Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile??? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 16 Old Oct 16th, 2011, 11:42 pm Thread Starter
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Exclamation Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

I'm driving a 2011 R1200R, I purchased at the end of April of this year and have almost 10,000 miles on her so far. After a ride, I have a tightness between my shoulder blades which becomes sore after multiple days of riding. I've been told: "What you need is a set of bar backs". I have a hard time believing that moving the handlebars back 50 mm (Set of Verholen's from A&S BMW) could make that much of a difference. Before I spend $163.00 plus S&H, I thought I'd ask for additional input. The question is this: Are bar backs or handlebar risers worthwhile or am I just feeling the need to add an additional farkle to my bike.

A little about my build, 5'8", short legs (29") inseam, and 33" arms
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post #2 of 16 Old Oct 17th, 2011, 12:49 am
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherGoose
I'm driving a 2011 R1200R, I purchased at the end of April of this year and have almost 10,000 miles on her so far. After a ride, I have a tightness between my shoulder blades which becomes sore after multiple days of riding. I've been told: "What you need is a set of bar backs". I have a hard time believing that moving the handlebars back 50 mm (Set of Verholen's from A&S BMW) could make that much of a difference. Before I spend $163.00 plus S&H, I thought I'd ask for additional input. The question is this: Are bar backs or handlebar risers worthwhile or am I just feeling the need to add an additional farkle to my bike.

A little about my build, 5'8", short legs (29") inseam, and 33" arms
That's almost exactly my dimensions (5'7").

I believe BarBacks are an excellent addition to help take some weight off the wrists and to provide a bit more upright riding position -- BUT! --

1. I ride behind barn door fairings, and ride in a lot of slow rush hour traffic, where wind is not available to help hold my torso up like on a naked bike at speed (i.e., where a more canted-forward position may be a better position).

2. The tightness in the shoulder blades is likely NOT completely a result of the leaned-forward riding position.

In my experience, there are two primary things that cause the shoulder blade pain:

(1) too tight a grip on the bars, and

(2) not using the "Master Yoda Riding Position" (google it and become enlightened ).

The first accelerates the development of pain in various places.

BTW, the pain in the shoulder plades is just the place where the train of muscle strain is ending up, as various sets of the body's muscles try to compensate for other muscles up the muscle chain having tired out/given up.

The second is the only thing I've found that has eliminated the shoulder blade pain I was also experiencing a few years ago.

The gist of the MYRP, as I understand it, is to use the thighs and the core muscles to support the torso -- put another way, if you are feeling body weight on the grips you're not holding yourself up with the legs/core properly.

Another key part of the MYRP is to maintain an arch in your back -- if you start slumping, you're not using your core muscles, and you'll tire/ache much faster.

It takes a bit of practice/exercise, but every time you think about/do the MSRP, you can do it longer, until you can do it all day.

So, back to the BakBacks -- with my physical shape, and my sport-touring/touring bike orientation, BarBacks are a great thing to place the bars where *I* feel the most natural sitting in the saddle -- but that is a very personal/subjective thing. They are not a cure for pain, but they may be *great* for tailoring the bike to your desires. My suggestion is to put your bike on the centerstand, sit on it with your eyes closed, feet on the pegs and arms at your sides, and then hold your arms out in front of you (with your eyes still closed) at the place where you naturally would like the grips to be -- then open your eyes. If your hands are about 2" to the rear of your existing grips, you may be a BarBack candidate!

HTH,

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #3 of 16 Old Oct 17th, 2011, 8:27 am
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherGoose
I'm. I have a hard time believing that moving the handlebars back 50 mm (Set of Verholen's from A&S BMW) could make that much of a difference.
Actually 50mm is around 2 inches which is quite a bit. With the traditional handlebar style you also have the option adjusting the bars up or down.

A lot of the Suburban Machinery style for the R1200RT only move the bars back and up about an inch.

Like most of us we spend money on the various farkles to get the most comfort out of our bikes. $175 might seem like a lot, but if it makes a huge difference to your comfort while riding it is pretty cheap. If they do not work for you there is probably someone looking for a set and you could sell them and get most of your money back.

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post #4 of 16 Old Oct 17th, 2011, 3:01 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

I'm with mneblett here. A couple of things that helped me are to get your elbows low so your forearms are parallel to the ground. Lots of bend in the elbow, shoulders down and in a relaxed position. Even elbows slightly below the level of the bars!

Also periodically pull in your stomach muscles and held them there. Helps engage your core and remind you how much you might be slouching. Takes load off of your back.

Barbacks will definetly help, but you still need to get your wrists and forearms flat with almost a 90 degree bend in your elbow even with barbacks.

Arm position. Notice the pivot point on a motorcycle’s handlebars. Many novice sportbike riders sit tall above the bars and hold the bars on a downward angle The proper arm position for any bike involves having your elbows at or slightly below the level of of the handlebars… So that your forearm is parallel the ground (or bent slightly upward). This is the position in which you have the most control, and the least resistance, where the bars feel lightest and respond most accurately to your steering input

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Last edited by Atomicman; Oct 17th, 2011 at 7:49 pm.
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post #5 of 16 Old Oct 17th, 2011, 7:42 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Perhaps barbacks will help but you need to start with riding position. One way to tell yours is wrong is if you're carrying any amount of upper body weight at all on the grips (eg leaning into the grips). That's a sure sign you need to work on the MYRP as Mark notes.
If after that you still have shoulder issues you'll need barbacks but unlikely 2". Most use a 1" and that's enough for most people who need them.

The R isn't extreme and an RT or GS even less so. Some BMW bikes (like the K1200RS Ialso ride) would stretch the arms of folks with 37" sleeves though even when pulled as far back as the factory bike allows.
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post #6 of 16 Old Oct 18th, 2011, 10:27 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

I've been attempting what I think is the MYRP but so far only on short rides. The long ride will have to wait for the weekend. FIrst thing I've noticed is it allows me to keep lighter pressure on the handlebars. No matter how I sit on the bike, it is really hard to get my forearms parallel to the ground unless I'm almost laying on the tank. Sitting in what I think is the MYRP, my elbows are 2-3" higher than my hands. Am I missing a key step?

I tried the "eyes closed" see where the hands end up and I am 1-2" short of the bars. If the Verholen Handlebars risers are too much, can someone recommend another manufacturer?

Thanks

Skip
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post #7 of 16 Old Oct 18th, 2011, 11:17 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherGoose
I've been attempting what I think is the MYRP but so far only on short rides. The long ride will have to wait for the weekend. FIrst thing I've noticed is it allows me to keep lighter pressure on the handlebars. No matter how I sit on the bike, it is really hard to get my forearms parallel to the ground unless I'm almost laying on the tank. Sitting in what I think is the MYRP, my elbows are 2-3" higher than my hands. Am I missing a key step?

I tried the "eyes closed" see where the hands end up and I am 1-2" short of the bars. If the Verholen Handlebars risers are too much, can someone recommend another manufacturer?

Thanks

Skip
Sunny Tucson AZ
Keep at it Gwasshopper

Sounds like you are doing fine. With my similar body size, my arms aren't exactly parallel to the ground, either. Just relax your body and don't over-think the arms part -- the primary objective is to get your weight off the hands/wrists. The footnote about elbow position is to help you realize that having your elbows down, not raised up in the air like chicken wings, makes steering easier because your muscles aren't as tight and you are pushing on the bars from the direction which gives you maximum leverage. Being 20 degrees above parallel -- if that's where your arm length puts you -- if fine, as long your arms are loose/relaxed.

On the barbacks, I have been very happy with the Moto Techniques units, most recently on my '09 R12RT, but just now when looking for a link I see they have closed! -- you may find a set still at a dealers. I guess someone else is going to have to come up with an alternative for you

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post #8 of 16 Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 10:01 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

After much reading and investigation into bar backs/handlebar risers, I think I'll pass on them for now. It looks like everything I find out leads me to believe the bike will need the brake and clutch cables extended. We're guessing that adds up to almost $400 to $500 just to find out if I like them. I'm actually having a lot better results with the MYRP, rode 240+ miles today and as long as I sit with light pressure on the handlebars, all seems to be well without the tightness in the shoulder blades. Many moons ago I played a game where you would place your hands on top of somebody else's and they would try to slap your hands while you tried to pull away so they couldn't hit you. The secret was keeping a very light pressure on their hands. I feel like I'm playing the game again. In one of the articles or comments about the MYRP, someone stated "the tank is your friend, get as close to it as possible, that has help a great deal also. As the great master once said: "Do or do not, there is no try", so I'll keep doing and working on the Master Yoda and hopefully get better at it. Who knew it was so damn hard to sit on a motorcycle?

If you've never been to Arizona, you really need to get here. This time of year is absolutely the best. Mornings starts at 55 degrees, warming up to the mid-80's. Today it overshot the mid-80's and stopped at the mid 90's but who am I to complain while some parts of this great country are having frost in the morning and getting out the snowblowers in prep for what is about to come


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post #9 of 16 Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 10:24 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherGoose
After much reading and investigation into bar backs/handlebar risers, I think I'll pass on them for now. It looks like everything I find out leads me to believe the bike will need the brake and clutch cables extended. We're guessing that adds up to almost $400 to $500 just to find out if I like them. I'm actually having a lot better results with the MYRP, rode 240+ miles today and as long as I sit with light pressure on the handlebars, all seems to be well without the tightness in the shoulder blades. Many moons ago I played a game where you would place your hands on top of somebody else's and they would try to slap your hands while you tried to pull away so they couldn't hit you. The secret was keeping a very light pressure on their hands. I feel like I'm playing the game again. In one of the articles or comments about the MYRP, someone stated "the tank is your friend, get as close to it as possible, that has help a great deal also. As the great master once said: "Do or do not, there is no try", so I'll keep doing and working on the Master Yoda and hopefully get better at it. Who knew it was so damn hard to sit on a motorcycle?

If you've never been to Arizona, you really need to get here. This time of year is absolutely the best. Mornings starts at 55 degrees, warming up to the mid-80's. Today it overshot the mid-80's and stopped at the mid 90's but who am I to complain while some parts of this great country are having frost in the morning and getting out the snowblowers in prep for what is about to come


Skip
Apparantly Moto-Techniques closed their doors. But if you can find some of their barbacks,. (this is what I have) in fact there are a few folks on some of the forums that are no longer using theirs, They were $60.00 new, no moving of any controls or cables and moves the bars up 1" and back 5/8 for a total of 1.25". This does not sound like much but does make a big difference.

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post #10 of 16 Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 11:03 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherGoose
After much reading and investigation into bar backs/handlebar risers, I think I'll pass on them for now. It looks like everything I find out leads me to believe the bike will need the brake and clutch cables extended.
I do not believe this is anywhere near correct -- based on actual experience,

I actually installed *two* sets of MotoTechiques risers, one on top of the other, on my '09 R12RT without extending anything. I did loosen a couple cable ties and a brake line bracket for the second set, but only because I tend to be a bit A.R. about making sure everything is "right." Extending is *not* an issue for most barbacks.

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post #11 of 16 Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 11:54 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

The only one's I can find now are from A&S made by Verholen (which moves the bars back 50mm), and a set at my dealer, Iron Horse in Tucson made by BMW that sets them back a full 2". I was told moving them 2" will require extensions. Looking at my R1200R, it doesn't give much slack at all

Bottom line so far, sitting better on the bike has eliminated the tightness (and pain) in my shoulder blades. Whether or not it was me not using the Master Yoda Riding Position (MYRP) or I was gripping the bars to tight, my pain went away today without using bar backs. So far I haven't spent any $$$. You can bet I'll find something else to buy
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post #12 of 16 Old Oct 26th, 2011, 9:33 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

I installed Verholen barbacks and I didn't need to lengthen any cables, that's the reason I went with them. They are a snall expense compared to the purchase price of my GT.


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post #13 of 16 Old Oct 26th, 2011, 9:39 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

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Originally Posted by mneblett
I do not believe this is anywhere near correct -- based on actual experience,

I actually installed *two* sets of MotoTechiques risers, one on top of the other, on my '09 R12RT without extending anything. I did loosen a couple cable ties and a brake line bracket for the second set, but only because I tend to be a bit A.R. about making sure everything is "right." Extending is *not* an issue for most barbacks.
Apparantly they are out of biz!

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post #14 of 16 Old Dec 9th, 2011, 10:44 am
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

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Originally Posted by mneblett
I actually installed *two* sets of MotoTechiques risers, one on top of the other, on my '09 R12RT without extending anything.

I would love to see a photo of your dual bar riser install... how has it improved your comfort riding? Do you have any problem with components hitting your fuel tank on full left or right steering lock positions?

-John
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post #15 of 16 Old Dec 9th, 2011, 4:56 pm
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

Yes

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post #16 of 16 Old Dec 10th, 2011, 8:13 am
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Re: Are Handlebar Risers/Bar Backs Worthwhile???

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I would love to see a photo of your dual bar riser install... how has it improved your comfort riding? Do you have any problem with components hitting your fuel tank on full left or right steering lock positions?

-John
Sorry, I do not have any good direct pics -- you can get an indirect idea from these pics with 2 sets installed:







No contact with the tank.

No extension of the cables or hoses, BUT -- because I'm a bit belt-and-suspenders, I loosened a couple cable ties down by the steering head (I had the tank off for other work when I installed the BarBaks) and pulled the available "slack" up. I also I removed the bolt holding the brake hose bracket to the side of the steering head so the line could move up ~1/2" when at full left lock. It is not clear to me that this latter step was necessary, but *if* there had been any tension in this line, letting the bracket "float" eliminated any chance of a problem. The line/bracket was perfectly stable with the bracket bolt removed.

Only issue: The handlebars contacted the sides of the BMW tank bag a little sooner. As I only used the tank bag once for a trip, that wasn't an issue for me.

HTH!

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