Ten Simple Tips to Fine Tune Your Motorcycle Fit and Comfort
Using the controls on your motorcycle, and your “sit position” provide the best results when you feel like you too were designed to be part of the motorcycle you ride. There are a wide variety of easy and simple adjustments you can make to most any motorcycle to achieve better motorcycle fit it to your body shape and size. By doing so, you’ll enjoy a smoother, safer and more comfortable ride even reducing fatigue on those longer tours. Plus you’ll bring added safety to your use of the controls knowing they’re more within reach.
Adjust Clutch and Brake Levers
Both these levers need to be aligned to your usage. Often the setup from the dealer is slightly off but makes for a big difference when you’re using these levers. To adjust, sit on your motorcycle, stretch out your arms, and feel how your wrist is flexed when you extend your fingers to apply the lever. Your wrist is best when in a position of not being angled. The simplest way to check this is use a yardstick rested on the handlebar to the lever and check the angle. Compare this to the angle of your arm while fingers are extended over the lever. Then make these adjustments:
- Adjust clutch and brake levers by loosening their bracket clamps and rotating them until they’re at the right place and offering you the right angle. This is when the levers fall in line with your forearms, so there’s no bend in the wrist with fingers resting on the levers.
- Check and adjust clutch and front brake lever adjusters (at the lever’s base). If your motorcycle doesn’t have these, consider purchasing aftermarket performance levers as replacements. TIP: Keeping your cables well lubricated can have a big effect on lighting up the amount of pressure (pull) required by your hand. This of course assists in alleviating tired and often sore hands.
- Often your throttle has too much “free play” – the amount the twist grip is turned before the revs rise and power is delivered from the engine. This often causes stress on the wrist as you twist it more than you need to- resulting in aches especially if riding long distances. There need be only a couple millimetres of free play before the throttles open. For fine adjustment use the sleeve and locknut on the cable. Make sure throttles snap shut when you’ve finished. If this is not doable on your motorcycle, take it to your local mechanic for a quick adjustment.
- Handlebars: Traditional one-piece handlebars can be changed for different styles, or be loosened at the clamp and moved forward or backward to a more comfy position. Clip-on-type handlebars can be raised to a comfortable height and reach with aftermarket riser kits, or replaced with fully-adjustable items. As you sit on your motorcycle with hands on the grips, there really should be no discomfort in this sit-reach. If the reach is too far, you will feel tension or stress in the elbows and shoulders. This is the best indication your handlebars need adjusting.
- Shift Lever: Usually all shift levers require an adjustment. Foot controls can be adjusted to suit your physique (large feet, long legs etc.). Slack (excessive movement) and angle of lever can be tuned out of the gear-change mechanism using the adjuster threads on the linkage rod. The best way to measure these adjustments is to place your foot on the left side foot peg in a relaxed manner, without strain. While doing this you’ll be looking for using the shift lever without exertion or changing your foot position/angle. Whether down shifting or upshifting if your foot is at an extreme angle you’ll need to make adjustment for better control. The foot should not have to flex too much. Rear Brake Lever: Similar to the shift lever, your foot mustn’t need to flex too far up far up for your toe to reach the pedal and depress the lever. Furthermore, it can be uncomfortable and lead to unnecessary fatigue or inadvertent brake pad wear. Generally the adjustment bolt is located in the rear of the foot peg under the brake master cylinder, it has a pinch bolt that allows limited adjustment up or down. It can be set at a comfortable height via a screw and locknut setup. Check your owner’s manual for exact details.
SUSPENSION & TIRES
- Suspension can be adjusted to give your derriere and spine an easier time. A correctly set suspension shouldn’t see you bucked off of your seat when riding over poor road conditions. A click or two less compression and rebound damping usually provides good results. Conversely, adding more pre-load reduces the rear shock’s amount of travel with a passenger or luggage.
- Tire pressure & type: As motorcycle tires are the first line of suspension, pressures play a bigger part in comfort than you might imagine. Too hard and they transmit wrist-and-spine jarring shocks, too soft and they make steering heavy, and thus hard work on the shoulders and arms. Refer to the owner’s manual for correct pressures, or contact your local dealer/tire fitting shop. Also your tire profile can affect height differences to your motorcycle. There are a wide range of excellent motorcycle tires to choose from these days. And each can make huge steering and control differences to your motorcycle. Don’t rule this factor out –try different tire brands and profiles until you find the one which really gives you the comfort and of course performance you seek.
- Windscreen: Windblast from a low screen or non-faired bike stresses neck and shoulder muscles particularly on highway and long distance rides. An aftermarket windscreen, whether double-bubble, aerofoil, or simply a higher touring version can reduce windblast. On a naked style bike, a small aftermarket fairing can make huge differences and again, make a long ride more comfortable.
- Motorcycle Seat: Aftermarket seats made for example from GEL mould to your own shape providing incredible comfort for long rides. They also provide support to your spine. Alternatively, there are replacement seat specialists like Corbin Motorcycle Seats. You can also find local upholstery specialists who with shape and foam density can alter your current motorcycle seat.
- Posture: This is all important for a securer ride. Riding your motorcycle with a tensed upper body including shoulders will cause muscles to strain. This body form will cause every bump through the seat to be felt and over time have potentially harmful side effects to your body. Therefore from your waist up be as relaxed as possible. Sit erect and as naturally as you can on your particular motorcycle model. On sport bikes put the tension and pressure into the pegs. Arms need to be slightly bent at the elbows to absorb bumps.
Have a great ride!