A good deal, or a good deal less?
We’d all like to replace our current ride with the latest and greatest new machine on a yearly basis. As each new model year rolls around, the factories tempt us with more power, newer technology, and lighter weight. Unfortunately for most of us, financial reality dictates that we’ll be sticking with our current machine for another season or two. Of course, keeping that older machine racetrack-ready often means replacing worn components, and this is when most of us start to think about upgrades. Having decided that our trusty 2003 GSXR 750 will be sticking around for another season, it was time to address the bike’s mechanical issues. First on the list was a new set of front brake rotors. “Wave” style rotors have been all the fashion in the performance aftermarket for the last few years, to the point where some new bikes are now coming with them as original equipment. Wave rotors are said to improve braking performance by dissipating heat faster than traditional round rotors, and purportedly also offer a weight savings.
Then of course they look really cool, thus appealing to our secret desire for high-tech bling! Shopping around the Internet, it quickly became apparent that we could spend as much as six hundred dollars to acquire a pair of wave-style front rotors. Being budget-minded, we decided that we might save some money by buying a set of used stock rotors off of EBay instead. While browsing EBay, we noticed a number of auctions for new-in-the-box, wave-style rotor sets manufactured by a company called Yana Shiki. These rotors certainly looked the part, and were only $279.00 for a pair of front rotors. A bit of online research led us to JW Motorcycle Parts, the company offering the auctions. Low and behold, there on the JW Motorcycle parts website were the same rotors for the same low price. Still, we had misgivings, since we’d never heard of the Yana Shiki brand before. An e-mail sent to JW Motorcycle Parts got us assurances that these rotors were of the highest quality, good enough for racetrack duty, and that if we didn’t like them, we could send them back for a full refund. At that point, how could we resist? Five days later, our Yana Shiki wave rotors arrived. Upon initial inspection, we were somewhat disappointed. The anodizing on the aluminum center carriers of the front rotors displayed a few small scratches and seemed thin in spots, and there were some random scratches on the braking surfaces as well. Comparing the rotors to one another, it was pretty obvious that the foam sleeves they’d been shipped in weren’t enough protection, and that the flaws had been caused by the rotors rubbing against one another during shipping. There was also still a bit of flash inside a few of the cooling slots, prompting us to break out a rat-tail file so we could clean this up. We compared weights between the Yana Shiki rotors and the stockers that they were to replace, only to find that the new front rotors were a full 20 grams heavier each. This might be explained by the fact that the new rotors were a full 4.9mm thick, while the old, worn out rotors were right at the 4.0mm minimum thickness. Still, we’d been expecting a weight loss, not a weight gain. Upon installation, we noticed that the flat-black anodizing on the aluminum carriers of the front rotors had closed up the holes for the rotor mounting bolts just enough that the bolt shoulders wouldn’t fit cleanly through the carriers. This caused us real concern, because the friction created by this interference was surely corrupting the readings of our torque wrench as we tightened the bolts down. Since there was no way we were willing to risk having the rotor bolts loosen up out on the track, we removed the rotors and cleaned each hole with the sanding drum of a Dremel tool to gain the correct clearance. By the time we’d attached the rotors to our GSXR’s front rim, we were more than a little annoyed by the cosmetic and fitment issues we’d encountered. When you buy something new you expect it to look fresh and fit perfectly, and you shouldn’t have to do finish detailing before you can install the parts. Still, the rotors checked out well within the warpage limits specified in the Suzuki shop manual, and were easily as straight as any pair of new stock rotors would be. Once we’d bolted the wheels back onto the bike, all cosmetic and fitment issues could have easily been forgotten. The new rotors just looked cool! Standing next to the bike, the aforementioned cosmetic flaws were too small to be seen. Honestly, one ride is all it would have taken for the brake pads to scuff away the small scratches on the braking surfaces of the front rotors, and after a few tire changes and some flying rocks out there on the track, the anodizing of the carriers would probably become scratched in a dozen more places. But at this point, the clearance issues with the rotor bolts and heavier weight had soured us on these rotors, so we decided to send them back. True to their word, JW Motorcycle Parts gave us a complete refund without hassle or delay. Overall, these Yana Shiki rotors appeared to be reasonably well made, and probably would have done their intended job. The cosmetic and fitment issues that we encountered with these rotors could have easily been solved at the factory by tighter quality control and better packaging. If Yana Shiki addresses these issues in the future their products may well be worth consideration, but for now we’ll take a pass.