One of the most common upgrades to any motorcycle is a bar swap. The type and size of bars define the motorcycle and often the rider behind them. For that reason, bars come in all shapes and sizes imaginable and range in price from $40 swap-meet specials to more than $1,000 for pre-wired chrome units. It’s important to remember that when you change the size and location of the bars, it’s also necessary to change the brake and clutch lines and control wires that are attached to them. Short cables on a longer bar won’t reach (obviously), but too much slack from overly long cables can become bunched up or snag on other parts of the motorcycle. There is also the matter of the wires that must be extended or shortened to fit the modified height of the bars. Wire extensions can be manually done, or kits with prewired bars are also available.
If you have ever taken a bike to a shop and asked for a quote for a bar swap, you might be in for a big surprise. With the necessary removal of the front fairing and brake and cable swap that came with our Hill Country Kit, it still required almost a full day from start to finish with the meticulous and extremely skilled mechanic Kazoo from Freedom Performance behind the wrench. Gaining access to the bolts is an extensive process, and a good portion of the bike must be disassembled to reach that point. Don’t be surprised if your local shop quotes you with a large labor cost. This job could be done at home with basic tools if you have the patience and time to carefully disassemble everything and put it back without missing any steps along the way. For that reason also, this is a quick overview of the process, and a proper shop manual is necessary to accomplish each portion.
For our 2012 Ultra Classic, we wanted to improve the look and style of the bars with a small increase in height. The owner, John DiMassa, is a tall guy and wanted the extra height, so he chose 12-inch Hill Country apes to better fit his size with chrome accessories. He didn’t want to go overly tall because that defeats the purpose of the protection of the fairing if your knuckles are up and sticking out.