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Proper set-up and use of motorcycle controls


Shane Watts

The handlebars and throttle, plus the clutch, front and rear brake levers are called “the controls” for a reason – this is how you control the bike therefore it is essential that you have a finger or two at most, or right side toes over the appropriate control at all times, ready to use. I can’t stress that enough!

It’s very critical that you have your controls in the preferred position, otherwise it will have a huge effect on your ability to properly control the motorcycle and to get into the correct body position.

With the handlebars, looking from underneath, the handlebars need to run straight down in line with your fork tubes. You don’t want them too far forward or back as it makes it very hard to be precise with your steering. With the clutch and front brake levers, you want to have them positioned just below horizontal. If they are pointing too far to the ground, it is hard to keep your fingers out there and to use those controls in all body positions that you move to on the bike.

Again, use one or two fingers, not three or four and have them out there at all times. Having four fingers on the levers makes it very easy for the bars to get ripped out of your hands and that is very dangerous. The free play for both of these levers needs to be adjusted so they are fully operational before they hit the knuckles of your fingers gripping the bars. The back side of the clutch lever needs to touch the outer portion of the grip once it is pulled in and this is achieved by having both the clutch and brake perch positioned towards the center of the bike about 2 inches or 50mm from the inside edge of the grip.

The indentation on the clutch lever is designed for your first finger to go there. If those perches are positioned too far to the outside of the bike, it is impossible to have your first finger in the correct position on the lever and have the rest of your hand up against the inner edge of the grip. Some students at my DirtWise schools have it messed up so bad that they actually ride with their pinky finger over the outside of the end of their barkbusters, no joke!

With the Flexx handlebars that I use, it is so much easier to attain the correct positioning as they have a much longer outer tube for control placement. The other great thing about them is that they move up and down and absorb a lot of the shock out of those beat up trails which is really good for your wrists, especially if they are like mine! The Flexx bars are a great investment and yes, you can buy them from shanewatts.com :smirk:

Your rear brake and shift lever need to be positioned horizontal to the foot peg for ease of use. This also allows you to have your toes over that rear brake at all times ready for instantaneous use on the trail.

So, before you ride next, be sure that all your controls are properly set-up. It absolutely does make a difference in your ability to control the bike.

Cheers,

Shane

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