I’ve finally got the Convertibars installed on my GSXR 1000 K1! It has transformed the characteristics of the motorcycle!
Installation was a Pain
When the Convertibars were first delivered, I wondered whether if I should do it myself or if I should let a trusted mechanic to do it. I ordered the “kit”with the 50mm clamps, added the extended clutch line and throttle lines. I did not order the extended brake lines as those on my bike were already aftermarket braided hoses and seemed long enough.
My guess was that there should be no problem getting it done. Removing the old handlebars and installing the convertibars seemed straight forward enough. However, after considering that this bike is also my everyday transportation and that I seem to have a knack to screw things up, I decided to let my regular mechanic to do it instead. I took 1 day leave and thought that the installation should be completed in a few hours.
Boy, was I wrong.
Removing the original bars was easy enough. After putting on the clamp, bars and new lines, we tried adjusting the clamps backward as per the instructions and discovered that the brakes lines that I had were too short. So I had to bite the bullet and purchase a set of Venhill braided brake lines to complete the installation.
After it was installed, we started adjusting the position of the bars to see where they could fit. My plan was to mark out 2 positions – an upright(ish) position for relaxed riding and the original GSXR riding position for days at the track. However, this plan was soon thrown out the window.
Rear Clamp Position Does Not Work (Fairing or Tank Clearance Issues)
Convertibars’ instructions said that adjustment should always be done in the following order:
1) Decide on the handle’s downward angle
2) Rotate the Fork Clamps forward or backwards as much as they would go, then tighten.
3) Turn the wheel all the way to the stop and adjust the handle up/down and front/back position to give tank clearance.
4) Turn the wheel all the way to the opposite stop and adjust handle up/down and forward/back position to clear fairing.
We tried that many times, but the handles and switches could only either clear the fairing or the tank when the fork clamps were in the back position. Not both. We readjusted the handle’s angle, clamp, rotation, up/down etc, but just couldn’t get it to work! We also restarted many times believing that we must have done something wrong. In short, we later discovered that the rearward clamp position does not work on the K1 with original fairing.
Forward Clamp Position Worked
After going to get some drinks, my mechanic tried the other way by rotating the clamps to the forward position and see what could be done. We managed to get a usable clamp rotation angle of about 9-10 o’clock for the left and 2-3 o’clock for the right. We also could raise the bars up a bit and over the top yoke. I would say maybe about 3.5cm to 4 cm (about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches) up from original bar’s position.
However, due to an interfering brake light connector, the fork clamp could not be positioned all the way up against the bottom of the top yoke. The connector was hitting against the clamp or something.
From this workable position, we started to work on the tank clearance issue and fairing clearance issues. We discovered that both the right and left electrical switches had clearance issues. The right kill switch would come into contact with the fairing and switched it off while the right’s choke lever could not clear the fairing.
The right kill switch cleared the fairing when we rotated the handlebar just a tinny winny back. However, this would cause the trapped thumb against the tank when you turn the wheel left full lock (Ducati 916 style?). We left it at that for the day.
As for the left’s choke lever, there was no way it could clear the fairing without lowering the handlebar.
In the end, we just removed the choke lever and cable. BTW, if you choose to retain the cable, perhaps by sawing off a bit of the choke lever, you would also face another problem. According to the model specific instructions, the choke cable should be re-routed behind the left fork. However, this resulted in the kinking of the cable. Routing it the usual way made it too short. So perhaps, its better to remove it anyway. K2 owners should not face this problem as they have the automatic fast idle. The left handle did not have the trapped thumb issue.
We also decided to grind off the brake master pump’s little metal piece as it was restricting the positioning of the brake lines.
Initial Ride Observations
After everything was tightened, the mechanic took a test ride to check that everything worked as they should. I was there at about 9.45am and it was now about 6pm! It took quite a long time to install, but he had a few customers to attend to, answered a few telephone calls and waited for the brake lines.
Looking at the installed bars, I was pretty skeptical that it would improve the riding position of the bike. At this point, all I hoped was that I could get a sport tourer kind of position. If I could get the riding position of the ZX6E, I would be happy.
When I got on the bike and started off, I immediately realised that there was much less weight on my wrists. I was more upright and the ache on my back was not there. I also realised that there seemed to be more leverage and counter steering the bike required less effort. Though the position seemed only a little higher, the difference was remarkable.
However, for a while, I did not know how to corner the bike. Or rather, I had to get used to the new feel of the motorcycle. There was less pressure on my wrists and the the bumps from the front AND the rear seemed to be reduced. The bike now turned effortlessly but I felt higher up on the bike. I commented that I felt like I was riding a supermotard but that was an exaggeration of course. I think the main reason why the bike was easy to turn was due to the fact that I needed only crouch forward and dropped my shoulders a little bit and my forearms would be parallel to the tank. In the original position, when I do that, it felt like I was lying on the tank.
Happy with the initial change, I paid and left. However, over the next few days’ riding, I noted that a few minor adjustments were in order.
First, the left handle grip and electrical connector were positioned all the way to the end of the handlebar. Between the bar end and the rubber grip, there was no gap whereas the right handlebar’s bar end had a little space. The right handle’s brake and electrical switch box were also placed 1 notch closer to the top yoke than the left bar’s.
Secondly, the angle of the right handlebar was narrower than the left as my left thumb was not trapped by the tank but my right one’s was.
So, on a sunny Sunday morning, I rode to my dad’s place and opened the tool box. My idea was to push the left handle’s clutch lever assembly, electrical switch box and grip inward by 1 notch and to narrow angle of the handle to match the right handle.
I checked what was obstructing the clutch on the left handlebar and noticed that the retaining clip for the clutch adjustment wheel was interfering with the inside end of handlebar.
I rotated the clutch lever assembly upwards a little and pushed it inwards. However, the next thing to come into contact was the screw holding the clip.
However, that did not obstruct the switch box from moving inwards by one notch. I then rotated that handle just a little bit narrower so that my left thumb was equally trapped as my right thumb (LOL…).
GSX-R1000 The Sportsbike Feel
I thought this little change to balance the handlebar would cause no change in the feel of the bike. Boy…was I mistaken.
As soon as I rode the bike, it felt “narrower” and more tucked in (its the feeling not really the body position). The bike felt like the old GSXR and counter steering needed more effort. It may not look dramatic or even observable on the outside, but the rider could feel it immediately. It felt more like a GSXR once again.
However, by this time, I have come to like the “wide handlebar” feel and the effortless counter steering nature of the bike (on hindsight, I realised that its the left side). So I went back and readjusted. Hahaha…
GSX-F1000 The Easy Going Sports Tourer Feel
This time, I repositioned the levers on both sides and electrical boxes to use all the handlebar length. I then adjusted both sides to so that my thumbs were not trapped against the tank. I also checked the height of the right handle bar and adjusted it slightly so that it matched the left’s. In this position, the kill switch came into contact with the fairing. However, fairing does not switch on the kill switch anymore. LOL… It does come into contact slightly if I turn it left full lock, but its not too bad. For protection, I just pasted a little bit of masking tape to protect the fairing.
With this done, the “wide handlebar” feel was back and this is where I left them for now.
Look at the differences below. It is amazing what a little bit of adjustment can do to change the feel of the bike.
Either way, the rider can enjoy the bike. You want a more effort and sports like feel at the track? Trap your thumbs equally and move everything up the handlebars by 1 notch. Want less effort? Untrap your thumbs and move the switches and levers to use all the length of the bars. Its up to you.
With the convertibars fitted, I can now ride in comfort. No more backaches. Less pressure on my palms and wrists. Most importantly, now I can ride slowly in comfort if I want to. Pottering around at street legal speeds was previously not possible! I can also stay in gear and stop while waiting for the lights to change. Before this, I had to change in neutral and sit up right or my back will protest.
- High quality bars and clamps. Well made and strong. Fittings are quality items too.
- All clutch lines and throttle lines are quality items – my clutch and throttle are very smooth and responsive.
- Lots of MINOR adjustable possibilities for the GSXR 1000 K1 with original fittings and fairings (no trimming).
- Noticeably less vibration on the right handlebar. No more numb fingers!
- 2.5cm to 3cm (1 1/2 inches to 2 inches) rise has a noticeable improvement to comfort.
- Sports tourer position attained – more relaxed.
- I can now ride at legal speeds. No more compulsion to speed all the time!
- Bike feels less harsh at new position.
- Rearward and very upright position not possible with original fairing.
- Adjustment steps according to instructions did not seem to work. Took a long time to find the right position.
- Had to buy new brake lines (not Convertibars fault though), but positive point was the the braking has never been better!
- Narrow range of positioning the handlebars (basically same clamp position as original, but higher with adjustment for wider or narrower handlebar positions.
Would I recommend it for the GSXR1000 K1? Yes and no.
If you want a quick and easy installation and do not mind giving up the minor adjustment possibilities, then I would say no. Maybe get something like the LSL clip ons.
However, if you don’t mind the fiddly installation and adjustment, you will benefit from the minor adjustments to find the right feel of the bike for you. In my case, all I need to do is to reposition a few items to change the character of the bike.