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Article: Motorcycle Handlebars and How They Affect Your Riding

Motorcycle Handlebars and How They Affect Your Riding

Motorcycle Handlebars and How They Affect Your Riding

Are you looking to squeeze that extra bit out of your motorcycle? A handlebar swap might just be what you are looking for.


Motorcycle handlebars have one job but they come in all shapes and sizes. This is because the geometry of a handlebar decides the rider’s posture and the handling characteristics of a motorcycle. And then there is the fact that having the right kind of handlebar can make a motorcycle look really good. So let’s take a look at the different types of motorcycle handlebars and their purpose.


This is the kind of handlebar you will see on most budget motorcycles in India. It has a rise on both ends which then angles towards the outside. The biggest reason to use it on budget motorcycles is that it offers a relaxed riding position for the rider, while still providing adequate steering input. It is also used by custom motorcycle shops on cruiser bikes, to raise the height of the handlebar over the height of the motorcycle. This kind of handlebar is better suited towards leisurely riding.


A clip-on handlebar comprises of two pieces, that are individually mounted on to the front fork. It offers a more sporty riding position with the rider having to lean over to the front to take control. A clip-on motorcycle handlebar is usually seen on motorcycles at the track, or on higher-end motorcycles on the streets that have a sporty dynamic to them. The riding position it creates is generally uncomfortable for leisurely riding, but greatly enhances the handling characteristics of a motorcycle. Clip-ons are of two types. One set will allow for adjustment for the rider and these are mostly seen on track-spec motorcycles. The other set is fixed and is usually seen on production motorcycles for the street.

Zero Drag

A zero drag handlebar or a straight bar (more common name) is a straight piece of pipe that acts as a motorcycle handlebar. You won’t see many of these on production-spec motorcycles as they are more of a tuner’s accessory. A straight bar has one advantage over other bars, it provides good leverage in the corners. So if you are looking to muscle a motorcycle into a corner, a straight bar will be your biggest ally. It however doesn’t allow for a relaxed riding position as the Z-Bar. You will find straight bars on choppers too, due to their visual appeal.


You will not find this kind of a handlebar on any production motorcycle in India. It is so tall in its design that a rider has to actually raise their hands to head-height, just to get a grip on them. These don’t offer any performance gains, apart from the fact that they look really cool. You will find them on chop-shop motorcycles, that have been customised to the point that they are beyond recognisable. 

What works for you?

If you are not looking for any performance gains out of your motorcycle, we’d suggest that you leave your motorcycle handlebar as it is. However, if you are looking to add a new dynamic to your riding, or are trying to get a little more out of your motorcycle in corners, is when we suggest you go for handlebar customisation. Clip-ons are the usual answer but straight bars have been known to provide quite some leverage in corners as well. In the end, each customisation will be unique to every motorcycle and thus we suggest thorough research before you go for a handlebar swap.

Also make sure that you reach out to the right person to do this kind of a job. Changing a handlebar can affect things like the brake oil pressure on a motorcycle, so make sure that everything works on your motorcycle before heading home.

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