If you’ve ever seen a train of motorcycles cruising down the Las Vegas Strip or seen a Harley-Davidson rumbling through your hometown, you’ve probably seen ape hangers before. Hell, you may have even seen them on a bicycle before. Sometimes referred to as monkey bars, ape hangers are those motorcycle handlebars that are of such exaggerated height that you actually have to reach up to grab them. Obviously, they earned these nicknames because they make you look like an orangutan when you grab them.
Ape hangers are a lot like pineapple on pizza. You either love them or you absolutely can’t stand them. But regardless of how you feel about ape hangers, they actually did serve a pretty practical purpose at one point in time. Today, people have taken ape hangers to extremes, looking like they’re trying to touch the sky just to grip their handlebars, so much so that certain governments have had to restrict the height of motorcycle handlebars for safety reasons. But, then again, when have Harley-riding outlaw bikers ever really paid much attention to the law?
Let’s take a look at the phenomenon that is ape hangers. And if you decide that you like them, we’ll give you some advice about which ones to choose.
Practical Arguments for Ape Hangers
While most people with monkey bars probably get them mostly for their appearance, there are actually some practical advantages to them. They were originally meant to aid riders who had no rear suspensions. Basically, when you would ride over a pothole, you could use them to lift your butt up and avoid getting a hard thump to your crotch region.
Having ape hangers on your motorcycle can also be far more comfortable for some. Whereas with normal handlebars you’ll probably have to lean forward to grip them, with ape hangers, you can sit upright and keep your hands at shoulder height (just so long as you didn’t go overboard and get ape hangers higher than your shoulders, which a lot of people do).
Should You Get Ape Hangers?
Whether or not you should get monkey bars really depends on your preferences. If you think they look totally badass, then go for it. However, you should be aware that getting them too tall can cause your hands to fall asleep while you’re driving, which isn’t exactly safe. Also, if you end up getting ape hangers that are higher than 10 inches tall, you’ll probably have to get your brake cables extended.
If you’re worried about ape hangers affecting the handling of your bike, you don’t have too much to be concerned about. Yes, your motorcycle will take longer to react to your movements, but it won’t affect the handling, just the response time during tight turns.
If you want to get some ape hangers on your bike, you can probably do the swap yourself if you have a hand-shift chopper or something like that. If the swap seems too difficult, though, you’re probably better off leaving it to a professional.