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2015 SD Legislation

Repeal Handlebar Height law




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9/20/2014
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


11/15/2014
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


1/15 - 1/16/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Legislative Days
Capitol Bldg &
American Legion
Pierre, SD


1/17/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 10:00 AM
Pierre, SD


3/14/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


5/16/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


7/18/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


9/19/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD


11/14/2015
ABATE of South Dakota
Board of Directors Mtg
American Legion
Meeting time 1:00 PM
Pierre, SD



Bill to repeal this statute is Senate Bill 85

SD motorcycle handlebar height

Current law:

South Dakota: 32-20-3. Required handlebar height -- Violation as petty offense. No person may operate on a public street or highway a motorcycle equipped with a handlebar positioned so that the grips of the handlebar are at or above shoulder height of the person when sitting astride the seat. A violation of this section is a petty offense.

No Restrictions (13 states)

Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee

Talking Points for Repeal of Handlebar Height Limit -

  • NO NATIONAL OR STATE STANDARD. At least one manufacturer sells factory motorcycles with bars above the limit in SD. A brand new motorcycle can be legal in one state and illegal in another.

  • There is no commonly agreed upon standard between the states.

  • Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 123 sets criteria for the standardized placement of controls and footrests, but makes absolutely no mention at all on the suggested height of handlebars.

  • COMFORT OR STYLE, NOT SAFETY. There are no scientific studies showing handlebar height to have a negative impact on safety. The only study involving handlebars was a 1973 study of handlebars on bicycles. That study concluded that high handlebars actually improved handling in some maneuvers and overall high handlebars had no detrimental effect

  • The handling characteristics of a motorcycle are determined by frame, fork and wheel geometry. The height of the handlebars is purely a matter of personal preference and comfort, much like the tilt wheel feature in automobiles. Tilt wheels in automobiles prove that the vehicle can be operated with the hands in different positions. Applied to the human physique, a size 7 shoe just won’t work for a guy who wears size 12.

  • Handlebar height is purely a matter of personal comfort or style.

  • If a rider is stopped while riding up a hill with a 6 degree grade, his/her handgrips will obviously be higher than his/her shoulders.

  • Stock handlebars do not fit all body types/sizes and can be very uncomfortable causing a distraction that is unsafe for the rider. Personal comfort actually promotes safer, more alert riding. The risks of being forced to ride outside the comfort zone for those riders who prefer these types of high handlebars presents a unique safety hazard of its own.

  • If you make the switch to high handle bars, you may be in for some extra comfort as well. Harley riders have some very common reasons for switching from stock handle bars to high handle bars; stock bars are uncomfortable, neck and shoulder blade pain issues, numbness in lower arms & wrists, unable to ride long distances.

Human factors expert Dr. Alex Stedmond of the UK Center for Motorcycle Ergonomics agrees. While studying motorcycle ergonomics, he found that body part discomfort due to neck, shoulders, upper arms & lower arms, were ranked highest by riders.





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