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Old 06-20-2002, 12:25 PM
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Changing to Stainless Steel Brake Lines

Changing to Stainless Steel Brake Lines

by James Ho
Owners wishing to improve the stock XS’s braking power should consider a switch to braided stainless steel brake lines. Although designated for off-road use in SOME localities, SS brake lines are commonly used on street cars, trucks, and of course, motorcycles. Check your local laws regarding street legality. This upgrade is most effective when the master cylinder/calipers/pads are in good working order.

Benefits of SS brake lines include decreased stopping distance and firmer brake lever feel, due to the inner lining’s resistance to swelling and deterioration. The XS’s stock rubber corded brake lines, if original or over 5 years old, should be replaced due to normal wear and tear. The stock lines swell when pressure is applied, reducing the amount of pressure available to force the caliper against the pad and the pad against the rotor. Stock lines also become contaminated over time, as "spooge" in the master and wheel cylinders travels up/down the lines.

SS brake lines can be ordered directly through companies such as Earl’s or Russell, but most XSives opt to use mailorder houses.

Update 3/14/00
XSive Chris Rawson is now making XS/XJ stainless brake lines. Contact him for details.

Update 4/16/03 - Several list members have complained about the time it is taking to receive thier lines from Chris, and about his lack of communication. Please contact Chris and make sure that lines will be delivered in a time frame you can live with and that he is responsive to your needs before sending any money. Chris has sold me lines twice in the past and although it took several months to get them, I was happy with the price and quality. I am adding this note because some folks have been waiting a long time and feel that they may have been taken. I do not feel that anyone has been taken, but am adding this note so that people who are thinking of ordering these will be aware possible delays and problems that some others have had. GG-Asst. Admin.

Prior to ordering, there are a few questions to answer regarding the set up:


  • Will the stock configuration be retained (1 line from the front master cylinder, 2 lines from the splitter to each front caliper)? Or,

  • Will 2 lines be used (both lines attached to the front master cylinder via a single banjo bolt and then to each front caliper), bypassing the splitter?
  • Since the rear line feeds a single caliper, it is not necessary to use multiple lines. Replacement is straightforward R&R.
  • Measure each hose from the center of one banjo to the center of the other.

  • Note the orientation of one end of the banjo to the other. This is important, as the inner lining does not tolerate moderate bending or flexing. Many banjo fittings are 90 degrees from one end to the other.

  • Then, measure the angle of the banjos; some are straight, others are 35 degrees or more. NOTE – this is for purists only; it only affects asthetics, not performance

  • All stock banjo bolts will be retained (unless they show signs of corrosion or damage - you'll have to take them all the way out to be sure); however, obtain 12 new crush washers.
  • Using the measurements from the stock configuration above, add an additional 2 – 4 inches to compensate for the splitter and any custom routing.
  • A dual banjo bolt will be required to attach the dual lines to the master cylinder. 7 new crush washers also are required.

  • When the new lines arrive, blow out each with compressed air prior to fitting them. Before removing the old lines, cover the gas tank (brake fluid LOVES to eat paint). Drain/Siphon the front master cylinder brake fluid, and remove the banjo bolts and brake lines, recording the banjo angles. If you haven’t cleaned and inspected the master cylinder, calipers and brake pads, now is the time to do it.
  • Remove each brake line, one at a time, and replace it with the new SS line. Match the new banjo’s angle to the old one. Install one crush washer on each side of the banjo and lightly tighten the banjo bolt. After ensuring the line is not twisted or bent, torque each banjo bolt to the specification listed in the GYSM/Clymer’s/Chilton manual.
  • Using the new dual banjo bolt, attach both lines to the master cylinder along with new crush washers. Route each line to its respective caliper (it doesn’t matter which line goes to which caliper). After ensuring the line is not twisted or bent, torque each banjo bolt to the specification listed in the GYSM/Clymer’s/Chilton manual.

  • Add brake fluid and bleed the system. A pressurized pump such as the Mity-Vac makes this an easier, one XSive job. Alternately, SpeedBleeders (one-way bleed screw replacements) will also work.
Recheck all fittings, then go for a slow test ride. You want to make sure you don't have any bubbles or leaks in the system at a speed that won't kill you (or someone else) if you can't stop as fast as you think you can.

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