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Handlebar height a ‘police witch-hunt’

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Paul Whittaker police

Arbitrary handlebar height restrictions have created an excuse for police to conduct a witch-hunt to harass riders, says Zane Walton of Burleigh Bars Australia.

The Gold Coast handlebar manufacturer has started an online petition to scrap the arbitrary limit of 380mm above the seat.

Click here to read about the petition.

Witch-hunt examples

Zane supplied the following examples of customers who have been pulled over by police in this alleged witch-hunt:

Vicky Chand has had “many run-ins” with police over his 16″ Highball handlebars.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Vicky Chand
Vicky’s V-Rod

In November 2017, officers of NSW Strike Force Raptor 13 fined him for “defective steering” on her V-Rod which was parked on the street while Vicky was attending a wedding.

“They red-labelled me and told me I had to have my bike towed,” says Vicky who has since swapped to drag bars.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Vicky Chand
Vicky’s bike now has drag bars

Paul Whittaker says he has been fined twice in the past year for the 16” Carlini Gangster bars on his Deluxe.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Paul Whittaker
Paul’s Deluxe

On the first occasion, police allowed him to ride home, but on the second occasion they gave him two hours to have it “fixed”.

He says the police officers measured the bars with a two-foot square the first time and used their eyes the second time.

Paul has since swapped for Burleigh Beach Bars.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Paul Whittaker
Beach bars now on the Deluxe

Gold Coast rider Nick Lawrenson says he was pulled over on his Harley-Davidson Street 500, breath-tested, had his licence checked and his bike inspected by police.

“The guy told me he was part of some Task Force and told me my bike was getting defected because of my illegal bars,” Nick says. 

witch Petition to change handlebar height rules Burleigh bars
Nick’s Street 500

“So they busted out a tape measure and I was a little over one centimetre from legal height. I was written up, fined and defected. 

“They allowed me to ride home, but in a nutshell, they tried to catch me on everything and anything. 

“I wasn’t wearing anything that supported or showed anything to any club whatsoever. It was pure harassment.”

Mat Lodge says he copped a defect notice, but no fine for the 14” Highballs on 2” risers on his 2014 Dyna Fat Bob.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Mat Lodge
Mat’s Fat Bob

“I’m 6’4” so the grips are lower than my shoulders and comfortable as,” he says.

“The bike handles better with them and I can easily ride all day with no aches or pains, unlike the stock bars.”

Mat says he was wearing colours when he was pulled over at a petrol staton by members of the NSW Raptor Squad.

Kane Swan considers himself a bit lucky that police only red-stickered his bike for ape-hanger bars.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Kane Swan
Kane’s supercharger

“They were more worried about the bars than the supercharger hanging off the side,” he says.

Adrian Reynolds and his son were pulled over as they left the Bankstown Bike Show.

“All we did was pull the bars back and they both passed,” he says.

Guy Annand was pulled over in heavy traffic in Parramatta by Raptor police who began asking which “gang” he belonged to and whom he rode with.

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Guy Annand
Guy is a “one-man gang’

Guy told them he is a “one-man gang”, but the police didn’t believe him because “people that ride with them bars are OMC gang members”.

He was fined for high bars and threatened with fines for his Vance & Hines exhaust being too loud, his mirrors being too small and a non-compliant helmet.

“They treated me like a criminal,” he says.

Repeat offenders warned

handlebars petition Burleigh Bars Kane Swan
Red sticker

Transport officials have warned riders against refitting “illegal” bars after fitting standard bars to pass a compliance test.

If riders are caught a second time with the offending bars, another defect notice could be issued with penalties up to about $250 depending on which state you are in.

You could also cop an infringement notice for riding or parking a defective vehicle on a road which is an extra $250-odd.

If the rider is a multiple repeat offender, a police officer may decide to have the matter heard in court rather than issue an infringement notice.

This decision is not limited to a repeat offence within a 12-month period.

If found guilty, the court will decide the penalty amount up to the regulated maximum penalty for not complying with the vehicle standards which is about 20 penalty units. That could mean a fine of up to $2532, not including court costs!

Queensland can be even tougher with its “anti-hooning laws” under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

They allow police to impound, immobilise and confiscate a vehicle being driven when a hooning offence is committed.

The anti-hooning laws apply:

·         If the defect notice requires the vehicle to be re-inspected by an police officer or a transport inspector to clear the defect notice;

·         it has not been cleared; and

·         the vehicle is being driven or ridden on the road.

  1. “He was fined for high bars and threatened with fines for his Vance & Hines exhaust being too loud, his mirrors being too small and a non-compliant helmet.”. Seriously? This bloke thinks he’s being harassed? Loud exhaust, tiny mirrors and illegal helmet; they should have impounded the bike and made him get a taxi home.

    1. Why do his helmet, mirrors and bars bother you so much Graeme? Do they affect you at all? Do they have any bearing whatsoever on your enjoyment of your bike and motorcycling?

      1. Not at all. The point I was making is that the bloke was contravening four road rules, but considers the attention he has drawn to himself as harassment. If he thinks it’s alright to flout the rules of the road, then he should be prepared to wear the consequences. It doesn’t in the least amount to harassment; that’s just a ridiculous claim.

        1. Rules implemented by a narcissistic government, instructing the police, whom mend to serve the people, not the government, to raise as much revenue as possible to sponsor a completely bankrupt government.
          Time for the people, not the majority braindead zombie voters, to take back the government!

  2. Wish the cops would do some real POLICE work instead of worrying about crap like this

  3. I’m afraid I’m with Graeme here. While I would normally be anti-nanny state, if you draw attention to yourself by deliberately ignoring the prevailing regulations in such an obvious way, you can hardly claim harassment when you are eventually caught…

  4. I am sure this will make it to the States soon enough … sigh!

    IMHO all these “laws and regs” are part of the plan. The Vision Zero plan to remove motorcycles from the road. If you get harassed enough you will start driving your car, thus helping them achieve their goal.

    As AU is a more “progressive” “European” nation it seems to be taking place a quicker pace. Hope I am wrong.

  5. Me I own a victory highball comes standard with ape bars what makes this any different from any other bike on the road if i get stopped and they want to fine me i will be fitting it in court. they have changed the laws for the width of handle bars. I did know that if your hands were above your shoulder you could be booked for that. what is going on in australia with governments making all the rules and laws if some one wants to make there bike to suit them i say let them if it’s not making the bike unsafe to handle then what is the problem most riders are not out to kill themselves they just want to make their bike more theirs not like ever other bike on the road i think its time for Australians to say enough is enough we don’t want to be told you can’t do this it’s not safe or you may get hurt we ride motorcycles for the thrill and the freedom it brings us.Whats next no you cant have sex it’s not safe.when will the breathing air tax come in so many do gooders and nannies it time they pulled their heads in and just get on with life and enjoy it.

  6. Quiet honestly i think this is another prime example of ways to extract more hard earned dollars out of the people for an unjustifiable defect infringmeant. There is no reliable proof that extended bars etc have any issue with the capabilities of the bike at all. In fact replacing the bars in most cases can be attuned to a more comfortable posture. Some are even changed for medical reasons. This law needs to be reviewed and removed as it has ni real cause for justification other than a revenue raising scheme. Predominately most cases i have seen or read in these infringements have been a blatant misuse of power and a undoubtable form of harrasment towards all bikers across all states. Cmon people. Maybe we should spend more of our tax dollars and police enforcement on real criminal activity. Just saying.

  7. I was on my Sportster sitting at a set of lights and a motorcycle cop was on the opposite side of the road facing me. While the lights were red, he indicated to me to pull over when the lights changed. And as a law abiding citizen that i am, i pulled over and waited for him. He looked at my bike, opened up his pannier and got out a tape measure. He measured the height and width of the bars, the distance between the rear indicators( which were working), got me to start the bike and rev it to 2000rpms for noise.. he then told me to take my helmet off and ask me how it was. He said he could defect the bike but that be too much paperwork and wrote out an infringement of $150 & 1point for handlebars being 900mm wide and indicators being too narrow (centre to centre)

  8. ” 16″ Carlini Gangster Bars ” definitely not compensating there Paul. I don’t understand how these chopper riders, with their OBNOXIOUS exhausts, tiny or non existent mirrors and defective helmets, feel they have any justification for acting like a bunch of victimised pansies when the law catches up to them. I agree, handlebars are probably not the most significant thing to be defecting on a bike, but it’s just a example of how so many motorcyclists flaunt vehicle code regulations.

    We’re not an exemption to the law and you do a disservice to other motorcyclists when you make your motorcycle less safe, or more of a nuisance to the public. Nobody wants to be breathing in the toxic shit your bike is spitting out of its exhaust now that you’ve decided you’d rather have “mad sound” than a catalytic converter. Nobody wants to listen to the ear wrenching noise your Harley makes as you tear down serene suburban streets on a weekend. Yet motorcycle culture has normalised these behaviours.

    1. Travis . Really I Mean Really. You Have no passion for Bikes . Put Ya Head Back in the Sand & dont pull it back out Regards Olly

  9. Just a kind word to Graeme… my handle bars were 900mm wide (legal distance), I had normal mirrors, the officer mentioned, said my helmet had to be replaced every 2yrs and my exhaust pipes weren’t loud (and unless checked in proper testing facility, he had no grounds to query the decibel reading), the guy was filling his quota which was exposed on one of the tv news stations and police

  10. I commented earlier about my sportster….as I am only 5ft 3in tall…the bikes are fairly tall to comfortably hold up with two feet sometimes. This makes the riding position change and if you buy a bike with the intention of riding a lot of kilometers, being comfortable is paramount. Just as it would be for a car owner to have reclini g bucket seats, stereo units fitted, heaters and air conditioning…..well so as it be for motorcycles!
    The standard handlebars on protesters to me aren’t adequate over long distances as I have to lean over the tank, so I opted for 10″ mini ape hanger handle bars which were at my shoulder height, making my riding position a lot more comfortable for long distance riding.
    So to all the negative replies about handlebar laws and rebelling against the law……shove it! Member your comfortability next time you’re in your cage listening to chamber music……signed peeeeed-off

  11. Some apes are just blood ridiculous and unnecessary to someone who has never ridden with them. I ride a softail slim and with the stock bars my back starts to hurt after a while. I want to fit 14″ bars to my bike which will keep my back straight and my hands still below my shoulder in a comfortable and easy to control position, but sadly it will be illegal to fit them. For those that complain try driving your car with the seat locked in the forward position for tall people and all the way back for the vertically challenged among us, you will be able to do it but it wont be comfortable at all. I understand its the law but honestly it makes no sense and is only a way to target people who ride and raise money off of us. P.S. I have ridden other bikes with apes/ high T-bars and they were comfy as and handled like a dream.

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