Teflon Cables for Motorcycles – Everything You Need to Know

Teflon is a remarkable material. As well as being unaffected by most oils, fuels and fluids, the high temperature range makes it resistant to damage from heat sources such as cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds. This makes Teflon an ideal material for creating a cabling system in motorcycles that is durable and contributes to high performance.

What is Teflon?

Teflon® is generally used to indicate the plastic PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). PTFE was discovered incidentally in 1938 by Dr R. Plunkett while working as a chemist for DuPont in New Jersey, USA. In 1938 Plunkett and his assistant, Jack Rebok, were experimenting with a potential alternative refrigerant, tetrafluorethylene (TFE).  Plunkett created around a hundred pounds of TFE and stored the gas in small cylinders. When on April 6, 1938 he opened the valve on one of the pressurized cylinders of TFE that had previously been frozen, nothing came out, even though by its weight, it seemed to still be full.  Plunkett and Rebok decided to investigate further by cutting the cylinder open.  Once they managed to get it open, they discovered that the TFE gas inside had polymerized into a waxy white powder, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin.



PTFE is an ethylene polymer plastic, the water atoms in this ethylene polymer have been replaced by fluorine molecules. That is why this group of plastics, which also includes FEP and PFA, is also called fluoroplastics.

Plunkett ran tests on PTFE to see if it had any unique or useful properties. Four of the most important properties of this substance discovered were that it was extremely slippery (one of the slipperiest substances known to man), non-corrosive, chemically stable, and that it had an extremely high melting point. In 1938 the application for the patent was submitted and the brand name Teflon was given to the substance PTFE. Three years later the patent was granted and from 1949 Teflon ® was sold in commercial applications.

The exceptionally long molecules of the ethylene polymer provide the non-stick properties for which Teflon ® has become so well-known.

Why Teflon is Good for Motorbike Cables

•          Very good non-stick properties

•          Excellent chemical inertia

•          Resistant to temperatures up to 250 °C

•          Low dielectric constant

•          Resistant to weathering

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Applications of Teflon

Teflon’s variety of properties ensures that its application is versatile. It is probably best known for its non-stick properties used as coating on Teflon pans or as sealing tape / Teflon tape. But it is also frequently used in industrial applications. In the food industry, in the chemical industry, in machine building and for medical applications. It has an important role in cabling because of the following qualities:

  • PTFE High Performance Wire and Cable is a non-flammable, very flexible, non-toxic and environmentally safe material that can be used in environmentally arduous/harsh conditions.
  • Provides excellent resistance to acids, alkalis, solvents, oils, lubricants, fuels, fire and soldering flux.
  • It is unaffected by atmospheric conditions, aircraft & rocket fuels and hydraulic fluids.
  • PTFE is a High-Performance wire with high tolerance of extreme temperatures.
  • PTFE is chemically inert.
  • PTFE insulated conductors are widely used for applications such as;
    • Internal and external connectors for electrical and electronic equipment
    • Instrumentation
    • Electronic ignitor systems (heavy duty gas ignition wire)
    • Gas ignitors in central heating systems
    • Heat sensor cables
    • Engines
    • Brake systems
    • Heat exchangers
    • Ovens
    • Freezers
    • Process control test equipment
    • Any application requiring resistance to high temperatures
    • Any environment demanding high levels of thermal, chemical, electrical or mechanical connection.

PTFE is widely used within the industrial, aerospace, military, marine, defence, medical, automotive and audio industries.

PTFE lined cables are used for harsh environments and temperatures up to 260°C. With its non-flammable, non-toxic and flexibility properties, it makes an ideal cable for Military, Aerospace, Automotive and Electronic equipment manufacturers. Offering high levels of both chemical and thermal resistance including to aircraft fuel, oils, acids, alkalis and hydraulic fluids.

PTFE coatings offer a tough, heat-resistant finish with almost complete chemical inertness and have the highest operating temperature of any fluoropolymer.

Cabling and Teflon use in Motorcycles

Teflon is a remarkable material. As well as being unaffected by most oils, fuels and fluids, the high temperature range makes it resistant to damage from heat sources such as cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds. This makes Teflon an ideal material for creating a cabling system in motorcycles that is durable and contributes to high performance.

Clutch and brake cables are important for a motorcycle to run correctly and ultimately providing good performance. Cables can and will make a difference. The basic system consists of an outer coil of steel housing (Bowden Cable or Conduit) capped by ferrules at each end with a steel inner wire. The inner wires are made of galvanised or stainless steel. Stainless steel is typically used for factory made cables. This makes use of the natural surface finish of stainless steel which resists oxidisation. This helps reduce friction throughout the life of the cable. Galvanised wire still has a place and can be a little more durable for certain applications under high load. Galvanised wire is easier to solder and is typically used in DIY kits enabling easy finishing by the user.

The best outer cables are made with a PTFE (Teflon) liner. This provides excellent low friction characteristics for both galvanised and stainless steel inner wire. Although a more expensive material PTFE gives significant benefits compared to cheaper nylon lined cables. The outer cable should also be tightly wound during the production process. Any gaps in the windings can allow the conduit to act like a spring, giving a ‘spongy’ feel during operation. An alternative to coiled conduit is a ‘longitudinal’ conduit. This as the name implies has steel rods running the length of the conduit. This minimises the compression of the conduit but also reduces the flexibility of the cable. Although not often used, it may be the best choice for heavier loads where flexibility is not such an issue, such as static applications.

"Featherlight" control PTFE lined cables take far less effort to pull for greater control. The tight, flat wound steel outer conduit gives greater strength, flexibility and durability, whilst the 'bird caging' process on the inner wire allows solder to penetrate the weave making the bond with the nipple much stronger.

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Learn More with Venhill

The final cable design is selected for the particular application, so clutch cables will be different to brake cables and again different to throttle cables. Over the years the best combinations of material has been developed, to ensure the best product for your motorbike cable, car cable or the many industrial cable applications.

However, what is clear is that the qualities of Teflon help to provide clean, high performing cable systems which last for a long time. For further information on the benefits of Teflon in motorcycle cabling contact us today and discover our range of motorbike cables and accessories.