Dirt Bike Handlebars & Controls Explained

Dirt bike handlebars rank right up there next to the engine components as the most complex and intricate parts of the dirt bike. Sure, on the surface, handlebars simply represent the steering wheel of your bike that you use to dictate where you want to go.

Take a fresh look and you'll see the handlebars are ground control to just about everything that makes your dirt bike operate and ultimately gets you across the finish line.

Handlebars bring a unique design that separate them from any other part in light of the bends and the details in the shape. Before tackling the sections of the dirt bike handlebar it's best to understand the two styles of handlebar - the 7/8th-inch and the 1-1/8th ?inch handlebar.

The 7/8th-inch handlebar used to be the industry standard. The size characteristic comes from the diameter of the "Clamp" section (see below) of the handlebar. For years, the 7/8-inch bar ruled the tracks until a small company came along and offered a different perspective.

The 1 1/8th-inch Dirt Bike Handlebar

In 1991, Pro Taper introduced the 1-1/8th Taperwall handlebar and revolutionized the motocross industry. So, instead of a 7/8th inch diameter in the Clamp area, Pro Taper increased that size to 1-1/8th inch. Since then many handlebar manufacturers adopted the 1-1/8th and it is now routinely used in Motocross and Supercross. It comes down to rider preference on which handlebar to use.

The 7/8th- and 1-1/8th-inch Difference

The difference between the two bars is quite simply strength. If you ride hard or heavily compete on the track you're probably better off with a stronger handlebar. Cracking your bar in half after landing a bad triple is not only defeating but dangerous. The 1-1/8th-inch bar tends to reduce fatigue and arm pump.

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Dirt Bike Handlebar Dimensions


A handlebar's height is the measurement from the clamp area to the top of the control length (or end of the handle part of the bar). The height of the handlebar can be adjusted by loosening the bar at the clamp area and adjusting forward or backward to your preference.


The rise is similar to the height in that it measures the length from the clamp area to the handlebar's first steep bend. To lengthen the rise you can use riser clamps to maximize the handlebar's overall height. The taller you are the more likely you'll want to raise the height of your handlebars.


The dirt bike handlebar width is measured from one end to the other or the end of the left control length to the end of the right control length. Generally, most handlebars are constructed within a few millimeters of one another if not the same width altogether - about 800mm. Some manufactures make "mini" handlebars which reduces the width of the handlebars by as much as 60mm.


The sweep is best viewed by looking at the side of your bike. Also known as the "pullback" it is measured from the center of the clamp area to the end of the bars (control length) in a letter "L" shape.

Control Length

The control length is the area for your grips.

Clamp Area

The clamp area is the bottom of the handlebars where it clamps onto the bike. The clamp area is where you can add risers and other equipment to change the measurements and feel of your handlebars. The thickness of the clamp area is 7/8th- or 1-1/8th -inch.

The Flexx Handlebar manufactured by the Fasst Company is a higher-end bar using advanced technology to absorb shock and vibration. The Flexx uses a rubber interference absorbing much of the vibration to your arms. This further reduces fatigue and arm pump providing a longer ride more comfortable ride.

If you're a weekend warrior on a budget spending the extra cash on a larger bar doesn't necessarily make sense. The 7/8th handlebar retains its popularity and is lighter than its larger counterpart.

However, as we said earlier - handlebar preference is entirely up to you. Check out our entire stock of dirt bike handlebars but we'd like to suggest the following if you're looking for a replacement or upgrade to your current ride.

Pro Taper Standard 7/8th-Inch

Renthal Twinwall 1-1/8th-Inch

Fasst Company Flexx 1-1/8th-Inch

Price: $64.99

Price $99.99

Price: $359.99


  • Constructed using AS20 aerospace aluminum
  • Shot peened finish to increase fatigue life
  • Full 5mm wall thickness
  • Knurled clutch side for secure grip hold
  • Cold-forged crossbar


  • Twinwall Construction
  • Uses 7010 T73 and 7010 T6 aluminum
  • Laser-etched positioning grip
  • Lightweight single bolt clamping system
  • Knurled grip end


  • Rubber elastomers reduce vibration to hands
  • Less arm pump and fatigue
  • Elastomers absorb pounding to upper body
  • Accessory compatible

Twinwall Handlebars

We'd be remiss if we did not mention the Twinwall handlebar. This bar takes strength to a new level by incorporating a 7/8th- bar inside of a 1 1/8th-inch handlebar. For riders who have a history of breaking their handlebars this may be your answer as it is the strongest handlebar money can buy.

Twinwall Handlebar

Renthal Twinwall Handlebars - Oversized 1-1/8"

Price: $89.99


  • Outer tube is 7010 T73 aluminum
  • Inner tube is ultra high strength 7010 T6 aluminum
  • Laser-etched positioning grid
  • Lightweight single bolt clamping system for the crossbrace increases strength and allows flex

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Dirt Bike Handlebar Controls

Now that you understand all the bends and the different sections of the dirt bike handlebar we can now get into just how the handlebars act as the foundation to nearly every function of the dirt bike.

Check out this diagram and you'll see nearly everything required to manage, control and operate your bike originating from the handlebars.


The right hand grip functions two-fold: a grip and the gas. Rolling the grip forward powers the bike and rolling it back cuts the fuel to the engine off. The throttle is to your dirt bike like a gas pedal is to a car.

Good Throttle

Better Throttle

Best Throttle

Motion Pro Nylon Throttle Tube

Hammerhead Aluminum Throttle Tube - Blue

Motion Pro Revolver Throttle Kit

Price: $10.99

Price: $49.99

Price: $139.99 - $157.99


  • Outstanding quality at an affordable price
  • Constructed with a nylon fabric composite material that exceeds OEM type material
  • Will not scar handle bars
  • Molded on the ridges to prevent grip from slipping


  • Anodized Aluminum 6061 construction
  • Factory race design
  • Relief cuts secure the grip and provide recesses for better hold


  • Kit includes VR Throttle Assembly, throttle cables, and RoadControl Grips
  • Reel sizes include 35 mm, 40 mm, 45 mm, and 50 mm
  • Fast reel changes without readjusting cables
  • Billet aluminum inline cable adjusters

Hot Start Lever

The hot start lever becomes your best friend in the event of a stall especially when you're in the middle of a race. Use the hot start buttong in conjunction with kickstarting to immediately start your engine if you stall or crash. This saves a lot of time when trying to only kickstart your bike back to life. (Only 4-stroke bikes use hot start levers!)

Good Hot Start Lever

Better Hot Start Lever

Best Hot Start Lever

ARC Rotator Clamp With Hotstart

Sunline Brake Rotator Clamp With Hot Start - Black

Renthal Gen 2 Intellilever Clutch Lever & Perch With Hot Start

Price: $44.99

Price: $60.00

Price: $183.74


  • Fits most clutch perches and brake master cylinders
  • A thin nylon sleeve reduces the drag on the handlebar allowing the control to move in a crash
  • Can also be used on the right side with a Brembo brake


  • Universal design fits all brands all sizes
  • Teflon sleeve allows brake to rotate with ease
  • Smaller aluminum ferrule helps fit most HS cables
  • Original HS boot works with this unit in most cases



Kill Switch

The kill switch instantly shuts off gas to the engine thereby shutting the motor off. If you crash and get trapped under your bike the kill switch becomes more important to you then finishing the race. Most riders use OEM kill switches because aftermarket versions either require retrofitting or simply don't work with some bike models.

Good Kill Switch

Better Kill Switch

Best Kill Switch

BikeMaster Replacement Kill Switch

Ride Engineering Billet Kill Switch LED Light

Fly Billet Kill Switch

Price: $16.99 - $17.99

Price: $29.99

Price: $46.99


  • Exact in stock appearance and mounting
  • Plugs directly into your wiring harness
  • No need to splice


  • For bikes equipped with fuel injection only
  • Designed to be used in conjunction with Ride Engineering's Billet Engine Kill Switch
  • Bright white L.E.D. is wired to the computer and flashes a code in case of malfunction just like stock


  • Anodized billet housing is fully waterproof
  • Wires are four times more resistant to pulling out of the housing than an O.E.M. switch
  • Can be used to fit all brands and years of motorcycles
  • Cut the wires to the stock connector and splice them into this new switch

Clutch Lever

The clutch lever is on the left side of the handlebars and is not to be confused with the front brake lever which is on the right side. It looks like a brake lever and if you ride mountain bikes and never ridden a dirt bike you might think it is a brake lever. The clutch lever releases the transmission into a neutral state so that you can use the shifter to change gears like a clutch pedal in a car.

Good Clutch Lever

Better Clutch Lever

Best Clutch Lever

Turner Adjust On The Fly Clutch Lever & Perch With Hot Start

Sunline Clutch Perch Assembly With Vince V-1 MDX Lever

Magura USA Hydraulic Clutch 167

Price: $39.99

Price: $180.00

Price: $284.99


  • Universal motorcycle application fitment and AOF style perch
  • Cast alloy construction
  • Rubber boot keeps dirt and debris out
  • Built-in hot start lever makes it compatable for 4-stroke dirt bikes


  • Forged perch and rotator clamp with Teflon sleeve allows the entire assembly to spin out of harms way in a crash
  • Stays firmly in place while riding
  • Optional Hot Start assembly included


  • Permanent play compensation
  • Even wear characteristics and nearly maintenance-free
  • Reduction of actuation forces by up to 30%
  • Easy to install and route tubing

Front Brake Lever

The front brake lever is on the right side of the handlebars and is not to be confused with?.OK, just see the above on the clutch lever! You'll notice there is no rear brake lever as that functionality rests with your feet. The front brake lever is, quite appropriately, placed by the throttle.

Good Front Brake Lever

Better Front Brake Lever

Best Front Brake Lever

Sunline Forged OEM Brake Lever - Black

Streamline Reflex Brake Lever

Sunline V1 MDX Brake Lever

Price: $17.00 - $27.00

Price: $53.99 - $62.99

Price: $85.00


  • Forged 6061-T6 Aluminum for strength & durability
  • Forged alloy construction resists breaking
  • Designed to fit your stock perches
  • Made to exceed OEM specifications


  • Unbreakable folding lever design
  • 6061 billet aluminum knee
  • Utilizes external pivot bolt, screws, bearings, and bushings
  • Bead-blasted lever blade for better grip


  • Specifically made to have tight tolerance to fit OEM application model perches
  • Five year warranty
  • Weighs 123 grams
  • Uses the new multi-directional or MDX platform to resist breaking

Front Brake Master Cylinder

Where else would this go? You don't need to bother with the front brake master cylinder except during routine maintenance when you add brake fluid or bleed the brakes. However, it's always best to keep an eye on that fluid level. If you see brake fluid dip below the halfway point on that little window located on the master cylinder you better get to the shop quick before your brakes give out. Only OEM replacement parts available.

Throttle Housing

The throttle housing securely connects the throttle cable to the throttle tube which is connected to the throttle lever. If the cable disconnects from the throttle lever then you can't accelerate. Use OEM for replacement parts though the following is available packaged with the throttle tube.

Throttle Housing with Tube

Motion Pro Vortex Throttle Tube Assembly

Price: $32.99


  • Constructed out of die-cast aluminum
  • Easy solution to replacing your 2-stroke throttle housing
  • Fits 7/8"-inch bar
  • Throttle tube features a pop out end for hand guard mounting

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All Those Cables

The cables of course transmit the message from your fingertips (e.g. squeezing the brake lever) to the part you want to operate (the front brakes). Wireless technology has yet to be invented so in the meantime the handlebars securely cradle all those cables to prevent tangling and so they stay out of your way.

Throttle Cable

Good Throttle Cable

Best Throttle Cable

Motion Pro Throttle Cable

Motion Pro T3 Slidelight Throttle Cable

Price: $11.99 - $54.99

Price: $37.99


  • Exact measurements and fittings as the OEM
  • Easy installation
  • Meets or exceeds the OEM Specifications
  • Affordable and high quality


  • Specifically designed for KTM 2-stroke motorcycles
  • Features oversize 6 mm black vinyl housing with smooth PE liner and a 1.5 mm ultra flexible stainless steel inner wire
  • Pivot fitting allows adjuster barrel to turn freely for easy installation and adjustment

Clutch Cable

Good Clutch Cable

Best Clutch Cable

Motion Pro Clutch Cable

Motion Pro T3 Clutch Cable

Price: $9.99 - $53.99

Price: $45.99 - $58.99


  • Direct OEM replacements
  • Inner wire is stainless steel
  • Meets or exceeds OEM standards
  • Smooth, easy to pull, compression free clutch cable


  • Proprietary high performance liner in the elbow increases cable efficiency and life
  • Tool-less adjuster with innovative swivel fitting
  • All fittings and elbow are anodized billet aluminum construction
  • Low friction seals keep dirt and water out

Hot Start Cable

Good Hot Start Cable

Best Hot Start Cable

Motion Pro Hot Start Cable

Motion Pro T3 Hot Start Cable

Price: $12.99 - $27.99

Price: $40.99 - $46.99


  • Roll tempered-steel coil - wound 6 mm housing with 1.5 mm inner wire for strength and durability
  • Designed specifically for each bike to insure correct fitment


  • Proprietary high performance liner in the elbow increases cable efficiency life
  • Inline tool-less adjuster with innovative swivel fitting allows quick and easy cable adjustments
  • All fittings and elbow are anodized billet aluminum construction
  • Low friction seals keep dirt and water out

Front Brake Line

Good Front Brake Line

Better Front Brake Line

Best Front Brake Line

Ride Engineering Front Brake Line - Black

Galfer Front Brake Line Kit

Galfer Front Brake Line Kit - CR Style

Price: $64.99

Price: $49.99 - $114.99

Price: $69.99


  • Improves stopping power and reduces fade over the stock plastic line
  • Expansion is close to zero under all riding conditions
  • Made from extremely flexible DuPont Teflon steel
  • Will never crack or leak for the lifetime of your motorcycle


  • Constructed from stainless steel to avoid flexing for maximum stopping power.
  • Complete with lines, fittings and banjo bolts for complete and easy installation
  • Maximum feel while reducing overall effort to brake
  • Out stops stock brake lines


  • Constructed from stainless steel to avoid flexing for maximum stopping power
  • Complete with lines, fittings and banjo bolts for complete and easy installation
  • Maximum feel while reducing overall effort to brake
  • Out stops stock brake lines

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Written By: AndrewT

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