The style of handlebars that you install on a motorcycle is responsible for a large part of the overall look of the bike. Choosing the right handlebars is an important part of motorcycle customization. Handlebars affect how a bike handles, and how comfortable it is to ride. Knowing the differences between the available options for handlebars is key if you are interested in customizing your current bike, or in building a custom chopper.
Cruiser handlebars extend toward the rider. Most stock options on the Japanese manufacturer's "cruiser" class bikes would be classified as cruiser handlebars. Many of the stock Harley Davidson handlebars also fall in this category. These types of bars are designed with the comfort of the rider as the top priority. Riser kits are used to adjust the bars to the most comfortable height for the rider.
Ape hangers extend high over the level of the bike. This places the arms in a higher and wider position than with other bars -- which is how they got the name "Ape Hangers." You can choose fully extended ape hangers, or mini ape hangers. Mini models will have a much lower height to the bars. Many states have laws regulating the height of ape hangers, so check your local regulations before installing a set on your bike. Ape hangers are the most popular style of handlebar on choppers.
A drag bar is another popular option in the chopper world. The bars connect to the triple tree and then extend slightly rearward toward the rider. The rider's grip is narrow and low. These bars are favored by those looking for an aerodynamic and aggressive riding position. Some drag bars have a vertical drop, but it is typically quite slight.
Clip-ons work well on different styles of bikes. Clip-ons are not connected by a bar like other styles of handlebars. Instead, each handle clips directly to the fork tube. Many sport bikes have clip-on handlebars. Tim Kessel, writing for the website All About Bikes, strongly advocates opting for clip-ons when customizing a cafe racer. Some clip-ons are adjustable. This ensures that you don't have to sacrifice the comfort of your ride for style.
Clubman handlebars are seen on cafe racers. They project an old school or vintage look when installed on a bike. Clubman bars attach to the top of the triple tree and slant the grips down and toward the rider. A Clubman-style grip will position your hands low and close to your body.
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