Ultimate Hydraulic Handbrake Guide

author avatarJoe Terrell
12/23/201923rd December, 2019
Filed under Universal Guides

Is your stock handbrake struggling to live up to your drift king expectations? A hydraulic handbrake is the perfect solution for your issues. Our guide will walk you through best options for you.

hydraulic handbrake guide


In a hurry? Here is our best hydraulic handbrake summary

Budget Choice Drifted Choice Premium Choice
gktech budget hydraulic handbrake OBP lockable vertical hydraulic handbrake voodoo universal hydraulic handbrake
GKTECH Budget Hydraulic Handbrake Kit OBP Motorsport Lockable Hydraulic Handbrake Voodoo13 Hydraulic Handbrake Kit
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Buy Now Buy Now Buy Now

race car interior with hydraulic handbrake

You’ve no doubt found your way here as you’re planning to install one of the most essential upgrades to a well-prepared drift car.

Sure, the stock handbrake in your car may well be adequate for your needs when kicking the back end out in a parking lot, but when it comes to tricky initiations at the track, a hydraulic handbrake is definitely going to be the best choice to maximize your potential.

Other benefits of switching are that the traditional handbrake operates on a cable, and over time, especially when used in anger, that cable will end up stretching and potentially snapping… Repeatedly.

fredric aasbo interior with hydraulic handbrake

On the other hand, hydraulic systems rely on fluid for pressure, which provides far superior performance.

If you’re lucky enough to be getting a lot of seat time, the chances are that you’re already bored of fixing and replacing your tired handbrake cables, and your time is going to far better spent with little extra cash and a few hours of your time installing the hydraulic alternative.

What is a hydraulic handbrake?

There’s no shortage of names given to hydraulic handbrakes, so whether you’ve heard about a hydro, hydro brake, e-brake, wand, or another variation, they’re going to be exactly the same.

This excellent video provides an in-depth explanation of how hydraulic handbrakes work:

The purpose of a hydraulic handbrake is to lock up the rear wheels of the car. If this is activated when driving straight, your car will simply skid to a stop. However, if it’s used alongside a weight-shifting technique, then it will allow for far superior control over the rear of the car.

If you’re keen to know more, then we highly recommend that you check out our How to drift guide or let the Drift King himself show you how it’s done!

Where should I mount my hydraulic handbrake?

As you may have guessed, this decision is mainly down to personal preference, but there are some other elements that we recommend considering.

When it comes to choosing the location, the best idea is to get in your car and feel where you’d be happiest having the handbrake for ease of use.

You’ll then want to decide whether you’ll be opting for a horizontal hydro, which is similar to your stock handbrake, or the more-common vertical choice.

Once decided, it’s preferable to find a strong mounting point, preferably double-skinned, and also to ensure that the area provides enough leverage for the hydro to be pulled far enough.

formula drift omp interior with hydraulic handbrake

There’s nothing more frustrating than going through the installation process just to realize it hits something before it reaches its full potential.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re installing this in your road car, you’ll definitely want to check out your local laws. Some allow for the hydro to be installed, as long as the original handbrake is still usable.

In this instance, you’ll want to mount it in a different location so that you can still retain the stock handbrake.

This great video will explain everything that’s needed for a clean hydro install:

Now that you’ve significantly increased your hydro-knowledge, let’s dive into the best hydraulic handbrakes on the market!

Let’s find your perfect hydraulic handbrake

Let’s take a look at our hydraulic handbrake selection. To find out more deatiled information about any of these products, just click on the product name or photo.

Wilwood Vertical Grip Hydraulic Handbrake

wilwood vertical grip hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: Unless you’re new to the tuning scene, you’ll know doubt know of Wilwood as being one of the highest-regarded brands on the market when it comes to aftermarket brakes.

As always, the quality of their products is exceptional, and the same goes for this awesome-looking vertical grip handbrake assembly.

This hydro has been crafted using lightweight forged aluminium and can be used in either vertical or horizontal orientation depending on your needs. Since this is just the assembly, you will also need to take a look at their master cylinders and supporting upgrades. You can view the full range of Wilwood products here.

Manufacturer description:Wilwood handbrake lever assemblies provide a lightweight, high-leverage component for drift cars, drag race cars and rally cars or any application where hand-actuation of one or more brake calipers is employed.

With a lightweight aluminum forged 11:1 ratio “H” beam lever with ergonomic grip in a choice of vertical or horizontal static lever positioning Accepts any vertical flange master cylinder with 2.25” mount centers. Finished an a durable long lasting e-coat finish for corrosion resistance.


GKTECH Budget Hydraulic Handbrake Kit

gktech budget hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: GKTech has branded this kit as ‘budget’, but they should have named it ‘bargain’! This Nissan-based kit comes with a handle, assembly and master cylinder and also has a reasonably priced optional braided line upgrade.

This kit is a cheap alternative to the more expensive GKTech kit and runs through the OEM rear calipers, which is a direct fit with no caliper modifications required. You will need to disable your ABS, which is extremely easy to do.

For an entry-level setup on your Nissan, this could be the perfect solution if you’re not looking to go crazy with your build. With extremely easy installation and irreversible modifications, it certainly ticks a lot of the right boxes. GKTech claims that this can be installed in just 30 minutes!

Manufacturer description:The GKTECH budget hydraulic e-brake kits are designed as a cheap alternative to our complete stand alone hydraulic e-brake setup which requires additional calipers, pads and brackets to run the extra calipers.

The in-line kit runs through your existing rear calipers and with the inclusion of the braided lines in this kit, is a direct fit with no modifications required.


ISR Performance V1 Hydraulic Handbrake Kit

isr peformance hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: ISR Performance offer a wide variety of aftermarket parts to the marketplace, and this V1 hydraulic handbrake is another great product from them.

With the additional options of adding on a Wilwood master cylinder and an install kit, this could be a fantastic plug-and-play setup, and although it’ll be an improvement over the GKTech kit, it does come at a higher price.

With their optional installation kit, this is another great off-the-shelf solution at a great price.

Manufacturer description:We have the first design of the ISR hydraulic e-brake ready for order, and this part is built to perform. This L-shaped hydraulic handbrake kit is specifically designed for drifting, rally, and track racing vehicles, but you can install it in any vehicle due to its universal application.

ISR’s hydraulic handbrake requires less force to lock the rear wheels and eliminates the common weaknesses found in standard cable-type handbrakes. This hydraulic e-brake features a vertical pull-style design and is 13 inches from the base to the top.


GKTECH Wilwood S-Chassis Dual Caliper Hydraulic Handbrake Kit

gktech willwood s chassis hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: We’ve already covered GKTech’s budget kit in our guide, but this S-Chassis dual caliper is undoubtedly the most impressive offering on the market.

GKTech has saved you the hassle of doing thorough research and shopping around collecting various parts by putting all of the best products in one convenient package.

From the handbrake which comes in various colors, you then get to craft your package from their many options, including: Dual rear brake calipers and pads, master cylinder, GKTech’s own dual caliper brackets, braided lines, and brake pads. There is also the option to buy axel spacers and specific adapters to fit this kit to your GT-R/Z32.

For Nissan owners, this really is the ultimate package for ease, convenience, and peace of mind that you’re purchasing the best components on the market.

Manufacturer description:Avoid wasting time shopping around for all the individual parts, getting custom brake lines made up, or running generic parts that may or may not work.

The GKTECH S-chassis dual caliper hydraulic handbrake setup is the only COMPLETE kit available anywhere. Literally, everything required is included and it’s a range of GKTECH and Wilwood components. If you have an S-chassis and you want your rear brakes to lock up in an instant, this kit is the way to go.


K Sport Hydraulic Handbrake

k sport hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: K Sport is known for being a little hit-or-miss with the quality of some of their products, and some of the finer aspects of the kit when it comes to attention to detail have been ignored.

Considering it’s within the same price bracket as several highly-regarded kits in our list, we would personally opt for one of the alternatives.

With that being said, many people already own this kit and have been happy with it, so it may well be adequate for your needs.

Manufacturer description:The Ksport high quality Hydraulic Handbrake is a necessity for any drift or rally vehicle. The lever can be used in either a normal or upright position by simply changing the handle position by undoing one bolt. The handbrake is available with either a 3/4″ or 5/8″ Master Cylinder.

Drifting and rally driving requires extensive use of the handbrake, and eliminates the weaknesses in standard cable type handbrakes. This hydraulic handbrake requires a lot less force to lock the rear brakes when desired.


Wilwood Horizontal Grip Hydraulic Handbrake

wilwood horizontal grip hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: This is the second choice from Wilwood on our list, this time with their Horizontal-grip hydro if the Vertical-orientation doesn’t suit your needs.

As always, the quality of their products is exceptional, and the same goes for this awesome-looking vertical grip handbrake assembly.

This hydro has been crafted using lightweight forged aluminium and can be used in either vertical or horizontal orientation depending on your needs. Since this is just the assembly, you will also need to take a look at their master cylinders and supporting upgrades. You can view the full range of Wilwood products here.

Manufacturer description:Wilwood handbrake lever assemblies provide a lightweight, high-leverage component for drift cars, drag race cars and rally cars or any application where hand-actuation of one or more brake calipers is employed.

Wilwood handbrake lever assemblies provide a lightweight, high-leverage component for drift cars, drag race cars and rally cars or any application where hand-actuation of one or more brake calipers is employed.


ISR Performance V2 Hydraulic Handbrake Kit

isr performance v2 hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: After launching their 13″ V1 to the market, ISR Performance has now launched their V2 which is a whopping 18.5″ tall.

With an optional master cylinder and install kit, this is another great off-the-shelf option if you’re looking for a taller hydro than the previously reviewed V1.

Considering this is a larger product, it does come with a slightly higher price-tag, but it’s still well worth the money.

Manufacturer description:The V2 L-shaped hand brake features a 1.5in Thick handle at the top then tapers to 1.2in thick at the bottom, also its 18.5in tall and 10in long with master. Perfect for any Drift or Rally car.


OBP Motorsport Lockable Hydraulic Handbrake

OBP lockable vertical hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: UK-based OBP Motorsports are one of the highest-regarded brands in motorsport, and commonly found in competitive drift cars which vouch for their quality.

With a wide range of adjustability, this hydraulic handbrake can be used in a vertical or horizontal orientation, but it can also be used at 45-degrees with a unique adjustable locking position.

On top of that, there’s also the choice of two colors, the option of adding a master cylinder AND two different lengths to choose from.

The quality of this product and fantastic price along with huge amounts of customization has certainly earned itself some praise and takes the top spot as the best universal choice in our list so far.

Manufacturer description:Drifting and Rally driving requires extensive use of the handbrake, which can show weaknesses in standard cable type handbrakes. The hydraulic system eliminates the weaknesses as in the standard cable type handbrakes.

The hydraulic system connects into the brake line that runs to the rear calipers and requires a lot less force to completely lock both rear wheels when needed. A hydraulic hand brake can be added into the rear brake line system without changing the original mechanical handbrake setup.


GKTECH V2 Hydraulic Handbrake

gktech v2 e-brake assmebly

Our comment: This is the third choice from GKTech in our list and this time around they’ve opted for a stylish twist on the traditional design at a fantastic price.

With a selection of funky colors to choose from, this CNC-machined aluminium kit is lightweight yet extremely strong after a significant amount of research was carried out to ensure loads were evenly distributed across the assembly.

Another fantastic product from GKTech and you can also opt for their optional-extra master cylinder at a reasonable price.

Manufacturer description:The GKTECH V2 hydraulic e-brake assembly is a pull type to be located in front of the shifter (towards the front of the car).

With our CNC machined aluminium e-brake handles the whole unit is lightweight although very strong after a significant amount of FEA to ensure loads were evenly distributed across the e-brake assembly. With the handles available in a variety of colors they look great and work equally as well.


Levelride Concepts Hydraulic Handbrake

levelride concepts inline hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: Levelride Concepts are one of the smaller companies in the tuning scene, and they bring this unique product to the market which comes with a Wilwood master cylinder.

A convenient choice for those of you that are after a simple package and dig the straight bar design. The assembly comes powder-coated in either black, blue, green, red or a raw finish.

you can also check out their various other products with custom-made mounts for specific rides here.

Manufacturer description:The crew at Levelride respects and understands the aspects of racing and embraces it to the fullest. Their one motto is “Live by your principals, drive by your instinct.” All Levelride products are handmade here in the USA!


NonStopTuning Hydraulic Handbrake

nonstoptuning nst hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: This offering from NonStopTuning is another unique option in our list, which will certainly stand out in your interior!

NST has been known for sponsoring a wide-variety of Formula Drift drivers over the years, so their products are certainly capable when it comes to being pushed to their limits!

This price includes a pass-through master and comes in Neo Chrome. You can check out more of their variations here.

Manufacturer description:Drifting and rally requires extensive use of the handbrake and quickly exposes the inherent weaknesses in the standard cable type handbrakes supplied by the OEM.

The NST handbrake requires less force to lock the rear brakes and results in better car control. The NST handbrake also includes a locking mechanism to help lock the brakes when the vehicle is parked.


Voodoo13 Hydraulic Handbrake Kit

voodoo universal hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: Voodoo13 bring their typical high quality and impeccable attention to detail to our list with this awesome-looking hydro, which they claim is the ‘absolute best on the market.’

It’s certainly a great product, and it comes with a wide amount of adjustment possibilities to fit your driving style. Adjustments include the level of pressure, handle length, throw distance and handle orientation.

Weight has been kept to a minimum with USA-sourced 6061 aluminium which allows for impressive strength.

We have no doubt that this is one of, if not THE best product on the market just like Voodoo13 claim, but it certainly comes at a price considering there’s no master cylinder included. If you’re looking for the finest products for your build, this is the way to go.

Although the standalone product is expensive, their package deals with the Wilwood master cylinder included are well-priced, so we highly recommend checking those out.

Manufacturer description:In keeping with Voodoo 13’s reputation for quality American manufactured products, they introduce their new adjustable hydraulic handbrake. Voodoo 13 debuted their handbrake at the 2016 SEMA Show and after additional testing and feedback from customers and pro drivers, they are confident that they have designed the best handbrake on the market today.

What makes Voodoo 13’s hand brake the absolute best on the market is the amount of adjustable configurations that can be made to fit any driving style. You can adjust the amount of brake pressure, handle length, throw distance and handle orientation.High quality USA sourced 6061 aluminum is used to construct this masterpiece and ensures weight is kept to a minimum yet maintains incredible strength. The base, side plates and handle are CNC machined, anodized and then put back into the CNC machine for logo engraving. This is not your run of the mill basic handbrake, Voodoo 13 has spent many hours on programming, set up and machine time to provide their customers with only the very best product possible.


Godspeed Project Type-2 Hydraulic Handbrake

godspeed project red hydraulic handbrake

Our comment: Godspeed Project is the final selection on our list, and this product comes at an extremely reasonable price considering it includes the master cylinder.

We’ve heard some mixed reviews from owners, and these aren’t the best quality on the market. Combined with the no-frills looks, we would personally throw a little more money into the piggy bank and get something a little more exciting.

Manufacturer description:Godspeed Project’s hydraulic handbrake kit is a high quality aftermarket handbrake that is essential for any drift or rally vehicle. This is a universal product that can be installed onto any vehicle and is specifically designed for race usage. This handbrake allows the rear wheel to fully lock and allow you to slide the car.

The handbrake lever can either be installed in a VERTICAL or HORIZONTAL position for easy access while driving. By using a hydraulic handbrake, you reduce the stress on OEM parking brake. A hydraulic hand brake can be added into the rear brake line system without changing the original mechanical handbrake setup. It is easier to lock up the rear wheels with a hydraulic handbrake. Drivers regularly need to turn hard left or right and there’s not enough wheel lock to achieve doing so otherwise.


Our winner

Our winner is the OBP Motorsport Lockable hydraulic handbrake

To pick our winner from this choice of awesome hydro’s on the market, we looked at a number of criteria; price, quality, adjustability, and design.

Based on these criteria we have chosen the OBP Motorsport Lockable hydraulic handbrake to be our winner.

OBP Motorsport Lockable hydraulic handbrake

obp lockable hydraulic handbrake

In our opinion, the OBP hydro really stands above its competitors in many ways. Not only is it extremely reasonably priced, but the quality is incredible for the money, and it also provides a substantial amount of added features and adjustment capabilities.

If you’re on a budget, then the GKTECH Budget Kit provides insane value for money, and although it comes with a budget price tag, it certainly isn’t budget quality!

At the upper-end of our list, the Voodoo13 Hydraulic Handbrake Kit is certainly an impressive alternative. If you’re creating the ultimate build and aren’t shy when it comes to spending extra bucks to get the finest products, this could well be the perfect choice for you.

370z stripped inteior with hydraulic handbrake

Thank you for reading our hydraulic handbrake guide

We hope that you’re now confident in choosing the right product for your needs, whether it’s cruising on the street or tearing it up at the track!

Enjoyed this article? We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to provide the best products to get both you, and your car track or competition-ready, make sure you take a moment to check out some of our other recent guides?

Photography credits

We would like to thank the following sources for the use of their images:

If you enjoyed this article then please share it with the buttons at the side and bottom of your screen. Find this information useful? Please post a link to it on your car owners club. We really appreciate your support.

author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

Rate This Article

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

You can use this feature to rate this page. Please be generous, giving a higher rating helps us to create more content like this 🙏