In this video Harry Eddy, Design Engineer will discuss the ease of install on a 2013 Road King.
We see if comfortable equals fast
What are they?
Heli-Bars is a well known company which specializes in producing motorcycle handlebars that are more comfortable than stock. Their emphasis has been primarily on making machines more suitable for long distance riding but now they also feature a line called TracStar, which is aimed at the sportbike crowd. The big question when testing a product like this is obvious. Does improving street comfort come at the expense of racetrack efficiency?
The installation of these bars was very straightforward. In fact, this is listed as a direct stock replacement, which means that no other parts should be necessary to do the install. We found this to be absolutely true. A glossy color spread of instructions is included. There are very accurate photos of each step of the process, along with supporting text. There were no surprises and the entire job from parking to riding the bike took less than ninety minutes. We recommend following their instructions to the letter, including the one about placing/stuffing a rag around the work area. Besides protecting from scratches, this step may help you to avoid having to remove body work to retrieve a screw if you happen to drop one at the wrong spot. Our installation time does not include a trip to the hardware store, where we bought a 36 mm socket for the triple clamp bolt and a small #8 Torx bit that was thin enough along its stem to fit into a severely recessed hole.
What they do
The normal way of making a sportbike more comfortable involves bar risers, which are essentially lifting blocks for the handlebars. This has always seemed contradictory, since a lot of engineering gets violated when you move the handlebars to a different location. The Heli Bars kit for the BMW S1000RR attacks the problem a different way, by setting the downward slope of the clip-ons at a shallower angle. These bars made the position feel closer to that of a sport touring riding position while maintaining the look and feel of a sport bike. In fact, experienced riders would not immediately recognize that these are aftermarket bars, especially since the mounting points and manufacturing style are identical to the OEM pieces. Compared to the very steep angle of the stock bars, the modified slope of the Heli-Bars results in a bar end that is a full two inches higher than stock. That two inches is enough to make a significant difference. The results are a more upright riding position and a more natural position of the hand and forearm.
To test the bike with the new bars, we conducted before and after riding sessions over the same one hour loop, which included surface streets, highway miles and twisties. The first thing noticed was increased confidence when maneuvering on surface streets around congested traffic. This was the result of both the added leverage and the slightly more upright position. The second obvious improvement was that the bars promoted a proper riding position, putting the forearms closer to parallel with the ground and the elbows at about the same height as the hands. Once into the curves, flicking the bike into a corner was definitely easier and the bars engendered more confidence going around blind turns. The result was that Heli-Bars encouraged a faster pace through curves, high speed sweepers and switchback on-ramps. As you would expect, highway comfort was vastly improved. S1000RR riders regularly complain that their hands and wrists get numb within about 20 minutes of riding. (Which incidentally, is the length of an average trackday session.) We too had experienced this with the stock pieces but that numbness did not occur when riding with the Heli-Bars. The noticed improvement in street comfort alone would have been enough to justify switching to these bars but we still had a track test to perform.
Autobahn Country Club, in Joliet, Illinois, was where we conducted the track portion of this review. The Full Course at this facility has 23 turns so there was plenty of opportunity to experience the bars in a variety of different cornering situations. We’d ridden here a few months previously with the stock bars, which provided a frame of reference for comparison. On the track we noticed that it felt much more natural to drape our outside arm over the gas tank. It was also easier to experiment with different entry points, as the added leverage of the Heli-Bars provided extra confidence when flicking the bike into turns. Switchback transitions were also made with less effort. The pavement was wet for a few of these sessions, giving us the opportunity to see how the bars performed in catching a slide. Even at this extreme, the Heli-Bars were very predictable and showed no tendency to make us overcorrect. In fact, there was nowhere on the track that we found ourselves wishing we had the original-equipment bars.
For both road and track use, these Heli-Bars proved their worth. In every environment, the big BMW was a more comfortable and better behaved motorcycle. This $319.00 improvement quite literally transformed the bike’s ergonomics, making it much nicer to live with no matter what environment it was used in or how aggressively it was ridden. Here at TrackdayMag.com, we’re used to sacrificing comfort to get better performance. In this case, much to our surprise, it was upping our comfort level that increased performance!
Here at HeliBars we often hear moving tales of how our product has “saved” the day by allowing riders to ride longer. To be more passionate about their sport. To feel the wind whipping by them as they hit the open road. Some as they enter their golden years of 70, 80 and beyond. Others as they hit the open road for the first time. It’s heart warming to hear their stories.
This story brought our hearts to our throats and tears to our eyes and we want to share it with you. Please allow us to introduce to you Officer Jamie Bernau of the Mesa Police Department Traffic Unit. Below is an email we received from Officer Bernau on April 8th:
Working at HeliBars can be extremely rewarding. Helping those that have a passion for motorcycling stay in their seats longer, either for the day or through the years, is so much fun. We love to see people smiling! Below is the motorcycle review we received from Officer Pruet of the Arizona Highway Patrol.
My name is Officer Jake Pruet. I am a motor officer with the Arizona Highway Patrol and a motorcycle instructor. Our department recently purchased the new Kawasaki Concours 14 police model from Beaudry Motor sports in Idaho. We really enjoyed the motorcycle; however, the sitting position was somewhat uncomfortable for a police officer using the motorcycle for 10 hours a day. We were forced to lean forward on the bike with our arms locked out and all of our weight was on our wrists and lower back. This created a problem with not only rider comfort, but officer safety as well. I conducted research on the internet and I received information from Steve Beaudry, founder and owner of Beaudry Motor sports, where our motorcycles are built, about an adjustable handle bar system from Helibars. I completed my own research of the product and determined that, while the cost was more than higher bar risers, the benefit would greatly outweigh that cost. I completed my research and forwarded it to my department which ultimately purchased a set for each of the 10 motorcycles we currently have in the fleet. Steve Beaudry worked with Helibars to modify the current set up that extended the brake lines, to a system that completely replaced the stock brake lines and the factory junction with longer lines.
I could immediately tell that the motorcycle handled very differently and that it was almost effortless to turn during slow maneuvers. I was pleasantly surprised to find the sitting position perfect for our line of work. My back was completely straight and my arms were bent at the elbow and my shoulders and wrists were relaxed. This was now my new favorite police motorcycle.
I completed several rigorous tests in the field and in training. I tested the handlebars in slow, tight maneuvers and was able to complete a 16’ u-turn with almost no effort. The motorcycle now makes quick left to right and right to left transitions with almost no weight felt at the steering head. At freeway speeds, the Helibars set actually makes the ride even smoother and at high speeds, is completely 100 % stable and firm. I tested the Helibars set under extreme braking and felt no movement.
Research and Development:
After testing the setup, I had some minor concerns about how my department, as well as other police departments, were going to mount their police radios. Our current design had the radio mount bolted to the bottom bolts of the top clamp. These bolts need to be torque to a specific torque setting and we were concerned about radio technicians or others needing to remove the mount and not properly torque the bolts. I contacted the owner of Helibars, Harry Eddy, and informed him of my issue and offered a simple solution to machine two threaded holes directly next to the current bolt holes. Harry’s designer quickly made a prototype drawing and sent it to me for approval. I was amazed to discover how exact the design was to what I needed. Harry immediately made a working prototype and shipped it out for test fitting. The new top clamp design was a perfect fit and after tweaking it slightly , Harry made 10 clamps and immediately shipped them to us to swap out.
I have shown the Helibars setup to numerous other motor officers in the Phoenix area that are either riding the new Kawasaki or are purchasing them soon. The look on the officers faces are a complete smile from ear to ear. They are amazed, just like I was, on how drastically different the seating position is. I believe that with these new Helibars, the new Kawasaki C14P motorcycle is in the running to become the best police motorcycle on the market and the Helibars system is a must for anyone who rides a Concours, either civilian or police.
As the original designers and makers of the ST1300 handlebar relocation adapter we want to celebrate our 25th Anniversary in style! And give our loyal customers an added perk. Not only will you receive the superior quality and styling of our product when you purchase, you will also receive it at our 25th Anniversary Special Edition price of $173 for the Standard Model, $185 for Ram Optional Model and $199 for the much sought after Pilot Model.
Some people take the bars out of the packaging and don’t see a difference. To the naked eye some HeliBars can appear similar to stock. That’s a good thing – aesthetically speaking they look like they came with the bike! We promise there are changes to the bars over stock, some more drastic than others. Our welded HeliBars for the VFR1200 are dramatically different while the TracStar clip-on for the S1000RR doesn’t have the same “riser” built into the bar. The rise and pull back comes from any number of areas in the design.
Unlike other companies we take our measurements from the same location each time we create a new design. Your hand placement. Really that’s the most important part. Where are your hands going to be when the HeliBars are installed?
So what we suggest to the customer is this. Install the right side HeliBar. Take a tour around your motorcycle and view it from the front. Now you can see the difference. Just as you can in the photo above of the S1000RR. While 1.7″ taller and 0.8″ rearward doesn’t seem like a lot on paper, when you compare the left and right bar it is a world of difference. And of course the true test – sit on the bike compare how your hand falls on the right handlebar versus the left. The palm of your hand should be more in line with your wrist, taking out the awkward bend that causes fatigue.
That’s what makes HeliBars – Comfort Without Compromise!