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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Jim G’s Inexpensive Fat, Carbon Fiber Handlebar & Adjustable Levers Mod

This posting describes my just completed project to install a “fat” (1-1/8” diameter) carbon fiber handlebar, and adjustable hand control levers on my Z125. It covers why, features, negatives, parts and tools needed for the installation, estimated installation time, the entire installation process, the outcomes, my overall summary of the mod, and some photos.



Summary

For the inpatient ones who hate to read, this handlebar and adjustable levers mod makes the handlebar a visual focal point, improves riding position modestly (not dramatically), knocks about one pound of weight off (0.36 lb CF handlebar but heavy adapter mounts!), and coupled with my inexpensive Chinese rearsets, moved my gear shifting, up or down, to a whole new plane of precision and smoothness. And, its relatively quite inexpensive.



Why

I was looking for:

- A handlebar that would look better than the skinny, black painted OEM steel bar (That OEM bar looks like one you might find on a cheap bicycle)

- Carbon fiber is one of my design themes on this bike, so a CF handlebar seemed very appropriate

- I have an ongoing weight reduction drive going on the Z125, and the CF handlebar is VERY light, so that even with the extra weight of the “adapter” mounts needed to fit the “fat” 1-1/8” bar to the OEM 7/8” mount, I could knock off almost exactly a full pound of weight

- I wanted a slightly lower and narrower handlebar. (I got slightly lower, but could not end up getting narrower for a mechanical dimension reason discussed below)

- I wanted adjustable hand levers so that I could put both the clutch oever and the front brake lever exactly in 3D space where they would work the best for me, and where the improved clutch control would make my upshifts and downshifts even better than they already were with the new rearset foot controls.



Features

The fat CF Handlebar, the fat adapter mounts, and adjustable levers offer the following features:

- A LOT of visual appeal, especially that CF bar with its “visual texture” and “fat” diameter

- The carbon fiber really reinforces the Graves carbon fiber exhaust on my Z125, and also the future CF parts I will be getting

- Light weight, even with some of the disappointments (see below)

- A slightly lower handlebar position which I wanted

- The adjustable levers, coupled with the already existing ability to rotate the clutch and brake perches, enabled me to put the levers exactly where I wanted them in 3D space to optimize both my front braking and even more my upshifting and downshifting

- The adjustable levers have the typical deliberately weak point on each lever, which encourages the lever to break THERE if the bike falls, and leaves a “stub” long enough to still operate the bike safely home

- The levers are huge “bang for the bucks” deal in the overpriced hand levers marketplace.



Negatives

The CF handlebar is amazingly light despite its “fat” 1-1/8” diameter outside the control mounting surfaces, weighing us 0.36 lb! However, the Pro Taper adapter mount set needed to mount the 1-1/8” bar onto the bottom half of the OEM 7/8” bar mount weighs 0.82 lb! So, I end up with a 1.18 lb handlebar setup versus the 0.36 lb raw weight of the CF bar. This is still 1.18 lb lower than the 2.36 lb OEM bar and mount setup I removed, but the weight of the Pro Taper adapter mount bothers me.

I wanted a narrower bar end-to-end, to reduce my wind resistance at highway speeds, so had planned to cut the CF bar down by a couple of inches. But it turns out that the OEM controls need about 8” of straight bar, especially on the clutch side (to allow a clutch lever protrusion to avoid hitting the switch module), and the CF bar cam with only that 8” of straight tube on each end. It is actually ½” wider overall than the OEM bar.

I wanted adjustable levers, and got them, but I paid a weight penalty there too. The stock levers weigh 0.36 lb for the pair. The adjustable levers weigh 0.57 lb, so 0.21 lb heavier.

A few "choices" in overall width and angle of CF handlebars in the marketplace would have enabled me to narrow my wind profile a bit, and that would have been advantageous. The absence of any width or shape variants has to be noted as a negative.


Installation

Estimated time: 2.5 hours if you are well prepared and have the right tools (That’s exactly how long it took me). Many, many more hours if not well prepared and missing some tools

Items needed:

$67US ($89CDN) (including shipping) offshore Carbon Fiber “fat” handlebar for the Z125
$23US Pro Taper Fat handlebar 7/8” to 1-1/8” adapter mount sourced from Asia
https://www.ebay.com/itm/253675335266?ul_noapp=true
$20US Adjustable clutch and front brake levers set
https://www.ebay.com/itm/282389880472
Towel (to protect fuel tank)
Z125 ignition key
New lefthand grip (in case you destroy the original one getting it off the Z125)
Decent toolbox (ratchet, extensions, metric sockets, metric open end wrenches, etc)
Screwdrivers – Philips (the large size, not the small) and flatblade (large, to use as a lever)
Tape measure to measure before and after bar positions)
Yellow masking tape (to temporarily label parts)
Electric drill (to drill the anti-rotation holes for the switch modules when on the new bar)
Drill bits set (from 1/16” to about ¼”)
Cable lubing tool
Cable lubricant
Silicone grease (tube, not aerosol)
Blue Loctite
Rearstand (You can’t take left and right bar position measurements accurately without one)
Paper towels
Kerosene or other safe cleaning agent



Installation process:

Measure:
(I’ve plugged my Z125’s actual values into the statements)
- TOP of OEM handlebar ends – to – floor = 39 inches
- TOP of last inner portion of OEM handlebar before bend – to – floor = 39.5 inches
- FRONT of handlebar ends – to – front tip of rear turn signals 32 inches
- Width of handlebar end-to-end = 27.5 inches
(These are all so you later know roughly what angle to install the CF handlebar at!)

After installation, record your NEW measurements here:
(I’ve plugged my Z125’s actual values into the statements)
- TOP of OEM handlebar ends – to – floor = 38-3/16 inches
- TOP of last inner portion of OEM handlebar before bend – to – floor 37 inches
- FRONT of handlebar ends – to – front tip of rear turn signals 31-1/8 inches
- Width of handlebar end-to-end = 28 inches
(This is so you can COMPARE new versus OEM to understand what has changed and how much, and if this new positioning does not work for you, you can measure how much to change it)

Cover fuel tank with towel

Leave the mirrors installed. There is no need to remove them from their perches

Remove bar ends - cover with a rag and twist off with a pair of large pliers. The rag keeps you from destroying the bar ends, even though they will be too large a diameter to use with the CF handlebar

Remove left grip - using Flat screw driver to start, then push inward full eongth of the handgrip, and then lift handgrip off the handelbar, working your way around the entire circumference of the handlebar. The factory adhesive will “let go” withOUT damaging the handgrip if you do this correctly and “sensitively”

Prepare clutch cable for disconnecting (Loosen cable adjustment, remove lever pin)

Remove pinch bolt locknut (bottom) and then pinchbolt itself from clutch perch

Disconnect clutch cable

Lubricate the clutch cable using the Lube tool + cable lubricant (foolish to NOT do since you have it apart)

Use flat bladed screwdriver to pry the slot open enough to allow the clutch perch to slide easily off the bar

Mark with tape label (“1” and “2”), and then disconnect, the wire spade connectors for the 2 wires running from the right switch module to the brake light switch on the master cylinder

Unscrew (2 screws each) the left and right electrical switch modules and separate the halves

Pull 2 plastic wiring ties out of their mounting holes close to the left and right lower handlebar bends (the ties help route the switch module wiring) open them up, and save them for a different project – you don’t need them with the new CF handlebar

Loosen the lock nut on the throttle cable adjuster and screw the adjuster all the way in. This creates enough slack to allow you to slide the cable end out of the throttle sleeve. Slide the throttle sleeve off the handlebar

Lubricate the throttle cable using the Lube tool + cable lubricant

Lubricate with Lithium grease the removed throttle sleeve, everywhere it contacts the throttle cable (i.e. the slot that holds the cable “end”, and the long narrow slot the cable rides in)

Unbolt and remove the front brake perch (2 bolts). Don't worry about keeping it level.
Place it on the towel that protects the gas tank

Don't pull on the brake lever!

Unbolt handlebar clamps, and remove the upper half of the 2 clamps and remove the OEM handlebar

Install bottom ProTaper fat mounts. Use Loctite

Place CF handlebar into ProTaper fat risers, The 2 angular printed “scales” should BOTH be visible, and the “0” on each scale should be roughly “on top”

Install top Pro Taper mounts. Use Blue Loctite. The lettering for “Pro Taper” on each upper clamp should be on the OUTside, not the inside

You can later adjust the angle of the CF handlebar if you don’t like the position with the “0” on top. Just loosen the bolts of the TOP Pro Taper mounts slightly and rotate the bar, then retighten the bolts. I like the “standard” position with the “)” on top, but you might want a different angle

Slide clutch perch onto CF handlebar and let it rest against the towel

Apply masking tape to each approx. area on the bar where a switch module mounting hole will be needed

Measure to locate each switch module mounting hole by measuring the distance from EACH end of the OEM handlebar to the hole. NOTE! At least on MY OEM handlebar, the 2 holes were a slightly different distance from the ends! Don’t screw this up, as you don’t want multiple holes in your brand new CF handlebar. Note also that the holes must be pretty much exactly at the FRONT of the handlebar – not significantly higher or lower. This is especially important on the LEFT end of the handlebar, as there is a tab on the clutch lever that will contact the switch housing when you pull in the clutch lever, unless you move the clutch perch at least 5/8” or more away form the switch housing.

Drill each switch module hole with correct sized drill bit. Start VERY SMALL to prevent slip on the CF. The masking tape that you used to mark the hole locations also helps by providing a “friction” surface for the drill bit to bit into instead of sliding on the smooooth CF!

Re-install front brake perch (2 bolts)

Replace old brake lever with new brake lever

Slide throttle sleeve onto CF bar

Reinstall throttle cable

Readjust throttle cable slack

Reinstall the left and right electrical switch modules. Each anti-spin pin must be in its hole that you drilled in the bar. CF is so smooth that otherwise the switch module will rotate.

Reinstall clutch perch with its pinch bolt, reinstalling clutch cable, lever pin, and new clutch lever as part of the reinstallation. BE VERY CAREFUL TO NOTE WHERE THE CLUTCH LEVER CONTACTS THE “PUSHPIN” FOR THE ELECTRICAL SWITCH THAT PREVENTS STARTING THE ENIGNE UNLESS THE CLUTCH LEVER IS PULLED IN. IT IS VERY EASY TO BREAK THAT PIN IF YOU JUST “SHOVE” THE CLUTCH LEVER INTO ITS MOUNT. TREAT THAT PUSHPIN VERY GENTLY. MALE SURE YOU HAVE LOTS OF LIGHT TO SEE WHAT YOU ARTE DOING.

You will also need to pull the clutch cable free of the metal cable guide located behind the “headlight body panel”. That metal cable guide is in the “wrong’ place now with the new CF handlebar, so just pull the clutch cable out of its grasp, and the clutch cable will then “align” nicely with the metal 90 degree clutch cable guide and the clutch perch

Install old (if undamaged) or new lefthand grip. It slides right on without any lubricant needed, and no glue is needed either.

Reconnect previously marked spade connectors between right switch module and brake light switch on the front brake master cylinder




Outcomes

Even in the underground garage lighting, the “fat”, carbon fiber bar sparkles with visual texture.

The Pro Taper “fat” adapter mounts look ok, and the quality seems high, but, to me at least, they look “too big”, and especially so with a CF handlebar.

The adjustable hand levers made a HUGE difference in my shifting and braking ease and control. Note that I chose the “long” version versus the available “short version”, even though the short version would have likely “looked” better on the tiny Z125. This is because I value ergonomics and precise control above appearance, and I really am delighted, and somewhat surprised at the magnitude of the improvement they made to my shifting especially.

The slightly altered position of the handlebars was not enough for me to really notice when riding.


Overall Summary

This, to me, is a GREAT mod that adds lots of visual presence, and really improves ergonomics and control, and at $110US = $144CDN, this is a relatively inexpensive mod on a results per dollar spent basis. Note however that this changes of you have to PAY someone to do the work. It's a solid 2.5 hours of work, and at shop rates, that adds $250 to $300 to the $110US cost!

If there were a lighter weight and smaller alternative to the Pro Tape mounts, it would be an even better mod.

A few "choices" in overall width and angle of CF handlebars in the marketplace would have enabled me to narrow my wind profile a bit, and that would have been advantageous.



Photos

The “overall” photo shows you what the entire handlebar area now looks like on my Z125. The red lever visible on the righthand lever is the adjustable lever which allows you to move the lever closer to or further from the handlebar.

The “closeup” photo does a better job of showing you how vibrant the carbon fiber looks even in the dimly lit underground garage,


Jim G
 

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Nice write up and nice result!

I completely agree about adjustable levers, even cheapies are on par with OEM fitment but the riding experience is completely transformed for those of us with small hands. I think I got the same ones as you in the titanium color and absolutely love them.

Somewhat surprised you didn't replace the grips while you had them off the bike. I actually like the stock grips more than I expected but they look kinda cheap to me for whatever reason. Besides, grips are a super cheap way to customize your bike. OTOH: "If it ain't broke..."

I was thinking you might be being a bit overdramatic about the chunky fat clamps but they do detract from the appearance a bit after looking at the photos.

Overall it looks great and I'm jealous!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I forgot to mention one other benefit I did not expect: I just realized today that on my ride the other day with the new CF bar, there was no longer a slight tingle in the grips like there used to be with the OEM bar. I presume this is because the CF does not transmit vibration like the OEM steel bar does.

Jim G
 

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Ooooh! That's a compelling benefit especially for those who ride longer distances.

It has been mentioned on this forum that the ProTaper oversized bars also help reduce vibration so I am guessing that a portion of this reduction is the diameter transition separating your hands from the clamp.

I would agree that the CF doesn't transmit vibration the same as metal based on my road biking, but that might just be placebo effect from buying an expensive bike.
 
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