How to Change Motorcycle Handlebars
Fitting your motorcycle with a new handlebar can eliminate that pain in your neck, back or wrist and is very easy, providing you check a few things first and consider a few things along the way. When you adjust your bars so the controls are right at your fingers, you'll have a motorcycle that is easier to control and more fun to ride. And much safer. You can get an idea of what you want to adjust by simply considering how the bike feels and fits next time you are riding down the highway. If it's the dead of winter, you can accomplish much the same thing by simply sitting on the bike in your garage and visualizing how the bike should be. You might try closing your eyes and reaching out to where you'd like the grips to be. Place your hands at the optimum angle and position, then open your eyes and see where they are relative to the existing grips. This will tell you where the bar should be for you and how a replacement handlebar should be shaped to work for you. Maybe you need Ape-hangers, or for your riding style you prefer T-Bars.
If you are going to change the bar, remember that unless you have a windshield, a higher, wider bar will increase the surface you present to the relative wind and the resulting pressure. Most riders are more comfortable if they can lean on the handlebar slightly at high speeds to counter the wind pressure. Increasing width also increases your leverage and eases steering, but the outside grip may require a long reach in a full-lock turn, as is the case with T-Bars. But lets face it nothing says cool quite like those large 1 1/4" fat 18" Apehangers. Changing to a different handlebar is pretty straightforward. First, take some measurements to see what kind of bar will actually fit on your bike. The normal measurements are width, height and pullback. Width and height are obvious, though some bar makers measure height from centerline to centerline, while others depict the total height from the bottom of the center section to the top of the outer section. The pullback is simply how far back the bar ends are relative to the center section. Start the actual swap by removing the old handlebar. Remove the grips and mirrors completely -- remember that mirrors can be amazingly unwieldy when the levers are off the bar. The clutch side grip may be held on with glue or silicone an require extra force to remove. The throttle side is held in place by the kill switch housing. Remove the screws from the housing and open the halves. Make sure you note the proper location for each throttle cable (if there are two) so that you will put each one into the proper slots when replacing the grip. Remove the levers and hand controls one at a time and place them atop shop towels. Loosen the bar mounts and fit the new bar and hand-tighten the clamp. Sit on the bike and get a feel for the angle, width and pullback. Satisfied? Loosely install the switch clusters at the correct distance from the ends to accommodate the grips, and check for tank clearance at full lock. If there's room and you like the overall width of the bar, mount the clutch and brake, switch clusters and grips (to make the slide on easier use compressed air with closed-end grips or give the insides a modest squirt of contact cleaner) and see if you still like the position. If you're happy, torque the main clamp, and have a nice ride!