The Ultimate Guide to Replacing a Motorcycle Brake Hose
Brake hoses are an integral part of your motorcycle’s functionality, facilitating the delivery of fluid to the wheels and enabling effective braking. Brake hoses don’t last forever and understanding when and how to change yours will help make sure your bike is always performing at its best. However, brake fluid is highly corrosive, and the process can be tricky to get right.
Venhill manufactures replacement brake lines and hoses suitable for a wide range of motorcycles. From our Powerhose Plus System to our self-assembly lines and fittings, we are your solution to peak brake performance.
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about motorcycle brake hoses.
What is a Motorcycle Brake Hose?
A network of tubing channels brake fluid around your motorcycle. “Brake line” is a collective term for all mediums of brake fluid piping and can be used to describe rigid pipework or flexible hose.
Rigid hose, that often runs the length of the bike and is particularly common on ABS bikes, cannot connect straight to the wheels as it would break upon impact. Instead, the rigid hose will transition to flexible hose to take the fluid the rest of the way, this usually occurs once the hose exits from under the fuel tank or as it gets to fixed points such as the yoke.
Flexible brake hose is an easy to route tube that is far more commonly used in motorcycles ultimately connects the master cylinder to the brake calliper or slave cylinder. It is this flexibility that allows the hose to adjust to the bike’s movements. The brake lines work to convey pressurised hydraulic fluid to the wheels and facilitate effective braking. That is why it’s essential to make sure your brake hose is in good condition.
Different Types of Flexible Brake Hose
Rubber brake hoses are the most common option and tend to be cheaper. Often made from EPDM with one or two woven fabric layers, they can lose their structural integrity as they age and experience prolonged use. As a result, the rubber can develop cracks, putting your motorcycle at risk of leaking brake fluid and not performing at its best. In serious cases, the inner hose can bulge out in between the woven fabric layers and burst.
Stainless Steel Braided
Braided stainless steel hoses tend to be more efficient as the braiding restricts the expansion of the hose, reducing the amount of pressure lost. As a result, you will have a much better feel of how much braking pressure to apply while riding, as well as the added benefit of the braiding acting as a heatsink to distribute heat away from high-concentration areas. Steel hoses also provide greater durability depending on their quality. At Venhill, our hoses use marine grade stainless steel, making it more resistant to corrosion than other brands. It also features a PVC jacket bonded to the braid to further limit wear and deterioration due to sunlight, water, and road debris.
How Often Do Motorcycle Brake Hoses Need Replacing?
The amount of time a brake hose lasts will depend upon a number of factors. As we have discussed, braided stainless steel hoses are more durable and tend to last for longer. As a general rule, most brake hoses will need replacing after 4-6 years – but the higher quality the hose, the longer it will last. That is why it is critical to choose a reputable manufacturer to ensure you get the maximum value for your money. The way you operate your bike will also impact the lifespan of your brake hose, as well as road conditions, and the amount of regular maintenance you carry out.
How to Tell if Motorcycle Brake Hose Needs Replacing
Brake hoses are vital elements of your motorcycle, but can experience wear and tear over time. Knowing when to replace your brake hoses will make all the difference between brakes that perform, and brakes that don’t have the power you need. More than that, leaking brake fluid can cause damage to your bike if left unchecked.
A key sign that there’s an issue with your brake fluid delivery system might include a spongey brake pedal – and this could be down to the hose. There are also signs of deterioration to look out for during regular visual inspections. These include cracks, powdering, swelling, flaking, tears, hanging threads, and broken torque stripes.
How to Replace Motorcycle Brake Hose
Prepare Work Area
Replacing your brake hose can be messy, so make sure you prepare your work area effectively before you get started. Brake fluid is highly corrosive, so it’s important to cover your bike with old towels as any drips or spills could damage the bodywork.
Be sure to have an old cloth with you too, cleaning any spillages as you go. If you do get any fluid on your cloth, throw it in the bin immediately after you’ve finished so that you don’t accidentally wipe your bike with it at another time.
Before you replace the brake hose, you need to drain brake fluid from the system. Make sure you put a tray under the calliper to collect the fluid, then place a spanner over the bleed nipples and push clear hosing over it (with the other end on the container). Next, apply the brakes and turn the nipple a quarter of a turn. Close and repeat this process until no more fluid is coming out. Once you’ve reached this stage, be sure to remove any left-over residue in the reservoir.
Remove & Replace
It’s finally time to remove the existing brake hose. Undo any fasteners and fittings, making sure a cloth or towel is ready to catch any drips. Put this old hose in a container or plastic bag to dispose of carefully.
Replace Hose & Fittings
Reverse the steps you took to remove the old hose and put the new one in place, attaching to the break line and the wheel calliper. Remember to fit the new hoses following the original routing and be sure to tighten them up.
Try to limit twists and kinks in the tubing as this can impact functionality. Venhill use threaded swivel fittings to allow hose to be positioned with zero twist, and we machine our own banjo fittings to ensure high functionality.
Finish & Wash Bike
Finish the process by topping up the master cylinder reservoir with new fluid to bleed the break lines. Finally, even though you took precautions and covered your motorcycle well, make sure you now wash it down with warm soapy water. Even the tiniest smear of brake fluid can cause damage.
Once you’ve finished the process, we advise taking your bike out for a quick test in a quiet area. Here you can identify whether there are any problems that need addressing.
Boost Your Motorcycle Performance with Quality Brake Lines & Hoses
At Venhill, we’ve been helping motorcyclists upgrade their braking performance with top quality brake lines and hoses for 50 years. Designed in the UK with durability and efficient fluid flow in mind, our products exceed American DOT and German TUV requirements. We also pressure test our hoses to 1500psi and test random hoses to 10,000psi every 30 days.
Alternatively, you can use our Line Builder Tool and have your fittings custom-made by us.
Our Vampire Vacuum Pump Brake Bleed Set is the ideal solution if you’re after simple, quick and efficient single handed brake bleeding.