Maintenance Tips for Motorcycle Brakes (Part 2): Brake Hose

We have written about the need to replace your motorcycle’s brake fluid every two years; let’s continue with the brake maintenance tips.

Just as the brake fluid is the most important component of a motorcycle’s hydraulic brake system, the hoses are the vessels for the fluid—just like how the blood vessels in our bodies circulate blood.

Motorcycle brake hoses require replacing every four years. That is if the motorcycle has not met with an accident or if the hoses are not frayed or kinked earlier. Four years is a good interval since you can replace them every second time you replace the brake fluid.

Most motorcycles are fitted with rubber hoses ex-factory. Rubber hoses do their job well, but they tend to expand when high pressure is fed through them as they age. You will feel that the brakes then start to lose power or feel spongy when you apply hard braking pressure.

On the other hand, steel-braided hoses are good as they resist expansion, providing consistent braking power and feel. That means, contrary to popular belief, steel-braided hoses do not increase braking power.

Do choose hoses from reputable brands such as HEL, EBC, Goodridge, etc. You will also need one or two bottles of fresh brake fluid.

STEP 1 – PREPARATION

  • Keep in mind that brake fluid is corrosive.
  • Place a pan under the caliper(s) to catch the fluid.
  • Place a rag around master cylinder.
  • Remove the master cylinder’s cap.
  • Prepare another clean rag to wipe down any spilled fluid.

 

STEP 2 – REMOVE FITTINGS

  • Remove the bolts that attach the brake hoses to the calipers.
  • Remove and get rid of the crush washers.
  • Pump the brake lever to push the brake fluid out of the old hoses.
  • Once all fluid has been drained, remove the banjo bolt that attaches to the master cylinder.
  • Remove the brake hoses.

 

STEP 3 – REPLACE FITTINGS

  • Replace the crush washers.
  • Attach the new hose to the master cylinder and tighten the banjo bolt. Do not overtighten!
  • Attach the other end of the hose to the calipers, but do not tighten all the way.
  • Add brake fluid to the reservoir.
  • Pump the brake lever until you see brake fluid coming out of the banjo bolts.
  • Tighten the banjo bolts.
  • Wipe off the spilled brake fluid.

 

STEP 4 – FINISHING UP

  • Refill the master cylinder’s reservoir.
  • Bleed the brake system.
  • Place a transparent tube (like those aquarium air pump tubes) on the caliper’s bleed nipple.
  • Squeeze the brake lever all the way in and hold it.
  • Open the caliper’s bleed screw to let some fluid out.
  • Tighten the bleed screw.
  • Release the brake lever.
  • Squeeze it to the maximum again.
  • Open the bleed screw and retighten it.
  • Continue until air bubbles disappear.
  • You will need to bleed again if it comes all the way back to the handlebar.
  • Once bleeding is done, top up the brake fluid.
  • Clean the master cylinder cap and dry it.
  • Replace the cap.
  • Push the bike on foot and press the brake lever to check.
  • If it feels okay, ride the bike at parking speeds and press the lever a few times to check.

For a visual guide, watch the video below:

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