How To Measure for the Right Motorcycle Handlebars

//How To Measure for the Right Motorcycle Handlebars

How To Measure for the Right Motorcycle Handlebars

One of the more difficult challenges we face in our tech department here at J&P Cycles is the issue of handlebars. Often we hear this simple directive: “I just want to move my hands about two inches farther back.” But in order for our tech staff to help you in an efficient manner, we’d really like to have the dimensions of your existing bars. If that information isn’t readily available, then it’s important that you have an understanding about how things are measured.

First off, you should know that not every motorcycle handlebar manufacturer measures bars the same way.  That means that when we see a manufacturer’s dimensions on paper, those measurements might be different in person. Manufacturers are reluctant to adopt a uniform measurement system, so we can’t always compare apples to apples.

The good news is this: We’ve created a system in the J&P catalog that will give fair results — as long as it’s done correctly. To measure motorcycle handlebars, I use a table pushed up against a wall. I prop the handlebars in the corner where the table meets the wall, then I rotate the bars forward until the front of the bars touch the wall. In this case, rise is the distance from the table to the highest point on the bars, with pullback measured from the wall to the farthest point back.

Here are two other important dimensions: the width of the center section, and on T-bars, how far they rise before they bend back. A T-bar can have the same dimensions yet be very different in appearance. For example, a T-bar that bends two inches from the table will be very different from one that bends five inches from the table, but they can share the same overall dimensions.

Other considerations when ordering handlebars

Center Width 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 bars 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.

As always, if you have questions or need assistance picking out handlebars for your motorcycle, don’t hesitate to chat with a J&P technician via Live Chat. Or call J&P’s technical support staff at (800) 397-4844.

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  1. Harley bars and grips - VTXOA October 12, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    […] list "Bars for Bikes" a few weeks ago. The only ting to really worry about is the Center Width. I'm gonna hit the highway like a battering ram, on a silver-black PHANTOM bike! […]

  2. Jim Henry August 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I have a 1966 Honda CP (not a CB) 77 305 cc Superhawk, and I am looking for the specs of the original bars and being able to purchase a set. Can anyone help?

  3. Jim Henry August 8, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I have a 1966 Honds 305 cc CP77 (not a CB) and am looking for the specs of the original bars and also the op-
    portunity to purchase. Can anyone help?

  4. Don Smith July 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    i have a triumph thunderbird the riser centre to centre measures 4.5 inches. Do you have any mini apes 8 or 10 inch that are knurled ?

    Kind regards
    Don Smith

  5. Zach June 3, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    97′ Springer softail
    The risers are 4 3/4 in. center knurling
    Looking for something with a Pullback of 5in.
    Rise of the bars 10 in.
    Width 30-32 in.
    Inside width 10-12in.
    I’m having a hard time finding something to my likings. Thought of just going to a custom shop. If you could scrounge anything up and let me know! Be much appreciated, thanks Tony

  6. Tony April 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    I am looking to buy a set of bars. I was wondering if they will fit on my 01 FXSTD Part # 502-197
    Thanks Tony

  7. handlebar measurements December 22, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    […] sounds about right, read through this article How To Measure for the Right Motorcycle Handlebars | J&P Cycles Blog Proper wrist position is palm/hand in line with your forearm and your thumb pointed almost straight […]

  8. Joe July 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    A picture guide for fitting with a friend would be very useful.

  9. vinc June 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    looking for matte blk handle bars for 2013 triumph speedmaster dim as follow
    pipe diam 1″
    width 29″
    pullback 11″
    centre 7.5″
    can you help

  10. Ronk October 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    You show / discuss pullback, rise, center width and width (overall). No mention of “Height” but your website has a height dimension. What is difference between Rise and Height? Always assumed there was a Center Rise and an End Rise to detail the rise the grip section of the bar comes up relative to what you show as Rise in your drawing

  11. yvan April 4, 2013 at 4:44 am

    ello I have a kawasaki vn2000 and need more pullback does somebody selling a handlebar with those measure ? height 8 1/2 widht 34 1/2 pullback 17 center 7 1/2 ? thank you .

  12. […] Doesn't have R or PB. Diameter is 1". Here is how you can measure for yourself though: How To Measure for the Right Motorcycle Handlebars | J&P Cycles' Motorcycle Parts and Accessorie… I'm curious though…why would you get new bars that are the same style as the bars that are […]

  13. Nathaniel June 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

    This is quite informative. thanks.

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  16. Duncan April 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    did a very good job here, really liked the table idea.

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