There aren’t many motorcycle brands left still in production with quite the history and international motorsports profile that Ferodo carried with it into the 21st century under the ownership of American multi-national Federal-Mogul for the past 20-years. Robin Bradley went to Mondovi, near Turin, Italy, to see Ferodo brake pads being made…
Ferodo is a storied brand that owes its origins to the earliest days of the motorcycle industry and wider motorsports market. It is right up there with other legendary British names such as Castrol, Avon, Bates, Lucas and countless motorcycle brands – from Arial, BSA, Velocette and Matchless to Brough, Vincent, Triumph, Royal Enfield and Norton – all of which have been equipped with Ferodo pads at various times, making Ferodo as much an institution as a brand.
|Sales Director John Davies: “Our requirements for a high-performance friction material are good performance during all three phases of the braking cycle”|
We only have a handful of so called “Legacy” brands left as we head towards the third decade of the 21st century, especially in aftermarket parts terms. As I found out on my recent visit to the Ferodo brake pad manufacturing facility at Mondovi, near Turin in Italy, the common denominator among those who have survived is that the brand has been kept up to date with market requirements and with manufacturing technology investments, and has never stood still, keeping its position as one of the leaders of the pack.
Bought by the giant American industrial group Federal-Mogul in 1998, the Southfield, Michigan headquartered conglomerate has deep pockets and brings the kind of capital resources to Ferodo (and the sister brands based in its Ferodo Racing and Federal-Mogul Motorsports divisions) that are needed to keep top flight brands competitive.
Those brands include Champion spark plugs and filters, which Federal-Mogul also bought in 1998, the year before the corporation marked its 100th anniversary. Further acquisitions have included the Beru brands (another 100-year-old spark plug brand) and the 2014 acquisition of Honeywell’s Friction Materials business.
‘Balanced Braking Performance’
Federal-Mogul’s Motorsports division operates in four key areas – engine and sealing parts, braking, steering and chassis and service items. In terms of motorcycle parts, Ferodo, Champion, Beru and Goetze engine components are the primary product lines.
Under Managing Director Sergio Bonfanti, Ferodo Racing’s sales are headed up by Sales Director John Davies, an engineer by training and a life-long Ferodo man, who worked for the company when it was still under British ownership. Sergio Bonfanti heads a dedicated team, which includes technical and manufacturing operations as well sales and marketing.
The markets served are described as a ‘Motorcycle Pyramid’ with race operations such as MotoGP and WSBK at the top, followed by National Championships, track day and aftermarket product lines. The range itself is a ‘Good’, ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ menu of brake pad lines to enable distributors and dealers to meet their local market needs.
In addition to brake pads, Ferodo also offers shoes, discs, clutches and brake fluid – the principle being to offer a product line that is as complete as possible in terms of applications, as extensive as possible in terms of price point and performance choices, and to offer their partners a single brand “one stop shop” programme for street and off-road markets that is genuinely race bred.
|Left to Right: Edward Little (Technical Manager); Mauro Sacerdoni (Technical & Product Engineer); Fabrizio Achino (Technical & Product Engineer)|
‘Data acquisition analysis’
At the heart of Ferodo’s brake pad compound and application R&D cycle is a dyno first, on-bike second testing sequence with “Balanced Braking Performance” the objective – a four-stage concept that calibrates the initial bite, the resulting deceleration, the modulation (feel and control) that the rider has going into a corner under braking, and the point at which the brake can be released after the apex of a corner. “A track derived concept that is just as valid when testing a street bike pad,” says John Davies.
“Our requirements for a high-performance friction material are based on a braking cycle with three main phases: 0.5 seconds for the first phase, the bite, with the compound tested and refined to reach its operating coefficient of friction (COF/µ) rapidly. The second phase is the deceleration with the COF/µ central to determining the level of performance achieved in terms of deceleration and distance.”
|Giovanna Mazza, left (Marketing & Pricing Manager); Michela Napoli (Digital Marketing Manager)|
The third phase in Ferodo’s approach to achieving a “Balanced Braking Performance” is the modulation, or feel – its characteristics, with the compound delivering a consistent COF/µ as the braking temperature and speed changes through the cycle of application of braking force; “the objective always being to allow the rider to achieve consistent braking and feel regardless of the operating conditions.”
For street application on-bike testing, Ferodo use thermocouples on the pad and disc in order to monitor temperature, a water spray jet for rain simulation that is connected to an on-board water tank, hydraulic brake pressure controller, decelerometer, and GPS and speed deceleration sensors all connected to water spray and data logger actuation.
“As a second stage of data acquisition analysis after the initial dyno testing phase we are able to see how the static testing in the dyno room matches or varies with on-bike data in order to test and refine materials selection, development and formulations for any given application.”
Combined with Ferodo’s OE and racing experience, the result is the ‘Good’, ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ programme that distributors and dealers can select from.
The ‘Good’ is their organic ‘CARBON GRIP’ compound line for motorcycles and scooters – carbon steel composites manufactured using a unique and proprietary vulcanisation process that produces resin bound pads that deliver “great feel and an easy to control braking cycle,” according to Davies.
‘Our Eco Friction brake pad line is a great credential for our R&D capabilities’
Suitable for steel and iron discs, the range features Ferodo’s ‘Argento’ OE formulation for scooter, maxi scooter and moped use; ‘Platinum’ pads for OE road/street bike use which “offer an outstanding quality to price ratio”; ‘PRP’ (Polished Rotor Pads) for V-twin and custom bike use that deliver minimised disc scoring and dusting.
Plus their recently introduced ‘ECO Friction’ material for scooters, maxi scooters and moped road use which has “achieved excellent R90 test results,” says Davies. “This is brand new from Ferodo and we are adding make and model-specific applications on a regular basis, the latest being for maxi scooters and large cc motorcycles. We are working to reduce our use of certain metals; our investment in metallurgy is extensive. Our ‘ECO Friction’ line is the first we have developed with the express intention of being greener as well as safer.
“Legislation requires copper content to have been reduced to 5 percent by 2021 and down to 0.5 percent by 2025. Ferodo will be well ahead of these milestones.”
Ferodo’s ‘Better’ option is their ‘SINTER GRIP’ powder metallurgy based line, which are best used on stainless steel rather than iron discs, and have materials that are pressed metal powders fused together at extreme temperatures with a proprietary binding matrix and process.
“These should only be used where sintered pads are fitted as Original Equipment,” says Davies. “They are for the rider who wants world beating performance and pad/disc life.”
Ferodo FDB/ST pads are rated HH for road use, “the highest friction rating obtainable, and deliver the ultimate braking performance and control in both wet and dry conditions. These are complemented by our FDB/SM range of sintered metal pads developed for popular high-performance scooter road use.
“For off-road use our FDB/SG pads offer superior performance and life in both muddy and dry conditions, and our FDB/XRAC compounds for race use offer unparalleled braking performance. They incorporate our innovative ‘Array Cooling’ for 15 percent disc temperature reduction compared to OE pads and competitive aftermarket offerings.
“In terms of ‘Best’, we are into our ‘CERAMIC GRIP compound research – research which has produced race-proven, race only pads that place a premium on maximum possible caliper temperature reduction and class-leading modulation for the kind of feel and control that can make all the difference on the race track.”
Asked what the future holds for the Ferodo and its sister brands, Davies says that “marketing the ‘one stop shop’ capability that the brand offers is central to helping distributors and their dealers reduce ordering overheads and presenting a simple, three-tier range structure to help make a complex range easy to understand and work from.
“Basically, we have something for every braking application any dealer is ever going to encounter, and that breadth and depth of range is the Ferodo brand message we are taking into the future.
“In technology terms, the new regime of R90 based testing is crucial to the future of the market for all pad manufacturers. and for dealer and consumer confidence. Along with our R&D capabilities we feel we are uniquely well positioned to keep Ferodo right at the front of the market.
“Federal-Mogul has a vast number of manufacturing sites in total worldwide, and being able to leverage that network is a massive opportunity – it is hard to conceive of any engineering, metallurgical or manufacturing challenge, or any brand extension opportunity that we can’t embrace from within the Group’s existing resources.”
Federal-Mogul Italy S.R.L. Racing & Motorcycle Division