braking performance and let the brakes handle the modulation, not the rider. Most of us are used to modulating the brakes and expect to be able to lock ’em up on demand. Unless I’m riding on peat gravel, there’s just about no way I’m locking up my rear wheel right now. Nose wheelies? Forget it. Instead, I’m grabbing more brake than I’m used to and slowing down slightly less. Oh Sh!t stops are all but impossible.

But, that’s the idea, actually. Aaron says they found that they and others were faster overall and able to maintain traction and control better than if the wheels locked up. My take? I haven’t crashed yet, and I do seem to be letting myself flow through corners faster. At first that was because the brakes simply weren’t slowing me down as much, but as a result I’ve learned to take the corners a bit faster. There have been a few scary higher-speed-than-I-would-have-liked turns, but things worked out fine.


Currently, there are customers that love the way they work and those that want more immediate grab. In hindsight, Aaron admits that getting the majority of riders to change the way they brake (or trusting their brakes to do all the modulation) is a tall order. So, they’re working on SiCCC brake pads as well, which would give your bike the same set up as race cars and provide the “bite” most riders want.

They’ve been testing them for a while, having to dial back the bite through different mixes of the components, and are in production now. They’ll offer pads for virtually every current brakeset eventually, and all major systems (Avid, Shimano, Magura, TRP, etc.) should be available for their top models very soon. Retail price isn’t set yet, but they should be similar to Shimano pad pricing for aftermarket orders. Those who backed their Kickstarter campaign or have purchased rotors recently will be offered a one-time “substantial” discount on a set of pads. We should be getting our own set in for testing shortly after Sea Otter.

If someone else hopped on my bike they’d probably crap themselves the first time they hit the brakes. But I was able to ease myself into them, and now I’m rather enjoying them. That said, they’re on my XC bike. I’m wary of taking them to the big mountains. At least until we get the SiCCC pads in…

Stay tuned!


  1. Silicone Carbide is the ‘hot poop’ of the exotic car industry – these guys are sure to be onto something. They have already hit a homerun on weight savings!



  2. Is there any indication that the initial bite is going to improve? Any info for those of us who love the larger rotors and nose wheelies?? At 180lbs without gear and a penchant for razing trees and rocks on my trail bike: am I more or less likely to die while riding these versus the Maguras I have now??

  3. Would there be any difference with respect to brake? Just wondering if there’d be any difference on say a BB7 Road (mechanical)?

  4. I’ve had mine on for a week, they seem to be a hair thicker than what I had and I also have a little rub front/rear. One of my pet peaves is to have rub and it annoys me that they can’t manufacture these perfectly flat.

    I did the recommended break in, jog pace, slow but not stop repeats for about 10 minutes and then went into the woods a couple times. I had a little squeel at first but it quickly went away. Breaking improved a lot over the first hour after they got the glaze layer.

    I used semi metalic jagwire mountain pro pads. I raced this past weekend and never gave a though to the additional brake effort needed although for certain it was there. I could slow when I needed to even at a warp-speed corner at the bottom of a rockin descent.


  5. I’ve been running mine for more than a month now. At first after break-in they were a little scary, but it was good practice for learning to turn my bike!

    Now I don’t even think twice, they work great. I also am experiencing the rubbing front and rear which is a bummer since my Shimano ICE rotors were spot on perfect and never made a sound.

    I am running XTRs with the metallic pads which I installed new with the 160mm rotors.

    I am considering a second set.

  6. My take (although I have not even seen these in person, let alone ridden them): a huge longevity advantage – no more bent rotors post a crash. Similar advantage being seen in carbon rims. The material properties of carbon allow it to ‘bounce’ back once deformed. (Disadvantage if the product does not start ‘perfectly’ round/flat/true.)

  7. I do plan on testing these in the Avid BB7 mechs and probably Formula brakes as well. Will report back once some miles are on them with those calipers. And with the new pads.

    Also, forgot to mention in the post, the rotors will need to be cleaned with acetone to remove the transfer train prior to swapping in the SiCCC pads. They’re looking at alternative cleaning methods, too, since acetone apparently isn’t available easily in some countries.

    One other local racer has them and likes them, too. My general impression at the moment is that they’re great for XC racing as long as you give yourself adequate time to bed them in and get accustomed to their performance.

  8. Brakes are rubbing, and give less stopping power and it’s ok? Ashima’s new Ai2 rotors are just 10g’s heavier, way less expensive, and don’t sacrifice braking performance. I’m sorry, but I’d rather not skimp on my rotors to save a few grams at the expense of not being able to slow properly.


  9. I did the kickstarter campaign and weight was not the primary motivation. I’m converting to disc for CX and was looking for durability to impacts and the lack of venting holes (which current theory is the reason people were going through sets of pads in a single race in WI).

    Based on dry performance this past weekend they offer more than enough stopping power, need to put them through the paces in mud/wet before making the final call. I’d like them to be perfectly flat for the $’s.


  10. I put a set of these (180/160) on my bike with XT brakes. With the metallic pads I had, these rotors were downright dangerous, and even after ~100 miles of trail riding hadn’t gotten substantially better. After switching to resin pads (as they recommend), they are much quieter and stronger than they were, but are still not as strong as I’d like. Maybe they’d feel better if i’d bedded them in with resin pads from the start, maybe not. If you’re planning on using these with shimano brakes I’d go ahead and put in some resin pads from the beginning.

  11. Leave the modulation to the brakes? Other wheeled forms of transport need complicated ABS systems for that, this sounds like a cop-out to me. Want to learn to corner faster? Yeah, crappy brakes will do that. So will riding a single speed. I have spent enough years riding with crappy brakes, I like having the power on tap when I get into trouble — and as someone who threshold brakes hard and late, I find myself appreciating being able to bring the front tire right to the threshold at least a few times per ride. This product sounds like a crap sandwich that has been well marketed, definitely not for me. For all you gram-counting roadies that just ride your brakes down every descent while MTB’ing anyway, have at ’em.

  12. There’s more than just weight savings to be had. If Kettle Cycles’ claims are true, thermal capacity, conductivity, and emissivity are better than standard metallic rotors, leading to better brake performance when the competition heats up. No warping, minimal heat transfer to other brake components, and faster cooling. Let’s not be so negative of a new product that they are still perfecting with new pads.

  13. I weigh in at 210+ pds AND ride in the mountains so I’ll definitely wait until “other” people test them for me before I pop for a set ! 😉

  14. @Samuel J., exactly. I “left the modulation to the brakes” when I installed 35 inch tires on my jeep and kept the stock brakes. I can no longer lock up the brakes and I learned to corner faster too…until I realized I have to start braking earlier. Braking earlier does not equal faster.

    I was really excited about these, but the reduced braking power has made them a no go for me. If I wanted to reduce braking power I could go back to cantis….

  15. Why should we (the customers) have to do the R&D work and find pads that work? If these things won’t do a nose wheelie with standard pads, then they should provide pads that do work or they should have some major warnings with them when you buy them. Trying to flip it around and make poor performance seem like a “modulation feature” is ridiculous. Come on guys, you aren’t Steve Jobs.

  16. With a premium price I’d expect at least premium quality and performance. I just don’t see why to pay $124 per 160mm rotor if they’re rubbing and provide less brake power. The SiCCC rotors might be a nice and innovative project; it’s just not worth the price.

  17. “Weary” isn’t the word you want in the last paragraph! You want either “leery” or “wary” but not “weary”, which means “tired”.

  18. weight weenies and carbon fiber addicts looking the other way for lack of performance, and a guy that is wondering about different colors…are you all for real?

    Kettle cycles – pads should have been engineered from the start, your product is losing credibility FAST and from the sound of things your rotors won’t help to slow it down.

  19. I’ve got 2 sets 180/180

    I love them would never go back to steel

    need to use organic pads, sintered were really bad

  20. To one previous poster, I did try these on a proper mountain with big descents. I was racing in a multi-day, multi-format event where the same bike was used for all. I more or less held my own in the XC races although I did lose a spot due to getting caught on a descent near a finish line on one stage due to poor braking. I also lost minutes over a 4-hr enduro/super-D stage due to braking issues and lack of confidence. They did not melt but I did experience lack of power and fade on the super-D (approx 20min with repeated high-speed to switchbacks). I was in the top-10 in the elite field throughout the event and I can confidently say the issues were the brakes not fitness or competence related.

  21. @K11, @Samuel, @woof, and @kcr:
    Totally agree. Bravo.

    For a minute, there I thought I was in some bizarro alternate universe where brake rotors that don’t actually stop your bike (WTF?) was somehow ok. Huh?!?

  22. I was on the fence on doing these on Kickstarter, but after hearing the reviews I think I will have to pass. I normally would try a product before dismissing it but at that price it’s not worth the risk

  23. As an addendum to what I said previously, I think it is great that this technology has been developed and I hope that this company is able to continue advancing (I have been waiting for this review since the rotors were announced) — there may be a lot of future potential here. I will certainly look at any future products with an open mind, this review just makes it fairly clear that these rotors as-is won’t work for me and my riding style, at least with the pad combinations that have been recommended.

  24. Using organic pads. Avid Elixer CR-SL. 160mm front/rear on a FS XC rig. Very little rub. 50 miles to fully bed in. Before/after stopping tests indicate 90% as good as previous set-up…less than the difference noticed when replacing pads or after doing a full bleed.

    Rode Counting Coup this past weekend…no issues, no lack of brake power. 44 miles and 8k+ of elevation with a 5 mile 3k single track descent at the end with occasional hikers coming up the trail.

    They work better with a little heat, and do not fade or tattoo legs.

  25. Hey Goats,

    Silicon carbide is not actually that popular in the auto industry. Especially not in the high end. If you’re talking about brakes, you’re thinking of carbon ceramic or carbon-carbon, not SiC. SiC is used for ball bearings and stuff like that.

  26. The tech they are using is sound. The lack of stopping power with standard metallics is …well expected. By using the new pads they are making will help. But like on like stopping surfaces will produce a much expected shorter lifespan for both interfaces. This will mean many of their claims will be lessened. Still the combo will be lighter, and may be better at heat dissipation. But idk.

  27. This report is more a condemnation of BikeRumor’s integrity than an opinion on a product.

    Does BR have any integrity whatsoever?

    How can you take a product that in the end saves the weight of a small cookie but destroys the safe operation of a critical component (brakes) and make so many excuses for it’s failures?

    Let’s see-They aren’t straight and rub. Gee, I hardly noticed them rubbing because I so mesmerized by the 50 g weight savings and I was so terrified I couldn’t see straight anyway? Why was I so terrified?
    Because they don’t stop!!!!!
    How awesome,but I still saved 50g.

  28. All – fixed the typos, thanks.

    CJ – We report what we experience and leave it up to each rider to decide what’s right for them, their bike, their riding style and local conditions. We usually stop short of recommending a product and focus on what worked or didn’t while explaining the conditions they were tested in. Thanks for reading!

  29. @cj. My thoughts exactly. Would any reviewer say such a thing if the new XTR performed as poorly as this? You’re basically paying more for worse performance. It doesn’t matter if its made of crushed diamonds and moon dust, crappy brakes are crappy brakes.

  30. Cycling = speed. Why do you need to stop!? Just go through the corner correctly 🙂
    Planning next seasion to purch these rotors.

  31. I would like to add, I bedded mine in riding around the neighborhood. Did twice as many start and stops as the recommended.

    First ride, first turn, blew through it into the woods and flipped over the bars. I personally like to attack corners hard and brake late. These are not the rotors for me or my riding style. I decided to give them one more ride. 10 miles into the ride with more heavy braking, I still felt like I was about to break my brake lever because I had to pull it so hard. 2013 XT brakes, metallic pads.

  32. Do not compromise braking performance to save 100grams. Period.
    Any increase in speed from lighter rotors is far out weighed by the inferior performance.
    It is analogous to running superlight tires. They are great until you flat…or in the case of the rotors, crash.
    I hope they figure it out, as I am all for innovation, but common sense is needed.
    If weight is the be all, end all, there are lighter v-brakes out there.

  33. All of this sounds oddly familiar. Anyone ever try to save weight and use Ashima’s PCB brakes? I built a custom bike for a guy at my shop and had piss poor performance. It was something new, lightweight and had compromised brake performance. Other shops in the area tried the same brakes and now you’ll see plenty of bikes on the local trails with the Ashima rotors and XT brakes. I don’t think you can sugar coat this review enough to cover the bitter taste from those crap Ashima brakes. Sorry, I’ll wait until someone figures out how I can do a nose wheelie before I consider the SiCCC rotors.

  34. I see a lot of my customers looking for carbon rotors, particularly in the road market.
    What kind of impact resistance do they have? Are you likely to damage them in a crash?

  35. An attorney would have a field day with a case against a company that knowingly produces a part that diminishes braking performance by 20-30%.

    I always thought the idea was to improve, or equal, performance, while reducing weight. I hope they get there.

  36. I’m Nino from Switzerland – as a hardcore weight-weenie i had to try these but the result isn’t the best. I tried them just this week and the conclusion is exactly as written in the article: they don’t stop! They do slow you down but that’s on a different level than what you get out of steel rotors. I’d say a maximum of 80% of the brakepower you usually get with steel rotors. Might be ok for those riding smooth,paved roads at a moderate pace but those who actually use their brakes stay away! The comment that less brakepower actually makes you faster is just ridiculous.

  37. Hmmm… Love the weight loss, but why would I want less braking? Seems like the rotor size needs to be bumped up one size on each end of the bike to compensate. This means heavier rotors, but still a wee bit in weight savings… at the expense of a seriously thinner wallet.
    On the sidelines and rooting…

  38. Regarding using a bigger rotor size to compensate eventual powerloss (by the way – forget the “eventual” as it is a fact!): i already chose the bigger 180 for the front and it still offers too little brakepower. A nosewheelie is not possible ! Where i usually use the fingertip of my pointer finger for braking (also for wheelies) i now had to use 2 fingers and full force. The handforce needed is at least doubled i guess. So you get less power while you have to squeeze the brakelever much harder. NOT what we are loooking for, right.
    I went back to my lightweight steel rotors and definitely accept the 20-25g weight penalty per side for a MUCH better brakesystem. If you still want a lightweight brake you might look back at V-Brakes again as those are deinititely much lighter and also come with a penalty regarding brakepower 😉

  39. Part-II
    Nino, Guess I’ll stick with my Alligators, SRAM HS-1 or Formula [model?] lightweight rotors. I’m liking the HS-1s lately, because the metal cutouts [holes] are evenly distributed and it seems pads like this a lot more than the wiiide open spaces of rotors like the Alligators use.
    I’m sure carbon rotors are in our future and I truly wish Kettle eventual success, I just don’t want to be part of the beta testing until then…

  40. @ Nino
    Thanks for adding your experience which is the exact same as mine. I now have 76 miles of competitive XC riding on mine and my hands hurt like hell after each ride. “Why”, you ask? Well I find myself two finger braking now and pulling on the levers (XTR 985) as hard as possible and still not being able to stop or slow down with confidence. This is no good when approaching oncoming cyclist and hikers….I feel like a complete ass running off the side of the trail b/c I can’t stop and saying “so sorry” as I do it.
    These rotors are horrible and increasing the size, I’m sorry to say, will not improve performance as it’s the rotor material, not the size that limits brake power.
    I wanted to love these so badly however I cannot. They’re so weak that I cannot come close to locking up my rear brake on hardpack running a Specialized Renegade! For those that don’t know, it’s a tire with nearly ZERO tread! I don’t skid before or in corners, just an FYI.
    Tried metallic to start, cleaned and switched to resin….both performed poorly on these lovely looking rotors.

    weight – awesome
    look – awesome
    braking – extreme finger fatigue at lever due to poor stopping power
    stopping power – 70% of factory XTR setup (and I feel I’m being generous here)
    sound – in dusty/sandy conditions they squeal like a stuck pig (XC raced them at Sea Otter and mine were the only brakes heard for miles around)
    Ebay – keep an eye out, I’ll have them listed in about 3 days (ordered some new Ashima AiRotors, my old ones have about 2,200 miles on them so I think they’re due for replacement).

    Wishing you happy stops,

  41. Well, you guys seem pretty luck if you’ve got your rotors… I’ve been waiting over a year for mine after supporting these KettleCycle guys via KickStarter. Now they’ve gone silent, don’t respond to anything and seem to be sending products to new customers and magazines for review but don’t provide anything to those guys that supported them in the early days…. I’d avoid like the plague if I were you, stick to steel, you can buy plenty of replacement rotors for the cost of these angle grinders and I’ve ridden the Alps for years, flat out DH and never once had an issue with my steel rotors… I know they say only regret what you haven’t done…. well, in this case I regret ever sending KettleCycles any money.

  42. Hi all. I have just bought a set of these new carbon rotors with new pads included also & very very scarily to my surprise after burn in set up etc I raced with them only to find that after 30kms I started losing braking power.
    After the completion of the 40km race & once at home I thought I better have a look at what was going on & you may not believe this but I had completely worn through the brand new pads & the steel to be just about touching the pistons…….. Yes after only 40kms of riding.
    Is it just me or am I doing something wrong here????

  43. Johnny – the reason I found this thread – same thing for me, c processed rotors at last, running with their pads. First on burn I had a pad failure with the surface coming completely off the backing, showing the quality is a s good as the pads look (crap!) so I have been only running front as I had insufficient pads to run rear as well. I just checked mine today, probably done 100km on them, non race conditions, and I’m just about down to the metal too. At $40 a pair this is NOT going to work.
    After all the waiting to get the “fixed” setup with pads, which does actually stop the bike rather than kill you like before, it’s disappointing to have more issues.

    I feel sorry for the guys developing this, but this is why big companies go through some much dev and test.

    Tyler – you tested the net setup with pads?

  44. Enjajay — I got the C processed version with SICCC pads, at first they had wonderful braking, but after only one big downhill the pads were worn down to the metal. And now my front rotor is rubing so I need to straight it up. At least I´m not the only one… Yep, Kettle needs to do a bit more R&D, hopefully will get it right, but this product is not really ready, it is a beta version

  45. “But, that’s the idea, actually. Aaron says they found that they and others were faster overall and able to maintain traction and control better than if the wheels locked up.”
    This is HILARIOUS!!!
    So you invest a couple hundred $$ on their rotors for their DIMINISHED performance, so you learn how to carry more speed.
    So you sped TOP $$$ on XO Trails or Shimano XTRs or Saints for their INCREASED performance, only to spend DOUBLE for a set of rotors that turn around and KILL all that performance you just spent all that money FOR.
    Why not save some money and simply buy a set of Elixir 1s, or shit-can your disc brakes altogether, and go buy a crappy set of V-brakes with cardboard pads?
    In the end, the REAL comedy here is the ‘unbiased’ reviewer actually trying to lend credence to this RIDICULOUS claim.
    Gotta love the rags…sacrificing integrity and honesty for the promise of the all mighty dollar.

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