Are Ape Hanger Handlebars Dangerous?

To be or not to be? Unfortunately, when it comes to ape hanger handlebars, that tends to be the question. In the 1960s, 30 American States banned the use of high-set ape hanger bars citing danger and safety concerns. However, some people argue that these laws were introduced, so police had probable cause to pull over and search riders who were thought to be members of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Supposedly, at that time it was believed that only biker gangs used ape hangers, which we know now is not true. However, even today there is much debate concerning the safety, practicality, and legality of ape hangers. Even so, there are still a number of states that remain legal for ape hangers. This has created a legal gray area in the United States, which often sends mixed messages about the safety of ape hangers and leaves many riders unsure about them. So, what is it then? Are ape hanger handlebars really as dangerous as they have been said to be, or is it all just a bunch of hype?

Well, here’s what you should know…

What stands out about ape hanger handlebars is that they are exceptionally high above the bike seat, as compared to other types of handlebars. Often ape hanger handlebars will be above your shoulders when sitting on the seat of your motorcycle. Because of this, when riders hold the handlebars, their arms will sometimes hang above their heart level. This can cause bikers to lose circulation and cause numbness in their arms. When your arms are above your head, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your fingertips. As a result, hands can get cold, and combined with the added vibration of the engine, it can cause your hands to fall asleep. So, that settles it, right? Well, not quite. 

For taller riders, this might not apply. In fact, for taller people, ape hangers can actually be a more comfortable choice because it allows taller folks some much-needed arm room. Additionally, people with back problems will sometimes prefer ape hangers because it forces the rider to hold an upright posture instead of hunching over. Finally, for longer rides, Ape Hangers fitted appropriately can also decrease strain on their joints.

The height and width of your ape hanger handlebars in relation to your body size will affect your overall leverage and handling. Moderately high and wide ape hangers can add some additional leverage for the rider, but it can reduce your leverage and possibly lead to a loss of control if you go too wide. This can also make it hard to make tight turns and add unnecessary risk if your ape hangers aren’t at an appropriate distance for your arms.

So, are ape hangers dangerous? The short answer is no, but it depends. Ape hangers themselves don’t cause any lack of control when put at a reasonable height and width. It is when people try to overdo it is when it can become dangerous. No matter how tall you are, if you put your ape hangers’ way too high, it will cause you to lose circulation and control over the handlebars.

On the other hand, if you put them at a respectable height, ape hangers can increase your control over your motorcycle and make riding a bike even safer. What ultimately makes ape hangers safe or dangerous is you, the rider. 

Before you go out and buy some new ape hangers, remember to do your research beforehand, check your local state laws, and determine the most optimal handlebar height for you.