Handlebars on a motorcycle are an important part of its ergonomics. The shape and grip position of motorcycle handlebars plays a crucial role in defining your riding position on a motorcycle. This in turn also defines a motorcycle’s character in the way it turns around corners, the kind of effort required to put in by the rider, as well as the comfort on offer. A handlebar also adds enormously to a motorcycle’s visual appeal. Seasoned motorcycle modifiers lay a lot of emphasis on handlebar design to ensure their motorcycles look good. There’s a whole bunch of motorcycle handlebar types for the discerning motorcyclist to choose from. Each one of these handlebar types is meant to look a certain way and to tweak the rider’s grip to facilitate a certain handling characteristic. In this article, we will discuss all the popularly known motorcycle handlebars that you can choose from, how they look, and what kind of application they are used for.
Most modern sport bikes feature this variety of handlebars. Positioned low, and meant to make the rider lean forward, these bars are generally mounted directly onto the motorcycle’s front forks. They’re a two piece setup and can be adjusted for getting them closer or further away from the rider. Some motorcycles also use faux clip-on bars, which look like a true clip on, but cannot be adjusted.
As the name suggests, these handlebars are generally used on dirt bikes, though they’re sometimes used on other varieties of motorcycles as well. For motocross, riders prefer their handlebars to be as straight as possible, and that’s the hallmark of this bar variety. Even if there’s a curve in the middle of these bars, it’s often supported by a straight cross brace for additional rigidity.
Like the motocross handlebar, the Tracker too is quite flat. Named after the handlebars used for flat track racing, these handlebars generally allow you to use your stock wiring and cables, which makes their installation very easy. They also tend to fit well across a variety of motorcycles
Drag bars are again straight handlebars and are said to have their origins in London. Also termed as cafe racer bars, these handlebars make the rider lean forward, reducing wind resistance and improving acceleration to some extent. Used originally on drag bikes, these handlebars are also commonly used on choppers, bobbers, and cruisers. Being straight, they are easy to install, and allow you to use the bike’s stock wiring. Drag handlebars have variants which are termed as zero drag, low drag and high drag. The latter two are raised incrementally as compared to the zero drag bars.
As the name suggests, the Z-bars have angles which look like opposing Zs at either end of the inner rise of the handlebar. These handlebars have a very angular look to them with a low inner rise. The Z-bars aren’t too wide or tall and are well suited for narrow choppers or custom bikes which aren’t too wide. Apart from being relatively narrow, these handlebars are also relatively straight and don’t pull back towards the rider.
Two variations of the Z handlebars are the Maynard and the Zed bar. The Maynard is still a low rise bar, where the sharp Z angle of the Z-bar is replaced by a more perpendicular, step like angle. The Zed too has a perpendicular angle but has a slightly taller rise as compared to the Z-bar or Maynard.
Frisco bars are somewhat similar to the Zed handlebars in their overall shape and their rise. They don’t however have an angular shape at the top of the inner rise. These bars have a softer, more rounded curve between the top vertical and horizontal sections of the handlebars.
As the name suggests, this variety of handlebars looks like a twirled moustache if you face the motorcycle from its headlamp. The bend goes away from the clamp and pulls back in a curved manner for a classy look. Moustache bars are lower and narrower than most stock handlebars, and this does away with the need to change or extend the stock cables and wires.
In terms of shape, the Keystone handlebars look somewhat similar to the z-bar. The shape of the handlebar in this case too makes opposing Zs at both ends. However, the top portion of the handlebar here is angled inward for a slightly more aggressive, a tad bit more imposing stance. While the Z-bar is straight on top, this one angles in, and that’s what makes it look rather nice on shorter bikes.
Clubman bars can roughly be described as single-piece, classically styled clip-ons. While they are not two-piece they are pretty low-set, radiate a sporty, aggressive look, and are functionally meant to reduce air resistance by making the rider lean forwards. Back in the day, Clubman bars were commonly found on British cafe racers and were also simply known as ‘drops’ in colloquial conversation.
If you are a cruiser motorcycle or chopper fan, then you ought to know about this variety of handlebars. The Ape Hangers are the tallest variety of handlebars and are named so as sometimes the rider is has to reach up to them, or hang on to them like an ape. With Ape Hangers, height is the keyword, and while the common height associated with these handlebars is 12 to 16 inches, some extreme cases also see up to 24 inches of height. Ape Hangers are oriented solely towards styling and don’t pay much attention to factors like comfort, ergonomics or control. Ape Hangers are used extensively by modifiers across the world to lend their cruiser motorcycles or choppers tons of character. The shorter version of Ape Hangers is known as the Mini Apes or Baby Apes.
Another variation of the Baby Ape is the Buckhorn, which has a short rise. However, the hand positioning on the Buckhorn handlebar is a little different and the overall shape looks similar to a buck’s horn – thus the name. The bar ends on Buckhorn handlebars have a slight dip to them and are angled in towards the rider.
The Chumps handlebar is a versatile handlebar design which suits almost every bike. With its medium rise and soft, balanced curves it goes very well with a whole bunch of stock or custom motorcycles. It’s understated, but still looks nice and classy. This variety of handlebars is for those who don’t want to their ride to be too flashy, and want an easy going, comfortable handlebar.
Breezer bars are similar to Chumps in proportions; however, they are more angular at the top of the inner rise. Also, Breezers drop towards the rider after the inner rise. So while the Chumps are very easy going and softly curved, Breezers have a bit more attitude and are a bit more aggressive looking too.
H and Window handlebars
H and window bars are two different designs of tall, angular handlebars. The H handlebar, as the name suggests, has a cross brace which makes the set-up look like the letter H. This handlebar is suitable for motorcycles with a narrow clamp. The Window handlebar is a classic styled angular handlebar. The risers are tall, and are angled at 90 degrees, and meet the top bar again at a 90 degree angle, What’s more, the top bar is flat and connects the inner risers to form the shape of a window – thus the name.
That’s pretty much the complete list of generic handlebar styles, though when it comes to creating a customized look or functionality for a handlebar, only sky is the limit. We hope this article on handlebar varieties was informative and useful to you. If you found it interesting, do share it with your bike enthusiast friends. If you have any questions, shoot away and we’ll be happy to answer.