Last weekend was quite intense and not without some issues which I will address in this post. Installing apes can have varying degrees of difficulty depending upon the bike and which handlebars you choose. The Street Glide is one of the more difficult because of the fairing and electronics involved. The job was a success though and worthy of writing about.
The initial breakdown of the bike was very easy and quick. Seat, battery, outer fairing, radio, grips, control housings, ignition, passing lamps, and loosening of the outer fairing. Finally upon removal of the stock handlebars the real challenge began. I was pretty excited the work was going so well up to that point and was feeling positive. Even with taking the time to make a video of the process I was making good time. Soon after though I hit the wall of troubles.
I made a wiring diagram of the wiring harnesses in preparation to extend the control wires for the new handlebars. During this, I took the time to make a sub video of how to wire Harley Davidson Molex connectors. With Margaret's help, I soldered the extensions to the factory wire harness and wrapped each solder weld with shrink tubing. Before pulling them through the handlebars we covered all of the wires with large shrink tubing that we joined to the original wiring harness cover. The cables on the left side went through without any problems and only took about 5 minutes. The right side is where the problems began.
The Wires Were Too Thick To Get Through
The right side has more control wires and has the throttle by wire assembly as well. The control wires enter the handlebars through a hole in the front of the bars. The throttle by wire enters through the end. On any other type of handlebar, this wouldn't be much of a problem. Paul Yaffe bars have that little upcurve. This is what changed the game. The wires had to make that upturn and then pull straight down against that inner point to route through the bars.
The Struggle To Get The Wires Through
We worked on that for a couple of hours, trying everything we could think of to get all that wire through and it simply wouldn't go. The wires would continually get caught in that tight turn and wouldn't pull through. We managed one time to get all of the wires completely through the handlebars to the point there were only about 4 inches left to pull out but we were unable to get the wires around that sharp curve to completion. We tried grease to help it slide through and even that didn't work. It was frustrating to get so close and have to pull them all back out because they wouldn't go through.
Stopped For The Day From Frustration
By this time it was getting late. I was tired, so we stopped for the night to unwind and think about other options. I hesitate to mention it was so frustrating I considered not running the wires inside the bars. After a night's rest, we resumed the battle of the wires. The problem was the extra bulk that the left side didn't have. We realized somehow we would have to reduce the amount of bulk we were trying to pull through the handlebars.
Reducing The Bulk
The only way would be to remove all of the original outer wire harness covering and the shrink tube to get down to only wires. I left harness covering on the last 6" of all the wires so that when the wires were in the handlebars they would be covered around that upturn. That way they would be protected from scratching in that sharp turn by the covering. We worked the wires until they laid well against each other without crisscrossing which helped to eliminate bulk and put a single wrap of electrical tape along the length periodically to hold them together. Doing this eliminated the bulk by half and still protected the wires at the critical location of that point towards the top.
I had remembered some episodes of American Chopper where they were pulling wires through the frames and they weren't covered with a harness except at the entrance and exit points where there might be sharp edges due to the cutting of the hole. There isn't anything inside the bars happening that could cause the wires to be damaged except at the entrance, the upturn point, and the exit which we put harnesses on in those areas to protect the wires. Within a few minutes of doing it this way, we had the right side installed. I put a harness over the wires at the exit point for protection and began rewiring the Molex connectors.
New Front Brake Lines
The reassembly took place without any issue until we got to the new brake lines. The junction of the stock lines has a cutout that fits into a small pin that sticks out of the triple tree. This prevents incorrect installation of the junction by ensuring it can only be fitted one way. The new junction didn't have that cutout and wouldn't fit. After attempting every way of turning and manipulating the new junction without success I just ground the pin of the triple tree and installed the new junction. We bled the brakes and moved to the clutch cable.
New Clutch Cable
Next came the clutch cable. That meant removing the floorboard, slip-ons, exhaust, and transmission clutch cover. This part went perfectly without problems from start to finish. Then it was just a matter of reassembling the fairing components, battery, seat, ignition, etc. Upon completion the bike started right up, all of the electronics worked and I was able to take it for a quick test ride. Over the next few days, I had to make adjustments to the position of the handlebars for comfort which entails a modest tear down to get the T-40 Torx on the handlebar mount. With making a video, taking pictures, and performing the work I estimate we spent a solid 16 hours on this install. The bulk of the wasted time was on the right side control wiring.
Don't Do The Work If You Are Unsure
This is not a task I would recommend for most people. If you have any hesitation at all, let the dealership do the work. The mechanics know the job and have prior experience and tools to do it correctly. It takes a good amount of mechanical and electrical skills and requires some specialized tools. For instance, the snap ring inside the transmission clutch cover is huge and I didn't have a set of snap ring pliers that would work on it. I went to Autozone to purchase a pair, got the largest ones they had, and they were even too small.
Happy With The Final Result
We ended up finding a set at Harbor Freight but those were so big I ended up having the file down the points to fit in the snap ring holes on the bike. I probably could have ordered them but didn't want the bike sitting in pieces taking up garage space while we waited for them to arrive. I'm happy we did the work, happy with the results, and would do it again but not with these types of bars because of the difficulty of routing the wires through them. A 90-degree downturn or rounded downturn on the bars would have still looked good and prevented all of the major problems we had with installation. They do look good though, ride well, and I am happy with the final result.