Black Gold Harley-Davidson® - News & Blog

Harley Handlebar Selection For Long Rides

There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is, because it’s the end of September the blistering hot days of summer are numbered. Before too much longer we’ll be able to ride without needing a 10 lb. bag of ice on our laps. 

The bad news is, our September handlebar promotion is almost over too. If you’ve been thinking about changing out your handlebars and wanting to take advantage of this month’s offer, it’s time to commit.

Sometimes people put off buying new handlebars for Harley® because they’re not sure which ones they want. When you start to look at the available options, there are so many it’s understandable if your eyes start to glaze over. Let’s talk about the basics when it comes to choosing new handlebars for Harley that get you a more comfortable ride.

The Problem With the Wrong Handlebars

Our customers ride a lot. There’s not much better than seeing the country on a Harley®. However, sometimes long rides cause physical discomfort.

Your bike should feel like an extension of your being. You connect to and control your bike through the handlebars. It seems pretty obvious but we’re going to go ahead and say it – you use your hands to grab those handlebars.

There are tons of studies about ergonomics when it comes to using a computer, industrial machinery etc. When you perform any task repeatedly, experts say it’s best to keep your fingers, hands, arms and shoulders in a neutral position. When you twist and contort your anatomy and hold it that way, you get pain. Over time, that could lead to chronic conditions. Your handlebars shouldn't give you back problems or neck pain.

If when you ride for a while your hands start to tingle, go numb or ache, it’s probably because of your riding position. If you get off your bike and roll your neck and shoulders to loosen them and shake out your arms because your muscles have been bunched up for hours, you’ve been straining them the whole time you were riding. New handlebars might enable you to have a more enjoyable riding experience. 

Bigger, Wider Handlebars

Often when riders swap out handlebars they go bigger and wider. That doesn’t always mean improved comfort. Think simple aerodynamics. The more you stretch out, the more you expose your torso to the wind, especially if your bike isn’t built to deflect it. It will take more muscle to hang on when you go on long rides, especially at a higher speed. 

Turning changes too. On one hand, you have more leverage. However, when you turn at low speeds, one arm could be stretched all the way out to reach while the other handlebar is almost hitting you in the abs. If you add tall apes that require you to grip way up high, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your hands. If you plan to go on long rides, expect that coldness and numbness to set in sooner.

We’re not saying dramatic handlebars are a bad idea. We’ll talk custom handlebars for looks in another article. This one is about finding the best fit for long rides.

It all depends on your body. Some riders have a long torso, broad shoulders, long arms and a proportional reach. Others not so much.

Best Riding Position for Comfort

Harley® makes so many different options for their bikes because they understand each rider is different, and they want you to be able to get a bike that’s exactly right for you. If we tried to write an article that told the handlebar match for every body type, you’d still be reading it long after the September promotion ends. When the goal is comfort on long rides, you’re looking for the option that allows your body to experience the following:

  • Wrists in neutral position – If your handlebars make you twist to grab them, you could place pressure on the nerve that runs through your carpal tunnel. When you do, you feel numbness, tingling and that prickly feeling that occurs when your hands go to sleep. Try to choose handlebars that allow your wrists to stay as straight as possible.
  • Elbows relaxed and down – Stretching or rotating them outward stresses the joint. You’ll transfer that pressure up your arms and into your shoulders. You should be able to allow your elbows to hang instead of feeling like you have to support them with your biceps and shoulders. 
  • Shoulders neutral – When there’s tension mile after mile, that strain creeps up your neck and down your back. Choose handlebars that don’t require you to curve your shoulders in or lift up to grab them.
  • Steering through the arms – You shouldn’t have to steer with your back or neck. 

2 Ways to Try On Handlebars Before Buying

It’s hard to tell all that from a catalog or website. When you’re thinking about putting new handlebars on your Harley®, test out several options before you make the change. Sit on your current bike, close your eyes and reach out. Where would your hands and arms go if they were allowed to grasp naturally? You're looking for handlebars that get you there.

One great thing about coming into the dealership is we have new bikes with stock handlebars, custom motorcycles and a huge inventory of used bikes. So if you stop in, walk through and sit on everything you think might be a fit. 

Plus, there’s an event almost every weekend, and that gives you a chance to see what other riders have done. If you see handlebars on someone else’s bike you think might be a good fit for you, ask to sit on it. It’s a huge compliment when you like the handlebars of another rider so much you’re considering something similar – imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

Installing New Handlebars for Harley®

The same technology that makes newer bikes such a pleasure to ride does complicate new handlebar installation a bit. Most of the time, installing new handlebars for Harley® means you might need longer hoses and cables. While you’re at it, it might be a good time to dramatically change your bike’s appearance by installing a chrome triple clamp cover, fork caps or billet handlebar risers. 

All that can get complicated, and incorrect installation could create a safety hazard. So skip the hassle and let us do it for you. For a few more days, buy a new set of handlebars and get 15 percent off installation. Schedule service online or stop by and get it done today.