Buell Blast Handlebar Swap Felix Wong

With its light weight, torquey motor and centralized mass, the Buell Blast is a fun and agile small-displacement sportbike. The stock handlebars, however, are several inches higher and rearward than a typical crotch rocket’s or streetfighter’s and puts the motorcyclist in an almost cruiser-like riding stance. A solution, then, for riders wanting a more aggressive position befitting the sporty nature of the bike is to swap out the handlebars.

Typical aftermarket options include clip-on, clubman, drag, and superbike bars. Clip-ons are the most adjustable but usually cost over $200. Clubman and drag bars will not allow locking on the Buell Blast because upon full rotation they will hit the gas tank before reaching the “locked” detent. For these reasons I defaulted to Bikemaster Superbike handlebars ($24) like many Blast owners.

It took me about two hours to install them. For other Blast owners considering the swap, below were the steps for removing the old handlebars:

  1. Detach the assembly for the brake fluid reservoir, right mirror, and front brake lever from the old handlebars by unscrewing two metric screws.
  2. Detach the throttle assembly by unscrewing the two SAE screws.
  3. Using a metric socket, loosen the screw clamping the assembly for the clutch lever and left mirror to the old handlebars. This assembly cannot be detached until the left handlebar grip is removed.
  4. Detach the assembly for the turn signals, horn and lights from the old handlebars by unscrewing two SAE screws.
  5. Remove the left handlebar grip from the handlebars after breaking the adhesive bond between them. I did this by jamming a spoon handle and flat screwdriver between the grip and the handlebars, working the tools around the inner circumference of the grip from both the outside and inside ends. (Fortunately, this time-consuming step was not necessary for the right-hand grip, as that is bonded to the throttle body, not the handlebars.) Those who are going to install new grips anyhow could remove the old grip by cutting it off with a knife.
  6. Slide off the assembly for the turn signals, horn and lights, which was loosened in a previous step.
  7. Unscrew the four SAE screws at the middle clamps attaching the old handlebars.

Installation of the new handlebars was pretty much the reverse of disassembly, with the inclusion of steps below:

  • Cut off 1.5 inches from each end of the new handlebar with a hacksaw. The Bikemaster Superbike handlebars are 32″ wide whereas the Blasts’ OEM bars are 29″. I wanted to keep the width stock. Those who wish to have wider handlebars may skip this step.
  • Figuring out the optimal (most comfortable) position of the handlebars. For me, this was with the handlebar essentially level and their ends angling towards the rear of the bike.
  • Figuring out how the assemblies for the turn signal/lights/horn, throttle, and levers/mirrors will be positioned on the new bars. The horizontal locations are no-brainers, but the axial positions on the bars are tricky because if they aren’t installed just right, they could hit the gas tank when the handlebars are turned to their extremes. Such interference could prevent you from being able to lock the handlebars, and the horn or starter could be activated when their switches hit the tank!
  • Once the locations of all the switchgear are sorted out, drill two 3/16″ holes in the handlebars for the nubs on the inside of the assemblies for the signal/lights/horn and throttle. These nubs prevent the throttle and turn signal assemblies from rotating. I marked their locations on the new handlebars by putting a drop of blue Loctite on the nubs and then pressed the assemblies onto the bars as if I was going to install them. The blue Loctite “marked” the location on the bars for the nubs.

See photos below to visualize most of the above steps.

What did not need to be done: sanding the area on the new Bikemaster Superbike handlebar where it would be clamped to the bike. Even though this area is smooth and not knurled like the OEM bars, the bars will not slip within the clamps as long as the clamp screws are tightened well. (I’m not sure what the torque specification is for these so I tightened by feel.)

These are my impressions of the handlebars after installing them and riding the bike a few times. Compared to stock, the new bars put my hands a couple inches lower and about 4″ more forward, which felt much sportier but still very comfortable. Handling, if anything, was improved.

With my arms straight, I would be leaning forward about 20-30 degrees; with my elbows bent, I could get into a nice tuck with my helmet just behind the Buell’s windscreen, a couple inches above the speedometer. If I wanted to, I could actually lay on the gas tank (something I could not do before) with my elbows bent at my sides, over and behind my knees. Doing so at 70 mph reduces wind buffeting considerably.

Unfortunately, with the Bikemaster Superbike handlebars, the stock mirrors don’t work very well as my shoulders blocked half of their rearward view. I would have to shift my body out of the way to see directly behind me with the stock mirrors. So after a couple weeks of this, I removed the stock mirrors and installed chrome bar-end mirrors by Volar Motorsports ($20 from eBay, new, including shipping and handling). Despite being smaller than the stock mirrors (3″ versus 4″ in diameter), their rearward vision is much better since the rider’s body doesn’t obscure any of the view at all. They also look considerably less Mickey Mouse-ish.


Before

After

In conclusion, the Bikemaster Superbike handlebars are an inexpensive and worthwhile improvement to the Buell Blast. As another Blast owner decried, “the superbike bars are what the Buell should have come with in the first place,” and I’d extend that thought to bar-end mirrors too.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider receiving my weekly newsletter. I typically write about endurance cycling, travel, self improvement, Colorado living, marathon running and epic adventures.


The Bikemaster Superbike handlebar is 32 inches wide versus 29" for the OEM Buell Blast handlebars. I opted to cut 1.5 inches off each end to keep the width the same as stock.Unscrewing the two metric screws holding on the assembly for the brake fluid reservoir, right mirror, and front brake lever from the handlebars.Unscrewing the two SAE screws to detach the throttle assembly.Using a metric hex socket to remove the assembly for the clutch lever and left mirror from the handlebars.Removing the two SAE screws to detach the assembly for the turn signals, horn and lights from the handlebars.I used a spoon handle and then a flat screw driver to unstick the left grip from the handlebars.Removing the left grip from the handlebars.Marking the horizontal location for the locating nubs of the control and throttle assemblies on the new handlebars.Drilling 3/16" holes for the locating nubs of the control and throttle assemblies in the new handlebars.There was just barely enough clearance to lock the handlebars.How the handlebars look with the stock mirrors.  I would recommend replacing the stock mirrors with bar-end ones -- the stock mirrors don't extend far enough and your shoulders will obscure rear view vision with them.Front view with a $20 pair of chrome Volar Motorsport bar-end mirrors. (October 18, 2009)Rear three-quarters view of the Buell Blast with Bikemaster Superbike handlebars and bar-end mirrors. (October 18, 2009)Rear view of the Buell Blast with Bikemaster Superbike handlebars and bar-end mirrors. (October 18, 2009)Side view of the Buell Blast with Bikemaster Superbike handlebars and bar-end mirrors. (October 18, 2009)

Related Articles

6 comments on “Buell Blast Handlebar Swap

  1. Comment by Steve Douglas

    Nice Article and really cool web site. I have been reading parts over the past few months and I am amazed at how much stuff you do and at the level!

    Well Done,

    -Steve

  2. Comment by Adam Bell

    Very informative!!

    I have recently been looking ways to customize my 06 Buell Blast, coming across your pictures and artical has given me some nice ideas. I am new rider and actually bought one the Buells Blast’s from the HD riders edge course that I took last Nov. Thou I have one question the picture of the motorcycle superbike web site, shows that the bikemaster superbike handle bars do not have a bend. Your’s show two different bends.

  3. Comment by Peter

    Adam, I’m looking at doing the same thing. If you look at the black handlebars you can see the bends. I think its just the way the picture was taken with the chrome handlebars.

    Felix, awesome job and THANK YOU for giving me awesome ideas to make my bike cooler. I bought my blast last july and rode it for the rest of the season and love it. I just put a vance and hines exhaust on it which made it so much cooler but I’m also looking at swapping my handlebars now that I saw this. Good job with your bike and thanks again!

    Peter

  4. Comment by Jose Garcia

    Thank you very much, you’re correct about the stock handlebars not befitting the sport bike/street fighter style, especially when taking the turns aggressively. Very thorough and informative directions!

Leave a Comment