As most of you know, Brian, President of Ricor, sent me a set of their Intiminators to try out in exchange for reporting back to XL Forum. Last week he sent me a pair of Vibranators, free, in exchange for reporting how I liked them. I like them.
The black part on one end is a rubber bushing, the long shiny cylinder is the counterweight. The cylinder is put into the bars first, so the rubber bushing is on the outside of the bar. Then you tighten down on the bushing with the allen bolt to expand it out and grip the bars. The counterweight must be free to move, it cannot hit the bars where they bend or any internal wiring. I forgot to measure the length, but I think you need a bit under 5" clear space inside the bars.
Having a buddy who can provide an extra hand makes things a bit easier, because you end up having to hold and adjust several parts at once. Cover tank and fender with a blanket to protect the paint. Be carefull to not twist or kink wires, cables, or brake lines. Before you take anything apart, note the postion of the bars and levers, so you can get them back in the same position.
There are two T-27 Torx bolts to remove the lever / mirror mount. In this picture, only the switch gear is left on the handle bar. I put blue tape to show two things to be aware of. The lower left piece indicates the brake light switch. The other is on top of a square key that must fit into a square slot in the lever clamp to align both parts. Just be carefull of these two things. I have read other reports about some clip or spring in the switch gear that falls out. I don't know what they are refering to. I slipped the switch gear off the bars without opening them up. I suppose doing it this way avoids the clip / spring problem. The switch gear uses a T-25 Torx for the 2 bolts. The clutch housing also has a small alignment pin and notch, it is in a different position. Look for it and you will see it.
In this picture, I have removed the clutch lever and mirror mount. Notice the groove on the inside right part of the hand grip. The edge of the clutch / mirror mount fits into that groove.
(EDIT: The switch gear mount fits in the groove. The clutch mount is inboard of the switch gear.)
Trying to remove and replace the left grip is like trying to change your own tires. It can be done, but is something I try to avoid if at all possible. It appears the grip is glued on. Probably the only way to get it off is to cut it off, and buy a new grip and glue. Instead, I used a razor blade to cut part way through the end of the grip, right next to the metal bar.
If you have an extra hand, you really don't need to remove the clutch mount. But removing it does make it easier to manipulate the bars in the next step.
See the next picture on tightening up the rubber bushing on the Vibranators before you remove the upper handle bar clamp. The reason you have to remove the bars is because the throttle cables are not long enough to allow you to slide the throttle housing and switch gear off the bars when they are mounted in place.
You can see the knurling on the handle bars. When you put it back together, make sure you center the bars in the clamp by lining up the knurled parts to the clamp.
In this picture, the Vibranators are in backwards, just to tighten up and expand the rubber bushing a bit. You want the rubber bushing to be tight enough to not spin when you reverse it, but loose enough to push into the bars. I overtightened mine a bit too much, and had to use a hammer and punch to tap it in. DO NOT install it this way, it must be removed and turned around so the metal counterweight goes in the bars first.
In this picture, the Vibranators are installed. I used a piece of black foam on the bars just to give the camera something to focus on. Now you can see the allen bolt you tighten down, really tight, to hold the Vibranators in place. Notice how the allen bolt is recessed below the end of the bar. This is very important on the throttle side to prevent from binding up throttle movement. Make sure you double check the throttle is not binding and snaps back to idle when you let go of it. If you have a carb, be carefull to not twist the throttle too much or too many times to avoid flooding the engine.
You can also see the pitted metal on the allen bolt where I pounded it in with a framing hammer because I overtightened the rubber bushing too much. That's just me, in a hurry. I tend to like taking a hammer to Mr. Harley. Be carefull, pounding on the allen head may close it up and then you will not be able to get a allen wrench in it. I used a small punch to tap it in the rest of the way. You will need to slip the throttle housing back on the bars before you mount the upper handle bar clamp.
If you made it this far, you should be able to get it back together. Go for a short ride and check the position of the handle bars and levers. You may want to readjust them a bit if you did not get them back in the exact same postion.
That white tape on the grips is called 3M Surgical Foam Tape. I buy it by the box and use it on my dirt bike bars. I like larger grips. I usually use black tennis racket tape on my street bikes, but I didn't have any, so I used the 3M foam tape. It is getting time to change it.
Now for the test ride and report. I have put about 200 miles on the bike with the Vibranators. The whole time I was riding I was trying to figure out how to explain them. They knock off most of the handle bar vibration, most of the time. From idle to 3,000 rpm, I could still feel the Harley rumble come through, but barely. Actually, I liked it, more of a slight tickle than a hard pounding. At 3 to 5,000, the bars were so vibration free, I could feel more road bumps through the bars than vibration. Above 5,000 rpm, I was usually too busy to pay any attention to the bars which indicates I wasn't feeling enough of anything to think about it.
I traded rides with a buddy who traded in his Roadster for a new Fat Bob. The Fat Bob needs both the Intiminators and Vibranators, and I suspect will respond very well to them. The forks were overdamped, and the handle bar vibration was not too comfortable. After riding my bike, he said he could not feel any handle bar vibration at all compared to his Fat Bob.
I cannot really compare the Intiminators directly with using handle bar weights because I didn't have handle bar weights in my Roadster to begin with. I have ridden other bikes with regular handle bar weights. My dirt bike has internal handle bar weights. Other than saying the Vibranators seem to be more effective and work over a wider range of vibration frequency and amplitudes, I can't really figure out how to describe the difference. Keep in mind, vibration is a funny thing. If you have different different bars, the effect you feel may be different.
If you are having wrist problems, the cost of the Vibrantors will be well worth it, especially if you tend to do longer rides. In fact, adding Intiminators early in your riding career will probably reduce the likely hood of long term wrist damage. Young guys won't understand that statement, older guys will.
I will sum it up this way. Adding the Ricor Intiminators and Vibranators have transformed my bike. I can jump on any bike and start making a mental list of things to change or improve. Yesterday, I found myself just enjoying the ride. No mental lists, no achy wrists. That's pretty rare for me.
By the way, I'm not trading my Roadster in for a Fat Bob.