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The Harley-Davidson Guide to Motorcycle Handlebar Styles

October 16, 2022

Though they may seem small in the scheme of things, there’s no doubting the outsized impact a pair of handlebars can have on the look and feel of a motorcycle. From easy-riding ape-hangers to the flat bars of classic flat-track racers, anyone building a bike—or customizing their current ride—eventually is faced with a decision: What kind of handlebars are best for me?

Luckily, we’ve created this motorcycle handlebar guide to help you meet that decision head-on. Dig into the details of the different types of motorcycle handlebars below and find helpful tips on how to select the right bar for your bike.

Types of Motorcycle Handlebars

With so many styles of motorcycle handlebars to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Kick-start your search for the perfect handlebars with the breakdown below.

How to Choose Between Motorcycle Handlebar Styles

Virtually every bike features a different stock handlebar style. On Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, just about every model has its own distinct handlebar that’s selected to complement the style or use of the bike. While many riders might find this stock shape an ideal fit and style for their bike of choice, others may desire a different look.

 

Handlebar Measurements: Rise, Pullback, and Width

Of course, choosing a bar for your bike is about much more than just style. At the end of the day, when choosing a set of handlebars, you need to land on a pair that you can ride comfortably for long periods. You need to not only look right but feel right, too.

Where the bar positions your hands, wrists, and arms directly affects how you will feel when riding your motorcycle. To get a better sense of the right position for your body, take note of the three factors at work on any set of handlebars:

  • Rise: The distance from the body of the bike to the top of the bar
  • Width: The measurement of the handlebars’ total width, taken from the widest point, where grips are installed
  • Pullback: The distance forward or back from the top of the bar to the tip of the handle

These three measurements will determine your ability to reach the bike’s hand controls and, ultimately, your overall feeling of comfort and control. However, these measurements are not necessarily the end-all, be-all when it comes to fit. Many bars can be mounted using various handlebar risers that affect the final positioning. True to their names, straight and tall risers will increase the height of the bar, while pullback risers will bring the bar closer to the rider.

 

Making Your Final Choice: Comfort, Style, or Both?

Just as every rider possesses a unique style, they also come to their bike with a unique height, reach, upper body length, and riding preferences that will dictate their relationship to a bike’s controls.

Luckily, given the sheer number of handlebars styles available today, along with components like risers that offer greater customizability, each rider should be able to find a set of bars that’s right for them—without compromising on either comfort or style.

 

This motorcycle handlebar guide is a great start, but in the end, there’s really no substitute for trying things out in person. Use the info above to get informed and explore your options, then find your local Harley-Davidson® dealer to discover the handlebars that suit the way you want to ride. If you’re shopping for handlebars without the help of an in-store expert, be sure to use Harley-Davidson® bars and to check our handlebar fitment guide to ensure a proper fit and a comfortable ride. Soon enough, you’ll be ready for the open road.

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