… bars. I’m talking about handle bars, and what goes into getting the perfect one.
At 169 cm, I’m not very tall. At 65kgs and still unable to do a single push-up, I’m not very fit, either. So even though my 2016 Triumph Street Twin is designed for the vertically challenged, it was still a bit of stretch to the handlebars. Longer rides would result in sore shoulders and lower back pain, which was clearly not ideal. But then again, manufacturers are compelled to make a bike ergonomically suited to a huge variety of riders, with varying dimensions and fitness levels. Essentially, there is a higher chance of you beating Usain Bolt in a sprint than a bike fitting you perfectly. God bless the aftermarket, then.
It started, as all projects do- on the internet. Days of trawling through Triumph forums reassured me that I wasn’t the only one seeking a handlebar solution. I even sent emails to Triumph Motorcycles UK for information on dimensions. But of all the answers floating around (at the time), the most reliable felt swapping the stock handlebars for the unit from the Street Scrambler. It was thicker (stronger), taller and wider. And since it was made by Triumph, I believed it would also be the most hassle-free. But I had never swapped handlebars in my life, so I remained slightly cautious and reigned in my expectations.
It was only when I rode the Street Scrambler for a couple of days (I was writing for Motoring World at the time, and I had a test bike for a weekend) did I realise how much of a difference handlebars could make. It was essentially the same Street Twin underneath, but felt lighter and nimbler, as if it had lost weight (the spec sheet revealed it hadn’t). It took less effort to hustle around, and because I was sitting more upright, I was more comfortable, too. I wanted that, so I set about going down that path. Turned out to be quite an expensive affair, though. The Street Scrambler bars are not a direct swap. You see, while the Street Twin ‘bars measure 22.2 mm (7/8th in) thick at the centre, the Street Scrambler unit is 28.5 mm (1 1/8th in). That meant it needed a different set of risers and a top clamp. In addition to that, it needed a new set of brake/clutch cables, too, as the additional height the new ‘bars provided stretched the stock cables to their limit. And since all these were genuine Triumph Motorcycles parts, they cost an arm and a leg. Triumph charges handsomely for labour, too, at official service centres. How much, all in? Roughly about Rs 24,000. Yeah, I know, it is a lot of money.
But the most important question is, was it worth it? Well, let me start by saying it did exactly what I wanted it to. The bars are higher and swept back toward me, so I’m not as hunched over, and far more comfortable and in control. Besides, it is wider than the stock bars, and if you remember your physics from school, you know that wider bars provide greater leverage as the force required to push/pull is now reduced. And the ‘bars themselves are thicker, so it should withstand more abuse. It’s been almost three years since I swapped them, and I don’t regret a single moment. I’ve been fortunate to get to ride it back to back with stock Street Twins ever so often, and I’ve been spending more time standing up and riding off-road, too. It has transformed how the Street Twin handles- both on and off the road, and after the tyres, this is the number one modification I recommend. Period.
That being said, if given the chance, would I do it again? Probably, not. Swapping to Street Scrambler ‘bars is far too expensive an affair. And there are other ways to achieve the same result. If you don’t want wider ‘bars, you could go for a set of handlebar risers, like these, for a 22 mm height increase. Or better yet, ROX makes some fantastic pivotable risers. Not only will it add 51 mm, but being pivotable, you can sweep them back towards you as you see fit. And if you do want a new bar, LSL has a host of options to satisfy every need and style, from low slung flat trackers, to taller scrambler style bars. Just remember to take a bar with the same diameter as stock, or get clamps to match. And stick to reputable brands, because parts quality really matters here. You don’t want your bars to bend when you drop your bike. Oh, a small side note. The Street Twin uses a ride-by-wire throttle (like most modern bikes), so if you take an aftermarket ‘bar, you’ll need to drill a hole or make a notch in the appropriate location. Just take it to your service centre to know exactly where.
Anyway, the point is, there is no one solution, because every rider is unique. Even if you have the same dimensions, you could have a different riding style, and that matters. Go out there and see what works for you. Talk to friends, and spend as much time on online forums. The internet is a fantastic resource. Write to me, if you have specific queries, (or if you can comfortably afford the Street Scrambler swap). And start transforming your bike from one that was designed for many, to one that is designed for you.
About the Author:-
Aadil holds a Masters in Business, and spent a few months in the corporate world before a chance encounter resulted in him replacing formal pants with leathers. He spent the better part of the last four years as a features writer for Motoring World, and even though he’s driven a couple of Lamborghinis, maintains that two wheels are the right number of wheels for an automobile. He spends all his free time (and money) trying to convince himself that his 2016 Triumph Street Twin is an ADV bike, and is constantly on the hunt for a good burger joint.