What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a Harley Davidson? If you guessed ape hangers – also known as monkey bars – you would be right. In case you have no clue what we’re on about, they’re those exaggerated motorcycle handlebars that require riders to reach up to grab them.
If you’re on the fence about installing them on your Harley Davidson Road King, Bagger, or Street Glide, it’s likely because they appear awkward and uncomfortable. We’re here to tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ape hangers create a lower riding profile, which encourages an upright posture, as opposed to being hunched over. This makes them more comfortable than riding motorcycles with conventional handlebars. You just need to find the one that fits your body type. We’ve tested the best ape hangers for Road King to bring you our top picks for 2021.
Table of Contents
- How We Tested and Compared These Products
- Our Pick: Dominator Industries Pre-Wired Ape Hangers – Best Overall
- Best Alternatives
- Hill Country Custom Cycles Ape Hangers – Best Premium Option
- TCMT Ape Hanger Bar – Best Value Option
- FMB Hellbent Ape Hangers – Best Mini Option
- How to Choose the Best Ape Hangers for Road King – Buying Guide
How We Tested and Compared These Products
Choosing the best hangers for your Harley Davidson Touring, Road King, or Road Glide is a deeply personal choice. What works for one person may not necessarily be right for you. That being said, there are a couple of things that remain the same across the board. These formed our criteria for testing and comparing the different handlebars on the market.
First, we only wanted to review products from reputable manufacturers – companies that actually know what they’re doing. Our go-to brands when it comes to all-things Road King ape hangers are Hill Country, TCMT, Dominator, FMB, LA Chopper, Khrome Werks, and Burly Brand. They all have a proven track record of quality and durability, which are two must-have qualities in any ape hanger.
We also wanted handlebars that fit the 2008-2020 Harley Road King and Road Glide models. Additionally, only properly-plumbed hangers with a provision for internal wiring made the cut. They needed to be pre-wired to make installation quick and easy without having to purchase additional components.
Our Pick: Dominator Industries Pre-Wired Ape Hangers – Best Overall
- Size (rise): 16 inches
- Color: Gloss black
- Road King compatibility: 2017-2020 models
- Pre-wired: Yes
As far as Harley Davidson motorcycle components go, Dominator Industries has set a pretty high bar. The company has carved out a niche for itself in manufacturing premium-quality, superior-style monkey bars for Road King motorcycles.
We got the gloss-black, non-heated grip Special Meathook Monkey Bars. These had an impressive 16-inch rise that gives your motorcycle that classic Harley Davidson look. It is compatible with all 2017-2020 Road King and Road Glide models and works with all the stock controls and cables that fit the bikes in that range.
One of the things we liked most about the ape hangers in this range is the fact that they come pre-wired. Each ape hanger handlebar is notched for throttle by wire (TBW) applications and adequately plumbed for internal wiring. This makes installation quick and easy, meaning once you set it up, you can start riding immediately. Unfortunately, we only encountered a handful of ape hangers that came pre-wired.
All Dominator Industries handlebars are USA-made, Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welded, laser-cut, deburred, and beveled to make it easier to pull internal wires. The polished finishing looks pristine, and each bar is carefully designed to give you a natural and relaxed grip angle for maximum pullback comfort.
Every aspect of these ape hangers has been expertly crafted for comfort, durability, and performance. They’re definitely worth checking out.
- CONTROL COMPATIBILITY: This 1 1/4 Inch Road King Special Meathook...
- MODEL COMPATIBILITY: Fits 2017-2020 model years of the Harley-Davidson...
- READY TO GO: Our Handlebars are Properly Plumbed for Internal Wiring...
Hill Country Custom Cycles Ape Hangers – Best Premium Option
- Size (rise): 16 inches
- Color: Silver
- Road King compatibility: 2008-2013 models
- Pre-wired: Yes
Hill Country Custom Cycles is a household name in the motorcycling world. Since its establishment in 2002, the company has carved a niche for itself in the manufacture of custom aftermarket accessories and components for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Their expert craftsmanship is evident in the Chrome 16-inch Hooker Ape Hanger Handlebar kit.
When we first ordered it, the company required us to provide information about our Harley, so the kit could come pre-wired and pre-assembled. This was a nice touch since it meant they would use components specific to the motorcycle we had.
If you don’t provide this information, they’ll simply send you the ape hanger kit, and you can do the assembly yourself. The pack contains the handlebars, internal wiring harness extensions, extended front brake line, and extended cables.
We also like that the brake lines and the braided clutch cable all come with chrome ends, DOM tubing, and a clear UV-resistant plastic armor coat to protect them against the elements. That way, they’ll stay looking new for a long time to come.
The wire extensions that come in the kit are color-coded, so if you have heated grips, you’ll just need to buy the grip extensions that go with them. The Chrome Hooker ape hanger has a 12-inch center width, a 16-inch rise, and a 6-inch pullback for optimal comfort and control.
All in all, we were quite pleased with the performance of this unit. Every aspect of its design is well-thought-out and engineered to last. It’s worth checking out.
- NOTE: You Must provide us with the info about your Harley as shown in...
- Stainless Braided Clutch Cable and Brake Lines have chrome ends and a...
- Color Coded wire extensions are included to extend all stock handlebar...
TCMT Ape Hanger Bar – Best Value Option
- Size (rise): 18 inches
- Color: Black
- Road King compatibility: 1989-2020
- Pre-wired: No
TCMT is another favorite. Since its establishment in 1995, the company has become one of the top manufacturers of aftermarket bike parts and accessories for Harley and Goldwind. TCMT’s 25+ years of experience shines through their range of 18-inch rise, ape hanger bars.
This beauty is made of iron and has a characteristic black polished finish that’s a guaranteed head-turner. When we first saw it, we couldn’t get over how sleek it looked. It also felt super solid, so you know it was built to last.
The ape hanger handlebar comes with drilled holes for easy wiring. It took us a little over 40 minutes to pull the cables through and bolt on the handle to our Harley Bagger and Electra Glide.
Although we would have preferred a pre-wired option like the Dominator Industries and Hill Country ape hangers, it shouldn’t be much trouble to do the cabling yourself if you know your way around a Harley. Alternatively, you could take it to the shop and let the pros do what they do best.
All in all, as far as quality and performance go, the TCMT monkey bar is an exceptional bargain.
- Aftermarket 105% Brand New,High class quality and very durable.
- Color: Black;Material: Iron
- Good Working Condition and Easy to Install.Come with drilled wiring...
FMB Hellbent Ape Hangers – Best Mini Option
- Size (rise): 10 inches
- Color: Black
- Road King compatibility: 1989-2014
- Pre-wired: No
FMB Choppers has a decade’s worth of experience manufacturing high-quality custom handlebars and other aftermarket components and accessories for Haley Davidson motorcycles. These Hellbent monkey bars are a little different from what we’re used to. They have a 10-inch rise, which is quite modest compared to the 16 and 18-inch beasts we’ve become accustomed to.
They’re best suited for shorter individuals or Harley first-timers who find the taller bars a little daunting. That way, you can get used to the riding angle before graduating to the big boys club.
The mini Hellbent ape hangers are TIG-welded with a glossy, black powder coat exterior that gives it a sleek, satin-like finishing. They come with pre-drilled holes for fast and easy wiring. If you need the bars notched for throttle by wire applications, FMB can do this for you. The same thing applies if you have custom specifications for the rise and pullback. These are all done at no extra cost.
All in all, we were pretty pleased with the quality and performance.
- FITS 2014 AND BELOW ROAD GLIDES
- FITS HARLEY SOFTAILS AND SPORTSTERS
- HAND MADE IN THE USA
How to Choose the Best Ape Hangers for Road King – Buying Guide
When shopping for a new set of ape handlebars for your Road King, Road Glide, or Street Glide Harley Davidson, there are three main things you need to keep in mind when making your purchase decision. Here’s a brief overview of each.
The rise you get with ape handlebars generally falls within the 8-18 inch realm. Some go as high up as 20 inches, but those can be uncomfortable, and quite frankly, impractical.
To eliminate the guesswork when trying to figure out which height you’re best suited for, here are a few simple measurements you can take to point you in the right direction. This is known as the riders triangle and consists of the three points made by the footpegs, handlebar grip, and the seat.
- Sit on your bike with your arms closed, lift your arms with your elbows slightly bent, and ball up your fists to simulate holding onto handlebars.
- Move your arms to a position that feels the most natural and comfortable to get a feel for what your riders triangle looks like. The sweet spot is usually somewhere below your shoulders.
- Have someone measure the length between your hand and the risers on your bike. The value you get is the ape hanger height bar you should buy.
If you have a monkey bar with a rise of more than 10-12 inches, you will need to get extended cables for it. Always ensure you measure the cables on your bike before you buy a set of ape hangers, especially if you don’t want to extend them. Here’s how to do it.
Stretch out the free cable between the riser and the switch housing, measure it, and then compare the figure you get to the dimensions of your handlebar. We always recommend adding an extra 2 inches to factor in the route on the curved section of the bar.
The question you need to ask yourself is this: Do I prefer sitting up-right while riding or leaning forward a little during long rides? If you suffer from neck, shoulder, or back pain, consider getting ape hangers that raise your sitting posture. That way, most of your body weight shifts away from your hands to your seat. It also puts less strain on your neck and back muscles.
On the flip side, if you prefer a lower riding profile, the perfect compromise would be to get a set of mini ape hangers with an 8-10 inch rise.
Why do they call them ape hangers?
Ape hangers or “monkey bars” get their name because the rider is required to reach up and hold on to them, just like an ape or a monkey hanging from a tree would. The visual sounds a little exaggerated, but that’s where their name comes from.
Do ape hangers affect handling?
It depends on how wide or high you go. Handlebars that are too wide and high can present maneuvering challenges at lower speeds. You’ll use up more effort when making tight turns. Riding at high speeds also becomes an issue due to the higher wind resistance. Narrower and slightly lower ape hangers have the opposite effect by giving you more leverage.
Are ape hanger handlebars illegal?
Ape hangers are generally legal in the country. Nonetheless, some states have laws regulating handlebar height. In Ohio, for instance, the height should be no more than 15 inches above the seat (lower than the height of your shoulder).
The bottom line is – you need to get an ape hanger that’s right for you. Any of the options we’ve reviewed here would make an excellent choice for Harley Davidson owners. They fit the bill as far as quality and performance go.