Brembo XTRA Cross Drilled Rotors Explained – Understanding the Benefits of Drilled Rotors


Braking is simple in a nutshell. You press two pieces of material together and the resulting friction stops the car. However, things get much more complicated the moment you scratch the surface and look at what’s actually going on underneath. 

The closer you look, the more it becomes apparent that braking is an art form. It requires mastery of engineering, material sciences, and physics to create more efficient brakes. Brembo XTRA cross-drilled rotors are one of the latest masterpieces we’ve created, and today we’ll discuss why you’d want a set of these on your car.

The Progression of Rotor Design 

Braking rotors or discs have been around for a long time. In fact, we can trace the first actual caliper operated braking rotors all the way back to 1902 to a Birmingham native, Frederick William Lanchester who patented the early design. Needless to say, the core principles are not new at all. 

However, modern brake discs and rotors are a world apart from those early designs. That’s only natural considering that modern cars are vastly different as well. It’s that evolution of cars that’s forcing brands like ours to constantly develop new braking technologies. 

Power and Weight Curve 

If we were to oversimplify braking for a moment, we might say that weight and power are probably the two main factors that affect your ability to slow down or stop. Modern cars are packed with all kinds of technologies. 

Every other year we’re seeing new features or an upgrade to the existing ones become an option. All of this technology is adding weight. Then, there are the modern engines. We’re reaching a point where squeezing 100 brake horsepower from a liter of displacement is no longer reserved for performance built engines. 

So now you have this massive, heavy car being propelled to high speeds. Devising a braking system that will safely and efficiently bring such a car to a stop takes elaborate engineering. This is also one of the main reasons why the brake rotor technology has advanced so much in the past few decades. 

Cross Drilled Rotors Explained 

Drilling holes in rotors does several things to improve the braking capabilities of any car. Before we get into the more technical details – yes, aesthetics are a big contributor to the popularity of cross-drilled rotors. 

It’s no secret that having a set of crossed drilled rotors on your car boosts the overall appearance. Especially when paired with a nice set of wheels. 

With that out of the way, let’s get to the performance. Drilling holes in your rotor does several things: 

  • Helps with cooling
  • Allows for surface moisture to escape
  • Cleans the pads 

Naturally, not all cross-drilled rotors are created equal. We’ll focus mainly on our XTRA series, although some of these principles apply to other similar designs. 

The Small Matter of Cooling and Ventilation

Brembo Xtra Ventilation System

Heat is one of the main enemies of any braking system. If you don’t have a way to evacuate heat from your brakes, your brake fluid will boil and your pads will fade.

Most Brembo brake rotors are ventilated in one way or another. Whether we’re talking standard ventilation channels or our advanced PVT system, there is always some form of passive cooling going on. However, the real question is whether the amount of heat reduction you’re getting with these systems is enough to prevent your brakes from overheating

The answer to that question depends on how you use your brakes. Regular everyday commute to work? You’ll be fine with regular ventilation solutions. For spirited driving, you might need something XTRA. 

Strategic placement of the holes on the braking surface of the rotor is that ‘extra’, or dare we say XTRA

Puns aside, holes absolutely improve overall cooling of the brake rotor. 

Braking in Wet Conditions

Water is a very deceptive matter. It looks so benign, it gives life to all living creatures but it also prevents your car from braking. When water gets between the pad and the rotor, it creates a thin film. This wouldn’t be an issue if not for the fact that water doesn’t compress. 

The only way you’re braking efficiently with a water film between your pad and your rotor is to get rid of it. Holes will absolutely do that. Strategically drilled in places for optimal coverage, holes on our XTRA rotors do a great job at removing water from the rotor surface, thus allowing the brakes to work with much more grip. 

Pad Cleaning 

Pads get dirty over time, no matter how often they get used. You’ll see a layer of gunk forming on the surface of a pad as it is being used. Generally, that’s not too big of a deal given that you’re not pushing the brakes hard. 

When you do, that layer could potentially prevent you from tapping into the optimal grip your entire braking system is capable of delivering. Adding holes to the rotor creates sharp surfaces that scrape a thin layer of the brake pad compound every time you step on the brakes. 

Do brake pads wear out faster this way? Sure, the scraping does cause a slightly faster brake pad wear. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the cons in this case. Additionally, if you pair your new XTRA rotors with our NAO or LOW-MET brake pads, you’ll find that the overall rate of wear is marginal at best. 

The Benefits of Brembo XTRA 

Alright, so we’ve talked about drilling holes into rotors, some of the benefits of the technology, and how it helps with performance. Let’s do a brief overview of how Brembo XTRA performs in particular. We’ve built these rotors to give our customers an edge in braking, no matter what car they drive. 


First thing first, friction. We’ve measured the performance of our XTRA rotors over a period of 20 brake applications. The test was done starting with cold rotors.

The results show that the Brembo XTRA rotor is capable of maintaining a high friction coefficient even at high temperatures. 

Long-Lasting UV Protection 

Oxidation is a massive issue when it comes to keeping your rotors clean. We’ve done a lot of research into different types of protective coating, trying various means of curbing the effects of weather on our brake discs. Our UV protection coating represents an elegant solution that is both effective and eco-friendly. 

Our UV coating covers the hat of the disc as well as the edges – both of which are portions of the disc most prone to rust. A light coating is applied to the braking surface as well so you can install our rotors right out of the box. 

By installing a set of our XTRA discs on your car, you’ll get a long-lasting clean look, but also a more efficient braking experience.

Model Specific Solutions 

The performance of Brembo XTRA makes it one of the best drilled rotors out there. However, our goal wasn’t to create a brake disc that would fit high-performance vehicles only. On the contrary, we wanted to make something you could install on just about any car, ranging from compact hatches to massive SUVs. 

If you head over to our model selection tool and input your car’s make and model, check and see if Brembo has an XTRA disc for your vehicle. Boost the braking performance of your car with Brembo XTRA.