Review by Tom Johnson
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/chains...you
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.