I’m 50 now, and not as flexible as I was when I started riding motorcycles many years ago. I always preferred the more comfortable sportsbikes like CBR600s and ZX6Rs (I still have a 1999 Kawasaki), and the more upright riding position of the 2019 R1250GS I have now is as fantastic for thrashing around back roads as it is for eating up the miles on a motorway. But it’s not perfect.
Exacerbated by a trapped nerve in my shoulder, I’ve been noticing an achy tension in my back and neck while riding, which seemed to ease when I let go of the bars and brought my hands back a little. Which is why I fitted the SW Motech Bar Back Variable risers on review here…
Much more comfortable
Good range of adjustability
Excellent build quality
The bars are unadjustably increased in height
Construction & adjustability
With superb machining of the aluminium and a great quality finish, the SW Motech Bar Back Variable risers feel of extremely high quality and come with all the fittings needed. Tools aren’t included, and neither is threadlock, though the chances are that anyone happy installing these themselves will already have the kit they need. If you’re not comfortable with it, your dealer will be able to help.
There are three versions of the Bar Back Variables to suit bars with a diameter of 22mm, 28mm and 32mm. All of them allow the bars to be moved back by up to 60mm in 5mm increments, but they also raise the bars by a set amount, depending on the model you have:
Bar diameterSet rise22mm25mm28mm28mm32mm30mm
Once fitted, it’s possible to adjust the bar position using an Allen key when you’re out, and I did throw one in my Daypack while I put the first few miles on and decided where I wanted to set the bars. Once the grubscrew is loosened, you might need to give the bars a slight jiggle to loosen off the locking pin before you can slide the bars back and forth.
The Bar Back Variables have six very positively-engaged positions that ensure you set the bars equally and securely thanks to an accurately-machined locator pin that engages with a single M8 grubscrew on each side.
Fitting the SW Motech Bar Back Variables
The supplied instructions cover all aspects of fitting but do read them carefully – it’s easy to skirt over them – especially as the English language sections are secondary to the German – but there are some very important points to follow. Overall, it took me about 15 minutes to install the Bar Back Variables.
Torque settings are included, which is helpful, and I would recommend using threadlock – ideally a lightweight one for the position-setting grubscrew and a medium weight for the other eight fasteners.
I also added some white lithium grease to the adjuster rails to help them move freely, though this isn’t vital.
Once fitted, it’s important to check that none of the cables are pulled tight at any bar position, and of course that the bars don’t hit any part of the bike at full lock either side. I checked the full range of adjustment right up to 60mm back and my R1250GS had no problems at all. The only thing I needed to do was adjust my tank bag to sit back a little further than it was before fitting these Bar Back Variables.
Always check the bars have full movement after fitting
I haven’t noticed any change in the handling dynamics of the bike. The Telelever suspension of the GS makes it handle very confidently yet surprisingly quickly, and I haven’t felt that’s changed at all since fitting the SW Motech Bar Back Variables.
When standing up on the gentle byways I enjoy, I still feel in a very good position, the bars being correctly set for my frame.
Four alternatives to the SW Motech Bar Back Variable risers
It’s important to point out that there are bar-back risers available from the likes of Ali Express, and while I haven’t handled them, I would advise extreme caution when buying anything for your motorcycle from here. Looking at the fake Evotech Performance products, the construction was in some cases very worrying, and I personally would never trust anything like this on something as important as my bike’s controls. Yes, you could save a lot of money, but you have to question at what cost.
While not available from the UK importer, SW Motech does offer a Bar Back that has a set position. For the 28mm bars of the GS, this raises the bars by 30mm and sets them back by 22mm.
Wunderlich makes risers that put the bars 38mm higher and 27mm closer for £115.
Rox Speed offers pivoting risers that are around £92. These give a 50mm rise, which will reduce as you pitch them back in the clamp.
You could try rotating your bike’s bars down to bring them a little closer, though make sure they don’t foul anything at full lock, and that the cables aren’t stretched. Also check that the levers are still in the right position to be comfortable.
As we haven’t been able to test these others, we can’t make any recommendations on which might be best for you. From a personal perspective though, the SW Motech Bar Back Variables offer a perfect solution for my height and riding position, while also giving excellent adjustability.
SW Motech Bar Back Variable risers: verdict
I’m 5’10” with a reach of about 27 inches (69cm) from armpit to fingertips. My BMW R1250GS is not an uncomfortable bike by any stretch of the imagination – the ergonomics are clearly the result of many years of fine-tuning, and being able to adjust the seat, and rotate the bars, makes this one of the most comfortable machines I’ve ridden (it’s the 21st I’ve owned, as well as the hundreds I’ve ridden throughout my career). But I was having issues with my back and couldn’t help thinking that if I was able to reduce the reach to the bars slightly, I’d be more comfortable.
The SW Motech Bar Back Variable risers have worked perfectly for me. Set at 10mm back, I’m not noticing any more aches and pains; I really can’t recommend these highly enough. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re extremely well made, and they’ve upped my enjoyment of the bike even more.
Comfort on a motorcycle is entirely subjective, and you must be aware that these Bar Back Variables will unadjustably increase the bar height. Whether or not they’ll suit your riding position and body shape is impossible for me to say, but I certainly wouldn’t be without them now.