Why Motorcycle Handlebars Are So High

Many motorcycle owners like to modify their bikes depending on their liking. One of the most common changes you’ve probably noticed is the height of their handlebars. If you think about it, why are motorcycle handlebars so high, anyway?

Non-motorcycle owners may think that having high handlebars is uncomfortable but riders strongly disagree. Surprisingly, having high handlebars has a lot of benefits like increased comfort and better posture. They allow you to go at higher speeds, too, and make you look more confident and luxurious.

Keep on reading this article to have a better understanding of why some motorcycles prefer having such high handlebars.

Why Do Some People Prefer High Motorcycle Handlebars?

High handlebars were first introduced in the late 1960s. Aside from being fascinating to look at, they were also known to provide outstanding riding experiences.

Normal handlebars are usually 1 ½ to 9 inches from the anchor point and are between 24 to 30 inches wide. Anything more than this height and width range is considered high-rise handlebars. Changing to a high handlebar is common, too, with many people even buying aftermarket or customized handlebars.

Higher handlebars are perfect for cruiser motorcycles because they allow you to maintain an upright posture throughout the ride. Meanwhile, high handlebars aren’t recommended for everyday rides since they can affect blood circulation and ruin your posture.

High handlebars are also referred to as ape hangers. Many motorcycle brands offer a wide range of OEM ape hangers to deliver the best cruising experience.

Is Having High Motorcycle Handlebars Uncomfortable?

This depends on you and your preferences. For example, it can be comfortable for some because they have more width. This extra width gives them more leverage and more control over the bike for excellent handling.

Additionally, riders with back problems will especially benefit from having high handlebars. They encourage riders to straighten their backs instead of being hunched over, which can be quite painful after a ride.

Just make sure that your body type can manage and tolerate ape hangers. This way, your shoulders are relaxed and there’s no strain on your elbows and wrists. You’ll also want to make sure that your motorcycle is fit for high handlebars.

Lifting your motorcycle seat can be a great idea as well. However, see to it that you’re not stretching your arms just to reach the handlebars. Doing this is very uncomfortable and will leave your arms and shoulders in great pain after the ride.

Can High Motorcycle Handlebars Affect Handling?

Yes, high handlebars can affect how you handle your motorcycle. However, it’s not such a huge difference so you may not even notice it. So, how exactly do high handlebars affect this aspect?

Firstly, the center of gravity changes whenever you raise or lower your handlebars. This shift in gravity can affect the way you ride your bike. The response time while making a turn can also be slower than usual.

This is mainly because you’ll need to lean the handlebars over a longer distance to make the motorcycle into a curve. While this won’t negatively affect safety or handling, it can change the responsiveness of agile turning and performing rigid turns.

Moreover, some high handlebars are designed to be extra-wide to give you more control and for a more comfortable ride. All you need to do is look for the right size of handlebars that matches your and your motorcycle’s height.

High handlebars are also supposed to be closer so you don’t need to stretch your arms too much. Still, they shouldn’t be too close to the chest because it will only make handling more difficult.

How to Choose the Right Size of High Motorcycle Handlebars

Handlebars are one of the most important parts of a motorcycle. Therefore, choosing the right size of high motorcycle handlebars is crucial because they’re used to control the steering.

Plus, since handlebars are a major safety feature, the right height helps prevent back or neck pain and numbness. Here are a few factors to consider when looking for the right size of high handlebars:

Picking the Right Width

Always match the width of your handlebars to the width of your shoulders. Wider handlebars work efficiently in off-roading, too, since they provide stability in tougher and uneven terrains.

Narrower handlebars also enable your motorcycle to go faster and assure stability, reliance, and comfort. If you’re looking for faster speeds, go for handlebars that are around 40-42 cm wide.

Having the Right Shape

In terms of shape, consider how well the handlebars offer the aerodynamic position when riding in the deep drops. Look for handlebars that are both comfortable and give you a better shoulder position to handle better.

On the other hand, compact handlebars are also great since they place the hood and drop closer to each other. This allows you to control them more easily and ensures that you maintain a good torso and arms position.

Are High Motorcycle Handlebars Legal?

Many states can be very strict when it comes to the height of your handlebars. This is why you need to double-check the limit since you can get stopped, questioned, and given a warning ticket.

This is because they can hurt the steering ability and control of mechanical undertakings like the throttle body and brake systems. Some can also be dangerous to ride with since many high handlebars are already at head-level or even higher.

This isn’t allowed in both the US and Canada. With that, here are five concerning factors you need to know regarding high handlebars:

  • High handlebars make it extra challenging to steer a motorcycle.
  • Having high handlebars can also make your posture a bit off since your hands and arms are above shoulder level.
  • High motorcycle handlebars can reduce blood flow to your arms and hands. This results in feeling numb and exhausted, which is very dangerous when steering.
  • Installing overly-high handlebars can make you more prone to accidents since you have a higher chance of losing control. Standard handlebars normally don’t have this problem.

What to Consider When Getting High Motorcycle Handlebars

High handlebars aren’t easy for everyone to handle, so you must think carefully if they’re appropriate for you. You’ll want to consider the following factors:

Design and Make of Your Motorcycle

Consider the height and weight limit of your motorcycle. Check if you can modify the seat as well so you can sit comfortably even with the high handlebars.

Your Height

High handlebars may not be suitable for shorter riders. Shorter riders obviously have shorter limbs, so they need to stretch out their arms to reach the handlebars.

Safety Concerns

Don’t just think about how cool your bike is going to look with high motorcycle handlebars. Make sure to consider other important factors like aerodynamics, ergonomics, comfort, practicality, and handling control.

Size of Your Motorcycle

This is mainly for shorter riders. Larger bikes with high handlebars are generally difficult to cruise around, take turns, and handle well. You’ll be in an awkward sitting posture, too, which is problematic since you want to be comfortable during a ride.

Furthermore, do plenty of research and try riding bikes with high handlebars to see if you can control them easily. Make sure your back and neck are straight while seated to assure that you have perfect posture. This will also help you have a fatigue-free riding and handling experience.

Can You Use High Handlebars During Long Rides?

The main purpose of high handlebars is to provide comfort. They do this by helping you maintain a better sitting posture and reducing back, neck, shoulders, wrists, and arm pains. Using handlebar risers may also make the riding experience better. Since you can install them closer toward you, you don’t have to stretch your arms too much.

Moreover, they’re great for long rides since they prevent you from putting too much pressure on your wrists. They can also protect your torso, joints, and ligaments from any stress for a comfortable ride throughout.

How to Install High Handlebars Yourself

Installing high handlebars on your motorcycle isn’t that difficult. However, most motorcycle owners prefer a professional install them instead for a much better result.

If you insist on installing them yourself, some of the tools you’ll need include:

  • Hand shifter chopper
  • Long throttle cable
  • Electrical wires
  • Break cables and lines
  • Brake hoses

These normally come with a handlebar conversion kit, so we suggest buying a kit rather than buying each item separately. The installation process only takes about ten minutes if you know what you’re doing.

However, it may be better to contact a professional if you don’t know how the process works. Since there are some internal wires involved, it’s better to have an expert handle it for a better outcome.

What to Expect When Having Your High Handlebars Installed

If you decide to go to an expert, they’ll ask you to sit on a motorcycle with high handlebars. This will give them enough information and determine the best possible product combination.

Leaning forward or down too much with hunched shoulders means you’ll get uncomfortable in that posture even over shorter distances.

Since the set-up can be pretty flexible, it lets you change the location of the handlebars. In cases like this, you’ll greatly benefit from using risers and a new set of handlebars.

High Handlebars Pros and Cons

Consider the following if you’re planning to get high handlebars. Read them carefully to ensure you end up making the right decision:


  • They provide additional comfort while riding.
  • You get to sit with an upright back, thus improving your posture.
  • High handlebars help relax your arms and shoulders.
  • Ensure that you don’t put pressure on your wrists.
  • Help lift your chest.
  • Provide a better view from behind.
  • They improve your motorcycle’s aesthetic, making it look more luxurious.
  • The better handling and shifting make your motorcycle more fun to ride in.
  • Ensure that you don’t need to lean forward to reach the handlebars.


  • Can cause extra wind resistance as your motorcycle speed increases.
  • You should always install them accurately: neither too tight nor too loose. A slight inaccuracy affects the handling, which is dangerous since you have no steering control and lead to an accident.
  • High handlebars increase vibration, especially in the grips.
  • Installing them above shoulder level can cause numbness to the shoulders, arms, and wrists.
  • Illegal in most states.

How High Can Bike Handlebars Be?

This information varies per state. It’s crucial to know this information to make sure you don’t go against state rules.

For instance, motorcycle handlebars should only be 30 inches higher than the motorcycle seat in both Washington and Wisconsin. Multiple states like Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, and West Virginia allow a maximum of 15 inches from the motorcycle seat. Handlebars shouldn’t exceed eye level in Oklahoma while handlebars should only be 15 inches long in Nebraska.

Furthermore, in California, your hands on the handlebar’s grips should not be over six inches above the shoulders while seated. Many states including Arkansas, Montana, Kansas, and New Mexico don’t have restrictions in terms of motorcycle high handlebars.


Having high motorcycle handlebars comes with many benefits like increased comfort, proper posture, and a cooler-looking bike. Just make sure to check with your state rules so you don’t end up breaking the law.

Happy shopping and stay safe on the road!

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