Handlebars - not just the bar to hold on to
Have you ever had a closer look at the motorcycles that were built up to 1920 in a museum or duriong the London-Brighton race? In the early days, many had the control levers on the tank, on the frame tube, at the tank end or even under the seat. And if there were levers on the handlebars, they could only be operated intricately with the thumb. To adjust air, mixture, ignition, etc., the machinist had to constantly take his hands off the handlebars. On the roads dotted with hoof nails, loose stones and other stuff, this was quite dangeruous with some bad luck.
Harley-Davidson - and most other American motorcycle manufacturers - relied on twist grips on the left and right from the very beginning, setting themselves apart from the majority of models offered internationally. The gasoline and oil taps were only operated before and after the ride anyway, and the air regulation in the carburetor was already automatic with Harley-Davidson from the beginning. Thus the driver had to regulate during the travel only ignition and throttle disc, with the hands always safely at the handlebar. Only for the oil pump on the top of the tank you still had to reach out sometimes. All in all, the twist grips are a really good invention. And so, from the very beginning, the handlebars of our Harley-Davidsons were much more than just a well-shaped holder for the hands.
Hold on tight
When riding slowly, the handlebars transmit directional impulses directly to the steering system, i.e. to the front fork. When riding faster, the rider initiates the lean angle via short counter-impulses. Press briefly on the left end of the handlebar and the motorcycle tilts to the left. Press briefly on the right, and the bike tilts to the right. You don't believe it? Observe yourselve at a higher speeds travel on a calm road. It's really like that. The experienced motorcyclist does this so automatically that he is no longer aware of these small impulses.
Handlebar control center
Over the years, the twist grips have been joined by things like electric switches, brake levers, clutch levers and rearview mirrors. The simple steering device of the early days has become a control center.
The handlebars shape the style
Driving by, at first glance, you rarely see the engine exactly, but always the handlebars. Wide and curved, with a deep pull-back, narrow and deep or the ends way up, either way, the handlebar on the Harley-Davidson is one of the central focal points. Whether Sportster, Dyna or Softail, it is a statement and determines the style of the bike quite significantly. Apehanger, beach bar, Z and T handlebars, M handlebars, whatever ... they give the bike character and personality. "Sit low - reach high" may not excite the physiotherapist, but it has a high coolness factor.
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