Riding Skills Series: Control Tailoring

1. Adjusting the controls to fit you brings greater comfort and allows you to optimize the body movements necessary to properly control your bike, which could be the difference between involvement in a mishap or safely avoiding it.

Adjusting the angle of the handlebar levers (especially the front brake) aids comfort, helps increase your braking "feel," eases the task of blipping the throttle between downshifts, and also helps ward off possible wrist problems. The rider's fingers in the first photo are bent upward at an awkward angle in order to reach the brake lever. This means he must readjust his grip to apply the brake, increasing reaction time significantly.

The second photo shows the angle adjusted so the rider can comfortably ap-ply the front brake without having to readjust his grip on the throttle. A tip: with the bike on its sidestand (or a buddy holding it), close your eyes, grasp the bars in your natural riding position, and reach for the levers. You should be able to reach them quickly and easily; the brake lever should be comfortably accessible with the throttle closed.

**2. ** Rear-brake-pedal adjustment is a matter of personal preference depending on the pedal's travel and how strong the rear brake is. The photo on the left shows the rider's ankle bent pretty severely in an unnatural riding position; it's not only uncomfortable but it could also lessen control feel during heavy braking. The photo on the right shows the pedal height adjusted to put the rider's ankle in a more natural position.

Remember that pedal adjustments should be done carefully and in small increments. Adjusting it too far downward could negatively affect your ground clearance. Take some time to experiment with various heights and setups. Check your owner's manual for the correct adjustment procedure.

**3. ** Shift-lever adjustment is also dependent on the rider and the particular motorcycle. Finding that perfect setup will take some experimentation.

The transmissions on some motorcycles require more lever travel to actuate the shift than others. The rider in the left photo has to strain his ankle to upshift, which isn't good. This can cause the rider to use excessive force on the shift lever, possibly bending the shift linkage rod (we've seen it happen), or open the door for missed shifts because of the movement required. The photo on the right shows the rider's ankle in a more natural position, reducing both the effort and concentration necessary to make the shift.

Again, some experimentation is necessary to accommodate your particular bike's transmission traits and any ground clearance problems you might encounter. Watch the shift lever and the brake pedal for any scrapage, and adjust accordingly. Adjustments are usually made on the shift linkage rod, or on the lever that fits over the splined shift shaft itself. Making the controls fit you is a small but important step in helping increase your riding skills.