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  1. #1
    I-S
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    Good job! HEL performance braided lines

    I hadn't heard of them either. We've all heard of goodridge of course, and Hope and Magura (and possibly others) offer braided lines. However, I was able to get HEL performance lines for a bit less money. On chainreactioncycles they list for 30 a kit (goodridge are 27), but I got them for 20 per kit + 3 delivery. The kit includes all the terminations for different brakes. In fact, from a single kit you could almost make two front hoses (eg one for magura and one for avid) as there's enough hose (unless you run BIG forks)... you'd just need an extra ferrule.

    After one practice run, I was able to cleanly install all 4 terminations I needed. I decided to swap the front brake (Magura Louise FR 180) from banjo to straight connection (it works better for my cable routing), and to swap the rear (Louise 160) from straight to banjo. I don't have a vice at home, so I had to take them in to work to crimp the ferrules (with the provided tool).

    Once I got the lines installed (no probs there) and bled the rear brake felt great. Firmer than before once the pads hit the rotor (and yes, it was properly bled before). The front... hadn't bled it properly. I went on a couple of shakedown rides (I'd done a load of other stuff to the bike too), and checked I wasn't losing any oil. I've now rebled and got some air out of the front, and it feels as good as the rear.

    As for feel... I think they do feel a little firmer, properly bled, than the stock lines do (again, properly bled). The difference is NOT night and day, and it doesn't make a louise feel like a juicy. Is it worth it? Probably not, on any reasonable objective cost/benefit level (but this applies across all braided line products on the market, and only in comparison to the standard magura tubing which may be better or worse than other manufacturer's stock tubing).

    As for the HEL kit... I had no problems at all. It all seemed to work very nicely, although I have no other braided kits to compare to. That it includes all of the bits (so you can reterminate if you change your brakes) is good, and the price was a bit better than the others.

  2. #2
    I-S
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    And now with glorious technicolour pics:








  3. #3
    Meh.
    Reputation: XSL_WiLL's Avatar
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    Nice writeup.

    Are those lines covered in plastic? Or just raw?

  4. #4
    I-S
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    They have a frame-friendly PVC outer over the stainless, then teflon inside. Like goodridge there are different colours available, although at the price I paid I could only get the plain (I'd have liked the carbon).

  5. #5
    I-S
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    And an update - I've had no trouble whatsoever with these lines.

    Totally unlike the goodridge lines I got with a set of Louise FRs I bought for my other bike.

    It's interesting in that I have been able to do a comparison of the HEL and Goodridge lines. The actual hose is to all intents and purposes identical - it's a teflon tube covered in tight stainless mesh sheathed in PVC. In fact, my understanding is that goodridge, HEL, Hope and others all source their hose from the same subcontractor anyway.

    The difference is in the fittings. As a quick summary, goodridge are easier to fit, but I prefer the HEL because the line can rotate in the fitting after it's done. With the goodridge, the fittings are effectively self-tapping and screw into the end of the hose, the thread around the fitting biting into the teflon in the hose. The HEL fittings are barbed and push into the hose (and do NOT come out - trust me, as I had to redo one fitting the first time I did it, and I had to cut the stainless away and then cut the teflon away because it was totally impossible to pull it out), and then the collar is crimped to add additional (entirely unecessary!) support. The hose can still rotate around the fitting though - the advantage of this is when you get a twist in the hose from doing it up into the caliper or lever, you can just untwist it, and the fitting remains tight, whereas you may be stuck with a partial twist with the goodridge. However, I have somewhat made light of what a pain getting the HEL fittings into the hose is... it is not easy!

    However, the problem I was having with the goodridge was simply that it was leaking from the thread into the caliper - comparing the HEL and goodridge fittings, the thread on the goodridge seemed to be thinner (the pitch was of course the same.... it was just more a sort of \/ angle rather than V (so you can compare those next to one another: \/ V)). Replacing the goodridge fitting with a left-over HEL fitting (no probs with putting it in the goodridge hose which as I said earlier is basically identical) seems to have fixed the leak.

    That I had the spare part available because of HEL's supplying of vast numbers of connectors is another bonus.

    I would definitely buy HEL for my next set of braided hoses.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for posting a followup review. It's nice to hear about how a product works out long-term.

    Does anyone know of a U.S. distributor for the HEL brake line kits? I took a look at www.helusa.com, but saw only motorcycle related products.

  7. #7
    and B+W too
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    Isaac, many thanks for your review of the HEL brakelines, it's great to hear a comparison with Goodridge. Great pics by the way!

    I wonder though, has there been much real world improvement with your Louise's braking experience as a result of your upgrade? and, have you got used to the upgrade since installing them to the point where you wouldn't notice? In braided reviews I've read they range from glowing reports to stating no difference.

    I have some '07 Louise's and have wondered about upgrading to braided. I was thinking of the carbon look Goodridge lines

    PS What gear cables have you got? They look very cool compared to my standard shimano ones

  8. #8
    I-S
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    Kevin - Chain Reaction Cycles in northern Ireland will ship to the USA and they have these kits. I bought mine off ebay (UK).

    RBG- My goodridges are carbon finish. Have a look here. HEL are also available in carbon and other colours.

    In terms of difference - I feel that they did make a slight difference to the lever feel. However, it would be nigh-on impossible to objectively argue that the small improvement is worth the cost of the hoses. They're a nice-to-have and for a bike where you've done everything else you want to, why not? But they're not a must have and not a night-and-day difference.

  9. #9
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    Hi Isaac

    Thanks for your reply. I guess you're confirming my thoughts re putting braided hose on my bike. I do like the idea that they're stronger and more resistant to expansion than standard plastic hose though. I think Magura do a braided hose but that it's expensive?

    Might I ask you Isaac, what Gear cables are you using on the HEL braided hose bike? I liked the look of the Gear shifter cables in your HEL project photos

    Thanks Isaac

  10. #10
    I-S
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    The gear outers are some fairly cheap "Titanium look" ones off ebay. I think it was about 2 per metre. I'm using full-length outer as on that bike it works out only about 6" longer than the combined lengths of outer do for split outers, and in one place the exposed gear cable passes right next to the tyre and collects grit. Looking at the old gear cable (black teflon coated) the only places it was showing silver (wear through the coating) were at teh points where it went from outer to uncovered. I've certainly not found any loss of shifting quality and it has stayed much smoother much longer. However, I'm prepared to admit that the only reason that I use this gear outer rather than normal outer is the looks, to match with the braided hoses.

  11. #11
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    Your outers look very good for the price Isaac, I was thinking they might be 'Flying Snake' or Avid cables. Just goes to show what I know about cable outers eh

    I've just had a look at my bike and I couldn't run the cable outers as full length, as my frame mounts aren't designed for it. Still, no problem, I'm not too unhappy with the idea of just upgrading to Flying Snake gear cables. I believe they're better than the Avid Flak Jackets and XTR cables?

    Also, how did you get on with the HEL braided hose and your frame's mounts? did it fit okay?

  12. #12
    I-S
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    My frame is not set for full-length outers or hydraulic hoses either - it was supplied with cable discs in the original build (I bought the frame only second hand). In the pictures you can see some of the myriad zip ties that hold it all together.

  13. #13
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    Thank Heavens for zip ties!!!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Sibson
    My frame is not set for full-length outers or hydraulic hoses either - it was supplied with cable discs in the original build (I bought the frame only second hand). In the pictures you can see some of the myriad zip ties that hold it all together.
    Some folks drill out the cable stops and run the full-length housing through the drilled out stops. While I'm sure this helps hold the cable in place to some degree, I think a few zip ties would still be required to prevent the cable from sliding back and forth through the cable stops, especially if you have a full suspension bike.

  15. #15
    I-S
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    And yet another follow up.

    I've now changed frame, and the rear banjo fitting is no longer ideal - straight connection would now be better. Unfortunately, as I said in the first follow-up, I used that connector on my other bike, and thus had run out of the straight connectors. I didn't want to use the known leaky goodridge connector, and the only connectors I could find for sale on their own (without buying a new kit) were the goodridge.

    So, I phoned up HEL and spoke to a very friendly chap there, explained the situation and so they're sending me a couple of spares FOC. I have to say it's rare that I've really been so pleased with a product and the company that made it, and this is just for something as small as brake lines. If only all companies did business like this...


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