Louisiana state lawmakers have approved a bill that would change the maximum height of motorcycle handlebars.
Current state law restricts handlebar height to no more than 15 inches above the seat, a somewhat arbitrary level, but a common choice with 17 other states. The House has voted 87-0 in favor of Senate Bill 582 to change the maximum height to the rider’s shoulder level, as measured while sitting on the seat. SB 582 was introduced by Democrat senators Rick Gallot and Gary Smith.
The shoulder-level limit is used by 12 other states, with Louisiana joining their ranks upon the approval of Governor Bobby Jindal. The new law makes the limit relative to the rider’s body whereas the existing limit affected all riders regardless of body size.
For the most part, the law affects aftermarket ape hanger handlebars which place the rider’s hands higher than conventional handlebars or clip-ons. Higher bars tend to reduce a motorcycle’s handling, but some like the aesthetics. Some manufacturers produce motorcycles with high ape hangers or mini-apes.
In the picture above, Motorcycle.com‘s own Tom Roderick illustrates the height of the 2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two‘s mini-ape hangers. T-Rod stands six-feet tall and the Seventy-Two puts his hands at below shoulder level. A shorter rider however may find the Seventy-Two’s handlebars to be at a higher angle.
Victory’s High Ball also uses tall handlebars which are adjustable, though combined with its low seat, may not make it legal in some jurisdictions.
Here’s a breakdown of various handlebar height limits from the AMA’s state-by-state motorcycle law database:
15″ above seat:
Distric of Columbia
10″ above fasten point:
15″ above fasten point:
6″ above shoulder:
30″ above seat
[Source: AMA, Louisiana State Legislature]