After my first venture off-road on the CRF250 Rally the one thing I decided I needed to improve for the trip was handle bar comfort. Ideally I need the bars lifting a couple of inches or so. Being short in the arm I found the bars were a stretch especially when standing on the rough stuff.
After much thought I ordered some bar risers from Amazon, being cheap I correctly assumed they’d be from China and wasn’t sure what the quality would be like. After a few weeks they arrived and much to my surprise the quality was actually extremely good.
Whilst I was waiting for the risers to arrive I ordered a pair of Renthal handle bars from my favourite motorcycle shop, Orwell Motorcycles in Ipswich. The guys at Orwell Motorcycles really are good, James, Dan, Dave and the rest of the parts team are happy to do whatever research necessary to get me exactly what we want.
I wanted a pair of Renthal Aluminium bars that were as close to the dimensions of the original bars as possible and in no time at all James took the measurements of the existing bars and was happily trawling through the Renthal catalogue looking for the closest match possible. 20mins later the new bars were ordered and would be in later the same week.
The bar risers are designed to work with the standard 22mm bar or the larger 28mm bar. Since I’ve gone with the 22mm Renthal bar I’ll be fitting the risers with the supplied 6mm inserts in place.
Getting the bike stripped down ready to replace the bars and add the risers is more involved than you’d first think. It’s important to take photos of the controls on the original bars so that when you come to drill the holes in the new bars for the switch gear to mount to you know you’ve got them in the right place!
It’s important to make a note of the connections on the clutch and brake lever and also make a note of the angle at which the throttle cables exit the switch housing.
Once the switch gear, levers and original handle bars are removed it’s good to loose fit the new risers and bars to get an idea of how things are going to fit and look. The thing I really like about these particular risers is that they not only allow you to raise the bars but also tilt forward and backwards, this allows you to adjust the position of the bars perfectly.
Since I decided to fit some Oxford Heated grips to the bike this meant that I’d need to make some modifications to the bars and the throttle mechanism to accommodate the new grips. If you’re not fitting heated grips then you can ignore this part completely.
The standard throttle mechanism has a ridged grip tube, the problem with this is that it makes it too big a diameter to fit into the hard inner tube of the heated grips and so all the ridges need to be very gently sanded off with a very fine sanding wheel on a disc cutter tool.
On the left is the throttle grip tube once the original hand grip was removed and on the right the gently sanded down throttle grip tube ready for the Oxford Heated grip to go on.
Now that the ridges have been sanded off I refitted the right hand switch gear drilling the hole in the bar at pretty much the same place as on the original bar so that all the switches are in the same position.
It takes a bit of time to sand down the ridges to get the throttle grip tube really smooth for the replacement hand grip to slide on an off without getting stuck but it’s worth the effort. Don’t worry if the new grip is a little loose as it’s going to be super glued into place at final fit. Keep in mind that the throttle tube material isn’t particularly thick so make sure you don’t go mad with the sanding!
The left side of the Renthal handle bars has a knurled effect which has the side effect of making the bar slightly larger in diameter which stops the Oxford Heated grip from fitting. This is a real pain as it means that the bar will need gently sanding down until it’s exactly 22mm is diameter. This takes quite a bit longer than sanding the throttle tube.
I actually found it much easier to remove the bars again and sand the bar end down. This allowed me to work from the end inwards, trying the new hand grip for fit as I went. Go careful not to sand too much off.
Once the grip fits snugly remount the bars and fit the left switch gear and hand grip.
The mount for the Oxford controls comes with a bend in it, I had to straighten this out gently on an anvil and use a large wooden mallet to gently straighten the bracket without cracking it.
You will also need to do some work on re-routing the cables and brake line so that they reach the new bar height. There is actually a lot of slack on all the lines however, this is taken up by a tidying bracket that is mounted on the front of the top yoke. Removing this bracket and moving the cables around gives sufficient extra length that it’s not necessary to replace any of the cables or brake line, the standard are all long enough with a little sorting out.
The power for the grips needs to come directly from the battery as it needs a strong 5A feed. On the CRF250 Rally under the left front plastic panel there is a 10A auxiliary electrical feed however, we’re using this to power our phones, GPS and camera and so adding the heated grips as well would take the power feed almost to the limit when everything is on so another good reason to connect the heated grips directly to the battery.
Access to the battery isn’t straight forward on the CRF250 series of bikes as it’s not under the seat. Since we’ve also got luggage racks fitted it’s even more hassle getting access as the left side of the pannier frame needs to be removed too.
Once done and all back together the bike looks great. I also took the opportunity to fit a pair of Zeta XC hand guards to protect the levers and my fingers when off-road.
The small Givi tank bag fits nicely on the little tank of the CRF250 and is perfect for storing my Canon EOS 1300D DSLR camera so that I can stop, grab it and take pictures as we travel without having to get off the bike and open the panniers or a bag to get it.
I had a ride out yesterday with the new setup and it was great! It’s actually much more comfortable in the seated position now as the bars are just that bit higher and standing is a lot better as I’m not so bent over, it’a amazing the difference that 2in can make!