So far the best addition to my KLR650 are the handlebar raisers. I will explain it why.
What does it do? Exactly what the name suggests. Handlebar raisers are raising your handlebar over and in some cases beyond the stock position.
What is wrong with the stock position of the handlebar? Practically nothing, but the engineers at Kawasaki was need to come-up with a design which will fit every rider. This is an impossible task. While the stock position of the handlebar is “OK” for everyone, it can be made perfect. For example, I had no problems with it until I did not stand up on the bike to tackle some more technical stuff. When I was standing, I was need to bend forward too much and it put more strain on my back and because this stiff position, the handling of the bike was far from ideal. The forward bent and stiff position had effect not only on the handling, but resulted in a crick in my neck and some shoulder pain. The 1.5 inches lift made a huge difference in riding position and handling for me.
Are there different kind of handlebar raisers? Yes, there are two main kind of raisers. The “block” raisers, like mine, and “pivoting” ones. The “block” type is just raising your handlebar. A “pivoting” handlebar raiser will allow more play with the position since it can mount just like your handlebar and move back and forth a bit, not just up.
What do I need to pay attention to? The most important thing is ergonomics. First, try to figure out what is less than ideal in the current riding position. It will give you clues on what to change, and will help to decide if you need “block” or “pivoting” raisers. There is a website which can help you with simulating riding positions. Check out the cycle-ergo.com website, it is fun and useful to experiment with different riding positions.
The second important thing is the length of the cables running to and from the handlebar. These lengths are the real limit how high you can raise the bar. If you need to go beyond the available length, first try to cut some cable ties or re-routing the cables. Very often gaining a little bit goes a long way with raisers. In worst case, if really needed, you can change the cables to longer ones.
The third thing you need to pay attention to, is the diameter of your handlebar. The KLR650 is coming with 22mm bars. The handlebar risers must fit perfectly your bike!
Raising your handlebars will affect every aspect of your riding position. The forward lean, the knee and hip angle and how far back do you sit on your seat. For me, installing the handlebar raisers not just gave a more comfortable riding position and better handling when I am standing on the bike, but the seated riding position also got more relaxed and comfortable, which turned out to be very nice on long rides.
What is my verdict on the handlebar raisers? It falls into the must have category for me. Fortunately it is also a relatively cheap addition and it will not empty your wallet.