Choosing A Handlebar For Your Harley
Harley-Davidsons are great bikes no matter what and you can't go wrong buying one. One of its most distinctive features is the handlebar and the stock one that comes with your new bike is more than enough cool for the average rider. But if you feel your body dimensions aren't quite “average”, then you'll want to change your handlebar to better suit your riding positions. Here are some of your options.
1. Ape Hangers
These iconic bars are what made choppers and are probably the most popular especially for newcomers. Easily identifiable by their height, Apes have gradual upward bend just past the mounting point at the risers then shoot straight towards the sky. They have another gentle bend outwards at the top so the bar ends are pretty much perpendicular to the ground.
The most common heights are the 12", 16", and 18" Ape Hangers such as the Wild 1 Psycho Chubby 18", but it’s not uncommon to see people taking it to the extreme with 20" and even 24" Apes.
2. Baby/Mini Apes
If the height of the Apes are a bit too daunting for you, then Baby Apes can still deliver a much more aggressive look with their straight up rise and opened up hand positioning. Mini Apes are traditionally under 8 1/2" tall.
Buckhorn handlebars are a really old style and have retained staying power, even as stock bars on a host of Harley models including Softails, Sportsters, and Dynas. It has a short rise that people can confuse with a Mini Ape, but the bar ends on Buckhorns are angled in towards the rider to bring the elbows in and have a slight dip.
While some feel that this positioning makes for awkward or uncomfortable riding, it's suitable for long arms and can be stylish. It's notable for stock use on the 1952 K Model, which was the predecessor to Harley’s longest running production model, the Sportster—introduced in 1957.
4. Drag Bars
These go straight across at the bottom with little to no rise and then have a slight angled pullback. A very simple and basic design put the rider in a somewhat forward and more aggressive riding position.
These are similar to drag bars except that they have built in risers. The risers are welded perpendicular to the main bar, making a T-like design. Height can vary anywhere from 4" to 8" tall (sometimes even taller).
6. Beach Bars
The 1903 Serial Number One started this trend over a hundred years ago, with long swooping bends that pull back towards the rider. Most place the hands in a slight open position, resting apart a tad wider than the shoulders. It gives a relaxed look and feel to riding.
As the name suggests, these look like opposing Zs on each bar end. Smaller than most other bars, Z-bars typically look best on Sportsters and narrow choppers/custom bikes. The rise on these bars is very minimal, usually only about four inches.