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DIY handlebars: Updated with pic

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by mattb, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. #1 mattb, Jul 13, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    G'day All.

    Looking for some ideas on how to fashion a set of good handlebars. I want to make a pair that are perfectly flat, but which reach right back so that my hands are sitting over my knees (so, reaching back toward me by about 15cm past the front of my knees, though to the side of my knees slightly), at which point they'd be about 70cm apart. There are two options for going about this (and then a mix of them):

    1) Buy a piece of 7/8" pipe and simply bend it.

    2)Get a bandle bar which rises with the angle I want, cut it off at the top of the rise (as per the red lines in the pic), fold the bars down toward me and simply add a greater length of pipe (as per the blue lines). THe new pipe could be joined by finding a piece of pipe which fitted snugly inside both, then doing some sort of welding (about which I know nothing) to join everything, maybe with a slight gap revealing the inside bar to make sure everything is welded.

    The first option would be easier for me than having to get somebody to weld (especially as I want to spend very little on this - I might find I dislike the bars, or find the angle hurts my wrists on long rides, plus I change my mood every six months (need more SRs!)), and I was thinking of getting a vice level with a bench, putting the straight pipe in it and bending one side to the correct angle as per a mark on the bench, then turning the bar around in the vice and doing the same with the other side. I don't know if cheap bendable pipe would take that bending without kinking, or whether I'd risk weakening things too much - don't want one handle breaking off while in mid flight!! :eek:

    Ideas? (Taking into account I have no more than basic tools) Here's a moving picture of the bike, so you can get a sense of the riding position - I want to remain the same as this (upright, same width across bars), but with my hands down lower and a bit back. And with a cleaner look to the bike (though I do like those current bars from front on, just not side on) [media=youtube]qWl-bHqwRjk[/media]

    Thanks, Matt

    Ps check out the replica Smith's chromometric speedometer in mph. I'll be posting about setting this up on the handlebars (but there's two complications). Guess I'll have to learn my six times tables!
  2. FWIW I've tried bending handlebars in a vice on a bench and all I succeeded in doing was moving the bench :LOL:.
  3. I expect you'll need some kind of pipe bender to bend the pipe without it kinking, unless someone knows another way?

    Sounds like an interesting project, do you have any pics of similar setups? I'm not really getting how they work...
  4. Essentlially like this, only a bit further back toward me and flat...

    Hmmm, I wonder who has pipe benders.... I know exhaust shops must have a machine to bend their exhausts, I wonder who else? Might be a quick and easy exercise at such a place; just rock up wit hthe pipe, get two bends, then cut the ends to the right length at at home afterwards....
  5. Ha, old school! Looks like it could be pretty comfy.
  6. Yeah, the motivation for this actually doesn't come from aesthetics (although I think flat always looks cooler from side on) but from the desire I always get, no matter which bike I've been on, to rest my hands down near my knees - it just feels like the right place to put them.

    And of course it looks cool! :grin:
  7. I understand that the way to bend tubing (at least soft metal tubing) without deforming it is to fill it with water and freeze it, then bend it fresh out of the chiller. The ice obviously keeps the pressure up on the inside.
  8. mate, anything like that that I need doing, I just rock round to my local exhaust place, they've never not been able to do what I wanted, cheaply too
  9. Yes, I think the cheapest, easiest, and best solution will be to get someone to bend it up on a pipe bender (such as an exhaust shop, as Hornet suggested).
    Bending it in a vice will kink it for sure. Pipe benders have u-shaped channels that the pipe sits in so that it can't 'squish'. It will be easy to get the angles the same too.
  10. Thanks for that, to an exhaust shop I shall go. I've heard reports that it's pretty cheap to do a header pipe, so I'll find a less corporate one and see what they can do... Might be able to do a few handlebars....
  11. U shaped pipe benders do not stop the pipe from deforming and buckling you need a mandrel bending machine to do that.

    whats why for performance exhausts they buy pre bent pieces and weld them to suit rather then bend one long piece.

    Ages ago people like my dad used to pack very dry sand into pipes weld the ends closed then bend them in a pipe bender, the sand being uncompressable would stop a lot of the distorting of the pipe keeping its strength.
  12. Hey Mattb, have you thought about using what would have been the off cuts & welding them together in the middle at the bar mounts?

    Say if you moved the red line in your first pic down a few inches, cut there, then welded those two bits together? I reckon they would be pretty strong because the welded part would be clamped in the headstem, but you would have to find bars with the right angle & length in the first place...

    Just a thought.
  13. Proper tube benders for 1" and up are quite dear. You are not going to get much change out of $700 for one die size only.

    There are tube benders that will bend up to 7/8", that are like plumbers tube benders. They are not that dear. I can't imagine the would be easy to use.

    I might try the water freeze thing as an experiment, as I have a project at the moment where I will likely need some 1" tube bent.
  14. Thanks for all the replies guys. I went into a bicycle store today looking at knee armour and I got lucky: in a box of 'no price' used parts, there was a set of schwinn handlebars, which I got for $20. Just checked them out against the bike, and the angle is perfect! They have a part number so should I need more I can order them.

    Now, they're are really good as is, but would be perfect if they came back five or six inches further. What I'm thinking in the crudest most simple way is with this piece of pipe (below, the chrome bit) that fits tightly inside the pipe of the handlebar, and simply fix that in place. Make it such that the throttle and switch blocks clamp at the very end of the schwinn bars and then the throttle / switchblocks rest on on the new piece of pipe, with the slightly smaller diameter making no real difference inside the throttle (and simply taped thicker on the left). My question is, what's a good way of securing the smaller pipe to the bigger? I have bashed it in without true efort and already I think I would have to work hard with pliers to pull it out, and I can give it a proper bashing later with a mallet. I could also use some glue. That's a bodgy fix, but it looks like it'll work - but am I deluding myself? I reckon even if it came loose it wouldn't do so in a way that could cause immediate disaster...

  15. If you're going to go with that route, I'd suggest you glue it at least. Scuff both surfaces with sandpaper, then get them as clean as you possibly can and apply your adhesive of choice. Araldite would probably be fine, or go to some manufacturer's websites (3M, Sellys, Loctite etc) to search for the best adhesive for steel to steel applications.

    It looks like the diameter changes in the middle for the clamp - is this long enough for your motorcycle? In keeping with the bodgieness, you could shim it with some aluminium can or something if it isn't.

    I wonder what some of the engineers here will have to say about it...
  16. Ummm... Dangerous? Unsafe? Unroadworthy?

    I would confidently wager upwards of 500 bucks that the inner tube would pull out within 15 minutes of riding with catastrophic results. Glue or not.

    Glue! :roll:

    But, happily, you're on the right track.

    Use a short length of the smaller diameter tube as an internal brace, with another straight section of 7/8" tube slipped over it. Drill an 8mm hole through the ends of the outer tubes and weld the inner tube to the outer tube around the hole.
    File the tops of the welds level around the welded holes and slide your grip and throttle on.

    If someone can post something interesting enough for me to comment on over the course of the day, my post count may come up high enough to be able to insert an image to help you.
    I wont hold my breath though.

    Phew! It's 4:30 already! Time for a beer.
  17. I agree with the guy above me, you should slip on some thicker tube over the thin stuff, but maybe you could just use a small bolt or two to secure it instead of welding. Although it wouldn't look as clean.
  18. Bolt would look pretty agricultural, and might interfere with fitting switch-blocks etc. Rivet or two might be a bit cleaner, but welding definitely the best bet, again if you rock up to an exhaust shop with a 6-pack and the hole pre-drilled they'll probably do it for you on the spot. File it smooth and paint and it should be pretty much invisible.

    Ace exhausts in Preston (I think) are a good little shop out your way, or Muffler Man in Prahran...
  19. I tend to agree with him:

  20. If you leave it unfastened that's going to cause a hilarious crash. Won't the vibration of the single cylinder shake it loose?