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Stainless braided brake and clutch lines

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Travis, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. Just wanted to share my experiences with custom stainless braided brake and clutch lines.

    A few years ago, I put the front end from a Maxim 750 onto a Maxim 650 that I fixed up so I could have dual front disc brakes. I bought a new larger master cylinder to push the extra hydraulic fluid needed to operate both calipers. At first I tired using the old rubber brake hoses that came with the setup. It seemed as though I wasn't bleeding all of the air out of the lines because I could pull the brake lever all the way to the bar. It turns out the problem was the 25 year old spongy rubber lines. They flexed and expanded so much that under pressure the lever would touch the bar. So I upgraded to stainless braided lines that I custom ordered from http://www.cyclebrakes.com/html/custom_lines.html.

    The nice thing about ordering your own is you can pick the color of the line, the exact length, and the bends you want on each end. I chose to run dual lines going from the master cylinder using a double banjo bolt to avoided needing to unnecessarily tee the line.

    The total with new chrome banjo bolts came to just over $100 for both lines (it may have gone up a little as this was a few years ago) and ordering them couldn’t have been easier. The lines looked to be made very well and looked great on the bike. Bleeding them only took a couple of minutes and I had a solid brake lever. I went from braking with my whole hand to only using two fingers on that bike.

    I’ve used the same company for the lines for an XS650 project also. I have a hydraulic clutch setup on that bike so I ordered a line in the exact length I needed for that along with a line for the front brake. When you measure for the front brake, you have to make sure the forks are fully extended and still leave a little slack. You wouldn’t want to order it too short and have it limit the suspension from extending all the way. I used a piece of clear 3/8" plastic tubing to route along where I wanted the line to go and measured that to get an accurate measurement for the length I needed. The ends swivel so you don’t get any weird twist or anything in the line. I bought a set of braided lines from another company for my FZ1 and the ends didn’t swivel. It wasn’t a problem because they were specifically made for that bike, but for a custom application you’ll want the ends to swivel.

    So I’m sold on custom braided lines. It’s nice if you want an exact length to accommodate different handle bars or custom clutch configurations.
  2. Travis -

    I read this with interest. Thank you for this.

    Now that I seem to have been seeing some welcome daylight with my '73 after nearly 4 years of refurbishment, progress, setbacks, more progress, etc...., I have begun to make a mental list of things that I want to visit/improve, one of which will be the front brake. Since I got the bike, there has been a firm lever and no apparent sticking of calipers or anything, but I suppose I'd feel better if I started from scratch and did a refurbishment. I have never messed with brakes before, though, so I'll need to do my research.

    My bike's front brake parts appear to be original (except for the switch, which I replaced), but the manner in which the upper hose is routed makes me think that there might have been some PO-ery going on. So, in the fairly near term, I may post some pics to show folks what I have so I can determine what I need to do, what I need to buy, etc. I'd like to go with braided lines if I could.

    Thanks again for this!

  3. XSLeo

    XSLeo XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    With the stock parts on your 73 the dual piston caliper uses a 16 mm M/C, same as my 75. Adding a one piece braided stainless line is a good upgrade. Swapping the M/C for one with a smaller bore size will greatly improve the strength and feel of the brakes.
    On my 75 I have frorks from a 79. I swapped to these because I wanted to try dual disc on front. At the time finding the early style calipers was very diffucult. Mike's now sells them new.
    I used the two of later single piston calipers with the 75 M/C. The brakes were very much improved, much stronger. I had heard the term "wooden" used to describe the feel of a brake lever. I now understand the term.
    With the brakes set up as I had them the lever felt hard to pull but the brakes worked better. The harder lever reduced the feel of the brake. Harder to tell just what was happening. Like a block of wood.
    I had a 14 mm M/C from my parts bike. I tried that one. Wow, now I had good brakes and the "wooden" feel of the lever was gone. I felt I had much more control of the brake.
    The M/C was for the Special buckhorn bars so it was angled to match the bars. This looked bad on my lower flatter bars and it leaked pretty bad.
    I was visiting a friend and he had some parts he wanted to let go. He had a M/C that he didn't remember what he bought it for. I brought it home. It looked like a generic replacement for an older Honda. Looked just like the ones in my Honda Twins repair book. In the book that M/C was either 12.7 or 14 mm bore.
    I put it on the 75 and I think it is the 12.7 mm bore. My brakes are almost to good. It takes very little pull on the lever to work the brakes. Work very well.
    I think on your bike a 14 mm bore M/C will be just about right.
    Calling Mike Morse at 650central, he runs Vintage Brake too, and chatting with him will help you get things figured out.
  4. Leo, thanks for all of this info! I think what I might do (so I don't commandeer this thread) is start one of my own, and perhaps incorporate your input to start.

    That "wooden" feel that you speak of is how I'd describe my bike's front brake. I'd like to improve the feel, I suppose, but I really want to be sure what's going on at the caliper, obviously. So, as I see it in my head, this (eventual) task will involve rebuilding the caliper, replacing the pads, upgrading to stainless (are you saying one piece as opposed to upper and lower hose?), and rebuilding or replacing the M/C.

    I'm concerned about going to another type of M/C, though, because of the front brake switch. I just replaced it last season (after the PO cut the wires for some reason!), and it's the kind that's a little disk with a little arm that pivots via a pin on the brake lever. It seems limited to the early-type M/Cs, which seem to be 16mm, like this.

    I might have to call MMM, too, because basically, I want to have all of this planned and parted out before I even look at a wrench... otherwise, it will take me forever. :) I want to repair and refurbish, and upgrade the hose, but basically introduce as little change from stock as possible, if that makes sense.

  5. 75xs650

    75xs650 Custom xs650

    how would i correctly mesure my brake line front and rear when running 15 inch ape handlebars to fig out what i would need for my bike
  6. aldo5468

    aldo5468 Redleg XS650.com Supporter

    +1 on Cyclebrakes!! I have bought two sets of their s/s lines for the front brakes on my '94 Virago XV1100 (needed a second set with longer lines after installing higher aftermarket risers; sold the first set very quickly to another Virago rider). Very high quality materials, good website with clear explanation of how to spec the lines you want, and really good to work with over the phone.
  7. 75xs650, On the couple of bikes I've ordered custom lines for, I somehow lift the front of the bike to extend the forks all the way, then use a piece of 3/8" or similar size hose and route it where I want the brake line to go. Then pull the hose out and measure it and maybe add 1/2" just to be safe.
  8. Wow prices are good also... cheaper and easier to get than HEL lines. Thanks for the post Travis!
  9. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    Here's a kind you don't want to get. The shiny spots are bare braiding. The rest used to be clear "vinyl". It's now hard and translucent and if you lift a chip off it will crumble into something like sand in your fingers. The line is less than a year old.

  10. Wow.. My lines from 4 years ago look brand new.
  11. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    I may try your brand real soon.

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