Changing the bars on your bike may seem like a piece of cake, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Your bars and levers are the most important controls on your bike, and without them, you’d be riding, or crashing, like a goon in no time. Do you think you’ve got bar changing wired? Then ask yourself a few simple questions… Is your grip in danger of spinning off the bar before you even reach the first turn? And if you make it that far, is your throttle going to shut off in time? Are your controls positioned so you can actually use them? And how about the bolts… Are they tight enough? If the little hamster inside your head started working overtime at any one of these questions, we encourage you to read on and let Matt Walker’s trusted wrench teach you a thing or two about proper control.
Required Tools: 8 and 10mm T-handles (and possibly a torque wrench and 10mm socket), small Phillips screwdriver, a new set of bars, a new left hand grip, grip glue, safety wire, safety wire pliers
The first thing you’ll need to do is remove all of the controls off of the handlebars that you wish to replace. After removing the kill switch with the help of a small Phillips screwdriver, grab your 8mm T-handle, and remove the clutch and front brake lever perch bolts. These controls will now dangle nicely next to your forks as they eagerly await their new home. Loosely screw the bolts back into the perches, and leave the throttle assembly in place for the time being.
Now it’s time to remove the upper handlebar clamp. Using your 10mm T-handle, loosen all four of the handlebar clamp bolts, and take them all the way out. These bolts can be removed in any order. The throttle assembly should now be the only thing keeping your old bars from freedom.
Because your throttle cable won’t reach all the way to the end of the bars when they’re tightened and in place, we’ve waited until this point to remove the throttle. Loosen the two bolts that secure your throttle assembly to the bars. You may have to look under the rubber dust boot, but trust me, they’re there. Lift the bars up and off of the clamp while simultaneously pulling them away from the loosened throttle housing. Disassembly complete!
If your new bars have a sticky label on them, remove it with some solvent before the install. It’s now time to follow the previous steps in reverse, but before sliding the throttle assembly onto the end of the new bars, I recommend spraying a small amount of Tri-Flow or a similar lubricant into the throttle tube to lubricate and reduce friction.
Set the bars onto the handlebar clamp, place the top mount on the bar, and hand tighten the four handlebar clamp bolts. Most bars have alignment marks on them to ensure proper centering in the clamp, so before tightening the bars to their proper torque spec, ensure that the bar is lined up properly and adjusted front to back to your liking. Tighten the two front bolts down first, and then tighten the back bolts (closest to the gas tank). Those who have changed plenty of bars in their day will already have a good feel for tightening the bar clamp to a secure and proper tension, but for you new guys, I highly recommend consulting your owner’s manual for the proper torque specs…
Now it’s time to tighten the throttle assembly into its proper position. Every rider has a different preference as to how far they prefer to move their throttle hand back when grabbing full throttle, so I’ll leave the front to back positioning to you. The distance that the end of the throttle tube sits off the end of your bar is a little more specific, however. The goal here is to prevent binding, but you also want to keep it from being too sloppy. I recommend holding the housing and tube together in one hand, and slide the entire assembly until the end of the tube presses up against the end of the bar. Now, back the housing awway from the end of the bar just a fraction of an inch, and tighten the two housing bolts.
It’s time to throw a fresh grip onto the left side of your new bars. I always start by poking a small hole (I use a small Phillips screwdriver for this) in the end of your grip to allow air to pass through when sliding the grip on the bar. Next, put a liberal bead of grip glue on the inner opening of the grip only, and slide the grip onto the bar while spinning it into place. If you use a half waffle grip, be sure that it is positioned correctly before letting the glue set. Once the grip is on, I always recommend finishing her off with safety wire for extra strength. Next, reinstall the kill switch, making sure the wire doesn’t pull tight when the bars are turned.
The final step is putting your levers back into positioning that is comfortable yet functional. Unless you have a hand or wrist disability that prevents certain movement, there’s really no good reason for running your levers extremely high or extremely low. Position them within your comfort zone, and tighten them back into place. Now… Go ride!