Rubber Vs. Steel Braid Brake And Clutch Lines

Rubber Vs. Steel Braid Brake And Clutch Lines

When we first saw the invention of steel braided brake lines, we found it to be quite refreshing. Motorcycle fanatics ride a lot of different bikes for a lot of different reasons, but many seem to have one thing in common: They want their bike to go faster. The second that they get a new bike, they just have to find out how fast it goes. But many forget that they also need to be able to stop just as quickly as they can accelerate. So, when we saw that SOMEONE out there was still concerned with making the bike slow down, we were glad to see it. But, What exactly do braided brake lines offer a rider? Are they worth the hype, or the money? These are the questions that you’re here to have answered, and I am happy to be the guy that does it. Let’s begin.

What Is The Difference Between Rubber Brake Lines And Steel Ones?

Rubber brake lines have long since been the standard in the motorcycle industry. When you look at what makes them up, they are relatively simple. It’s exactly what it sounds like: A rubber hose. They might have an inner lining to increase their flex resistance, but that’s about it. What you see is what you get.

Braided steel brake lines have a little bit more going on. They have a Teflon inner lining that runs inside the steel braid. Then, on the outside of the steel braid, there is typically some kind of protective coating. That coating isn’t just there to protect your brake line; it’s there to protect your bike! That stainless steel braid would happily lick the paint off your motorcycle’s fender if you gave it the chance.

Are Stainless Steel Brake And Clutch Lines Better Than Rubber?

In short, yes. Stainless steel braided brake lines are better for the vast majority of applications. We’ll go through the three primary benefits, in detail, right here.

DURABILITY: The most obvious benefit is their durability. Being made of stainless steel, these brake lines are going to last longer than rubber lines. Rubber lines fall victim to the wear and tear of dry rot and corrosion, but your steel lines will live on.

PERFORMANCE: Braided lines offer a firmer, more consistent braking experience. Rubber brake lines, being made of rubber, are able to flex and bend to handle the rigors of riding. Unfortunately, this ability to flex is also their downfall. Over time, rubber lines become weaker, and they are less inclined to hold their shape. When you squeeze your brake lever, an old rubber line will “balloon up” slightly. So while most of the pressure you apply is still getting to the caliper, there is a small amount that is being wasted on expanding the brake line. It’s not so much that you’d be able to see it, but it’s there, and it can make for inconsistent braking throughout the duration of your rubber brake line’s life. This problem disappears when you switch to stainless steel braid lines. They don’t flex, and they are quite firm, meaning that your brakes will feel the same from the day you get them to years down the road.

APPEARANCE: Stainless steel brake lines look nicer than rubber lines. Obviously, this is a matter of opinion, but it’s a popular one, and most people would agree. Braided brake lines can be found in a wide range of colors and they are a great way to add to your bike’s custom appearance.

Are Stainless Steel Brake and Clutch Lines Worth It?

Stainless steel brake lines come without many downsides. The one major downside that they do have is their price. They are generally more expensive than your classic rubber brake line, and you have to ask yourself, are these benefits actually worth the extra buck? We would say “It depends”. Annoying, right? Allow us to explain.

Stainless Steel brake lines are worth the money for certain riders. The most obvious market would be the performance driven riders. If you are looking for absolute peak performance for your bike, whether at the track or on the street, then these braided brake lines will help. They offer you more consistent performance from your bike, which is important when every millisecond matters.The difference is small, but it’s there, and if you are looking to do everything you can to improve your bike, then these should be on the list.

Another subset of people that could benefit from braided brake lines are those designing custom bikes. They look better, plain and simple, and if you’re going custom, it’s all about the details.

The last group of people that could benefit from stainless steel brake lines are those of you with too much money. Is your wallet weighing you down, or too thick for your back pocket? Are you tired of having such a large disposable income? Steel braided brake lines are a great way to relieve yourself of some hard earned cash.

Credit Where It’s Due

This entire article has been going on about the benefits of braided brake lines and we haven’t really given rubber brake lines the credit that they’re due. There is nothing wrong with a good ol’ rubber brake line. They’ve been doing the job just fine for a long time, and they’ll continue to do so. If you are a casual rider looking for a brake line that will do get you from point A to point B, you shouldn’t think twice about buying a rubber brake line. It’ll serve you well.

Well, there you have it. You now know the difference between rubber and braided brake and clutch lines, the pros and cons of each, and who stands to gain from steel brake and clutch lines. If you have any further questions for us, or tips for your fellow bikers, leave them in the comments below.

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1 comment

Can you “mix” stainless and rubber.? Taller bars on Yamaha VStar 1100..from,brake union on down no changes so no need for expense. Can I just go with braided upper line from,union to master cylinder?

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