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California Motorcycle Laws: Why Custom Handlebars Could Cause Accidents & Injuries

Did you know there is a law in California preventing motorcycle riders from operating vehicles with handlebars over a certain height? According to this state law, when your hands are resting on your handlebar grips, they cannot be more than six inches above your shoulders when you are sitting on your bike. Why does this law need to be in place? Let’s take a closer look.

The Popularity of High Handlebars on Motorcycles

High handlebars are a popular custom addition to modified motorcycles, often called choppers in the biker community. These choppers and custom handlebars have been popular for decades, especially after cult films like Easy Rider appeared. This film featured low-riding bikes with increase rake angles. In addition, many Harley-Davidson riders create custom choppers with high and wide handlebars.

While high handlebars can give a custom motorcycle a desired and unique look, safety advocates in many states have outlawed “ape hanger” handlebars which have, in some instances, gotten so high they are literally out-of-hand.

The Danger of Ape-Hanger Motorcycle Handlebars

There are three main reasons high handlebars can be a danger on the road, and why California has outlawed handlebars over a certain height:

  • High handlebars can affect steering. The higher the handlebar, the less control the rider has of the bike’s steering and direction. On a lower bike, a rider can steer using the entire upper half of his body.
  • High handlebars can affect rider control. On most motorcycles, the right handlebar grip controls the acceleration and brake while the left side handlebar is the bike’s clutch. If the biker is straining to reach these controls, he or she also could be straining to keep in control of the bike’s speed.
  • High handlebars can affect vision. It’s hard to believe, but the angle of some custom choppers paired with high handlebars actually can obstruct what a rider can see while on the road. This can cause blind spots, making lane changing and turning more dangerous.

Orange County Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Have you been injured in a California traffic accident involving a customized bike, a chopper, or a bike with illegally high handlebars? You may be owed compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call Orange County motorcycle accident attorneys Russell & Lazarus today to request a free case evaluation: 855-851-2400.

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Our own Marc Lazarus recently had the honor of being invited as a featured speaker at the CAALA Convention in Las Vegas

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