How To Measure Cable Reach - Motorcycle Handlebars

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How To Measure Cable Reach - Motorcycle Handlebars


Not sure if your new handlebars will work with your standard control cables? 

Here we’ve laid out a tried-and-true method to measure your cables, as well as some tips on re-routing cables and extending electrical wires.

This method can be used to check fitment before buying a new set of handlebars.


You will need a friend to help, and a few tools:

  • Allen Keys
  • Old towel or T-shirt
  • Tape Measure

We are going to take a measurement from the outer edge of your Riser Clamp, to the inner-most edge of your Lever Mounts (as pictured below). This will be done with the handlebars raised in the air as far as they will go. The measurement can then be compared with the specs given on any of our Handlebar Dimension sheets.

How to measure motorcycle cables reach handlebars ape

How to measure motorcycle handlebar cable length clutch lever


  1. Undo any securing points on your clutch cable, throttle cable, brake line & wire loom.
  2. Tug on each line so that you will be getting their full reach. If you need to gain a little extra reach, see our Tips & Tricks below.
  3. Unbolt your handlebars from the riser clamps (lay an old towel over your fuel tank for protection)
  4. Have a friend lift your handlebars in the air as high as they will go.
  5. Now measure the distance from the top corner of your riser, to the inward-most edge of your clutch lever mount.
    How to measure motorcycle clutch cable, throttle & brake line length to reach handlebars
  6. For added accuracy, repeat this measurement on the other side of the handlebars (riser to brake lever mount), and take an average of the left & right side measurements.
  7. This measurement can then be compared against our specified cable free-length, which you can find at the bottom right-hand corner of all our Handlebar Dimension sheets.
    Motorcycle Handlebar Cable Length Reach Dimensions
  8. When re-fitting your handlebars, make sure to re-secure your cables, brake line & wires as well.


Some of our bars lower bars (such as Western, Beach, Buckhorn or Moto) may be even shorter than your standard handlebars. If they are, you won’t even need to lift your handlebars from the bike. Just take the measurement with your handlebars mounted normally, and compare. If you find that a bit of extra height is needed, lift the bars and re-measure.

The Riser-to-Lever method works for increasing both handlebar height and pullback. Whether you want to fit a set of taller Ape Hangers, or a more pulled-back bar such as Beach Bars, the method works the same, since the measurement taken incorporates height, width & pullback into a single straight-line distance.

This method works on all makes and models, including Harley Davidson Softail, Dyna, Sportster & Street 500 models, Yamaha V-Star and more.

Tips & Tricks - Gaining Extra Cable Reach:

If your cables are just a bit too short, you may be able to re-route some of them to gain a little extra reach. You can try the following tips & tricks, and re-measure using the above method to see if the extra height has been gained.


The clutch cable is usually easiest to gain some extra length, as it runs down the front frame down-tube and can be repositioned quite easily using cable ties. If it runs between your steering-stem and fork tubes, try running it directly to the handlebars instead.

Throttle & Idle:

Throttle & idle cables may be able to gain a little extra length by removing your fuel tank, and seeing if they can take a more direct route to your carburetor or throttle body. Again, if it runs between the steering-stem and fork tubes, try running it directly to the handlebars instead.

Electrical Wires:

If electrical wires are too short, they can be re-routed, or even cut and lengthened using heat-shrink solder tubes and some extra wire. See the graphic below:

Extending Motorcycle Handlebar Wires with Heat Shrink Solder Tubes
Brake Line:

Front brake lines are often the most difficult to gain extra length from. Try relocating any mounting points for a more direct route, but ensure that the brake line is not under tension when your front forks are fully extended with no weight on them. If your brake line won’t reach, you’ll need to buy a longer replacement.

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