If you've ever been to Disneyland perhaps you've stepped inside the arcade on Main Street and tried your hands on the electric shocking machine.
This "game" requires you to hold on to metal handles emitting a current of electricity that slowly intensifies. How long can you keep your grip fastened? In reality, the handles vibrated, mimicking the electrical current. Regardless, it was difficult to hold on for the duration.
That's a bit what it's like to ride a dirt bike with vibrating handlebars.
You can hold on for a while and if you're determined perhaps finish a Moto. Don't expect to win, though. Or even enjoy the ride. A slight vibration leaves you exhausted, increases the chance for arm pump and might leave your hands with a "buzzing" feeling like they've gone to sleep. So, imagine how it feels to ride with significant vibration.
Most modern 4-stroke dirt bikes and some 2-strokes have a built-in counterbalanced engine to reduce vibration but it's hardly a perfect remedy. Riding a basic stock setup is actually one of the biggest causes for handlebar vibration so the fix is usually not as simple as tightening a bolt or two on the triple clamp. Additionally, as you fine tune your bike, whether it's adjustments to the clickers or modifying the controls to fit how and where you ride, you're causing unintended effects elsewhere.
Vibration is a common issue and bike manufacturers and handlebar companies offer a number of solutions to reduce and hopefully eliminate the problem. If you experience handlebar vibration any of the solutions offered below, in conjunction with or separate from the others, should reduce or eliminate the problem but sometimes you have to find the answer through trial and error.
Change the Triple Clamps
A complete change of the triple clamps is not an inexpensive job but offers the best solution for vibration and also provides a great upgrade to stock which also helps with shock control, steering and handling. The triple clamp change also gives you the option to include rubber insulating cones on bikes that come with a solid mount. A less expensive alternative is replacing the top clamp rather than the entire triple clamp.
Insulating rubber cones help reduce vibration
Bar inserts or anti-vibration inserts add weight to your handlebars which reduces vibration. Think of it like sitting on an out-of-balance washing machine. The added weight helps keep the vibration under control and allows the machine to finish spinning. The inserts mount inside the handlebar and you'll notice the difference immediately. This is an excellent solution for mild vibration problems but if you're concerned about extra weight you might need to shed pounds elsewhere or find a different solution.
Weighted bar inserts fit inside the handlebars
Change the Handlebars
Riders often blame the handlebars and for good reason but this is where the trial and error tends to start. Oversized bars work for some but make it worse for others. Bars with and without a crossbar also affect the amount of vibration. Meanwhile, some bars specifically address vibration issues by allowing you to calibrate the bar to your liking. Check out some options:
- Fasst Company Flexx Handlebars - Oversized 1-1/8
- Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebars
- ODI Podium MX Handlebars - Oversized 1-1/8
A Husqvarna with ODI Podium Handlebars
Grips and Gloves
The most cost effective method to reducing vibration is changing the grips and getting new gloves. If you've got worn out grips and riding with flimsy gloves don't expect a comfortable ride. In fact, if the vibrating handlebars recently started, the solution just might be at your fingertips. Take a look at your grips and gloves and if either one carries a lot of miles, replace them. Try a standard pillow top grip that absorbs more vibration along with gloves offering more palm padding.
A new set of pillow top grips just might be the solution to your vibrating handlebars
Yes, we said earlier that simply tightening a bolt on the triple clamps is likely not the answer. However, don't underestimate the effects of loose bolts. Do a thorough check of the bike and tighten everything that tightens, including the spokes. Anything not "tied down" hinders the performance of the dirt bike.
Riding with vibrating handlebars is no fun even at low levels. However, when looking for solutions don't sacrifice the strength of the controls or the feel of the bike. Ride smarter, not harder. Also, don't expect to find an immediate solution to vibrating handlebars.
What works on ride day might prove temporary as any change to your bike affects how it performs so don't feel disappointed if a change here or there works, only to experience vibration the next time out. You'll find as your interest in riding increases that all of the improvements and suggestions above probably already rank high on your list of parts to upgrade.
Want to know more about dirt bike handlebars or need help choosing the right set? Check out:
- Dirt Bike Handlebars & Controls Explained
- A Guide to Choosing Dirt Bike Handlebars
- How To Remove Handlebar Grips
Written By: AndrewT