Lowered handlebars GL1200


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aladdin
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:04 pm
Location: Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Motorcycle: 1987 Honda GL1200 Aspencade

Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby aladdin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:56 am



Having had the steering head bearings replaced, which improved the ride and the handling, I was wondering what else, if anything, I could do to improve the handling on my GL1200. These bikes are not particularly good at changing direction on curving, windy roads like we have here in NZ. I decided to experiment with the handlebars.
I felt the riding position on my bike was too upright, and my elbows had to be held low and rotated inwards for my hands to suit the rather chopper style handlebar. I don't know if this bar is standard on all GL1200s - it looks about the same as photos of other GL1200s I have looked at - the levers would clear the top of the mirrors on a full lock, and touch the edge of the screen.
I found this riding position, with hands above elbows and elbows rotated inwards and down was not especially good for handling. Having recently been test riding some new bikes (ST 1300, Trophy 1300, Rocket 111, K1200 LT), I decided to lower the handlebars on the GL1200 for a set with less rise say 8" instead of 10", and less pull-back.
I measured the bars (and checked on various Goldwing forums) and everything said 1" (25.4mm). I went and bought a 1" aftermarket bar and went home to change it over.

To my surprise, I found the bar on my bike tapers down to 7/8" (22.2mm) just outside the levers. I'm not certain this is standard on all GL1200s, but certainly is on mine, as the pods and the lever housings are definitely 7/8", while the handlebar clamps are 1".
After returning the after market bars, I decided surgery was in order.
I removed the bars and cut out 2" from each side halfway down the risers, put in some joiners I got a local shop to machine up for me and reassembled it.
Not bad, but the levers now hit the mirrors on full lock instead of clearing them, due to reduced amount of pull-back I wanted to try, which was the main thing I wanted to change.
I pulled the bars off again and after careful measurements, took another 1 1/4" out of each side, re-assembled them and voila! - the levers now slot in just below the mirrors on full lock each side. With the reduced pull-back, the levers compress slightly on a full lock.
I clamped them and marked them and took them back to the welding shop to be welded. Put then back on the bike tonight and can you believe it - after weeks of fine weather it starts to pour just as I finished tightening the levers.
I had dinner and waited for an hour till it stopped raining, and went out for a test ride on a wet road in the dark. just for good measure I also had a brand new tire just fitted to make it even more dicy out there.
I rode for about an hour, but could not give it a really good test on windy back roads on a dark wet night here in Auckland. But I can say, the hand position felt sooooo much better, my forearms are now angled slightly down rather than up, and my elbows are wider and more natural. It definitely seemed to improve the handling around the roundabouts and suburban streets, but I have yet to get out and do some fast sweeping bends. I will post the results hopefully in a few days. :P



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dingdong
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby dingdong » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:55 am

I have that same problem on my 1500. With the covers on the 1500 bars there is little I can do to change this. By the way, all Goldwings have 7/8ths inch bars.
Tom

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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Fatwing Chris
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby Fatwing Chris » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:49 am

I must be the odd man here.The first thing I did on both my 12's and my 15 was to raise the bars as high as they would go without rubbing the windshield at full lock.That was the first thing that p*ssed me off about the 18 as in no adjustment.When I traded in the last 12 the dealer principal drove it into the shop to check it out and when he came back he says to me "Your bars are too high" to which I replied "No they're exactly where I wanted them".Hoping to get a set of adjustable risers bolted on this winter.Glad to hear you got yours worked out.
If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
Chris
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aladdin
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:04 pm
Location: Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Motorcycle: 1987 Honda GL1200 Aspencade

Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby aladdin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:48 pm

Yes, its a personal preference thing. I had a Harley with really, really high handlebars, which I found made handling the bike difficult and at times scary, but many guys like those high bars.
What I am looking for is to see whether I can get the 1200 to feel as intuitive and responsive in handling as the '77 GL1000 I have fond memories of. That bike handled as well as any other bike I've ridden, and there's been a lot over the years!
So far, what I've done to the 1200 is:
1/ removed the windscreen - I'm going to put a low, dark 'bagger' style screen on
2/ replaced the steering head bearings
3/ fitted a new Metzler Marathon front tire
4/ lowered and straightened the handlebars a bit

Once I have a few miles on it I will post the results, but so far it seems to be good. :)

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dingdong
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby dingdong » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:11 am

The bars on the 1500 are angled in to much to suit me. Keeps my wrists bent if I hold the grips correctly. Adjusting the height doesn't help.
Tom

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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Fatwing Chris
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby Fatwing Chris » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:36 am

dingdong wrote:The bars on the 1500 are angled in to much to suit me. Keeps my wrists bent if I hold the grips correctly. Adjusting the height doesn't help.

Didn't find that on the 1500 at all,but the 1800 is a whole different story.The angle from the arms to the hands seems to be about 30* off of what it should be(90*).
If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
Chris
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aladdin
Posts: 36
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Location: Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Motorcycle: 1987 Honda GL1200 Aspencade

Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby aladdin » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:37 pm

I'm not sure what the angle of the bars was before, but it now measures about 40 degrees forward from a line across to the other grip. I guess is was previously around 50 degrees or more. The pullback is now around 9", the width across the bars is 32 1/2". This is all measured to the approximate center of the chrome end of the grip.

The new position allows my wrists to be completely straight and neutral, and I feel I can exert more leverage on the bars from my shoulder down.

I managed to get out yesterday for 1/2 an hour or so on a dry road but very gusty here in Auckland. The road is one I am very familiar with and use as a test circuit when trying a new bike or testing an old one, as it has some interesting corners, some undulations and some big sweepers. There are also a couple of long straights down a really big hill, and later some quite gnarly twisty stuff through some ravines which are a test of any bikes handling.

First impression was good. After only a little more than an hour on the new bar set up I was riding consistently slightly faster and with more confidence than previously on this bike. On one particularly sweeping bend with a dip flowing to an uphill on a tight left hand turn, I had never gotten over 97km/hr (about 60mph). Yesterday I took this corner at 103 and exited it at 107kph (64 - 67mph).

The bike just feels much more planted, and I have a lot better idea of what the front wheel in particular is doing, there is much more feedback. I suspect a part of this is simply not having the screen on the bike, and the new steering bearings and front tyre have also improved the handling, but I would estimate the new bar position has made as much difference as the other factors combined.

It took me around two hours of time and a cost of $60 at the welders. I have put the black bands midway down the risers to hide the weld where the bars were rejoined. Maybe not as tidy as new bars, but the advantage of bars custom made to suit me is worth it. I highly recommend these changes to anyone wanting better performance/handling from their 1200.

Does it handle as well as I remember my old GL1000? Hard to say, that was 31 years and a lifetime ago. But it sure feels close, and is now a joy to ride on the twisty stuff as well as the straight! :lol:

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twostrokes48
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby twostrokes48 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:12 pm

I found on my 1500, don't know if it was "stock" position or not but I felt they were pushed down too low. When I did the stem bearings, I readjusted them pulling the ends of the bars more upward, probably about 4-6 inches. Didn't measure, just sat on the bike and closed my eyes and pulled the bars up until it just felt right, then locked them down. It was a major improvement for me. But, as mentioned, everyone has their own comfort zone and style of riding. I now have to do the same thing to the one I bought with the tow-pac if I'm going to keep riding, as I can sure tell the difference when I go from the adjusted 98 to the not adjusted 94.

aladdin
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Location: Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Motorcycle: 1987 Honda GL1200 Aspencade

Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby aladdin » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:02 am

dingdong wrote:The bars on the 1500 are angled in to much to suit me. Keeps my wrists bent if I hold the grips correctly. Adjusting the height doesn't help.


Yes, I think the amount of pull back and the angle of the handgrips is what is critical to improving the stability and handling of the bike. I lowered my bars to suit my height (only 5'9"). The most important thing for me was to loose the 'birdwing' feeling of having my elbows and wrists held at an angle to hold bars that were angled too far back.

I've done a few more rides and can confirm the handling of this bike is almost sporty now. I am now confident enough to overtake cars on fast, twisty country roads where I was'nt before. BTW is it just me, or are cars a LOT faster than they were 25 yrears ago :? :D

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redial
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby redial » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:42 am

Sorry Aladdin, you walked me into this one!

The cars of 50 years ago were slower, so that now the NZ cars of 25 years old, would be catching up and passing those 50yo ones. (NZ is well known to have older cars, so that my 1979 Nissan E20 camper would not look out of place in NZ.)
Len in Kapunda

The world is not going to finish today, as it is already tomorrow in Australia and New Zealand, and other islands of foreign nations such as Guam and Samoa.

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detdrbuzzard
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby detdrbuzzard » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:13 am

i find thehandlebars on my nieces 1100 wing to be much more comfortable than the ones on my 1200 wing
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Fatwing Chris
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby Fatwing Chris » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:15 am

The other thing I liked about higher bars on the 15 and I'm pretty sure on the 12 also is that if you hit the right spot the mirrors will block a lot of wind off of your hands and you can still see in them.
If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
Chris
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aladdin
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:04 pm
Location: Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Motorcycle: 1987 Honda GL1200 Aspencade

Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby aladdin » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:22 pm

Fatwing Chris wrote:The other thing I liked about higher bars on the 15 and I'm pretty sure on the 12 also is that if you hit the right spot the mirrors will block a lot of wind off of your hands and you can still see in them.

Hi Fatwing Chris. So are your forearms angled upwards or downwards from the elbow? Mine are now slightly downwards from the elbow, my elbows are now straighter than the old setup, which I find gives way better input and leverage on the bars.

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Fatwing Chris
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Re: Lowered handlebars GL1200

Postby Fatwing Chris » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:21 pm

aladdin wrote:
Fatwing Chris wrote:The other thing I liked about higher bars on the 15 and I'm pretty sure on the 12 also is that if you hit the right spot the mirrors will block a lot of wind off of your hands and you can still see in them.

Hi Fatwing Chris. So are your forearms angled upwards or downwards from the elbow? Mine are now slightly downwards from the elbow, my elbows are now straighter than the old setup, which I find gives way better input and leverage on the bars.


I don't have either one anymore,but on the 15(just sold it in July) I think my forearms were pretty much level or maybe tilted up slightly.Not bent as much at the elbow compared to stock.I'm not an aggressive rider and mostly ride 2-up and for most situations this is where I feel I have the best control as well as comfort.


If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
Chris
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Darkside # 1602


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