How to Install a Brake Snake on Your Motorcycle

Brake snakes, also known as brake savers or pedal anchors, protect the rear brake pedal from trail disasters. Kits are affordable and easy to install, or you can make one yourself with basic hardware and a steel cable. They are simple yet effective.

First, let’s understand how they work, then we’ll go through the installation process to get ready for a challenging ride.

What is a Brake Snake?

A brake snake ties the rear brake pedal to the motorcycle frame to prevent damage and jamming. A typical brake snake consists of a short length of braided steel cable, some crimp sleeves, and a cable sheath, often made of rubber tubing. Fancy brake snakes might have threaded ferrules and mounting tabs that bolt to the frame.

The basic idea is the same regardless of the design, so don’t worry too much about choosing the “right” one. Off-road riders have used brake snakes since the early days of Baja racing to improve durability in technical environments. Some riders also tie down their shift levers.

How Does a Brake Snake Work?

When installed correctly, a brake snake allows enough space for the pedal to move freely but not much more. Any outward bending of the brake pedal due to a hard hit on the right side is limited by the brake snake’s length. Sure, your pedal might bend an inch from its usual position, but that’s better than a pedal bent into a U-shape or damaged so much that it breaks, especially an aluminum one. Brake snakes increase your chances of finishing a ride or race after a major wipeout.

Brake snakes also deflect debris. Have you ever had a stick or vine get jammed between your brake pedal and the motorcycle frame? A jammed brake pedal is a safety issue and takes some fun out of your ride. Brake snakes resist snags by blocking the narrow space within the rear brake pedal. Although it doesn’t guarantee jam-free operation, a brake snake should fend off the worst of it.

How to Install a Brake Snake

Adding a brake snake is an easy and quick modification that any rider can handle. You’ll need a brake snake kit, a drill, a drill bit slightly larger than the cable diameter, and cutting pliers. (Electrician’s or lineman’s pliers work well. Naturally, kits with threaded ferrules require screwdrivers instead of pliers.)

You can save some money by recycling an old clutch cable into your brake snake kit. Clutch cables already have a braided steel core, a durable outer sheath, and a ball end. All you need is a ferrule from your local hardware store to create the loop.

Find a spot on the brake pedal where you can drill a hole just large enough for the brake snake’s steel cable. Position the hole as far forward as possible. Some dirt bikes already have a hole through the rear brake pedal for this purpose. Thread the steel cable through as we move to the pattern step.

Proper brake snake placement meets three conditions: full pedal movement range, secure frame support in front of the pedal, and complete blocking of the vulnerable frame-pedal space. Try different cable mounting positions until you find the right spot: better too loose than too tight.

Once you find the position, cut the protective sheath if necessary, then slide the sheath over the cable, followed by the ferrule. Insert the cable end into the ferrule to complete the frame loop, then crimp the ferrule to secure your new brake snake. Trim any excess and hit the trail after confirming that the brake pedal has a full range of motion.

The entire process takes a few minutes with basic hand tools and could save your next day in the dirt.


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How to Install a Brake Snake on Your Motorcycle


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