Motorcycle Handlebars - Stock and After Market, New and Vintage
Read all about Motorcycle Handlebars:
- Different Styles of Motorcycle Handlebars
- Choosing the Right Handlebars and Risers
- Where to Buy Your New Handlebars
- How to Replace Your Handlebars
- Custom or Factory
- New, New Old Stock or Antique
- American, European or Asian
because Stock Sucks
If these handlebars look familiar... well, that probably explains why you're here. Buckhorn handlebars where and are the factory-stock handlebars of many cruiser-style motorcycles models throughout the years. There's nothing wrong with Buckhorns, they can look pretty good if done right - subtle, maybe even retro. But even when done well, to most bikers, Buckhorns scream stock... and Stock Sucks.
Why are they called "Buckhorns," anyway. Bucks have antlers, not horns. They look like bull horns to me.
This is how to do Buckhorns right.
2012 Harley D. Sportster with stock Buckhorn Handlebars
for the Easy Rider
Ape Hangers (Apehangers) are the quintessential "Biker" handlebars. They're high bars and get their name because they look like the rider is hanging from the bars like an ape hanging from a branch.
In the 60s and 70s, when the aftermarket motorcycle parts market was much small than it is today, custom parts where made rather than bought. Apehangers used to be made out of the frames of those old bent-tube chrome dining chairs.
Steering with Apehangers requires much more body-leaning than with lower bars. For this reason, most states no longer allow handlebar grips to be higher than the rider's shoulders.
the Standard for Custom Cruisers and Bar Hoppers
Drag Bars are nearly straight and flat; they offer a very clean look and plenty of reach room for taller riders. Shorter riders may compensate for this extra reach by using risers with a built in offset. Forward Controls complete the look.
Drag bars often require higher-than-stock risers in order for the bars to clear the tank. This configuration developed into the T-Bar.
Drag Bars to the Extreme
Broomstick Bars are absolutely straight and tend to be rather short (often just over two feet wide), offering little comfort for the wrist or the back, but they look good. They don't have much room for handlebar mounted gauges, controls and such - making them look even better.
Bonus: since they're basically straight steel tubes, they tend to be CHEAP!
T Bars are Drag Bars or Broomstick Bars with built-in, usually high, risers.
on Indian Larry's "Rolex"
Z-Bars (sometimes Zee Bars) have two angles on each side, forming "Z" shapes. A very broad category of handlebars, they can rise as high as Apehangers or be as low as Drag Bars. They can be made of straight or curved bar stock. The angles can be 90°, more than 90°, less than 90° of a combination of angles.
Z Bars were popular in the 60s and early 70s due to their being easy-to-make by the home mechanic. They were largely unseen in the 80s and 90s and have come back in to popularity in the last decade.
for Choppers Only
Pullback Handlebars do just that: they pull back from the risers to the rider - far back. Pullbacks are really only useful on super-long bikes like custom Choppers and VW Trikes.
Most home customizers will be better off using Pullback Risers to shorten the reach.
on OCC's U.S. Biker Law
on a Volkswagen Trike
Clubmans were the cool handlebars to have in the British Cafe Bike scene, circa 1960s. They still are, today.
The first Cafe Bike handlebars were stock Bullhorns mounted upside down to allow for a tucked and more aerodynamic riding position. Ton Up!
Clip On Handlebars
Crotch Rocket Standard
Standard equipment on today's Sport Bikes, Clip-Ons are the evolved form of Clubmans (much as Sport Bikes are an evolved form of Cafe Bikes). Clip-Ons clip onto the front forks and allow for a low seating position centered over the forks - very streamlined, very responsive.
Although most often seen on Sports Bikes, they can look great on custom Choppers and Bobbers, too. take a look at Russell Mitchell's creation, below.
on Exile Cycles "Pure Sex Dragster"
Six Bend Handlebars have 6 bends - 3 on each side. It's like having Ape Hangers and Pullbacks in one package. The last time that I saw 6-Bend Handlebars was in the movie Purple Rain. You don't see 6-Bends anymore, but they're a part of Custom Motorcycle history.
What else could someone as funky as Prince ride?
You don't see 6-Bends anymore, but they're a part of Custom Motorcycle history.
Handlebars used to be 7/8" in diameter. The Harley Davidson started making 1" bars. Today, 1 1/4" is the new custom-bike standard.
How to Change Your Motorcycle Handlebars Video
Choosing your new handlebars. Removing bars, gauges, levers and cables. Installing the new bars.
Adjusting your handlebars by choosing the right Risers.