Few rides that have the iconic look of the Harley-Davidson. Many people continue to come back to this brand because it’s the only one that satiates their preferred aesthetic. Even with the classic bad-boy-biker style that this brand embodies, there are plenty of ways to customize your ride to your particular tastes. One of the most popular ways to customize your Harley Davidson is by switching out the handlebars.
While this is a very popular mod to make, there are tons of options available if you decide you want to swap out your bars for something a little bit more fashionable or comfortable. The best choice for you, ultimately, depends upon your aesthetic preferences as well as the way you like to ride. In this article, we are going to go over some of the more popular options of handlebar styles so that you can customize your Harley-Davidson to your heart’s content.
Motorcycle Beach Bars
These handlebars are perfect for riders who want to have a traditional, classic, laid-back cruiser-style look. Beach bars sit at waist level, and the bars themselves have little to no rise. A good way to think about beach bars and a conceptual sense is to imagine a sideways C shape.
These are a good choice for people who plan to be in the saddle for long periods of time. That is, if one of your dreams is making a cross country motorcycle trip, motorcycle beach bars can definitely help make that ride much more comfortable.
Some people just like to hang low. Ape hangers, commonly called “apes,” are one of the most common varieties of handlebar replacements found on a Harley Davidson. The ape hangers are the apex of the chopper style-bike.
Ape hangers are a fantastic choice for a handlebar swap since they add instant attitude to virtually any Harley-Davidson bike. They also come in a variety of heights, so they can be customized to the length of the rider’s arms. Of course, many people simply go for the largest ape hangers that they can find due to the incredible aesthetic value that these handlebars add. If you are looking for the baddest style that you can give your bike, ape hangers should be the first choice for you.
Mini Apes/Baby Apes
For those who simply can’t get used to riding a bike with large ape hanger handlebars but still wish to have the aesthetic, you can go with mini apes or baby apes. These mimic the style of the larger ape hanger handlebars, but they are much smaller in scope. Particularly if you happen to have short arms these are a good choice. Mini apes and baby apes are also popular choices for female riders who typically have smaller stature than male riders.
To qualify as a “baby” ape, these handlebars are typically no taller than eight and a half inches. Anything taller than this is considered a traditional ape hanger handlebar.
Many people confuse Buckhorn handlebars with mini ape and baby ape handlebars. They are somewhat similar in stature and size; however, the difference lies in how the handlebars are angled at their ends. With mini apes and baby apes, the handles are in an open position, just like they are in traditional ape hanger handlebars. Buckhorns, on the other hand, face more inward and have a small dip.
Buckhorn handlebars actually have come standard on many different Harley-Davidson machines. Most people favor the ape hanger handlebar though, because the majority of riders find that ape hangers have a more comfortable hand position. However, this is a matter of preference and many riders love the buckhorn style.
Drag bars are some of the simplest handlebars that you can put on your Harley Davidson. In fact, just like the buckhorns, drag bars have come standard on plenty of models of Harley-Davidson in the past. These bars are nearly straight across, just with a slight angle at the hand grip. If you are somebody who likes to keep your styling minimalistic and classic, you might find drag bars to your liking. They also work for a variety of different arm lengths and styles, so if many people are sharing your Harley-Davidson drag bars may be a good option.
This variety of handlebar also puts you in a more “aggressive” and forward-leaning positioning, if that’s how you like to ride.
Z-bars are very aggressive-looking handlebars. They typically look better on smaller models of Harley-Davidson, like the Sportster. Their appearance is like two opposing Z’s standing next to each other. They put your arms quite close together, and have very little “pullback” from the front of the bike. These are also a popular pick for more custom rides. Generally you do need a specific size of bike to pull off a Z-bar look well… otherwise you risk looking like a cartoon character that is very large but wears a comically-tiny hat.
T-bars are very similar to drag bars, only that they have risers on them to make them taller. Thus, they look a little bit like the letter T. These are great for those who really like the look and aggressive positioning of the drag bar, but need something a little higher up. Particularly if you are prone to getting back aches from being bent over on a bike for too long, a T-bar style handlebar can help you get the look you want with the comfort you need to be on your bike for more than 20 minutes.
T-bars can range from 4 inches up to 8 inches tall. There are some varieties that are even taller than this. However, if you want something that is taller than 8 inches you may be looking into a custom handlebar job.
Like with basically anything else on your motorcycle that is aesthetic, the best choice of handlebar for your Harley-Davidson is completely up to personal preference. Many people decide to err on the side of aesthetic when it comes to choosing their handlebars. Given that the Harley-Davidson has a storied history as the bike of the bad boy, it’s not surprising to see that many of these handlebar styles are geared toward looking aggressive. However, if you want something a little bit more relaxed a beach bar style may be what suits you best.
Also, you’ll want to take comfort into consideration. While ape hangers may look great, you definitely don’t want to put something on your bike that looks good but prohibits you from riding it as frequently as you would like.
No matter which variety of Harley-Davidson handlebars are the best motorcycle handlebars for you, the first step toward making any decision is doing plenty of research on your options.