At the Tony Foale seminar earlier this week, we had the chance to talk to Rob Kasten, inventor of the reverse rotating brake rotors and also take an up close look of the rotors in action. Rob was there with his Kawasaki prototype and took a few spins around the parking lot. It is definitely an interesting visual experience to see the rotors going the wrong way but there is nothing in the appearance that looks cobbled together. If you didn’t know better, you would think it came from the factory that way.
According to Rob, the rotors are set up to spin at 2.7 times wheel rpm and, due to the mass of the rotors, cancel 70% of the gyroscopic precession of the wheel, dramatically reducing steering effort and increasing the speed at which he can flick the bike from side to side in quick transitions. On a high speed section of a track he is familiar with, the Kawasaki previously reached an indicated 145mph but with the reverse rotating rotors now tops out there at 140mph, so the gearing involved does extract a price. On the other hand, speed in the turns is quicker so you get something back.
When Rob took the bike around the lot and applied the brakes, you could just hear a high pitched whine, somewhat like a supercharger, coming from the gearing. Rob also notes the brakes are much more effective, taking far less pressure on the lever for a given amount of stopping power to be applied.
The prototype was built much stronger than it needed to be since they had no previous experience with the system and certainly would rather error on the side of overbuilding than risk coming up short. Once a production model is configured, the gearing size and weight could be reduced further enhancing performance.
What is the future of Rob’s system? Currently he is looking for investors or a manufacturer willing to incorporate the system into one of their bikes. It’s a very interesting concept and will probably need further head to head testing against an identical model without the system to see what the benefits and costs really are. We’ll keep an eye on this.