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Old 08-20-2013, 09:07 AM   #6134
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Southern Maryland
Oddometer: 7,042
Jimmy Lewis riding school tip: Bar setup

Here is a bike setup tip from the Jimmy Lewis riding school.
Riding Tip: Bike Setup
The Handlebars
A very common question we are asked is, ďIs my bike set up properly?Ē Well, that isnít something that is easy to answer, especially if we donít know a lot about you and your riding habits. But there are some guidelines we can share from an overall perspective. The first and most important thing is, are you comfortable on your bike? And could you be more comfortable than you already are? That is usually an ergonomics issue relating to the bikeís grab points, than handlebar and the footpegs and the controls that are attached or near them. The bars may be the biggest area most riderís overlook or are confused about. The height and angle of the handlebar is 100% personal but it should be natural and instinctive to have the grip location be right where your hands would fall if you closed your eyes and grabbed for them. You donít want the bend of the bars to cause your wrists to be at a weird angle nor push your elbows down or into your body. There are hundreds of bends to choose from and it can be confusing knowing what you want unless you take some time to think about what would make you more comfortable. Rotating the bars in the clamps to achieve a different height often tweaks the angle of the bar beyond what it was intended to do therefore calling for a bar riser to accomplish the task. And as a rule of thumb the more pullback angle, or sweep angle the bar has the less aggressive the riding tends to be. For instance most motocross bars are in the 10-12-degree range while adventure bars can sweep back to 15-16-degrees from center. Then there is the rise which can range from actually drooping a bit to being swept upwards, all depending on what is comfortable and what puts your wrists at a relaxed angle and allows you to operate the clutch and brake efficiently while maintain a good grip on the bars. (Remember two fingers on the clutch and the brake.) Raising the height of the bar can often make a bike feel lighter (more leverage) and allow better control while standing as well. And the barís position in relation to the center of the tripleclamp can influence the feeling of stability a bike has when you are really putting force through them. Keeping in mind how you really ride, understand that the bar position has to work in your most stressed riding times as well as when you are totally relaxed.

The most common issues we see are bars that are either too low or too high, which a rider can diagnose by just sitting and standing on his or her bike and seeing if things match up. Then there are bars that are too swept back for dirt riding causing elbows to fall and/or get pushed into the body. Bent bars are not only dangerous, they fight with you in balance and being symmetrical on the motorcycle. Also think about grip diameter, lever position and engagement points and the angel of the levers when considering the handlebar. All the little things, especially since this is ultimately how you control the motorcycle, make a huge difference in comfort. And if the bars are wrong, typically they are just the first in line to getting a bike properly set up.
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