Motorcycle Rides

How Does Handlebar Height Affect Motorcycle Handling

How Does Handlebar Height Affect Motorcycle Handling

There are different types of handlebars based on their shape, width, height, and purpose. For example, a sports bike or a café racer is fitted with low-mounted, clip-on handlebars to ensure an aggressive riding style. Meanwhile, cruisers and touring bikes are usually fitted with mid- or high-mounted handlebars to ensure an upright back and comfortable riding position. The tall handlebars, including mini-ape handlebars and ape hangers, are designed to ensure better comfort on long-distance rides. However, riding becomes uncomfortable if the handlebar height is above shoulder level.

Sports bikes and café racers are designed to travel fast but at the cost of ergonomics and comfort. However, they are agile and ensure smooth handling. Sports bikes can easily handle high-speed turns and can lean at greater angles. Meanwhile, cruisers and touring bikes are slightly difficult to handle due to being heavier than modern sports bikes and café racers. It is difficult to try low- and high-speed maneuvers and U-turns on a cruiser or touring bike, especially if you are a novice rider. This article explains how handlebar height affects motorcycle handling.

1. What are Handlebar Risers?

Handlebar risers are parts that attach the handlebars to the motorcycle. You can also adjust the handlebars’ height by adjusting the risers. If you are a taller rider, you can use the risers at their highest setting to ensure a comfortable riding position.


2. How Does Handlebar Height Affect Motorcycle Handling

2.1 How Does Handlebar Height Affect Weight Distribution and Handling

Low Handlebars – Aggressive Riding Style

Photo Credit: MotoPinas

High Handlebars – Upright Riding Position

Photo Credit: Maverick HD

The handlebars are designed to help keep the motorcycle stable. The handlebars’ height and pulled-back angle are to ensure proper weight distribution. Changing the handlebars’ height disrupts the overall weight distribution. It also impacts the center of gravity which can affect the motorcycle’s handling capability.

If the handlebar risers are used to increase the handlebars’ height, the rider will have to sit a little backward, adjusting his/her weight more towards the rear of the motorcycle. This will disrupt the motorcycle’s weight distribution more towards the rear, affecting stability, balance, and handling.

2.2 How Does Handlebar Height Affect Motorcycle Control and Handling

The handlebars is the key part that allows you to control and steer the motorbike. Changing the motorcycle handlebar height can affect how well you handle your motorcycle. However, it depends on what kind of motorcycle you ride. For example, increasing the handlebar height will ensure better control of a dirt bike since you may have to stand on the foot pegs frequently while off-roading. While riding a dirt bike, the rider has to shift his/her weight more often and taller handlebars allow more freedom of movement and control. Taller handlebars will allow you to stand more upright on a dirt bike’s footpegs.

However, high handlebars, such as ape hangers, on cruisers and touring bikes ensure better back posture. A motorcycle with low-mounted handlebars results in a slouched riding position that is uncomfortable after an hour of riding. However, a shorter or average rider might find it difficult to control a cruiser or a touring bike with taller handlebars. Taller handlebars are also bulky and cause the motorcycle’s front end to become heavier. Motorcycles with a heavier front end provide better stability and linear performance. However, it becomes difficult to turn corners and make U-turns.


2.3 How Does Handlebar Height Affect Motorcycle Center of Gravity and Handling

The motorcycle’s center of gravity is directly related to handling. Any increase in the handlebars’ height will cause a change in the center of gravity since the rider has to adjust his/her weight more towards the rear. The higher the motorcycle’s height, the more torque the center of gravity creates, requiring more force to push the motorcycle forward. The rider will also shift more weight while leaning sideways, making it more difficult to maneuver.

2.4 How Does Handlebar Height Affect Traction Control and Handling

A low motorcycle handlebar, such as clip-on bars, provide better traction and an aggressive/forward riding position. The rider adjusts his/her weight toward the motorcycle’s front end, resulting in increased traction. It helps keep the motorcycle tires on the ground whether the motorcycle is accelerating or turning corners, which helps improve handling and performance.

2.5 The Best Handlebar Height for On- and Off-Roading

Sports bikes are designed for tracks and paved roads due to their high speed and powerful engines. Low handlebars on a sports bike ensure an aggressive riding style that reduces drag and improves aerodynamics. The forward riding position also ensures more weight is distributed towards the front end to improve traction. The lower the handlebars on a motorcycle, the more power your motorcycle’s engine can generate. Handling also becomes easier, especially while turning tight corners at high speeds.

However, for touring, casual riding, and off-roading, high power output is not as important. When traveling over difficult terrain, you want your motorcycle to have more comfort and better control. Handlebars with risers are best suited for dirt bikes since you need to stand on the footpegs to reduce the impact of bumps. However, they shouldn’t be too tall since it could make it difficult for the rider to adjust his/her weight towards the front end when turning corners.


3. How High Handlebars Make It Difficult to Push the Motorcycle

Motorcycles with taller handlebars are difficult to push, especially when parking due to the uncomfortable grip position.


4. Pros and Cons of High handlebars

Pros of High Handlebars Cons of High Handlebars
More comfortable Reduces handling capability
Ensure an upright back position Increases center of gravity
Helps reduce back, shoulder, and muscle pain Requires extended clutch cable and wires
Comfortable for taller riders Affects the weight distribution
Provides a custom look Difficult to push the motorcycle while parking
Handlebar risers make it possible to adjust handlebar height Uncomfortable for shorter riders

4. Final Words

Handlebar height greatly impacts a motorcycle’s handling, comfort, control, weight distribution, and center of gravity. High handlebars ensure an upright back and a relaxed riding position that helps reduce back, shoulder, and muscle pains. However, changing the rider’s seating position causes weight to shift towards the rear, resulting in a change in the center of gravity and handling. Motorcycles with tall handlebars are difficult to handle and maneuver while turning tight corners and making U-turns, especially for shorter and novice riders.

If you want to customize your motorcycle to make it more comfortable, make sure that it does not impact the motorcycle’s handling and performance. Viking Bags has a wide range of aftermarket parts that improve comfort, performance, and aesthetics. These aftermarket parts include handlebars, seats, sissy bars, sissy bar pads, fairings, and crash bars. You can also improve the storage capacity by installing different luggage options available at Viking Bags, including sissy bar bags, saddlebags, and handlebar bags.

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