Taking a motorcycle out for a ride is a blast, but proper preparations are necessary to ensure the safety and efficiency of the vehicle. In particular, the handlebars of a motorcycle not only stabilize the rider but also provide proper steering. This article will show you how to measure motorcycle handlebars, what to do with the measurements, and other terms to know when you order new handlebars.
About Motorcycle Handlebars
1. Why Are Handlebars Important?
Ensuring proper handlebar measures are vital for a rider because they provide an adequate level of stability, safety, steering, and comfort for the rider. Without these features, using a motorcycle can become hazardous or uncomfortable. Sometimes the measurements are only a few inches off, but that can be significant with handlebar grip strength and ease of use.
2. What Makes it Difficult to Measure Motorcycle Handlebars?
Measuring a motorcycle's handlebars can be tricky since most manufacturers measure handlebars differently. This makes across the board comparisons tedious. Typically, the bar diameter on the outside clamps differs from the clamp diameter. Thankfully, there are only a few sizes, which makes determining the size easier.
Getting the dimensions inaccurately can seem complicated—but don't worry, we've got you covered. By the time you finish this article, you will know how to determine your handlebar size with ease.
3. What Do You Need to Determine the Measurements?
Measuring motorcycle handlebars is more straightforward than it seems, and some simple things will help you with the process. Here's what you will need:
How to Measure Motorcycle Handlebar
1. Measuring Width and Pullback
Sit on your motorcycle like you would ride it. With the broomstick in both hands like a handlebar, stretch out your arms until you find a comfortable position. Have your buddy measure the distance from the outside of one pinky to the other. This is the comfortable width of your handlebar grip.
Tie the string to the center of the broomstick between your hands, so it hangs down. From this, you can determine the pullback by measuring from the center of the handlebar to the string.
2. Measuring Handlebar Rise and Height
Tie the string with the washer to the broomstick's grip center as done in step one. Have the string and washer hanging from the stick. Measure the rise and height from the handlebar center to the broomstick center. Ensure the broomstick is resting above the handlebar; otherwise, you may need a straight edge to make the process easier.
A straight edge improves the accuracy of measurements with the right angle it makes from handlebar to the string. Let your buddy mark the string where the straight edge and string collide. Then measure the distance between the string's mark to the center of the broomstick—this is the handlebar height.
What to Do With the Measurements
After you figured out how to measure motorcycle handlebars and have the necessary measurements, begin researching handlebar styles that suit your riding needs. When choosing shorter, taller, or pullback risers, keep in mind the height and pullback measurements obtained in steps one and two above.
Some manufacturers use different terms to define handlebar measurements, like "up sweep" and "back sweep." Besides terminology, companies may measure handlebars differently than you do.
Other measurements like "end rise knurl width" or "center width" are variables you may need. If this is the case, determine the measurement point and incorporate it into your measurements. You can also redo your measurements to match the new variables.
Terms to Know When Ordering Motorcycle Handlebars
Before ordering new handlebars or figuring out how to measure motorcycle handlebars, there are some terms you should understand. These are a rundown of the more popular ones.
Some manufacturers consider the outside bar measurement as "thick" while some refer to it as "fat." Regardless, this is a measurement of handlebar thickness. Most companies sell handlebars in a 1.25 or 1.5-inch thick measurement. The clamp and hand control area narrows to one inch. This allows you to install bars with riser and stock controls.
Bar-end and Overall Width
This is the overall measurement from one bar-end to another.
This measurement is the distance of the flat section in the handlebar before the bars bend, rise, or pullback.
Knurled is the manufacturing process that adds texture to the handlebars. This offers a better bite to risers or mounts. Typically, two 1-inch grooves are machined into the clamping area.
Knurl Width/Clamp Area
The Knurl width is the distance to knurl marks or where risers clamp the bar. These marks have a measurement between knurl marks.
The rise height is the distance starting from the midpoint of the handlebar's flat. This measurement goes to the center point at the highest end of the handlebar.
The pullback is the distance the bar pulls back away from the centerline through the bar middle.
Sweep/Bar End Sweep and Wrist Angle
This is the angle where the end bar sits around the center of the handlebar. Sweep refers to the hand placement angle.
The end rise is the measurement from the middle of the handlebar center to the middle of the bar.
This term refers to the drilling of small holes into the underside of the bar end where your hand controls sit, in the middle of the clamping area.
Swedged refers to the underside of the bar ends that get pressed into the handlebar. This creates a small indentation that lets you run the switch wires externally without cable pinching. Some companies drill and dimple handlebars.
Measuring motorcycle handlebars is a simpler process than it looks with the right tools and procedure, and it can pin down the appropriate measurements for your motorcycling needs. Review the terms we have addressed in this article, and you will be in good shape.