So you got the bike of your dreams, but the feel just isn’t there, what do you do? Your seat fits like a glove, you are slightly bent at the knee, but your arm position needs some work. You could just let it be, but then the miles you want to put on the bike just won’t be comfortable. This is where your friends at K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) come into play, guiding you every step of the way when you want to change out those handlebars and complete your transition from ugh to ah.
In the world of custom handlebars there are many styles to choose from that range from custom form and function to radical “no way those are comfortable” designs. Unless you are building a show touring custom bike that will hardly be ridden, most of us look for more comfort for the long haul. In reality changing the height or pullback a mere inch or two can make the difference needed to achieve spinal peace.
Handlebars come in a variety of types designed for particular types of riding.
- Ape hanger handlebars rise far above the mounting location so that the rider must reach up to use them, hence the name. They are available in heights up to 20 inches. Some jurisdictions have regulations on how high the handgrips may be above the seat.
- Z-bar, any sharply angled handlebar with either long or short straight rise sections, which are sharply angled upward from the mounting points and again sharply angled to the handgrip and control area. Z-bars can be ape hangers, but not all ape hangers are Z-bars.
- Beach bars, similar to cruiser bars, slope back toward the rider to allow a relaxed riding position.
- Clip-ons are popular on sport bikes, in which two separate short handles are attached directly to the fork tubes, as opposed to a standard one-piece handlebar attached to the top of the triple tree. These ar also becoming very popular with those building retro Cafe Racers.
- Clubman bars are common on cafe bikes. They clamp to the triple tree and are angled forward to give the rider a more aggressive riding position.
- Cruiser handlebars tend to be long and slope towards the rear of the motorcycle so that the rider can sit upright.
- Buckhorn handlebars are a variation on the ape hanger, but shorter, and always with a curved back section directly before the part of the bar that mounts the handgrips and controls. These are often thought to be one of the most comfortable type of handlebar, keeping the arms in a very natural and relaxed position in front of the rider. They are often called “mini-apes” (miniature ape hangers), but a true buckhorn must be rounded on top, never with the sharp angles of a Z-bar on the top.
- Drag bars are nearly straight across to create a forward-leaning and aerodynamic riding position.
- Motocross bars are tubular bars that are clamped onto the triple tree. They are common on motocross and off-road motorcycles, as well as dual-sport, streetfighter, and supermoto bikes.
Often when changing handlebars, new cables and wiring must also be installed to accommodate the change from the stock set up. If you are considering any customization other than the handlebars, you may look into upgraded the finishes on the cables you are going to replace. Replacement cables are usually available in black finish, braided black lines, braided stainless steel, or a brilliant braided finish so there is sure to be one to work in your application. Don’t forget, K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) can help you with everything you need to transform your bike from bummer to stunner.