Best Roll Cage Tubing Bender: Manual, Hydraulic, Electric Models
In the 1950s, roll cages cut tractor deaths by over 70 percent. These items, albeit being unknown to many people, have saved numerous people from injury and death.
I first heard about them in the fall of 2006. My cousin Tony had just finished high school, and his dad had bought him a brand new Ford Mustang.
Poor lad was obsessed with racing, but he did not care to learn and understand the safety procedures pertaining to racing.
So, he signed up for a race that was to take place in Texas in mid-September. And he invited me and a few other cousins to cheer him on.
Tony had a gruesome accident involving his car and two others that were part of the race.
That’s how Tony died. The most surprising thing was that the other drivers did not die. And the reason – they had a roll cage installed while he didn’t.
If you’re a race car driver, or you’re used to speeds of over 150 mph, you might want to install a roll cage on your car.
But you don’t have to get someone to do the installation for you. If you’re a DIYer, or a mechanic, all you need is the best roll cage tubing bender you can get your hands on, and the right steel tubes.
In this article, I will walk you through some of the finest roll cage tube bender models I have encountered.
Let’s get started.
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What Are the Benefits of Using Roll Cage Tube Bender?
If you’re a fabricator or a race car driver or mechanic, a roll cage tube bender is one of the tools you should own. The benefits lie in what this tool helps you do, as well as the benefits that come with the items the tool helps you build.
Let’s highlight some of the benefits:
Our Top 10 Best Tubing Bender for Roll Cages
1. Happybuy Pipe Tube Bender
Looking for a decent bender for small projects? The Happybuy Pipe Tube Bender would be a fine consideration. I do not recommend this for heavy gauge metal or for any industrial applications, but the unit works really well for thin tubing.
With this machine, you can bend tubes with a dimeter/thickness of between 0.625 inches and 1.5 inches. The compatible wall thickness is between 0.03 and 0.08 inches.
Coming with 7 different dies, the machine enables you to work with pipes of different wall thicknesses.
That is not a very wide range, and it’s clear that the unit is not for bending thick tubes. But for the small tubes within that range, the tool does the job well.
And not just that. You can also bend solid round rods with a diameter of 3/8 inches without much hassle.
Many of those I talked to who use this unit complained about the dies. They said the dies become deformed quickly, reducing the unit’s functionality.
But I came to a helpful realization. Yes, the dies are not the sturdiest on the market, but there’s a way around it – shooting some WD40 into the dies and onto all of the machine’s moving parts.
That way, you reduce the friction, thereby lessening the rate of deterioration of the dies and the machine in general.
If the Happybuy Pipe Tube Bender has one thing going for, it is the ease of use. That is possible, thanks to the long handle. It is a lightweight yet sturdy steel handle that reduces the effort needed to create bends.
One disadvantage that you’ll hear many people complaining about is the fact that the bender is not very stable as it weighs in at just 54 pounds. You have to mount it on a concrete wall or bolt it down on a strong steel frame.
On the brighter side, the unit is lightweight enough to carry from place to place.
2. Affordable Bender Hydraulic Tube Bender
For someone looking for an inexpensive manual bender that works great without much elbow grease, the Affordable Bender Hydraulic Tube Bender would be a great choice.
The unit comes with an 8-ton bottle jack, which makes it fully hydraulic. This, in turn, makes bending metal tubes and rods with the unit a lot easier compared to a whole bunch of other units on the market.
Before getting this unit, there’s one thing you need to know. The included die only bends metal tubes with a thickness of 1.75 inches. That might seem like a pretty fixed functionality, but it’s nothing to keep you from getting this machine.
You can purchase the additional dies you need from the company and use them with the unit.
The unit accepts dies compatible with 1.25, 1.50, 1.625, and 1.75 inches.
As for the wall thickness, the machine gives you a little freedom. You can bend metals with a wall thickness of between 0.080 and 0.120 inches.
If you’re looking to create a roll cage for racing, then you might already know that there are standards. For instance, the bends have to be flawlessly round and smooth.
What makes the Affordable Bender such a great selection is that it helps you achieve that. It creates bends that are nice, clean, and smooth. Its bends pass technical inspections such as SCCA and SCORE.
One thing I liked a lot about the machine is that it is portable. It weighs less than 50 pounds, and as it is compact, taking it from place to place is easy.
Like the previous unit, this bender is not recommended for heavy duty projects. It is for the small projects at the shop.
Another drawback is that it needs proper support to work, for instance from a clamp.
But with the Affordable Bender Hydraulic Tube Bender, you definitely get what you pay for. It is a compact bender that works great for the small projects.
3. Goplus Heavy Duty Hydraulic Tube Bender
If ease of use is what you’re looking for in a manual bender, then the Goplus Heavy Duty Hydraulic Tube Bender would be a fine pick. With this unit, the set up is effortless and so is changing the dies.
But there’s one reason that makes the bender an item of choice among many people – the price. It goes for less than 150 bucks. That being said, you get what you pay for, so don’t expect much from this machine.
The unit utilizes a hydraulic system to get the metal to bend. You will love the power it offers – up to 12 tons weight capacity.
With a pull back spring system, the machine makes the physical work relatively easy. You get the job done without being left feeling very exhausted.
Worried about having to buy dies separately?
You might have to buy any. When you purchase this unit, you get 6 free dies. The dies are sized differently, enabling you to work with varying pipe thicknesses going from a half inch all the way to 2 inches.
But be informed, there’s a quality problem. Albeit the machine is able to keep up with a weight capacity of up to 12 tons, the provided dies are not the best quality.
Put under too much pressure, they crack. That is why I suggest avoiding to bend rods. Work only with tubes, and stick to small wall thicknesses of up to 0.08 inches.
If you’re on a budget, and you’re only buying a tubing bender for light duty applications, you definitely want to check out the Goplus Heavy Duty Hydraulic Tube Bender.
4. Allstar Hydraulic Tubing Bender
For a lightweight and easy to transport unit that is able to bend metals in a wide range of applications, you might want to think about the Allstar Hydraulic Tubing Bender.
Weighing in at just 42 pounds, this is one of the portable benders out there.
This unit comes with a cast aluminum shoe for 1-inch, 1 ¼-inch, 1 ½, 1 5/8, or 1 3/4 -inch tubing. You get to select the size that works for you.
Well, I first found this in Jim’s shop. Jim is my friend who lives across the street. The unit looked heavy duty and really rugged and it sat snugly on the floor. Jim had welded it onto a metal base.
He explained that without the welding, the unit would shake a lot and fall off during operation. Jim also explained that although the bender looked rugged, it was not really for the hard tasks.
It was for the light duty uses. “A wall thickness of more than 0.132 for steel tubing or 0.12 for chrome moly tubing will definitely take a toll,” he explained.
But on the brighter side, this is a really low priced unit. I observed that as long as you stick thin tubing; as long as you don’t try to bend anything with industrial strength, then the unit works well.
Jim’s unit broke after a year from the time he bought it. He had stuck to the correct supported tube sizes, so it’s not a matter of negligence. It was the machine’s quality.
The unit decided to air lock, refusing to pump anymore, and despite Jim trying hard to get the issue resolved, the bender simply refused to go any farther.
So, the Allstar Hydraulic Tubing Bender is a portable unit that works well for light duty uses, and that has a lifespan of around a year. It is low priced, and from the look of things, you get what you pay for.
5. KAKA Industrial HB-8
If you can spare about 550 bucks, then the KAKA Industrial HB-8 would be a really fine selection.
The quality is much better than any of the units we’ve discussed above. Even just by looking at the pictures, you can see this machine looks rugged.
With a solid steel frame and a base made of cast iron, the machine is really stable. That is one of the things I loved most about it. The unit is heavy enough and adequately stable to work without being bolted down.
But you know what is most amazing about this hydraulic unit?
Its precision bending capability. Forget about the units that leave your tubes with defamed or flattened edges. This unit ensures that the bend is smooth and nicely round, thanks to the support offered by the frame and the robust steel dies.
Speaking of the dies, there are five of these included. The dies are of different sizes, going from ¾ inches all the way to 1 ¾ inches.
If you’re looking for something that offers you power, so that getting the metal to bend won’t be a hassle, then the KAKA Industrial HB-8 is a good choice. Why?
It is hydraulic backed, and it comes with a long handle. With it, you can bend pipes to an angle of up to 90 degrees.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a budget unit. But you get what you pay for. The quality is really good. There are those who say it should come with more dies, but still, the 5 that are included are pretty handy. And one thing is for sure – this one will serve you for years.
6. Baileigh RDB-050
For a professional who needs the best tubing bender for roll cage that operates by hand, the Baileigh RDB-050 would be a good pick. It might cost 5 times as much as some of those models we’ve talked about above, but in the same way, it’s strength and durability is 5 times as much.
The first thing that caught my eye with regards to this machine is its revolutionary design.
It features a tall base, on which a horizontal bending platform is placed. The design is such that you don’t need to assemble or disassemble anything when bending the metals. You simply place your pipe in the hook arm insert and bend it.
You will love the three selectable speeds. The first speed moves at 4 degrees per pull. This one is suitable for heavier materials like chrome alloy with a maximum thickness of 2 inches. You can also use it to bend steel with a maximum thickness of 2 ½ inches.
The second speed enables you to move at 8 degrees per pull. And with the third speed, you get to move at 12° per pull. The intermediate speed is for materials not too heavy or too light, while the third speed is most appropriate for light gauge tubing.
With many manual benders, the operator has to hold the bend in place to prevent the tubing from springing back. What makes this unit special is that you don’t have to hold the bend in place.
The machine is fitted with an anti-springback system that does the work for you. That way, you can ratchet forward, even take breaks, without worry.
The only real complaint I have heard regarding this unit is the price. Although the machine is really cool, a thousand bucks is too much for some people.
But as I said earlier, the machine offers you much better quality in terms of performance and longevity than any of those budget units.
7. Zerone Copper and Aluminum Pipe Bender
Maybe you’re on a very tight budget. And perhaps you’re not looking to do any professional bending with the tool. In that case, I think you might find the Zerone Copper and Aluminum Pipe Bender suitable.
This is a tubing bender for home use that goes for less than 40 bucks. Before you get it, realize that it’s going to disappoint you if you intend to use it to bend any heavy gauge material.
But for copper and aluminum pipes that are light gauge, the unit will work. Still, you’ll have to deal with a few issues.
The unit is made of steel and aluminum. It offers strength, albeit not that much. The level of strength it offers is for bending copper and aluminum tubing with a maximum diameter of 0.86 inches.
If you’re bending 15mm (0.59 inches) pipes, you’ll be able to fit the pipe in the cradle properly and bend the pipe. But if you’re working with anything more, for instance 0.86 inches, then you might need to do some modification first.
You might have to use a file to widen the cradle so the pipe fits. That’s one of the issues I said you’ll have to deal with.
But the unit also has some good sides to it. One feature I loved is the design on the handles. There are two long handles, enabling you to work with both hands. That obviously reduces the effort needed.
Another benefit is that the handles are fitted with a non-slip grips for comfort and ease of grasping. I bet you’ll also love the design of the unit. The red, black and silver color scheme looks elegant.
And if you’re in need of something you can take from place to place, 8 pounds is not much to deal with, is it?
The Zerone Copper and Aluminum Pipe Bender obviously has its quirks, but for light duty home use, it works.
8. 3rd Generation Hydraulic Tubing Bender
Going back to hydraulic units, there is the 3rd Generation Hydraulic Tubing Bender, which many people find useful.
This machine comes with an 8 ton hydraulic jack to offer you enough power for light duty bending in your home garage or shop.
With the unit, you can work with a range of sizes of pipes. When you purchase it, you’re provided with 5 dies of different sizes. The sizes are 1, 1 ¼, 1 3/8, 1 5/8, and 1 ¾ inches.
The dies are not the best quality, but they last a while – roughly a year. That might not seem very durable, but considering the price of the unit, I should think it’s acceptable.
Besides, the bender itself lasts many years. Another reason not to worry too much is that you can buy individual die sets from the company.
What sizes does the machine support, you ask?
That depends on the material you’re working with. If it is mild steel, copper or aluminum, you can bend units with a wall thickness of up to 0.134 inches.
And if you’re working with stainless steel or chromoly tubes, the maximum thickness goes down to 0.096 inches.
Reproducing bends is easy with this unit. How so? The dies have incremental marks, making it super easy to remember the point to which the last bend went.
If you want a unit that is easy to move from point to point, then this machine would be a proper selection. It weighs around 50 pounds.
The 3rd Generation Hydraulic Tubing Bender might not offer you industrial power, but for light duty tasks, the unit works. You can use it to professionally build roll cages, cross members, and chassis components.
9. KAKA Industrial UB-100A Heavy-Duty Universal Bender
When it comes to safety and efficiency in operation, few benders are as good as the KAKA Industrial UB-100A. With a heavy and wide supporting base, the unit doesn’t need to be welded or bolted onto a surface. You can simply place it on a non-slip floor and get to work without dealing with instability issues.
If the unit has one thing going for, it is the sturdiness. The machine is built from heavy duty materials (heavy gauge steel). That way, it gives you not only strength but also longevity. It is one of those units you can use for many years.
Because of the strength offered, bending metal doesn’t take too much effort. You might already know that most benders out there bend only up to 90 degrees. With this machine, you get to bend items up to 120 degrees with relative ease.
Adjusting the bend is a piece of cake, thanks to the design of the handle. There’s even a scale to guide you. The scale also comes in handy for reproducing bends.
What I loved most with this unit is the versatility offered with regards to the shapes of items it works with. You can use it to bend round steel, square steel, even angled steel.
The machine supports varying sizes of wall thickness depending on the shape of steel you’re working with. The maximum dimensions it supports for round, angled, and square steel are 0.70, 0.59, and 0.63 inches.
And you can push the limits with hot bending. Though I think 500 bucks is too much, the machine offers you great value in terms of built and performance.
10. Baileigh Industrial RDB-125 Rotary Draw Tube Bender
Okay, ready to graduate to the powered bender?
Then you’re ready for the RDB 125. This is the one I use in my welding shop, and to tell you honestly, you can really accomplish much with a machine like this.
If you’re looking to automate tasks, then forget about those manual units. A powered bender such as this one is what you need. You just place the tubing in position and set the level of bend you want.
The machine will do all the work. No elbow grease needed. Something amazing is that you can hook the power cable to your home wall outlet. It only needs 110V power.
I really love how the locking arm moves into place. It holds the metal in position really well. Operating the locking arm is easy, thanks to the ergonomically designed handle. The handle makes loading and unloading of the metal a piece of cake.
With many benders out there, you have to repin the die to be able to make bends at higher angles. But can you imagine being able to bend up to 200 degrees without having to repin the die? That’s the level of convenience you enjoy with this unit.
Speed is essential when working professionally. Tell you what? You’re able to make a full 180 degree bend in less than 60 seconds! How cool is that?
Something else you’re going to love is the flexibility offered with regards to the sort of metal you can bend. You can use the machine to bend metals with a maximum diameter of 2.5 inches. The maximum wall thickness allowed is 0.156 inches.
Having used the Baileigh RDB-125 Manual Hydraulic Rotary Draw Tube Bender for a while now, I can tell you for sure that it’s a good machine. It might be expensive, but it’s certainly the best tubing bender for roll cages.
Things to Consider Before Buying A Tubing Bender for Roll Cages
What are you getting it for? Light duty needs at home or professional use at your shop? This is one of the questions to think about when looking for a best roll cage tubing bender.
Here are some of the essential things to consider when selecting a suitable model.
There are various types of benders based on the way they work. The types include:
Power will determine the speed, accuracy, and convenience of the unit. There are 3 classes of benders based on the power:
Manual Benders – these are the most economical. You could even get a unit for less than 100 bucks. But mostly, they’re neither fast nor accurate. Also, they use lots of elbow grease.
Air/Hydraulic Benders – these are powered by air or liquid. They require less effort from the operator to bend the metal compared to the manual models. Also, there are more accurate. While you can use them for professional production, they’re not the most ideal.
Electric Benders – these are the fastest and most convenient models. They’re absolutely hands free. You don’t need to push any handles to get the metal to bend.
Electric powered benders are the best for professional work. There are even smart models that you can program. These are mostly for industrial use.
Most manufacturers state the sort of materials their unit can handle. So check to see what sort of materials you can bend with the machine. Can you bend stainless steel? What about chrome alloy? These are some of the questions to think about.
Also think about the dimensions supported. Look at the minimum and maximum diameter supported. Check the specification for minimum and maximum wall thickness.
The question of whether the unit will last is an important one. And that question is answered by the sort of materials it is made of. A unit that is entirely made of heavy gauge steel should last many years.
Frequently Asked questions
What is a roll cage?
A roll cage is a frame normally constructed from steel tubing or rods, then placed in a vehicle’s passenger compartment to keep the passengers safe from injury or death in case of a rollover.
What is roll cage bender?
A roll cage bender is a machine, powered by hand, hydraulics, air, or electricity, that bends steel tubing during the construction of a roll cage. It is required that a roll cage has as few joints as possible, so bending is the option.
The idea is to create bends without causing the pipe to break or collapse under pressure.
How does a manual tube bender work?
The pipe is placed in between a shoe/die and a roller. When the user pulls the handle, the pipe is forced to take the shape of the shoe.
Is it legal to drive a vehicle with a roll cage in the streets?
Though roll cages are more common in racing cars, these gadgets are 100 percent legal for the street.
What sort of tubing is used for building roll cages?
It doesn’t matter whether the roll cage is for sports or the streets, the required dimensions are 1.75 by 0.120 inches DOM.
Should I install a roll cage?
If you’re a regular driver who drives within normal speeds of up to 100 mph, you don’t really need a roll cage. But if you usually drive at very high speeds, of over 150 mph, you will be wise to install a roll cage. If you’re a race car driver, you also need a roll cage.
If you’re a mechanic, a fabricator, or a race driver, I take it that you understand by now how much a tube bender means. You can use it to build roll cages, headers, turbos, air intakes, and a whole lot of other items.
My list is meant to point you in the right direction – the best roll cage tubing bender for your needs.
I have given more attention to budget limits, and that’s why there are so many manual and hydraulic models in the review.
But there are still premium models and even a fine electric model to help you complete task fast and conveniently.