How to measure motorcycle handlebars? If you’re thinking about replacing your motorcycle handlebars, you need to learn how to measure them.
It’s pretty simple, actually. Motorcycle riders are familiar with the diameter, where most handlebars are either 1 inch or 7/8 inches. Bikes like the Harley-Davidson typically have one-inch bars. At the same time, brands like Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki feature thinner 7/8″ bars.
How To Measure Motorcycle Handlebars?
First you need to choose a style then you need to figure out the bar dimensions you want/need. Determining the style can be somewhat of a daunting task as there are so many different styles to choose from Apes, Z-Bars, Drag Bars, etc.
Once you figure out the style of bars you want you need to check a few measurements (height, width, pullback etc) to make sure the bars will provide the comfort and riding position you desire.
While you may spend hours perusing hundreds of images of different handlebar styles, determining the dimensions you need is pretty simple.
All you need is something long and straight like a broomstick, a piece of string with a nut or washer tied to the end of it, a tape measure, someone to take all the measurements, and a pen and paper to mark down all your dimensions. You can take all the measurements with the stock bars on or off the bike.
There are three basic measurements you are going to take to determine your handlebar dimensions: rise/height, pull back, and width. Starting out sitting out on the motorcycle, grasp the broomstick in your hands and stretch your arms out to where you feel you want your new handlebars to reside.
Next have your buddy measure the distance between the outside of your hands (pinky to pinky). This will give you your overall width.
Next, tie the string to the broom stick (in the middle of your overall grip) so that it hangs down like a plumb bob. You can then determine the pullback by measuring from the center of the handlebar to the string.
The rise/height can be measured from the center of the center of the handlebar to center of the broomstick. If the broomstick isn’t resting directly above the handlebar it’s often easier to use a straight edge, or a long level if you have one, to make a right angle from the handlebar to the string to get the most accurate measurement.
This way your buddy can mark where the string and straight edge meet and then measure the distance from the mark on the string up to the center of the broomstick to determine the height.
Once you have those basic measurements you can then begin your research to make sure the style of bars you like will work/fit with your ride. If you are going to add taller, shorter, or pullback style risers to tour bike you need to factor their height/pullback measurements into your handlebar selection as well.
As you search you may find that some aftermarket manufactures use different terminology such as backsweep or upsweep, measure a bit differently (measuring from the bottom of top of the bar rather than the center) or have additional measurements such as center width, knurl width or end rise.
When you encounter scenarios like this determine their measurement points and factor them into your measurements or re-measure using their measurement points.
Other Things to Consider When Ordering Motorcycle Handlebars
Handlebars for Springer Softails are different than bars for other bikes. The reason for this is the riser spacing is different. Common to all Harleys from 1977 on — except Springers — is a riser center-to-center of 3.5 inches. You Springer guys have a 4-inch riser center-to-center.
On narrow glides the 3.5-inch measurement is good back to 1957. Why is this measurement important? Generally, bars have knurls (either a straight line or cross pattern) pressed into them to prevent them from slipping in the risers. If we use a set of standard bars on a Springer, these knurls would be visible and, in my opinion, unsightly.
Dimpled & Drilled
We offer bars in two groupings by year of fitment — pre-1982 and later models. The differences are the result of a change of configuration in the switch housings. The 1972-81 models have a notch in the housings to pass the wires through. The 1982 and newer models don’t.
Instead, the newer handlebars feature a dimple on the underside to allow room for wires. If you’re going to run the wires through the bars you should purchase bars that are drilled for internal wiring.
Tips for Measuring for Comfort
The bottom line for ordering handlebars should be comfort and avoiding fatigue while on the road — unless style trumps comfort when it comes to your motorcycle and you install ape hangers or drag bars. And the easiest way to find yourself a comfortable handlebar is to get some personal measurements.
This involves a friend and some minor tools. Loosen your stock handlebar in the risers and move them out of the way. Climb on your motorcycle, take it off the kickstand and sit it upright (a friend might be needed to keep the bike balanced).
Hold your hands out and simulate driving down the road. Pay close attention to your body position and your wrist position. Once you feel comfortable, have a friend take some measurements, starting with rise, and then working to pullback and overall width.
The easiest tool for this measurement is a carpenter’s square. All of these measurements are taken from the centerline of the risers straight up (rise), and straight back (pullback). Once you have your measurements, browse our catalog or website to check out our handlebar dimensions.
How is handlebar height measured?
You can then determine the pullback by measuring from the center of the handlebar to the string. The rise/height can be measured from the center of the center of the handlebar to center of the broomstick.
What is the standard width of motorcycle handlebars?
Diameter. Nearly all modern bikes use handlebars with a diameter of 7/8 of an inch, (22mm). Harley Davidson and some Honda customs use 1 inch, (26mm), bars. These are sometimes known as ‘fat’ bars.
Are all motorcycle handlebars the same diameter?
The most common handlebar diameter is 1”. Some older metric bikes have a handlebar diameter of 7/8”, but 1” bars are pretty much the standard after 1990. There are thicker diameter handlebars on the market such as 1 1/4” handlebars, but keep in mind these handlebars usually have a 1” clamping area.
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