W650 Cafe Racer – Changing the handlebars (Part 1)

Swapping the handlebars on any bike sounds like an easy job but your choice of handlebar can dramatically affect the amount of work you’re going to need to put in. For anyone planning on attempting to change the handlebars on their motorbike here are the main considerations you need to make prior to starting the job:

1. What type of bars am I going to fit to the bike?
2. How will the new bars affect my seating position and ultimately the comfort of the bike?
3. What dimensions are my current bars (width, height, diameter. If you are fitting clip-ons, the diameter of the top of your forks) compared to the ones I am fitting?*

*Note: This point, in particular, can define the amount of extra work that you will have to do. The dimensions of the new bars compared to your old ones could result in you needing to perform one or all of these other tasks:

i. If the new handlebars have a smaller diameter you will need to purchase or fabricate spacers to use the existing handlebar mounts on the yoke.
ii. If you are fitting clip-ons to a bike that has standard bars you will want to purchase a new yoke that does not have handlebar mounts.
iii. You may need to re-route your cabling (brake, clutch, accelerator) or purchase a whole new set of cables if your handlebars are considerably smaller or larger than the standard ones.
iv. Bars such as clip-ons or ace bars will result in more weight on the front forks due to the more forward riding position. This could mean you will need to use a thicker fluid in your front shocks or may need to purchase a stiffer set.

Once you have purchased the bars and any other items you need to finish the job you’re ready to go, but remember your handlebars are your motorcycles primary point of control, not just steering but also changing gears, braking and accelerating. If you are not prepared to be thorough and methodical with your work best find someone who is and have them do the job. The last thing you want is to get the motorbike up on one and have the bars slip out of position or turn a corner and have the accelerator stick.