Changing Your Motorcycle Handlebars

Mini apes harley davidson sportster
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Changing the handlebars on your Harley-Davidson®

Do you want to feel a little more in control of your bike? Feel a little uneasy in certain situations? Does your back hurt when riding? Maybe a change of handlebars is all you need.

I have added a few ‘after market’ or ‘custom’ parts to my 2009 Harley-Davidson 1200C Sportster. Some of the after market parts I have on my Sporty are:

•   Vance and Hines slip on mufflers (because I didn’t want to have to remap my bike yet-waiting until I upgrade my air intake, then I may go with a different exhaust)  

•   The extended foot pegs from Harley-Davidson.

•   A sissy bar; because frankly if you don’t have saddlebags, which I don’t, it is almost impossible to haul anything without a sissy bar to tie down to.

•   A Linby Linbar (crashbar or highway bar) see Installing a Linby crash bar? For helpful information.

•   An oil dipstick with the temperature gauge, it comes stock without temp. gauge.

•   Turn Signal (also called directional lights) re-locater.  I moved my turn signals to the forks, necessary move with the installation of my mini-ape handlebars.

But the most important after-market part I added was my Chrome mini ape handlebars, Harley-Davidson part number 56079-93T. These are actually for FXDWG or FXDB (Dyna’s), for whatever reason the dealership ordered the wrong bars.I had these on my Christmas list that year (the best way to customize your motorcycle!) and my son ordered them from a HD dealership near his home, Christmas of 2010.  But they fit great so I went with it. As far as I can tell the most important fitment is the knurl center to center and the Dyna is the same as the Sportster. There are a lot of great companies that sell handlebars for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, shop around for what fits you and your budget.

Specifications on the 56079-93T bars are:

♦ Tip to Tip = 32.00

♦ Base Width = 10.00

♦ Rise (Inside) = 10.25

♦ Pull Back = 6.50

♦ Knurl Center to Center = 3.14

♦ Rise (Tip-to-Base) (Outside) = 8.75

Let me elaborate on why this was the best change I could have made to my Sporty:

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are brilliantly balanced machines. Each member of the Harley family has a chassis built for a different purpose. The Sportster is designed to handle exceptionally well while taking on curves and corners. However, the Sportster tends to be a little top heavy, in comparison to the other family members of the Harley-Davidson line up.

The placement of the handlebars are lower and caused me to reach forward. This position was adding more weight over the tank area, making it even more top heavy, and after 80-90 miles my back would hurt.

There have been times I felt a little uncomfortable when making tight turns, such as in parking spaces, u-turns, etc…, because of the weight of the bike.  Desperate to get rid of my back pain and to straighten up my riding posture some, I put mini apes on my Sporty, they have a 10.25” rise, plus the additional 4.5″ rise in the riser that came stock in 2009 on the 1200C. It is AWESOME.

I cannot stress how much of a difference that has made. I have straightened up my back and I have also moved the center of gravity where it should be, the seat area. I am ridiculously comfortable on my bike. It now takes well over 200 miles for me to even think about my back, but even then it doesn’t hurt. And control? Well….I own that bitch!

Tight turns and u-turns are effortless. The only downfall is I don’t have to ‘lean’ into curves as much anymore with the mini apes, and I do miss that.

When I replaced my handlebars I also had to change the brake and clutch cables. The stock throttle cables were long enough. My switch wires worked, but I had to take them out of the riser and re-route them. I had to loosen the gas tank to unclip these wires from the connector so I could re-route them. The connector is located under the tank, near the center. The riser provided a nice hidden location for the wires, but taking them out wasn’t that big of a deal, I think everything still looks nice. I put the bars on before ordering anything to be sure. The stock clutch and brake cables weren’t even close to fitting with the new bars.

I ordered part #19-05516-Drag Specialties-black vinyl coated braided stainless steel brake line, +8″. The stock front brake line on the Sportster has a fixed hard line, the after-market brake lines available are all flexible, you will not be able to find a direct replacement line with added length.The +8 length fits perfect.

I ordered part # 19-05296-Drag Specialties, 62 11/16″ black vinyl high efficiency clutch cable for my clutch cable replacement. My adjuster location is 25 7/16 and the travel is 2 3/4 (also two different travel locations to pick from). I have the Dennis Kirk catalog, so I had been looking at what I needed before ordering online. I double checked both cables online and noticed that the clutch cable fitment DOES NOT list the Sportster, but the catalog did (also fits Big V-Twins). So I called the tech line to confirm that the cable still fit the sporty and tech told me yes. I ordered on a Wednesday. and had the parts on Friday. I also ordered my brake fluid just to make sure I had enough to qualify for free shipping. The clutch cable fits perfect.

You will need to tilt your bars to a position that is comfortable for you. If you have them too far forward or too far back, then you will not benefit from the change of handlebars.

If you are on the fence about changing your handlebars, based on my personal experience, I would have to recommend  doing it.

Changing the handlebars…

1. Always unplug main fuse.

2. Remove two screws on the clutch control assembly on left side of handlebar.

3. Remove two screws on the left handlebar switch assembly to handlebar. Let the wires support the switch box.

4. Remove left handlebar grip.

5. Remove front brake master cylinder from right handlebar.

6. Carefully remove the wiring harness retainers, I was able to reuse mine.

7. Loosen the screws on the control housing, do not remove them, make them loose enough to slide the bars through.

8. Remove four screws and upper handlebar clamp/speedometer housing.  Detach handlebar from riser.

9. Slide right hand control and throttle assembly off detached handlebar.

To re-route your wires inside the riser, just remove the 2 screws on the riser and you will have access to the wires.  Use your own judgement on how to run them on your bike.  You will need to disconnect from connector under the gas tank.

Good Luck and Ride Safe!

Written by Pam:Ridersinfo
January, 2012

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BEFORE 2009 1200C Harley-Davidson Sportster with Stock Handlebars
Mini Ape Hangers
AFTER 2009 1200C Harley-Davidson Sportster with Mini-Ape Handlebars with 10.25" rise.
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