Brake lines are an integral part of any vehicle. Without efficient brake hoses quickly pushing brake fluid through the system, your braking performance could be impaired or even completely fail. Flexible tubes are required to connect the solid metal brake line to the calipers at the wheels, and most vehicles use a rubber brake hose for this.
These tubes gradually wear down over time and reduce brake effectiveness. At some point in the lifespan of your vehicle you’ll need to replace the brake hoses. When this time comes, you’ll need to decide whether you want to stick with rubber hoses or upgrade your braking system by investing in stainless steel brake lines.
When you’re in the market for motor improvements, you’ll hear a lot of back and forth about whether these types of braided brake hoses are worth the higher cost compared to the traditional rubber versions. Some people rave about their elevated performance, while others are sceptical.
So, are braided brake lines worth the hype and the money? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for purchasing braided steel brake lines.
Why are braided brake lines better than rubber brake lines?
There’s nothing wrong with rubber brake hoses – they were the industry standard for years, as they do their job effectively enough. The issue with rubber is that over time and with extensive use, the constant pressure causes it to swell. This expansion stretches the rubber, weakening your braking performance until the brakes feel ‘soft’ and less responsive.
To combat this problem, braided steel brake lines are formed by wrapping a Teflon hose in tightly braided stainless steel to make it stronger. A PVC coating is often applied around the outside as an extra level of protection against abrasion. The braided design is just as flexible but much more resilient than the rubber version, so it comes with a higher price tag.
Here are just some of the many advantages that braided brake hoses have compared to rubber:
- Higher pressure resistance
Able to withstand pressure without ballooning under constant use, braided brakes can maintain high performance levels for much longer. The steel braiding resists the expansion of the core hose to ensure firm and fast braking with greater effectiveness.
- Increased durability
Rubber may be susceptible to wear and tear, including rotting and corrosion, but reinforced braided steel brakes hold strong even in extreme conditions. From high temperatures to road debris, stainless steel brakes can survive a lot more, saving you money on replacements in the long run.
- Consistent performance
Many drivers or motorcyclists complain of the ‘mushy’ brake feel that occurs when rubber lines bulge and break down over time. You won’t experience this slow sponginess with stainless steel braided brakes, which sustain their responsiveness for years and avoid the dreaded ‘brake fade’.
- More attractive appearance
Shallow as it may seem at first, aesthetics do matter. With braided brake lines, you’re not only investing in better performance, you’re also improving the appearance. Steel brake hoses simply look more appealing, and they’re available in many colours for a contrasting or complementary custom finish.
Should I upgrade to stainless steel brake lines or not?
Still not convinced? If braided brake hoses sound too good to be true, they do have some downsides. The first is that without a protective coating, the braided steel itself is abrasive and could cause damage to its surroundings, but this is obviously easily rectified. The second is the higher price, though it’s possible to find very affordable braided brake lines.
The fact is that there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a basic rubber brake hose if you have a limited budget. It may not seem worth upgrading if you’re an everyday driver or casual rider. However, if you want to benefit from enhanced performance over an extended period of time, the price of improvement is worth it.
Stainless steel brake lines are definitely worth the investment if you’re searching for optimal performance for off-roading or track racing. Increased power and control translates to much faster times, while the tough steel can withstand rocks and mud. If you love to make unique modifications to your vehicle, the variety of colour options is also favourable.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice whether steel brake lines would be better for you or not. If you do decide to go for braided brakes, just remember to make sure that the hardware is compatible with your particular vehicle.