At Black Gold Harley-Davidson® in Allen TX, our September special allows you to get 15 percent off installation when you buy new handlebars. So if you’ve been thinking about switching out your factory handlebars, now is a good time. But what type of handlebars should you get? Should you put apes on your Harley®, or will that change the way you feel about your bike?
Before we focus on ape handlebars, let’s talk about all the types you have available. Our special applies to new handlebars in any of these options:
- Drag bars – Some people call these café racer bars. They’re narrow and flat, causing the rider to lean forward in a more aggressive riding stance. Because the rider’s torso is leaned into the wind, there’s less resistance and slightly improved acceleration. They’re available in zero drag, low drag, and high drag variations. We can position them with straight risers or curved risers to place them wherever it’s comfortable for individual bike owners.
- Beach handlebars – If you ride to relax and your arms are longer, you’ll love the feel of these low, swooping bars that allow the hands to rest just outside shoulder width.
- Mustache handlebars – They’re shaped like their name implies, like a handlebar mustache. They lend a classy look and sit lower than stock handlebars, so if you choose this type of installation, you won’t need to change your bike’s stock cabling or wiring.
- Z-bars – Again, even if you’ve never seen them, you can imagine what they look like based on their name. They look a little like a lightning bolt. Z-bars are very edgy looking and angular, and made for narrow bikes like Sportsters or custom bikes.
- Chizeled handlebars – These are pretty cutting-edge, crossing the Z-bar with a mini-ape.
- Ape Hangers – This iconic style looks good on practically any bike. They get their name because they require the rider to reach up and grab them like an ape hanging from a tree. Some are extreme, others are more moderate. Ape hangers are all about style.
Ape Hangers and Comfort
Some people swear ape hangers are the most comfortable handlebars, others say exactly the opposite. For most, it depends on the bars.
If you choose the highest, most extreme you can buy, you’ll get the pinnacle of in-your-face attitude, but your arms will go numb on road trips. It’s just common sense – when your arms are waaaaaay above your head, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your fingertips. Hands will get cold faster, and vibration can cause your fingers to fall asleep.
For tall riders, ape hangers might be the most comfortable choice hands down. Your arms are longer, anything that allows you to stretch out is a plus. Where they might be above the shoulders and heart for an average height rider, they’re just right for you.
People with back issues sometimes prefer ape hangers over handlebars that create a lower riding profile. Ape hangers encourage a more upright posture instead of creating the need to hunch over. On long rides, apehangers that fit your body type also decrease strain on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
Ape Hangers and Handling
The same principle applies here. Moderately high and wide apes give most riders additional leverage. If you go too wide, you may face challenges maneuvering the bike at low speeds. You’ll likely notice it takes more effort or more time when cornering or making tight turns. You’re also a bit of an upright sail, so you’ll create more wind resistance for yourself when riding at speed.
When you buy handlebars from us, we help you choose based on the rider’s triangle, the three points of a triangle as made by your feet on the pegs, your hands on the handlebar grips, and your rear on the seat. We can talk you through the choices that will give you a correct weight distribution for comfort, safety, and handling.
To get an idea of what might be the best ape hanger handlebar height for you, sit on your current bike, close your eyes, and reach up to what feels like a natural position, with your elbows slightly bent and hands outside shoulder width. Play around with it, but most people find a range of what’s too high and what’s not high enough.
How to Know if Ape Hangers are Right for You
The bottom line? Handlebar choice is extremely personal. What works for one rider won’t work for another.
For some people, ape hangers are the best possible look on a bike, and the attitude and riding posture they want. If you’re in that group, you’re sold already. You may have to shop around a little bit and make some adjustments if you pick ape hangers that are too extreme, but it’s also possible to modify your seat and some other parts of your bike to make up for some of that.
Mirrors are often easier to use on ape hangers. With a lot of handlebars, your arms might get between your eyes and your mirrors. If you’re on the broad side, your body mass might obscure what’s behind you. With ape hangers, mirrors are higher than obstructions.
Talk With Service
At Black Gold Harley-Davidson® helping you find exactly the right fit is what we do. If you know what you want, reach out, and let's schedule your service. If you're still exploring your options, contact the store to talk to one of our team.