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How to Change Sportster Handlebars

How to Change Sportster Handlebars

After an unsuccessful ignition and coils relocation video, I decided it was time to create a How To Change Sportster Handlebars video. A quick and easy Harley Sportster handlebar replacement can dramatically change the look of your motorcycle, and paired with a 2″ tank lift and some new grips, this 1998 Harley-Davidson Sportster got a style refresh that made it look and feel a decade newer. She went from zero to hero, and not only was it easy, but it only cost $80!

This is essentially a handlebar replacement time-lapse with voiceover instructions that let you know what I’m doing and give you some tips along the way. I chose this format rather than a detailed step by step filming, to show viewers what they need to know in a relatively short video compared to others out there.

Recommended Products:

  1. Awesome Harley-Davidson Sportster Knurled + Dimpled Drag Bars
  2. Avon Grips (awesome quality/price + lifetime warranty!)
  3. Torx Wrench Set (need a T25 and T27)
  4. Standard Hex Keys (this set includes metrics as well)
  5. Magnetic Tray (nice to have)
  6. Lots of Braided Cable Lines for Sportsters (may  be necessary depending on the bars you choose)

Resources:

  1. CycleErgo (free tool for measuring the ergonomics of your motorcycle)
  2. Rubber vs. Steel Braided Brake Lines (article)

Videos:

Notes:

Before you begin there are a things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s a good idea to lay a towel or a rag over your gas tank and front fender to avoid any scratches.
  2. You will need Torx Wrenches, the set I’ve linked to is less than $10.
  3. You can use a cheap Magnetic Tray to avoid losing screws, it’s also less than $10.
  4. If you’re replacing your handlebars with Z-Bars or Apes, your current cables may not be long enough and you may need longer ones. If so, you should think about replacing them with Braided Cable Lines.
  5. If you’re replacing the handlebar on a Harley you’ll need to get a bar that is dimpled or drilled or your cables will not fit.
  6. A knurled handlebar has grooves that help it from sliding around, a nice to have, but not necessary.
  7. There are small little pieces inside your throttle that hook up to the cables that get lost easily. If you lose yours, they’re called ferrules and you can buy a ten pack of them here.

Steps:

For those who can’t watch the video:

  1. Remove the current hand controls. Use the T25 and T27 from your set of Torx Wrenches.
    1. There are four torx screws in total: 2 x clamping to the handlebar, 1 x on top of the hand controls, 1 x underneath them.
  2. Use standard (american) hex keys to remove the clamp holding the handlebar in place and remove old bar.
  3. Install new bar and replace clamp and bolts.
  4. Follow the instructions on your grips, make sure you do not mix throttle and clutch side grips.
  5. Replace controls using your T25 and T27 Torx.

Unrelated Note

I’m trying to get motovlogging more frequently, if you enjoyed the video  please Subscribe to my new YouTube channel here.

Conclusions

  • A new handlebar can refresh the look of even a 1998 Sportster and make it look a decade newer for only about $80!
  • The work can easily be done at home with only some two torx wrenches and a hex key.
  • If you want to show your support for the tips, tricks, and info we put out, please Subscribe to our new YouTube channel here.
  • If you want advice on what handlebar to get, shoot me an email and I’ll help you find the best fit for your bike.
  • Cycle-Ergo can help you understand how your new bar is going to affect your ergonomics on your bike.
  • If you haven’t already, watch the video to see how to replace the handlebar on your Harley-Davidson Sportster:

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

2 comments

  1. Hey – Would you know what would be the best drag bars to get for my 08 vstar 1100 classic? The ride set up is a bit squished for me and I love the look of dragbars. I am 6 feet tall.
    Also, what other components would I need to make the switch?
    Any input would be great – thanks!

    • Hey Paul, I wanted to answer this here so others with the same question might see it too. The truth is that a handlebar selection should be a personal choice. You should be the one to sit on your bike, put your hands out to wherever they feel most comfortable, and then pick a bar that’s gonna have the rise and pullback to get your body how you want it. People with the same height can have different torso lengths, different arm lengths, different back/hip strengths or ailments. I don’t want to mislead you just to sell a handlebar. A one size fits all answer would only fit the person answering the question. My advice is this:
      1) Sit on your bike and put your hands out for where they naturally want to be ride the bike.
      2) Take mental note, or have a friend measure, how far off the are from the stock handlebars.
      3) Look for a handlebar with the right rise, width, and pull back to get your arms comfortable.
      Bonus: Before you buy, you might want to punch that info into cycle-ergo.com to see how the change will effect your posture. Hope this helps!

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