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How Brake Lines Work


Motorcycle Brake Lines
Motorcycle riders typically don't have the luxury of a brake proportioning valve. It takes practice to learn how to slow or stop a motorcycle safely.
Motorcycle riders typically don't have the luxury of a brake proportioning valve. It takes practice to learn how to slow or stop a motorcycle safely.
©­­iStockphoto/Ljupco Smokovski

Motorcycle brak­e lines work in much the same way as car brake lines. They deliver brake fluid under pressure from the master cylinder to the brakes. That's great in theory, but in practice there are a few differences.

For one thing, when you apply the brakes in your car, brake balance is handled by a brake proportioning valve. This valve determines how much hydraulic pressure each axle requires to slow or stop the vehicle safely. On a motorcycle, the rider controls this manually by using a front and a rear brake control. The front brake is operated by the rider's right hand, and the rear brake is operated by the rider's right foot. Riders have to be adept at applying the appropriate amount of pressure to both the front and rear brakes.

Another difference between motorcycle brake lines and car brake lines is actually a cosmetic difference -- brake lines are typically more visible on motorcycles than on cars or trucks. While some custom motorcycle builders hide the brake lines in the motorcycle's frame, most factory bikes have the lines that connect the brake parts running along the frame in plain sight. As a result, a lot of motorcycle riders think just as much about the aesthetics of the lines as they do the function. Braided steel lines are a popular choice, and line connectors -- the places where the brake lines attach to a brake part, like a caliper or the master cylinder -- often have engravings or other designs on them. Motorcycles can also use hard steel lines, just like in a car.

­When most people think of performance, they don't think of their brakes. Keep reading to find out how performance brake lines can take your car to the next level


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