1981 XS650 Special OEM Handlebars

5twins

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The first and only time I rode with those bars was a few years ago when I worked on a local guy's Special that still had them. I took it for a test ride after tuning it and the bars seemed OK until I got to one of the newly installed traffic circles in our village. Boy, what a chore getting around that thing, lol. Turns out the steering bearings were bad but I didn't discover that until later. Those buckhorn bars gave no steering feedback to indicate the bearings were toast. I finally talked the guy into letting me install lower bars. I didn't get more than 50 feet down the street on the test ride before I could tell and feel that the steering bearings were bad. And boy, were they ever, lol, worst set I've ever encountered. They were all dried out and rusty. And the funny thing is, with those stock buckhorn bars, you couldn't feel it at all. That tells you how well those bars give you any steering "feel" (they give none, lol). So, to the guys that do like them, all I can say is check your steering bearings because those bars won't let you know if they're bad, lol. The tapered steering bearing conversion is something that should be done anyway.
 

jetmechmarty

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The buckhorns are rough on the vibration dampers, or can be. When my OE bearings suffered brinnelling, I had no trouble noticing.
I just serviced the OE bearings on my SH, including proper torque. Side by side, they steer faster than tapered rollers. I wouldn’t notice without side by side comparison.
Run what you have. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you hate the buckhorn bars, please pass them on. Proper replicas don’t seem to be available.
 

650Skull

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Actually, I've done a lot of "canyon carving" with them. When people say, "How do you ride with those stupid handlebars?", I usually respond with something like "Just try to keep up." I've got long legs. The Special bars can be an issue doing a U-turn in a narrow street. My legs can get in the way. I like the bar down, grips low, almost touching the tank at full lock. Out on the road, they're comfortable for me.
Riplies,.............. I was being polite to an impolite statement.

From 1990, when i bought the bike, tuntill a couple or 3 years ago. Rode around the bottom half of the North Island and the length of the South Island on the factory Bars.

Must admit they make you a bit cramped 2 up and with the 81 and later seat my tailbone was always trying to ride on the hump, hard against it and still cramped. 5'10 1/2" with 31" insteap

Highway pegs 1 Touched up finih elective colour 2 copyright.jpg

scan0010 copyright.jpg
XS 650 Kane Me jpeg B+C Sat Tone crop copyright.jpg
 

5twins

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Boy, you had the best of both worlds there - the ugly bars AND the ugly seat, lol. I have to admit though, that seat was pretty comfortable while I still had it on the bike.
 

650Skull

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The first and only time I rode with those bars was a few years ago when I worked on a local guy's Special that still had them. I took it for a test ride after tuning it and the bars seemed OK until I got to one of the newly installed traffic circles in our village. Boy, what a chore getting around that thing, lol. Turns out the steering bearings were bad but I didn't discover that until later. Those buckhorn bars gave no steering feedback to indicate the bearings were toast. I finally talked the guy into letting me install lower bars. I didn't get more than 50 feet down the street on the test ride before I could tell and feel that the steering bearings were bad. And boy, were they ever, lol, worst set I've ever encountered. They were all dried out and rusty. And the funny thing is, with those stock buckhorn bars, you couldn't feel it at all. That tells you how well those bars give you any steering "feel" (they give none, lol). So, to the guys that do like them, all I can say is check your steering bearings because those bars won't let you know if they're bad, lol. The tapered steering bearing conversion is something that should be done anyway.

I'd imagine having the steering head bearings worn out the Handle bar rubbers/dampers would have been shot a well. When they are, the bars have no feel for the bearings. Tight dampers on the bar do give feed-back, not as much as smaller bars but then again if someone isn't used to them, (epecially the first time with buckhorns) and ride with shot dampers all they are going to be thinking about is how loose they are and all their concentration is going to be on trying to navigate riding with loose bars and then they could be considered dangerous.................that is the same for any lack of running gear maintenance
 
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