A motorcycle’s handlebars are an integral aspect of its ergonomics and optics. They impact the overall look and influence how the bike handles and how pleasant it is to ride. Each handlebar type is intended to look a certain way and to tweak your grip to facilitate a specific handling characteristic.
And so, in this post, I’ll go over all the popularly recognized motorcycle handlebars, how they appear, and what sort of bike mods they’re used for. But before I dive into the finer details, first let’s discern a general guide on how to choose the best pair for your requirements.
How Do I Choose the Right Motorcycle Handlebars?
There are certain requirements to choosing the right handlebar upgrade for your motorcycle.
1. Shape and Grip Position
The shape and grip location of the handlebars are important factors in determining your riding posture on a motorcycle. This, in turn, determines your machine’s character in terms of how it turns around bends, the amount of effort required by the rider, and the level of comfort provided. The right shape also significantly improves the aesthetic attractiveness of a motorcycle.
Perhaps the most paramount of questions to answer is why you need different handlebars in the first place. Are you looking for style, weight reduction, posture correction, and performance? It’s usually a trade-off as you can hardly get all of these things in one pick.
3. Control Length
One area that people often overlook, even though it’s important, is the control length of the handlebars. It’s the length from the bend to the end of the bars, which dictates how many instrument clusters and controls you can clamp on the bar.
The best materials to choose from are chrome, covered steel, aluminum, titanium, or even carbon fiber. Some of these exotic materials and styling options are great if you want to cut weight, get super strong handlebars, and show off a little bit but don’t break the bank while at it.
Consider the price point of the handlebars. We don’t recommend that you go with a cheap knockoff, but at least buy a brand-name product from a reputable store.
6. What About Handlebar Measurement?
If you have been shopping around for handlebars, you may have noticed measurements that sound something like Pullback, Rise, or End. Here is a quick reference of terms and what they mean:
- Overall Width: This term is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the measurement straight across from one grip tip to the other grip tip.
- Pullback: This is the total distance straight backward from the mounting to the end of the bars.
- End Rise: Similarly, the end rise refers to the overall straight-up distance from the bottom of the bar to the tallest mountable position on the handlebars.
- Center Width: It’s the length of the middle section of the handlebars before the bends.
- Total Rise/Height: Measure straight up, from the bottom of the handlebar to the highest point of the bar.
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My Top Recommended Tools & Supplies — CLICK HERE!
I highly recommend these motorcycle tools for their affordable yet top-notch quality, reflecting my extensive 50+ years of motorcycling experience and expertise as a rider, leader, and consultant in 25+ countries. So, whether you're a seasoned rider seeking an upgrade or a new enthusiast starting your journey on two wheels, I'm confident that these gear recommendations will serve you exceptionally well.
Let’s Now Talk about Different Motorcycle Handlebars
For the various riding modes, there are a variety of handlebar designs available. They are;
1. Ape Hangers
The amusing name given to these bars corresponds to their unusual profile: long, towering, and pushed back, at an inclination that urges the rider to fall backward and grip them in a very simian manner.
Ape Hangers are an iconic design that is popular on cruisers and choppers, especially Harleys. They’re style-oriented and don’t pay much attention to ergonomics, comfort, or control.
The shorter version of Ape Hanger is called the Baby Ape or Mini Ape. Another variation of the Baby Ape is the Buckhorn – which has a short rise.
2. Drag Handlebar
Drag handlebars, sometimes known as Cafe Racer bars, cause the rider to lean forward, lowering wind resistance and enhancing performance considerably. These handlebars were initially used on drag bikes but are now widely found on bobbers, choppers, and even cruisers. Being straight, they are simple to install and allow the rider to use the stock wiring of the bike.
As the name implies, Z-bars feature opposing Z-shaped angles at either end of the handlebar’s inner rise. These handlebars have an extremely angular appearance and a modest inner height. The Z-bars are neither overly broad nor tall, making them ideal for skinny choppers or custom motorcycles. Aside from being small, they’re also straight and don’t retract inwards to the rider.
The Maynard and Zed bars are two versions of the Z handlebars. The Zed bars have a slightly taller rise than the Maynard.
4. Motocross Handlebar
Motocross bars, as you might assume, are the industry standard for dirt motorcycles and dual sports. Most Motocross handlebars feature a short to medium profile that necessitates some forward tilting, but neither to the extent that clip-on nor drag handlebars do. They’re frequently cross-braced for added stability.
5. Tracker Handlebar
The Tracker, as with the Motocross bar, is relatively flat. These bars, named after the Flat Track Racing handlebars, often let you utilize your existing wiring and connections, making installation relatively simple. They also usually fit well on a wide range of motorcycles.
6. Clip-On Handlebar
This type of handlebar is seen on the majority of current sports motorcycles. Clip-on bars are often installed directly onto the bike’s front forks and are positioned low to encourage the rider to lean forward. They’re a two-piece design, making it easier to adjust them to suit the rider. Some bikes also have faux clip-on bars that appear like real clip-on but can’t be modified.
Drag handlebars are classified as zero drag, mild drag, or high drag. In comparison to the former, the latter two are raised progressively.
7. Frisco Handlebar
In terms of general design and elevation, Frisco bars are comparable to Zed handlebars. They lack an angular form at the peak of the inner rise, though. These handlebars have a smoother curvature between the upper vertical and horizontal parts.
8. Mustache Handlebar
When viewed from the motorcycle’s headlamp, these handlebars resemble a twirling mustache, as the name implies. For a more refined appearance, the bend curves outward from the clamping and retracts in a curved fashion.
Because Mustache handlebars are shorter and slimmer than most conventional handlebars, there is no need to replace or lengthen the original cables and wiring.
9. Keystone Handlebar
The form of the Keystone handlebars is comparable to that of the Z-bar. In this scenario, the handlebar design also creates antagonistic Zs on both sides. The top of the handlebar, on the other hand, is turned inward for a little more aggressive, commanding attitude. Whereas the Z-bars are straighter on top, this one curves in, which helps it look good on shorter bikes.
10. H and Window Handlebars
H and Window bars are distinct styles of high, rectangular handlebars.
The H-bar has a cross brace that makes the setup resemble the letter H. It’s designed for bikes with narrow clamp areas.
On the other hand, the Window handlebars are a traditional angular bar with tall risers that are slanted at 90 degrees, striking the top bar at right angles forming a window shape.
11. Chumps Handlebar
The Chumps bar is a flexible handlebar design that can work with practically any bike. With its medium height and gentle, balanced curves, it complements a wide range of standard and custom motorcycles.
It’s subtle, yet it still looks good and sophisticated. This selection of bars is for individuals who don’t want their bike to be too showy and want a more laid-back, comfy handlebar.
12. Breezer Handlebar
Breezer bars have dimensions comparable to Chumps, although they are more jagged at the top of the inner rise. Also, following the inner ascent, Breezers plummet towards the rider. So, whereas Chumps are laid-back and gently curving, Breezers look a bit more aggressive.
13. Clubman Handlebar
Clubman bars are clip-on that are single-piece and classically fashioned. They are one-piece with a low-set, sporty, aggressive appearance and are functionally designed to minimize air resistance by forcing the rider to lean forward.
When it comes to motorcycle handlebar types, individual riders have drastically diverse tastes, so it’s crucial to be familiar with a variety of designs so that you can choose the perfect one for you. That’s pretty much it for general handlebar types, but for developing a personalized look or application for a handlebar, the sky’s the limit.
We hope you found this post about handlebar variations to be interesting and useful. If you found it fascinating, please tag your bike-enthusiast friends. Now that you have the best handlebars for your bike focus on keeping both hands on them and the shiny side up.
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