American Iron Magazine
page 46

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Product Review by Tom Johnson

Bar Snake
A damper system to reduce handelbar vibration


          During the six or seven years that I've been answering Ask Tom letters here at American Iron Magazine, no topic has come up more often than vibration. We've talked about loose hardware and the other usual causes, as well as the more off-the-wall ones ---- like the 10cc difference between front and rear combustion chambers that my good buddy, the late Dave Law, once witnessed.
          There sometimes comes a point, though, that the owner has checked and rechecked everthing, but to no avail. The motorcycle still vibrates enough to take the pleasure out of riding. That's a bad thing, friends and neighbors, a real bad thing. If you've gone over the list of possible causes we've covered in the past issues, but nothing seemed to help, I'd suggest you'd try a Bar Snake.
          Here's the deal. Handlebars amplify vibration from your engine, tires, transmission, drive belts/ name it. Cushoned grips provide some relief, but don't address the handlebar itself, which acts like a big tuning fork once it starts buzzing. Thats where the Bar Snake comes in. According to the manufacturer, the Bar Snake is made of low-hysteresis polymer that stops handlebars from playing Name That Tune, or at least slows the beat down to a more tolerable level. The Bar Snake works, or at least it did for me. My engine has way more stroke and compression than any engine manufacturer recommends for street use, and for good reason --- I like it. The payoff is outstanding throttle response and heaps of power. The downside is that, until recently, the bike bore an eerie resemblance to a jackhammer at highway speeds. I would guesstimate that the Bar Snake reduced my handlebar vibrations by 40 percent, maybe more.
         There are several versions, but naturally, we'll concentrate on the ones for American bikes. The solid Snake is a length of 1" (outside diameter) rubber --- excuse me, make that low-hysteresis polymer --- that you slide through the 7 / 8" inside diameter handlebars typically used on Harley Davidsons. "Whoa," you might say if you're paying attention. "The Snake is bigger than the hole you have to put it through!" Right on! That means lubrication is essential for a painless installation.
         I slicked up the Snake with light silicone bearing grease and then coated the inside of the handlebars with Tri-Flow chain lube, which is the slipperiest stuff I know of. Getting the Snake started was a little tough, but tugging it on through with the provided pull-wire was much easier than I expected.
         The manufacturer offers a liquid version for longer handlebars and those with sharp bends, like the OEM buckhorns used on various models. The liquid is also recommended for handlebars with the 1982 and later wiring indentations, although the indentations in my drag caused no problem.
         If you go with the liquid, you'll have to tape off one end of the bars and any other openings where it might drip out. Otherwise, installation is just a matter of removing the bars, propping them with the open end up, protecting any nearby surfaces --- especially painted ones --- from possible overflow, and pouring the compound in. At normal room temperature, the liquid should solidify in about four hours. Bear in mind that it expands when it sets up, so there will be overflow.

          If you would like a copy of the vibration article Tom mentioned earlier, E-mail him at:
         If you're not online, send a self addressed stamped envelope to:

     American Iron Magazine
     Attn: Ask Tom/Vibration
     1010 Summer Street
     Stamford, CT 06905

         He promises to send you a copy if you promise to say nice things about him and add him to your Christmas card list. =)

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