Honestly, I never felt the need to change the angle of the stock handlebars in my motorcycle.
However, a friend of mine wanted to bend the T-bars in his bike a wee bit down to make his wrists more comfortable.
And he managed to do it in a few simple steps.
It goes without saying that steel or aluminum alloy handlebars can always be bent.
But is that safe?
The question got me thinking and realized – this is the perfect time to find out how to bend motorcycle handlebars and if there are any aftereffects!
Motorcycle Handlebar Features and Riding Comfort
Which part forms the primary connection between a human and a motorcycle?
It’s the handlebars that give you that sublime feeling of unlimited freedom.
(I guess the seat is a point of connection too.)
Let’s ignore that part for now, shall we?
One of the best parts of motorcycle riding is you can customize the look and fit to ensure the best levels of comfort and ergonomics. And that includes customizing the handlebars as well.
Even though motorcycle handlebars come with some adjustability, there’s a problem. In many bikes, the control pods are not adjustable. In some bikes the electrical connections are fixed, so you can’t rotate the handlebars much.
But I’m jumping ahead.
Basically, the motorcycle handlebar is a curved piece of metal tubing. They are made from aluminum alloy or chrome-plated steel. In some models, carbon fiber and titanium are used too.
Most handlebars are between 1″ to 7/8″ in diameter. If you want something more robust, there are fatter bars available with 1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ diameters.
In reality, discomfort due to handlebars in a motorcycle isn’t too common. But, some riders may face wrist fatigue, or pain in the shoulders, elbows, and back.
Before we go into that, let’s take a look at the main aspects of a handlebar structure that can be changed:
|Width||This is the extent to which the handlebar stretches to accommodate all the attachments. You can’t change the width of your grip without picking new bars.|
|Riser||This is the distance the handlebar rises above the top bridge. Some bikes come with a high riser while others don’t have any risers at all. Adding a riser can raise the handlebar and bringing it back can help you sit more upright. Keep in mind, if you change the riser height, you may need to change the length of the wires and cables passing through the bar too.|
|Riser||The overall height of a handlebar can affect hand and shoulder comfort. It can also affect the steering feel. The height can be changed to some extent by bending the bar.|
|Pullback/Reach||This is the angle by which the handlebars turn back towards the rider. The pullback is one aspect you can adjust by bending.|
If you’re sure that the cause of all the pain and suffering while riding is the handlebars, it’s time to customize them. But before that, you need to find out the exact dimensional aspect that needs changing.
For example, if you want a wider bar, you need to pick a new one.
Let’s assume you have the budget to pick a shiny new handlebar.
Even so, it’s not always so simple.
Take the case of wider handlebars. A wider handlebar might be more comfortable, but you get more exposed to the wind. If you’re riding at highway speeds, you will have to overcome more air pressure due to the extra width.
Not to forget, you may find one end sticking into your gut while making sharp turns.
So before you make a full handlebar swap, it’s best to consult a professional for advice. Beyond that, there are customizable handlebars that can be adjusted at multiple points.
How to Bend the Handlebars On A Motorcycle?
Bending the handlebar is a cheap and easy way to make your riding posture more comfortable.
Let me start with the bad news.
Bending motorcycle handles might form microcracks on the surface of the metals. Especially if you’re using heat for the job. If you bend them too much, chances are you’re compromising the integrity of the handlebars.
There are no safety limits marked on the bars to guide you. Any metal piece can snap off if stressed beyond its limits.
Imagine that happening during a ride.
Here’s what I feel. If you take this path, bend the tubes as minimum as possible. Small changes in the bends are not likely to impact the performance of the metal.
Note, you might be damaging the chrome finish of the handle. So, you will have to repaint them.
The easiest way to bend the handlebars is by using an EMT conduit bender. If you are a DIYer, then this is a handy tool to have around.
(My DIY theory is simple. Just do it… later.)
Here are the steps you need to take.
- Remove the mirrors, turn signals, and disconnect the wires. Next, remove the switch consoles and the throttle. You can remove the grips as well. Then, undo the fastenings on the handlebar bracket and remove the handlebar.
- You can then use an electrical conduit bender to cold bend the pipe. The conduit bender is a tool with a large lever to apply force on the tube. It’s best you use a solid flat surface to do it. Mark the spot of the bend before using the tool.
- If you have a stand or a motorcycle lift to support and secure the bike, you can do it even without removing the handlebar.
Besides, you can also use this tool to straighten up bend handlebars from an accidental impact or being accidentally dropped.
What about using heat to bend the handlebars?
Frankly, that’s NOT a process I would recommend. Apart from the safety aspects, there are also chances of the metal tube getting deformed due to heat and pressure.
Admittedly, there are some riders who have done it. It’s a more elaborate process as you have to fix one end of the handlebar in a vice. Then, you’ll need a compact blow torch to heat up the tube and then bend it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you adjust motorcycle handlebars?
You can adjust motorcycle handlebars by loosening the handlebar clamps. The bar can be rotated forward or backward to find the best position for your arms. But the overall adjustability is limited.
Can you bend bike handlebars?
Yes, you can bend bike handlebars to make necessary adjustments. The easiest way to do it is by using a conduit bender tool.
Can you heat and bend motorcycle handlebars?
It’s always possible to use heat on a motorcycle handlebar for bending them. But using heat can damage the metal structure. This can affect the durability of the bar.