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Measuring your motorcycle handlebars is arguably one of the most problematic and intimidating tasks as a motorcycle owner. But if you want to change or adjust or do anything related to the handlebar, which more often than not you have to do, there is no way to avoid learning how to measure motorcycle handlebars.
Handlebars provide a unique character to your bike. So it is totally understandable if the built-in handlebars are not your cup of tea. But before you think about changing or adjusting them to your liking, you must know about some technical issues regarding this process.
The process of measuring handlebars would have been easy, only if there wasn’t a vast collection of designs and variations. So let us begin with some must-know technical terms that will help you out with learning how to measure your handlebars.
Technical terms you must know
- Center width: In every handlebar, you can notice a straight width In the middle. This is measured from the point that takes off with an angle to the same point on the other side. This is the base measurement you have to work with.
- Rise of the handlebar: The rise of the handlebar is the measure of the height of the bars. It can very often fluctuate depending on the design.
- Diameter: Diameter is the thickness of the handlebar you are working with. It usually varies from 22 mm up to 44 mm.
- Pullback: It is the measure of distance from the grip to the location of mounting.
How to Measure Motorcycle Handlebars? – Step by Step Guide:
Categorization of handlebars
Handlebars are divided into various categories depending on their measurements and type of use. Knowing the types is a crucial part if you want to measure them. The most popular ones are,
- Beach bars: Beach bars have a longer pullback length that provides a very relaxing control to the rider.
- Clip-on handlebars: Clip-on handlebars at the most popular handlebars for sportbikes. It consists of two individual bars which are relatively short. Most of the clip-on handlebars are adjustable.
- The Ape hanger: The ape hanger design is usually used on the chopper. They have a huge rise and the rider has to reach upwards to get a hold of the grips. As designers are designing extreme ape hanger handlebars with a very high rise for uniqueness, they are getting more and more dangerous. They can cause serious numbness if they are above the shoulder height of the rider, which can often cause accidents. So laws are created to set a maximum rise height.
- Z bars: You can easily recognize z bars with their very unique 90° bend.
Motorcycle handlebars types
Modern sport bikes have this handlebar style. These low-slung bars are usually mounted directly onto the front forks of a motorcycle. The two-piece setup can be moved closer or further away from the rider. Some bikes have faux clip-on bars that look like real clip-ons but can’t be adjusted.
These handlebars are commonly found on dirt bikes, but they can also be found on other motorcycles. This bar type is designed for motocross riders who want their handlebars as straight as possible. Even if these bars have a curve in the middle, a straight cross brace adds extra rigidity.
The Tracker, like the motocross handlebar, is flat. These handlebars are named after flat track racing handlebars and allow you to use your existing wiring and cables, making installation simple. They also tend to fit a wide range of motorcycles.
Drag bars are straight handlebars that originated in London. These handlebars make the rider lean forward, reducing wind resistance and improving acceleration. These handlebars are popular on choppers, bobbers, and cruisers. They are straight and allow you to use the stock wiring. Drag handlebars are classified as zero, low, and high drag. Compared to the zero drag bars, these are raised incrementally.
The Z-bars have opposing Z-shaped angles at either end of the inner rise of the handlebar. These handlebars are angular with a low inner rise. The Z-bars aren’t too wide or tall, so they’re good for narrow choppers or custom bikes. These handlebars are not only narrow but also straight and do not pull back towards the rider.
The Maynard and Zed bars are two Z handlebar variations. Instead of a sharp Z-bar angle, the Maynard has a more perpendicular, step-like angle. The Zed has a perpendicular angle, but a higher rise than the Z-bar or Maynard.
The shape and rise of Frisco bars are similar to Zed handlebars. They don’t have an angular top to the inner rise. The top vertical and horizontal sections of the handlebars are rounded.
When viewed from the motorcycle’s headlamp, these handlebars resemble a twirled moustache. The bend curves away from the clamp and backwards for a classy look. Because moustache bars are lower and narrower than most stock handlebars, no cables or wires need to be changed or extended.
The Keystone handlebars resemble the z-bar in shape. The handlebar shape in this case also has opposing Zs. The top of the handlebar is angled inward for a more aggressive, imposing stance. The Z-bar is straight on top, but this one angles in, which looks nice on shorter bikes.
Clubman bars are one-piece, classically styled clip-ons. While not two-piece, they are low-set, sporty, and aggressively designed to reduce air resistance by making the rider lean forward. Clubman bars were once commonly found on British cafe racers and were known colloquially as ‘drops’.
If you like cruisers or choppers, you should know about this handlebar. In order to reach the Ape Hangers, the rider must reach up to them or hang on to them like an ape. Ape Hangers are known for their extreme heights, ranging from 12 to 24 inches. Ape Hangers are solely focused on style and ignore factors like comfort, ergonomics, and control. Modifiers use Ape Hangers to add character to their cruiser motorcycles or choppers. Mini Apes or Baby Apes are the smaller version of Ape Hangers.
The Buckhorn is a Baby Ape variation with a short rise. However, the Buckhorn handlebar is shaped like a buck’s horn, hence the name. Buckhorn handlebars have a slight dip and are angled in towards the rider for comfort.
The Chumps handlebar is a universal handlebar design. Its medium rise and soft, balanced curves match a wide range of stock and custom motorcycles. It’s subtle, but classy. This handlebar is for those who want a simple, comfortable ride.
The proportions of Breezer bars are similar to Chumps, but the inner rise is more angular. Departure from the rider is also a Breezer drop While Chumps are laid-back and softly curved, Breezers are more assertive and aggressive in appearance.
Handles for H and W
H and window bars are both tall, angular handlebars. The H handlebar, as the name implies, has a cross brace that resembles the letter H. This handlebar fits bikes with a narrow clamp. The Window handlebar is angular in style. A window is formed by the inner risers and the top bar, which is flat and connects them to form the shape of a window.
Determining the dimension of the handlebars
Now that you know about the type of handlebars, firstly take a piece of paper and pen. Then write down the name of the handlebar type you are using.
After that get some measuring tape, a marker, a strong flexible string, and a wooden scale or stick.
There are mainly three types of measurement you will have to take.
- Center Width.
- Pull back.
Measuring the rise
To measure the rise, put the stick on top of the handlebar. Tie the string to the middle of the stick and let it fall down. Make a mark with the marker with the point of the string where it touches the handlebar center. Make a mark on the other side of the string where it is tied to the stick.
Once the marking is done, untie the string and measure the distance between the marked points with a measuring stick. This measurement value will be the rise of your handlebar. Carefully write it down on the paper and move on to the next measurement.
Measuring the center width
Measuring the center width is the easiest task of the bunch. All you need to measure is the measuring tape. The center width part of the handlebar is the straight part in the middle of the bar.
Just take your measuring tape and start from the point where the curvature begins on one side. Then take it to the opposite side and end the measurement where the opposite handle curvature begins.
The measurement you get between these two points is the center width of your handlebar.
Measuring the pullback
This is the most complicated part of the measurement, so make sure to follow the steps precisely. First of all tie the stick to the end part of the grips on both sides. Depending on the design you are using, you will be able to see a gap between the center of the bar and stick if you look from above.
This value of this gap is the pullback value of your handlebar. You can now take the measuring tape and measure from the center handlebar point to the midpoint of the stick while maintaining a 90° angle.
The measurement you get from the tape is the pullback value of your handlebar.
Motorcycle handlebar measurement chart
|1.||Bumper/Touring Bars||These are easily identified as they are much larger than normal handlebars. They have a 12-20″ rise height and are substantially wider at the base to fit the fairing’s form and size.|
|2.||Ape Hangers||The name Ape Hangers comes from the manner the rider hangs on the bars. The rising height of these bars ranges from 12″-20″.|
|3.||T-Bars/H-Bars||The way these bars attach to the triple trees is what sets them apart from other bars. It has built-in risers so you can bolt it into the triple trees instead of clamping it.|
|4.||Z-Bars||These exist in a variety of rise heights and styles, but are easily identified by their 90° bends at the base and top.|
|5.||Drag Bars||In terms of shape and pullback, drag bars are usually flat with a small to moderate pullback, allowing for a moderately aggressive yet comfortable riding stance.|
|6.||Beach Bars||Known for its low peak and lengthy, wide sweeping pullback. Relaxed riding at beach bars.|
|7.||Stock/Other Bars||This is a catch-all category, thus rise height, pullback, and total breadth will vary. Trackers, Clubmen, Buckhorn, Scrambers, etc. Because bars and styles vary dependent on measurements, it’s crucial to understand how they’re measured.|
Now that you know how to measure motorcycle handlebars, you can easily take the measurements yourself like a veteran bike rider and shop or adjust accordingly.