Handlebar Conversion Kits

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of saturnv saturnv 1 year, 9 months ago.

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  • #72607
    Profile photo of saturnv
    saturnv
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    Hey Guys,

    Anyone had any experience of Handlebar conversion kits at all? I’ve seen a kit from LSL (German company I think) which allows you to remove the clip-on sportsbike bars and fit a standard more upright handlebar.

    Advantages are a more upright riding position, less strain on wrists, forearms, neck & back. Disadvantages would be – more upright riding position (therefore less wind protection and less aerodynamic). But I can see the point if you’re touring and doing long distances in the saddle.

    Bet some of you are thinking ‘this is sacrilege – to buy a sportsbike then effectively make it less sporty’!

    Opinions anyone please?

    Thanks

    Tim

    #72609
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    74demon
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    I’ve seen some adjustable clip-ons out there, but I couldn’t tell you who makes them these days.

    A lot of guys drill the upper triple bracket and fit bars with risers.

    #72610
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    saturnv
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    Yeah that’s basically what these kits comprise, but not cheap… For my F3 their kit costs around £300 including the bars (probably the same amount in dollars – us limeys always get charged more!)

    http://www.motorcycle-road-and-race.co.uk/lsl-handlebar-conversions

    Still cheaper than buying another bike I suppose but don’t like to mess around and start modifying vehicles on a whim, besides if I ever wanted to sell the bike doing this might be a problem…

    #72611
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    kewlbreeze
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    I did a cross country trip and my back, butt and thighs said hell no to that if I want to do it again. So I did the convertibars a while back … here are my opinions you asked for:

    Keep in mind everything I write below is because I wanted a professional option and didn’t want to mess with the cheap options so YMMV if you want to look into less expensive options.

    – How much does it help? A little but not as much as I wanted. This is because in reality our bikes are not designed for this so although mine is adjustable and can covert back to standard position in a few seconds if I want, because of our bikes design the maximum it can rise and the maximum it can be pulled towards you is limited (I think an inch or two from stock position both ways, if I remember correctly). So while it is definitely better than stock it is not anything like a true ergonomically correct upright bike positioned that way to begin with.
    – Other issues? The other thing is that your feet on the pegs still remain in same position as before and while that may not be noticeable or a big deal on short rides on longer trips it becomes noticeable. Because while your body (back) goes a little more upright with the newly adjusted bars your feet remain in same position almost (note I say “almost” but not quite) making it worse because now you are in a midway position between upright and sportbike position.
    – Cost / Installation? That’s the other thing is to determine if it’s worth the cost compared with just buying a used bike that is more ergo friendly to begin with. Mine wasn’t cheap and the only reason I did is because I planned on keeping my bike long enough for the expense to be worth it. That was 5 years ago so I think I got my moneys worth but had I sold it sooner it probably would’ve been wasted money. If I remember correctly it cost about $850 (I got some extra options with mine) and another $400 to have it professionally installed.

    You can save the installation costs if you do it yourself which didn’t look all that difficult but I only mess with non-life threatening d.y.i. things myself and don’t mess with stuff that like this. Also remember that the rise in bar height will most likely require you to change out your brake lines to longer length.

    – Bottom Line? Was it worth it and would I do it again? Maybe if it’s a bike you don’t want to sell and you don’t have money for a second bike (which was my position back when I did it). But if you’re not going to be keeping your bike much longer I would suggest looking at the ton of new models on the market now that are more ergo friendly.

    #72612
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    admin
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    #72613
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    kewlbreeze
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    @SaturnV said:
    Advantages are a more upright riding position, less strain on wrists, forearms, neck & back. Disadvantages would be – more upright riding position (therefore less wind protection and less aerodynamic).

    Thousands of miles before risers and thousands of miles after putting them on I would say “yes” there is more wind do the more upright body position but it is negligible since sportbikes offer little to no wind protection to begin with. Along the same lines, there is less strain on wrists, back, etc.. but it is not ‘enormous’ it’s just a “little” better. I was in a position where I was willing to take anything (even if it was just a little) over the tremendous pain I was in on long tours but if you’re expecting a huge benefit you may want to reconsider.

    All in all, yes it did help me keep my bike much much longer than I would have without the risers and did definitely let me enjoy many longer trips so I don’t want you to get the wrong idea like I’m totally dissing the product, I’m not, I’m just letting you know to have realistic expectations and not expect this to be the magic bullet solution to a true ergo friendly bike which it isn’t.

    I’m actually starting to wonder if I just haven’t started becoming numb to the pain lol.

    #72614
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    kewlbreeze
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    @admin said:
    What about something like this? No experience just looking around.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/41mm-High-Lift-Clip-Ons-Handlebar-Riser-For-Honda-CBR600F2-F3-1991-1995-96-97-98-/131453728175?hash=item1e9b40b5af:g:hWwAAOSw1vlUs0bz

    @admin I don’t know about that specific product but fwiw there is a recent video of one similar to that a guy had put on (albeit his was the clipons not the risers) and the whole thing fell apart in his hands while riding at the track with his cam recording the whole incident. Most of those inexpensive ones are cheap Chinese knockoffs. I wouldn’t trust my life with those things.

    #72615
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    kewlbreeze
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    @admin said:
    What about something like this? No experience just looking around.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/41mm-High-Lift-Clip-Ons-Handlebar-Riser-For-Honda-CBR600F2-F3-1991-1995-96-97-98-/131453728175?hash=item1e9b40b5af:g:hWwAAOSw1vlUs0bz

    @admin I don’t know about that specific product but fwiw there is a recent video of one similar to that a guy had put on (albeit his was the clipons not the risers) and the whole thing fell apart in his hands while riding at the track with his cam recording the whole incident. Most of those inexpensive ones are cheap Chinese knockoffs. I wouldn’t trust my life with those things.

    #72616
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    saturnv
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    Thanks @kewlbreeze, useful advice! Good point about the footpegs too which I’d not considered… The LSL kit claims an appreciable difference in handlebar position (up to 5 inches back and the same in height) and watching the video on YouTube confirms that too. Yes they also include a longer brake line ‘if required, as model dependent’. Difficult decision cos could be a whole can of worms scenario by changing a single part of the design could affect numerous other things. Having said that I could do it then try it for a while and revert to the original bars if no good. Actually might be worth me comparing the differences in variants of another bike, the Honda CBR500 for example. I’m sure they built 3 different versions of that bike (sport, street and adventure) each with different handlebar position so maybe compare the other things such as footpeg positioning, screens, etc.

    #72617
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    saturnv
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    Thanks @admin, that’s a much cheaper option but I was looking for something a lot more radical I guess. And I don’t mind paying a bit more for a sturdy, well engineered product (well it is German so should be well engineered!)

    Anyway I never seem to take the easy options in life; if I can make things more complicated for myself then that’s the way I go! Avril Lavigne, she wrote that song for ME you know :)

    #72619
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    saturnv
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    @kewlbreeze: This is only my second bike really – the first was a Yamaha Diversion with standard (high) bars and yes, the upright position was more comfortable (plus a high screen to match which DID deflect wind and rain on the motorways (freeways). But I feel uncomfortable and fidgety after even ten miles on both and that’s due to the peg positions and the way my legs are bent I think. Maybe it.s the same on all bikes, I have no idea cos not had enough experience but I guess so as bikers are often seen stretching their legs at traffic lights, etc. I suppose that an ‘easy rider’ machine like a chopper would be easier on the legs but not going there lol. I WOULD like to own big tourer one day, always dreamt of a Pan European (either 1100 or 1300) or even a BMW 1200RT but let me get a bit more practice on a 600 first…

    #72620
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    kewlbreeze
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    I get what you’re saying but it’s really not that way on all bikes, it’s just that way on sportbikes. The pegs are designed that way because it allows you better grip and lets you control the bike better through turns. But as you said, on freeways it just gets painful esp. if you intend on riding for hours and hours at a stretch. I can tell you that when I switch bikes with my friends that have FJR, ST, RT1200 etc.. it’s night and day in the foot position, wind protection, etc… but all that said our bikes are much more fun to ride in the twistys. Although it is so much more comfortable, it also feels like I went from a Ferrari to a Semi Truck when we switch due the power to weight ratio difference.

    Also, in regards to foot position a lot has to do with your height and weight as seat heights, foot positions, suspension vary so much from bike to bike. The Kawasaki Versys, Honda NC700X, Suzuki vstrom (or whatever equivalent versions you have there across the pond)… just to name a few have better foot positions but all have their own drawbacks as well. I’m currently looking at the BMW F800GT which seems to have a good mix of lightweight sportbike and touring ergos at a much more appealing price than the 1200RT. It’s not perfect but it’s a good enough mix if you do more touring than balls out canyon carving. The foot position is more forward (in between cruiser and sportbike) but not as good as some others in its class.

    The following is a great site to plug-in the bike you’re interested in and get an idea of all ergos based on your own individual height and weight/inseam (foot position, wind protection, reach/wrist bend):

    http://cycle-ergo.com/

    #72634
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    saturnv
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    Thanks for the link, will take a look.. Yes we have those bikes over here too. Like you say a lot has to do with rider height and dimensions. I’m 6 feet tall but that shouldnt be considered a giant these days anyway; lots of guys and girls are taller than that I reckon. Hmmm, Ferrari, like the sound of that :-) I have a bmw 325ci convertible but thats not a muscle car just beautifully smooth and capable to drive with the straight six engine… even that gets uncomfortable on long journeys as the pedals are offset. Maybe its me not the vehicles (age related aches and pains lol) although I can drive other cars over long distances with no issues.

    #72725
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    saturnv
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    That’s a great website @kewlbreeze :) Interesting to note that the big tourers i.e. ST1300 and R1200 allow a virtually bolt upright riding posture compared to the cbr600 which is much more bent in both back and leg position – as to be expected. The BMW F800 appears to be a compromise between the two extremes. Also very similar to the CBR650F which I nearly bought (before I decided to buy my 600F3 – the fact that it was 1/3 of the price was a major factor in my decision lol)

    By the way, I’ve realised now that the handlebar conversion kit is not a good idea based on your comments about your adjustable bars – 1 or 2 inches from stock position is the maximum possible given the bike’s design. The kit I was considering is a full 5 inches higher so it would definitely foul on the fairing on full lock.

    #72729
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    kewlbreeze
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    Sorry @saturnv I wasn’t trying to talk you out of it :-| just didn’t want you to have unrealistic expectations. For what it does it’s okay but it doesn’t really solve what I or you really want out of it which is to turn it into a sport touring bike.

    That’s a good point you make that I had forgotten about: The ones I got “can” actually go up and towards you more than the 1 or 2 inches (with a different kit than what I bought) but like you said it is because of our bikes design and clearances that the 1″ or 2″ is maximum and won’t go beyond that. You may want to take a look at the convertibars if you don’t mind spending that much because at least it gives you the 1″ or 2″ which is better than nothing. And don’t forget that the bonus with the convertibars is that it can go back to stock position (and vice versa) in less than a minute without you having to remove anything.

    Yeah, the F800GT isn’t perfect either but like you said it’s a decent compromise if you aren’t ready to go full out touring bike. Rarely does a bike do multiple things “great” (touring, sport, etc..) and unfortunately most times the compromise bikes do both things worse than one that does just one of the things great but hopefully the F800GT does it ‘good enough’. Ideally, we’d all love to have multiple bikes .. 1 for each of it’s intended purpose but it always come back to money.

    #72731
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    kewlbreeze
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    p.s. The only reason I haven’t pulled the trigger on the f800gt is that I’ve been so spoiled on Honda’s rock solid reliability and ease of maintenance. I know that won’t be the same with a BMW so I’ve been putting it off as long as possible because I don’t look forward to more maintenance.

    #72741
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    saturnv
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    No worries @kewlbreeze, you haven’t talked me out of it I just hadn’t taken into account all the factors e.g. fairing @ screen issues… Besides which I’m generally opposed to any mods to vehicles (unless restoring to original spec as when I replaced the Scorpion can with the OEM Honda can) because most bikes, cars, etc have undergone lengthy and comprehensive design and development over the course of years or decades to improve their performance, efficiency etc. So then along comes a smart Alec owner (e.g. me!) who has the audacity to believe they can swap parts and magically create a better product – well my personal opinion is that usually they make it worse… Plus officially in the UK any mods (whether exhausts, lights, wheels – even winter tyres) have to be declare / reported to one’s insurance company else you risk invalidating your policy.
    I AM gonna fit a double horn to my CBR though cos I think that bike horns are crap and that’s a major safety benefit IMHO.

    Re the BMW F800, I was also attracted to that cos it got rave reviews and I thought the belt drive was a great idea to cut down on maintenance (i.e. chain adjustment / lubrication) until I read some reports online that the main pulleys were a common point of failure and various reports of them breaking off.

    But I’d really love a tourer with a shaft drive and that’s one of the (numerous) reasons I love the ST1300 Pan and the BM R1200RT – plus both models were used by the police (think they’ve gone back to BMW in Britain now) so that’s a positive recommendation in my opinion.

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