There are many relationships in the world that have stood the test of time. One current union has been that of ape hanger handlebars and baggers. At first nobody thought it would work. Sure enough, it turned out to be the hippest thing since Crocs (if you’re into that sort of thing). And if you look at an ape-hanging bagger today, it just looks natural.
LA Choppers, in Huntington Beach, California, realized the trend for apes on customized touring bikes long ago, and started offering ape hangers for baggers in 12-inch and 14-inch configurations ($179.95). And because extending your bar height usually means extending the accouterments attached to said bar (brake line, clutch cable, and throttle/idle cables if you’re still running the push-pull style cables), LA Choppers also released its own line of Build Kits ($234.95-$409.95) for more peace of mind, which was an immediate hit. So much so that the company has surpassed the 10,000 sales mark of its apehanger build kits. Kits are available in stock lengths all the way to the really custom 20-inch-high configurations. Each kit includes the correct length clutch cable, ABS brake kit with chrome fittings and banjos with copper crush washers, stainless steel throttle/idle cables and brake lines in either a clear coated or black exterior, which protects components from abrasion. Basically, you get everything needed to make installation a breeze. With all this cable and brake line extending going on, you can’t forget about extending the switch wiring.
Guerrilla Cables took on the handlebar wiring game a few years ago and make extending the switch wiring when upgrading to apes a lot simpler. The Riverside, California, company applies the old adage, “work smarter, not harder,” offering a no-fuss Deluxe wiring extension kit ($52.95) for Harley-Davidson Touring models. Each Guerrilla kit includes 24 inches of color-matched wiring, connecting pins, shrink tubing, and a wiring schematic built into the label that is unique to each Harley-Davidson family member. Bye-bye, intimidating wiring diagrams!
We stopped by Mihali Cycles in Riverside, a full-service Harley and custom bike shop that can handle any task thrown its way. Mihali’s had a 2006 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic begging for taller bars. We met Jose Alfaro and Armando Alfaro (yep, they’re brothers) for a little demonstration on how Guerrilla Cables extends the switch wiring when upgrading to ape hangers.
1. Here is a look at all components installed on the Electra Glide Ultra Classic: 14-inch chrome apes from LA Choppers along with stainless braided brake line for ABS, clutch cable, throttle/idle cables, and of course, Guerrilla Cables’ Deluxe Bagger Wiring Extension Kit.
__**2.** The Electra Glide was rolled into the shop and the stock bar configuration needed to go. The stock handlebar switches and hand controls were removed from both sides of the bar.
3. Next, the stock ignition switch was removed to gain access to the bar’s top riser clamps. The ignition switch was replaced with this handy dandy JIMS Ignition Switch Housing Alignment tool, which aligns the ignition switch housing as the retaining screws are being torqued, giving the ignition switch knob the alignment it needs to help extend the life of the ignition switch housing.
4. The factory ignition switch panel was then removed to gain access to the stock handlebar clamps.
5. The outer fairing was also removed to access the switch wiring Deutsch connectors that would need to be extended with the Guerrilla Cables wiring extensions.
6. Both the right and left side switch wires were unplugged from the Deutsch connectors. Because the factory wiring isn’t run internally in the handlebar, removal of the switch wiring is less involved than installation since we’ll be internally wiring the LA Choppers apes. The stock wiring will be extended with Guerrilla’s wires, soldered, and re-pinned, ready to be run internally into the new LA Choppers ape hanger.
7. After removing the stock handlebar we moved over to the soldering table. Note: a handy tool for soldering is this magnetized metal base with two alligator clips attached, which frees up your hands for mating the solder with the wires simultaneously. We cut the pins off the stock wiring, soldered each color-coded wire to the stock wiring, and used the provided shrink tube to secure the connections. The new wires will be cut and pinned near final installation for the most accurate fit.
8. Starting at the top of the bar—where the switches will be remounted—we ran the extended wiring through LA’s bar down to the base. The LA Choppers bar is already drilled for internally wiring the switches. We used an old throttle cable and some electrical tape to run the wires, which worked like a champ.
9. With the wiring fished through the bars, we were almost ready to install them on the bike, but first we wanted to hook up the new stainless clutch cable to the ball and ramp assembly.
10. And of course, we needed to route the new throttle/idle cables from the throttle body up to the hand controls.
11. Then the new stainless braided brake cable was hooked up to the dual calipers up front and routed to where the brake lever will be located.
12. With the clutch cable, throttle/idle cables, and brake line routed where they needed to be, the LA Choppers handlebar was mounted to the bike.
13. We used a new one-piece top clamp instead of the factory two-piece clamps. This just adds a little bit more stability to the handlebar assembly. You can pick up the top clamp at any Harley-Davidson parts dealer.
14. Before tightening the top clamp down, the rider was asked to sit on the bike so we could fine-tune the handlebar positioning to his specs. Once the desired height and pullback was achieved, the top clamp was tightened down to secure the new bar in place.
15. The owner had already upgraded to new grips from the Harley P&A; Catalog so they were reused. Since the switch housings were already routed through the bar and left dangling until final installation, we secured the right side grip in place after attaching the throttle/idle cable ferrules into the grip.
16. We ran the wires still wrapped in electrical tape to the new switch locations in order to determine the most accurate length. Once that was determined on both sides, the extended wires were cut to length, pinned, and wrapped in heat shrink.
17. The wires were then plugged back into their respective Deutsch connectors. Be sure to note which wires go where, otherwise you’ll lose your mind.
18. With the bars hooked up and the wiring dialed in, it was time to install the stainless braided brake line to the master cylinder. Using the provided crush washers on both sides of the banjo, the brake line was hooked up.
19. The master cylinder was filled with DOT 4 fluid. Note: This stuff is very messy. Be sure to have your painted items covered because it could potentially damage the paint. Next, the brakes were bled with a MAC Tools brake bleeder. Lastly, the new clutch cable was hooked up to the factory lever and the last bits and pieces were buttoned up to complete installation.
20. Notice the stock bars up top. Sure they worked but the owner wanted to recline a bit more while tearing up the asphalt. Now, check out LA Choppers’ 14-inch apes on the Electra Glide. The owner loves the way they give him that “in the wind” feeling when he rides.