Aftermarket vs Stock bars, is it worth the cost?

Hello all! I have a little curiosity I was hoping ya’ll could shed some light on.

I bent my stock handle bars and need to replace them. I hear about aftermarket bars...fat diameter...certain bends...raised mounts...forward position...etc. I have never had a problem with stock bars but have only ridden on stock bars. Can ya’ll fill me in on why I should or shouldn’t want to spend extra on a good pair of aftermarket bars over a cheap ebay stocker that would require me to bend 4-5 pairs of them before it’d be worth me spending on aftermarket bars.

Also are triple clamps ($$$) needed with aftermarket bars? What is there benefit?

That’s my question, the rest is just extra if you are bored and feel like reading.

I ride in woods/trails. I’m a 25 y/o med student, 160lb, 6’0” in school out of town from where I grew up and have my motorcycle stored (family cabin) so since I have been in school I haven’t had time to ride so its only been twice since Aug 2002!!

:) I transitioned into my xr650r Jan 2001 and really got good but since I have been in school I spend more time reading and wishing I was riding than actual riding. has been a life saver for a “stranded” rider like me. So to finish up, my ride over Christmas break was a fresh relief but I was a little sloppy and at the end I bent the bars. Which leads me to my above question!

Thanks for any help


If you're happy with the stock bars, stay with them. I'm sure you can find some great deals on stock bars where people switched them out and there's nothing wrong with that. Some people really like the stock bars.

Not everybody is built the same and that's a good reason to find a bar bend that's comfortable for you. I'm 6'5" tall and I felt cramped on the bike, so I opted for a setup that raised my bars and moved them forward a bit so I wouldn't feel so cramped. I liked the CR-HI bend and the Pro Taper is about as tough as they come in terms of durability. They also helped me a bit with arm pump. Pro Taper bars are thicker than the stock bars, which is why you need a new top clamp for these or the Rentall FatBars, but there's tons of aftermarket bars that will fit the stock clamps. I really liked my Pro Tapers and they were super tough. You'll find lots of happy Pro Taper customers if you search TT in the various forums.

I recently switched to the Fasst Flexx bars and really like them, but they don't come cheap. Some of the advantages of this bar is you can custom tune the rise of the bars to your liking, but the sweep is fixed. The main beneift is they have elastomeric cushions that can be quickly changed out to provide various levels of cushioning for a softer ride. They're also a very strong bar and they support a cross bar pad if you're running a damper. They also look kool too :)

My suggestion would be to find a motorcyle store that carries a wide selection of bars & bends to see if you find one that feels more comfortable / natural to you. If you're happy with the stock bars, then check eBay because I've seen stock bars go real cheap. You can replace the stock bars a good half dozen times or so at eBay prices before you reach the price of an inexpensive aftermarket bar :D

I use Pro Tapers and love them. Like qadsan said they are strong too. You don't have to get the top clamp you can get the universal adapters that bolt to the stock clamp mounts. :)

From an advanced beginners perspective, I can't really tell the difference between the stock and the Protapers. Undeniably, the Protapers sure look cool but at my skill level, I haven't recognize the enhanced performance.

That being said, I'd buy another pair just because how great I think they look.

Here's what I've recommeded to others when selecting a set of bars.

If you're mostly a sit down rider, then sit on your bike like your riding it while someone is balancing you. Then with your arms relaxed at your sides, close your eyes and then hold your arms out relaxed like your grabbing a set of bars. Now open your eyes and see where your hands are in relation to the bars. This might help you decide on a bend that works best for you if your mostly sitting down.

If you're mostly a stand up rider, then stand straight up on the pegs with your arms relaxed at your sides while someone balances the bike. Stay straight up, but put your arms straight out like you're trying to touch the bars. If the end of your longest finger is just barely touching the bars by a half inch or so, then you're good to go. If not, try to find a bar that's bent or a bar clamp that will just barely put you in touch with the bars.

This is just my opinion on some of the ways I've chosen bars in the past to work well for myself, my family and my friends, but I'm sure there's some great trade secrets from others out there.

First, on the subject of stock vs. aftermarket, I'd definately suggest buying a new set of aftermarket bars long before purchasing some stockers off ebay. First, (speaking from experience), even 'new' bars on ebay can be someone else's crash victim... even the slightest bending can be noticable to you, even if it isn't obvious in the pictures. Second, if you don't get to ride that much, a set of Renthals will take far more hits than the stocker, so that bit of extra money may pay for the rest of a weekend of enjoyment after a large hit. Likewise, there is the time to reinstall a new pair of bars after each stocker gets prenzeled, and (assuming you use grip glue/contact cement) then there is the grip replacement costs, which can add up.

On the topic of 7/8ths bars versus oversized, unless you really have a reason for either new tripleclamps or for oversized bars, it's probably better to save the money. A set of oversized bars will cost a good $20 or more over some aluminum bars, and the TC will probably be ~$100, so the price difference is fairly large. Out here in the desert, I ran Renthals for a bit, but they kept bending like a wet noodle at the speeds I was crashing at (I'm sure the BRP's weight helped as well); now I run Pro-Tapers.

If you do decide to go with oversized, I'd heavily suggest running Pro-Tapers over other brands (Tag, Renthal, Azonic, Demarini, etc.). I've found that Pro-Tapers are far more flexible than other bars, and tend to give a bit on hard landings, whereas other bars, well, don't. Just my 2 cents.

Everyone, Thanks for the input so far,

So far I have info that I can use for my decision on;

Stock vs aftermarket (thanks quadsan, BigT, SlowXR, Naru), aftermarket preferred brands (thanks Naru),

how to decide on the correct bend (thanks quadsan,),

and cost

Just a few more points for me to clear up;

a) This may be obvious but is fat vs normal size just differ in strength?

:) I had shortened my current bars so my barkbusters mounted close to the mounts on the triple clamps which I feel has kept them from bending in the past b/c the weakest point is the 2 inches b/w the mount and barkbuster mount. This makes me wonder... if I did get stronger bars would this still be the weakest part or would it be the mount to the triple clamp which would be more costly to replace?

c) about the universal adapter to mount larger bars to the stock triple clamp...I understand this if I came across a good price for the fat bars and it justified the price or if I was using a bar I already had but if I'm going to buy bars would this have an advantage over the stock diameter?

d) Lastly, can ya'll pass on info about aftermarket triple clamps and its advantages over stock? (I know stabilizers need them) but don't know much more. I always see these Pro Taper triple clams or Complete set that are sold on ebay all the time for $59.00 and 145 respectively but I don't know anything about the reliability of them or quality. I know sells the universal adapter by protaper for $62.99?

Sorry for the more questions but ya'll are the best source! Thanks


The idea behind Pro Tapers is strength and flex. The flexing helps with arm pump. I don't know where the weakest point would be on the Pro Tapers. Never really worried about it. If I wreck bad enough to bend the triple clamp, the handlebars and triple clamps are going to be the least of my problems. :) The universal adapter will give you an extra 3/4" height and you don't spend as much on the clamp. Rocky Mtn has a Tusk universal adapter for $35. If you don't need the extra height you can get univeral bend bars that compensate for the added 3/4" or you could get the clamp. The Rocky Mtn catalogue has a chart for all different bends and brand demensions (pull back, height, and width). The Pro Tapers are a little wider than most bars. You might be able to cut them down a little. I think you will have to buy bark busters to fit Pro Tapers as well.

I PMd you Needsprayer.

Thanks BigT I guess I didn't look into the universal adapters enough. The chart is very informative.

I believe for the time being I would like to stay with stock for this round and just save so next time it bends I can consider better. I do have a good idea what that will be but will have to have my bike infront of me to decide on the particular bend!

Also I have 2 years of rotations starting in June so I doubt my riding time will improve for me to justify the cost!

Thanks for the help everyone!


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