Hey everyone, it's Josh again! Today we're talking handlebars! Everyone needs them, and there is a sea of options out there. If you're having trouble finding what you like or the last 10 bikes you have seen have the same pair, then maybe it's time to build some! I will walk you through the process of making some killer custom bars for your bike. Remember, be creative and push yourself to go outside the box and you will have the raddest pair of bars in the hood! Let's get started!
Depending on what you want and the size you need, you have to start with the right material. Usually, bars are either ⅞ inch or 1". Today we are building ⅞ inch bars. I always use ⅛ inch DOM tubing. There are no seams in this material, it's solid and welds nicely!
You can see that the OD "outside diameter" is ⅞ and the wall thickness is ⅛.
The first thing I do is figure out the bends that I want for my bars. This is where the possibilities are endless. In this case, I'm building a lower style for a tracker style bike. So I'm bending them a little over 90 degrees. This is a Baileigh Industrial bender that shows the degree marks on it. This is key to getting both sides the same.
Now that I have both sides bent I can put them on top of each other, and they should match perfectly.
I lay both sides on the table now so that I can start to see the design I want to build.
Now I need to figure out how the bars will mount. In this case, they are mounted by risers. I want to make another piece that connects the bottoms of the bars and attaches them to the risers. I'm going to put a knurl on the piece so that when it goes in the risers, it bites good, and the bars won't move. There's various tooling that you can get for lathes that allow you to knurl different sizes of tubing.
As you see in this pic, we now have a nice knurl for our bottom piece.
Now I cut my bars to the height that I like, and I can set my bottom piece and start to see them come to life. Now I need to make an upper connecting piece that will add strength and style.
I bend a centerpiece using a Baileigh Industrial sway bender. I can put a piece in and bend it until it has the fitment I like. You can also use your bender as well.
Now I have all the pieces that I need to build the bars. I once again use the table to get an overall look of my bars before I start to final cut my parts in.
Next, I cope the ends of my bottom piece so that I can join the two bar ends together. You can use a coping machine, or you can do this by hand.
This is how the ends should look after you have coped them so that your pipe fits the joining piece.
It should fit the other piece perfectly so that you can get a nice TIG weld!
Next, I set my pullback. This is the amount of pullback that you want your bars to have. I'm using a Weldtable to jig these bars up. It makes it pretty easy but you can use anything to jig parts up if you don't have one. In this case, I'm using 4 ⅛ pullbacks on these.
Now I tack my bottom piece in and set the bars in place.
I check to make sure my bottom distance is right and that my pullback stayed in place.
It's time now to cut in my centerpiece.
I try to cut in the centerpiece with as little gaps as possible. This can be tricky and time-consuming. It's important because you want a nice weld and to be able to clean it up and blend it into the bars later on in the process. Take your time and make sure all fitment is good!
Now I go back and re-jig my bars up on the table. I make sure that they can't move at all and I weld the bars up. Take your time and don't weld up the bars all in one shot. Do one part at a time then let them cool. This will help the bars not have any movement when final welding them! As you can see in this pic, my bars are finally welded together, and they have perfectly held their pullback and height. Now it's time to metal finish them out.
I use a Dremel tool, grinder, metal file, and DA "dual action grinder" to finish them out. This process can take a long time but well worth it in the end. This is important if you want to chrome your bars. I also don't grind my bottom weld holding the bars together for more strength.
So there it is! Custom bars that not only function well but look great! And remember; the sky’s the limit so be creative and always focus on quality. Now go and make a kick-ass set of bars for your build!
Article and photos by Josh Allison