Handlebar risers, controversies & (personal) results

Last Updated on: May 14, 2021

Handlebar risers is a must for some of us. No motorcycle will fit everyone perfectly, out of the box, from the assembly line.

The above is, to me at least, being a taller guy, an inescapable fact. Or,  it has been so far, every time I hop on a new bike. The difference risers can make is substantial. It has for me and many of my friends. So I am not alone saying this. Bringing handlebars up to a more relaxed, and for some, natural position is key to enjoy riding.

Handlebar risers on Honda XL600V transalp

Handlebar risers on my Honda XL600V Transalp 1994

But getting them up may only solve half the challenge. Position in relation to your body, plus arm angle, is equally important.

Handlebar risers & different opinions

There are those who say risers change the bike’s rideability. For the worse. That you should stick to stock. Leave your motorcycle the way it was constructed. Well, if you do hard core off-roading,  then maybe. Changing the handlebar position can affect balance. But that all depends on how you ride it. And not the least, who is riding what.

I struggle a bit with this. That risers can destroy the balance of a motorcycle. Well if they are extreme, sure. But most risers are in the segment 20-40mm. Some provide offset possibilities additionally, either fixed or adjustable.  For all I know, there may be those who do hard offroad riding, and still find handlebar risers a necessity.

Acquiring knowledge

Most will do more than a fair bit of research before adding risers. At least the first time. I know I did. Tried to figure out what exactly was needed. if you find a formula that works, for you, then next time around you may try to replicate the formula. However, if you go from one bike type to another, it might mean you’ll start all over again. Maybe.

Rox Risers fitted on the BWM R1200GS Adventure LC

Rox Risers on a BMW R1200GS Adventure LC, no need for cable re-routing

No, not maybe. You will, trust me. All motorcycles are different. Some come with good, or decent, handlebar positions. Some makes you begin to think about risers on first ride. Or even, before the first mile or kilometer is done. I’ve had those moments. I had that moment when I first hopped on my latest bike as well.

That was in late March. Had just picked up the bike at the dealers. The bike I bought in December, without trying first. It was a gamble. And I was not at all sure it was something for me. Arriving home after a 100 kilometers detour I’d learned 3 things. The seat was rock hard, the windscreen was rubbish, and the handlebar position was (all) wrong.

No handlebar replication, but results

Back to the drawing board. After a bit of research I found some alternatives. They raised some questions. About a topic I’ve not talked about this far; cables and wires.  One thing is to find the perfect riser solution. But the taller, more offset the risers, the more stretched cables will be.

There are solutions to this problem. But they involve having to take off the tank. Re-route cables and wires. In some cases that might not be enough. Then you need extensions. And that will up the stakes and amount of labour. Or costs, or both.

Voigt handlebar risers on KTM1290 Super Adventure S

Results! Voigt handlebar risers mounted on the 2019 KTM1290 Super Adventure S

As for my KTM 1290 Super Adventure S I landed on handlebar risers from Voigt Moto Technik. But it was a close call. Had to get professional assistance. Fortunately the job did not involve taking the tank off. Skilled mechanics managed to wiggle things and make needed cable slack.

The solution is not 100%. But close, maybe close enough. Still think about  Rox 1 3/4. They’ll add an extra 10mm in height, plus tilt adjustment possibilities. But riding a bike is also about other adjustments. Like adjusting yourself to the bike. So that’s where it’s going now. I’ll give it some more time. Then we’ll see.

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