One of the easiest ways to transform your motorcycle into a Café Racer is to swap your handlebars. For example; on a Classic British bike, you’ll most likely have a 4.5’ – 5’ rise handlebars. In a nutshell, you are looking to lower the rise of your handlebars to give your bike a more racer like appearance.
You want to look for European bars with a 2’ rise, or go for a Clubman bars (4.75’ rise) and flip those upside down to give your bike that droopy handlebars look that most modern café racers share. Some new handlebars can be purchased for less than $50 bucks with many different options and styles available to you.
Some handlebars are even sold as kits along with mirrors and new pair of grips. Another thing to consider is the black powder coated handlebars instead of customary chrome bars.
Although most handlebars are standard 7/8’ width, make sure you measure yours so you get the correct ones to match the clamps. You can also use spacers if the handlebars you want are thinner than the ones you currently have.
Replacing handlebars is quite easy. First remove the grips and loosen your perches — no need to actually remove the screws from the controls. For stubborn grips you can use compressed air or just use good old fashioned spit as a lubricant. Remove the handlebar clamps and just slide your controls of the old handlebars one at a time. Once your old handlebars have been completely removed, complete the process in reverse order using your new handlebars. Slide the controls onto your new handlebars, and lightly tighten the handlebar clamps — make sure your handlebars are perfectly centered before you firmly tighten them in place. Once you’re happy with position of your controls, tighten the controls and put the rubber grips back on the ends of the handlebars. Once again, if the grips seem hard to go on, just use your own spit as a lubricant.
Some of the classic Triumphs and BSA bikes are using P clamps to mount handlebars to the frame and will not work with Clubman style handlebars. In which case, you may need to get the new risers and/or clamps for your handlebars. The new risers may cost you anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars. There are plenty of options to choose from, make sure you ask the seller if replacement parts will work on your bike. Most of the vendors are very knowledgeable on the subject and will provide you with the right information.
If your new handlebars are regular low rise Euro style handlebars, just loosen up your perches and P clamps, and slide the old handlebars out of the P clamps. Then slide the new handlebars right in without removing P clamps from the frame. Tighten the handlebars after centering them, adjust the controls and put grips back on. You’re ready to enjoy your new low rise handlebars… with cafe racer motorcycle style!
Note: Based on the rise of your previous handlebars and the length of the control cables you may want to replace you brake, clutch and throttle cables if there is too much slack left over. You might also be able to re-rout some or even all of you cables to lessen the slack.
Coming soon… how to add cafe racer style handlebars video.
Check out these cool and cheap options to get your cafe racer style handlebars: