Check out the latest article on HeliBars for the K1600GT/GTL!
HeliBars has been working diligently with Motus Motorcycles since March of 2012 to complete the handlebar portion of the new MST & MST-R motorcycles. We are so pleased to be the chosen manufacturer for this ground breaking motorcycle.
Check out the press release here:
A recent article in the Powersports Business Magazine (September 9, 2013 edition, online October 4, 2013) had us all talking here in the office. Why do we make HeliBars? We say it’s because we want people to ride for the “long haul” and enjoy “comfort without compromise” because people should be able to follow their passion (for motorcycling) without pain. It’s because we love the feel of the open road. It’s how we recharge our batteries from working all day. And because there is no greater joy than traveling this great country from the back of a motorcycle and seeing all the beautiful sites while riding through the wind. All of this is echoed in the article we read.
The article is by Hal Ethington entitled, For recreation or play, never forget about ‘The Why’
We hope you enjoy it!
For years we have used the above tag line “Peformance Shouldn’t Be Painful” and we really do mean it. Sport bikes, sport touring bikes, cruisers shouldn’t be painful they should make you want to take to the open road not just for a 10 minute jaunt but a cruise towards the Horizon. That is why we produce HeliBars, and have been for 26 years. What we address are the same things that are outlined in the article below. Enjoy the read:
Most of us recognize the importance of at least a perfunctory visual check of our machines before we set out for a scoot, but what many riders forget is that it’s just as important to check your body position, too. Out on a one-lane country road 30 minuted into your ride is not the ideal time to be wondering, “Uh, why are my hands tingling? Why are my shoulders tight? And damn it, why does my neck ache?”
But that’s often how it goes with riders. Many of us simply don’t acknowledge the obvious things-such as the body-to-motorcycle relationship-until it’s too late.
In a nutshell, my doc said every part of the body affects the other parts: Fingers affect the wrist, which affects the elbow, which affects the shoulders and so on. Just think of those “Dry Bones” lyrics and you’ll get the point: “With the finger bone connected to the hand bone, the hand bone connected to the arm bone…”
That first line is one all riders should memorize: A motorcyclist’s main connection points to his bike are his fingers. And it’s no wonder that when most of us ride, those points are usually being tweaked in some very malevolent ways. The doctor mentioned the following parts as being especially vulnerable:
Wrists: They’re often turned to odd angles so the fingers can grip the bar. This puts pressure on the median nerve in the wrist/forearm (carpal tunnel), causing numbness and fatigue.
Elbows: These are usually extended up and away from the rider’s torso and rotated out from the bike, which places stress on the ulnar nerve, or “funny bone”
Shoulders: They’re being constantly flexed and rotated from holding the elbows up, which often exacerbates tendonitis in the rotator cuffs, causing aches and fatigue. Most riders also reach forward to grip the handlebars, rolling the shoulders. This adds flex to the trapenzius muscle, placing strain on the base of the neck and between the shoulder blades.
Trapezius and Neck: Rotating the shoulders means the large group of neck muscles that control spine position flexing. Constantly working these muscles creates discomfort in the neck and alters the upper spine’s alignment. This realignment can also affect the lumbar area of the spine, resulting in lower back pain.
It seems if you experience two or more of those symptoms (like tingling and/or aches) then your position of control is incorrect. The POC is where the contact point of your body meets the control point of your bike, i.e., where your hands grip the handlebar. So after I broke down all the fancy medical phrases into layman’s terms, I was left with these crucial bits of advice:
- My wrists shouldn’t twist and should stay as straight as possible in relation to the forearm.
- Elbows should point down as much as possible and hang rather than be held up.
- Shoulders need to be relaxed and dropped rather than suspended or flexed when riding.
- My reach should be reduced so I don’t roll or lift my shoulders to grab the handlebar.
- I should steer with my arms, not my neck, shoulders or back.
The most effective way to correct all my body’s tweaked biomechanics was through the handlebar.
Since I started working at HeliBars nearly 6 years ago, I have gotten phone calls and emails weekly looking for a solution to make the Honda Goldwing Riding experience more comfortable. We have had a bike in house since 2007 and the design team has been diligently working trying to come up with the most affordable way to make the ‘Wing as comfortable as possible. The design was nearly complete in 2012 and then they had to figure out: how do we produce this masterpiece and make it affordable for the masses. (First prototype’s would have made the bars $3200!) So they went back to the drawing board and looked at production methods and TADA! They are done! First production units will be shipping out the door December 16th, 2013.
It’s been a long wait, yes, but it will be well worth the wait when those riders get their bars and can not only ride in superior comfort, as only the Goldwing can provide, but also with increased control & handling without having to change out the suspension.
Thanks for the patience, thanks for believing in us and enjoy the ride. We KNOW you are gonna love it!
~ Jennifer Pettengill, G.O.T.O.
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: