Hydraulic Handbrake Kits - A Quick Guide

Posted by Phil on 4/2/2018 to New Products
We offer so many different styles of hydraulic brake kits, it can be tough to know which one is right for your application. I'll try to cover the basics here to help guide you on the right path towards getting sideways!

First off, what the heck IS a hydraulic handbrake? Sometimes called a staging brake or drift brake, these are hand-operated levers that are used in conjunction with your car's braking system to lock up an axle. In the drifting world, you'll be pulling the handle to lock up the rear wheels to help control a slide. In the drag racing world, you'll be locking up the axle so you can pre-load the suspension before launching off the line.

The first option we'll cover is the bracket. Twisted Images brakes come in either a "Forward" or "Reverse" mounting style. In both cases, you'll be pulling back on the handle to lock up the brakes- the different mounts just position the master cylinder differently. The Forward Swing bracket puts the master behind the shifter on the transmission tunnel, and the Reverse Swing bracket puts it up under the dash or center console. The leverage effect is the same for either bracket, so it's just a matter of where you prefer to have your master cylinder and lines mounted.

Forward-swing brake kit

Reverse-swing brake kit

Next up, let's talk about the master cylinder. We only use Wilwood brake master cylinders with our kit, because brakes are too important to trust to no-name copies! They're available in two styles- "Reservoir" and "Pass Through".
The pass-through master cylinder is designed to work with your stock braking system- when the handbrake isn't in use, your stock brakes work just like they normally would, but when you pull the lever fluid is pushed to lock up the brakes on demand.

Wilwood pass-through master cylinder

The reservoir master cylinder is for applications with dual calipers mounted at each wheel- your normal braking system operates one set of calipers, and the hand brake is used to operate another dedicated pair.
Obviously, the pass-through setup is a lot cheaper and easier to set up overall, since you don't need an extra pair of brake calipers and custom mounts or knuckles to mount them. But the pass-through setup does come with a quirk. When you have the handle pulled, your regular foot brake is interrupted for that axle, so it takes some practice getting used to using them together. Since the reservoir style master is its own stand-alone system, it and your regular foot brakes will always feel the same when you go to use them. The pass-through master cylinder can have a reservoir added to it later if you end up adding a dual caliper system to your car, so you're not stuck if you decide to upgrade later.

Okay, you know how you want your brake mounted, and you know which style master to put on there. Now, we need to figure out what size master cylinder you need! Most stock rear brakes are going to work best with a 5/8" master cylinder- the bore size is a good match to small rear calipers. There are a few exceptions that will use a 3/4" master on stock brakes, and a lot of aftermarket brake kits will use the 3/4" cylinder as well, so we've made a chart to help you make the right choice:

240SX 89-98 5/8"
300ZX (Z31)84-89 5/8"
300ZX (Z32) 90-96 3/4"
350Z (Z33) 03-09 5/8"
370Z (Z34) 09-17 5/8"
Mustang94-14 5/8"
Crown Victoria ALL 5/8"
Camaro 98-02 5/8"
E30ALL 5/8"
E36 ALL 5/8"
Corolla AE86ALL 5/8"
Supra (MKIV TWIN TURBO) 93-98 3/4"
FR-S / GT86 ALL 5/8"
Lexus IS ALL 5/8"
Lexus GS ALL 5/8"
Lexus SC ALL 5/8"
Don't see your car here? Message us!

Finally, you just have to choose the handle you want! They're both aluminum, they're both the same length, so this is purely a cosmetic decision for you to make. The slotted billet handle looks great by itself, and the round one has a 7/8" diameter to fit BMX grips if you want to make it easier to grab. Once you've decided on the handle, you're ready to order!

Of course, if you still have questions we're here to help- just send a message our way!

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