The handlebars on a dirt bike can be most finicky often ruining rides and just making the whole process of steering quite frustrating.
Handlebars come loose seemingly at the most inopportune time leaving you with limited control and adjusting them to your liking can take a day of testing to get them just right. Adjusting, straightening and tightening the handlebars actually takes very little time but deciding on the right position often requires some trial and error and even switching out the bars for a new set.
But understand one thing: The handlebars setup on your dirt bike is entirely subjective. You can ask around for advice but ultimately the decision rests with you and what feels most comfortable in regards to the position of the handlebars. First, let's take a look at the handlebar dimensions:
Dirt Bike Handlebar Dimensions
Measure the handlebar's height from the clamp area to the top of the control length (or end of the handle part of the bar). Adjust the height of the handlebar by loosening the bar at the clamp area and adjusting forward or backward to your preference.
The rise resembles the height in that it measures the length from the clamp area to the handlebar's first steep bend. Lengthen the rise by using riser clamps to maximize the handlebar's overall height. Taller riders generally prefer raising the height of their handlebars.
Measure the handlebar width from one end to the other or from the end of the left control length to the end of the right control length. Generally, most handlebars have the same width - about 800mm. Some manufactures make "mini" handlebars which reduces the width of the handlebars by as much as 60mm.
View the sweep by looking at the side of your bike. Also known as the "pullback" measure the sweep from the center of the clamp area to the end of the bars (control length) in a letter "L" shape.
The control length holds onto the grips.
The clamp area clamps onto the bike connecting the triple clamps to bar clamps that hold the handlebars. Put your focus on the clamp area to change the measurements and feel of your handlebars by adding risers as well as tightening. The clamp area comes in 7/8th-inch (standard) or 1-1/8th-inch (oversized) thickness.
Adjusting and Tightening Dirt Bike Handlebars
Therefore, the clamp area held in place by the bar clamps allows you to adjust the handlebars in one of three ways:
- Add height
- Push them forward or backwards
- Adjust spacing to make room in the cockpit (seating)
And, of course tighten.
Add Height to Handlebars
To add height, which taller riders usually prefer, use taller bar mounts or a taller handlebar bend.
Push Handlebars Forward or Backwards
Use the appropriate tool (usually an Allen wrench) to loosen the four bolts that make up the bar clamps. When loose you can roll the handlebars forward towards the front of the bike or backwards, towards the seat.
Adjust Handlebar Spacing
To adjust the handlebars spacing which allows you to move the clamp area closer to or away from the rider, (unlike pushing forward or backwards which doesn't change the bar clamp position) you need the type of bar clamps that allow you to move the bars. Loosen the bar clamps, adjust accordingly and tighten the bolts.
Proper Handlebar Tightening
For the most part, simply tightening the bolts on the bar clamps to recommend torque represents the proper way of tightening the handlebars on your dirt bike. However, some handlebar manufacturers recommend tightening the bolts in a specific order for best results. Anything that screws in can come loose but if you frequently experience issues with the handlebars coming loose check the owner's manual for suggested fastening sequence.
No, don't use Loctite.