Seeking relief from some of the strains of adventure bike riding, I thought I would test out one of the HeliBars Tour Performance Handlebar Risers. The riser positions the handlebar 2 inches higher and 2 inches closer to the rider, significantly altering the handlebar-seat-footpegs rider triangle.
The handlebar position on many adventure bikes is well-placed for both sitting and standing while cruising backroads and maneuvering through technical off-road areas. Even on pavement, I find it helpful to stand up when riding through small towns to give my derriere a chance to get some blood back into it.
On my 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America, with my 31-inch inseam, when standing on the pegs the stock handlebar position requires me to bend my knees slightly or stoop over a bit, which puts strain on my lower back. This riding position can become tiresome and uncomfortable after riding off-road over rough terrain. After an hour or so, my legs get pretty knackered.
Enter the the HeliBars Tour Performance Handlebar Riser. Installation of the HeliBars riser is straightforward. Remove the stock handlebar, release some of the tie straps that secure brake lines and wires to the handlebar, reposition the lines behind the handlebar mount, and then install the HeliBars riser atop the stock handlebar mount. After that, simply re-install the stock handlebar on the new riser using bolts provided by HeliBars and torque them to appropriate spec. Nothing needs to be removed from the handlebar, and all stock lines are retained.
On a recent ride in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, I put the riser to the test on the Santa Ana Divide Trail. It was fairly rutted with several rockslides and water crossings that required frequent standing. The HeliBars riser not only provided a more comfortable position but also helped with controlling the Pan Am and its significant heft. While I previously would have preferred to sit down for most of the ride, I found it equally comfortable to stand up for long stretches of deep sand and rutted two-track.
During long stints in the saddle, the new riser minimizes tension in my arms and shoulders, reducing fatigue and some of those post-ride aches and pains that are familiar to all of us. One downside to the new handlebar position is that it might block part of your view of the TFT dashboard depending on your height. For example, I now must lean forward a bit to see the clock since it’s located in the lower left corner of the screen.
HeliBars Tour Performance Handlebar Risers are machined from a single piece of 6061 T6 aluminum with nice craftsmanship, and their solid design reduces flex. They are functional, stylish, and manufactured on American soil in Cornish, Maine. The riser for the Harley Pan Am is priced at $199 – or $209 with the optional RAM ball mount. HeliBars also makes risers and replacement handlebars for a wide variety of other motorcycles. For more information, visit the HeliBars website.