Whether you’ve just bought your first bike or getting back to riding after a long dry spell, there are a few things to consider when it comes to riding ergonomics. And if you’re buying used, or your old bike doesn’t feel right, then you might need to make a few changes. Comfort is important in that it inspires you to ride confidently and safely. The most important things in comfort are the seat height and how comfortable you can hold the handlebars. I will discuss Harley Davidson handlebars buying tips in this article.
A seat that lets you place your feet comfortably at a stop without drama is what you’re after- not too high and not too low. Also, having handlebars that are just right will affect your posture on the bike and the effort needed in turns. Nobody wants to be too stretched out, especially if you’re doing more miles in the twisters.
If you’re looking at getting a Harley or already riding one, you’re in luck. Harley-Davidsons are the most customizable bikes out there. Anything you don’t like, you can change. In addition, you can choose millions of options, either directly from Harley Davidson or the dozens of aftermarket brands. Here, I’ll be focusing on what to look for when changing Harley Davidson handlebars.
Swapping Out Stock Handlebars
There are many reasons why you’d want to swap out your old handlebars. Maybe you don’t like the look or want something different. Maybe they’re too high, too low, a bit far back, or too close. How handlebars feel will ultimately determine how you ride your bike. There are a few things at play here, including the handlebar height, width, pullback, and sweep.
If you like the look and feel of high handlebars, you can go for the traditionally high ape hangers. Aim for bars that hover roughly at shoulder height. Anything higher and your fingers will go numb. If you’ve got a low stock handlebar, say a drag or tracker bar, you can add some height with a riser. Risers come in different heights, so choose what best suits you. In the middle of the road is T bars. You can customize them all with compatible risers to get the handlebar height you’re comfortable with.
To give you more leverage when taking corners or turning in general, consider wider bars. You’ll find wide stock bars on tourers and cruisers for added comfort. And yes, you can always go for wider bars. However, if you want something sportier, swap these out for narrower bars; mind the corners.
How close or far the bars are about you is called pullback. Again, comfort is important here, as is your riding style. If you want less strain to your back, go with bars that have more pullbacks. They’ll sit you in a more upright touring position. For racier bikes and positions, look for bars with little pullback. Some bars have adjustable angles of pullback to get you in the position you want. You can also add a pullback riser with different rates of pullback to bring the bars closer.
The degree to which your wrists rest on the handlebars is called the sweep. Your hands can be straight out or sweep at an angle towards you. Find the bars that feel best.
Swapping out Stock Harley Bars
You can change stock handlebars on new and used Harleys. When buying new, spec your bike with the handlebars of the right height, width, sweep, and pullback that you’ll be comfortable with within the long run. This is so you can avoid the costs of new handlebars in the future. If you’ve come by a good deal on a second-hand Harley, you can save a few pounds by going for aftermarket bars. You’ll find a variety of brands selling the bar you want in-store or online at a decent price.
Changing to different bars requires some work that you can do yourself or get done at a workshop. If you know what you’re doing, this shouldn’t be an issue, but keep in mind the potential costs of necessary additions. There are a few things to consider when changing your stock bars.
The first is the diameter of the bars. All Harleys, except the Springer, come in 1-inch diameter. So, if you’re shopping aftermarket, find bars with compatible diameters. Next, if you’re changing to bigger bars, the added weight might mean that you’ll also need to go for a beefier clamp mount. This is especially important for driving feel and stability.
You might need to change the stock cabling and wiring or change the entire switchgear for wider and higher bars. Extension cable kits will come in handy if stock cables are too short. For a flush look to switches, look for bars with ‘dimples’ or grooves. Harleys come as either cable-actuated or electronic throttle-by-wire. Check the throttle type of your motorbike. Those with throttle-by-wire will need handlebars with compatible notches in the tubing. And while we’re at cables, you can internally route the external cabling on older bikes with aftermarket handlebars.
Bigger Harleys, like the ElectraGlide, have fairings. So when changing out the stock bars on these bikes, bear in mind to find compatible sloping handlebars to accommodate the fairing. After all, it’s one of the selling points of the big bike.
Lastly, if you’re doing long miles in cold weather, a decent pair of heated grips will go a long way in keeping your hands warm. You can find combo sets with all the cabling for your desired handlebar type.
Changing the bars on your Harley Davidson will give you the handling, comfort, and look you want. Handlebars are available in a variety of styles, from ape hangers to drag bars. In addition, you can choose from various genuine or aftermarket brands with bars that have varying levels of fit and finish and are made of different materials. Accessories like risers, clamps, grips, and levers may come at an additional cost but will complement the overall look of your bike.