er·go·nom·ics: a science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely: the parts or qualities of something’s design that make it easy to use (Webster)
The ergonomics of any motorcycle are not fixed and many manufacturers have devised clever ways to make your bike “fit you” better and we’re going to take a look at some of the items that you’ll want to consider when customizing a motorcycle to fit you and be as comfortable and efficient as possible.
The first thing I think about when I’m testing new motorcycles is “How well does this fit me?” Because if the machine is too big/small/heavy or whatever, I don’t want to be riding it on the street or the track.
Once I commit, I’ll take the bike out for a full day and take notes on how it “feels” during the ride. And that encompasses many factors that all add up to that magic feeling that makes the riding the best that it can be…so let’s take a look at what’s available and how to use these products for their correct application(s).
Simply put, these handlebar risers can dramatically change the position of your handlebars to suit your upper body and riding style. By changing the position of your upper body and distance to the handlebars, you can achieve better control and comfort on virtually any motorcycle.
We spoke with Ryan Jensen from ROX Speed FX, where they have pioneered advancements in the bar riser arena for all types of powersports vehicles.
TT: What are bar risers and why do you make pivoting units?
RJ: Handlebar risers are just what they sounds like, parts that raise your handlebars higher than they are located from the OEM position. Rox Pivoting handlebar risers are unique because they mount just like your handlebars and allow you to pivot your bars fore and aft to get you set up right where you want to be on your bike.
TT: When installing bar risers, what should we be aware of? i.e. – stock cable length limitations, handlebar choices, etc.
RJ: The #1 question we get asked is: “How high can I go with the stock cables, or will my stock cables work with a riser?” I would love to say that we have unlimited access to every bike out there but we do not.
The easiest way to find out how high you can go is to first, pull the bars out of the clamps, next lift them up and see how high you can go before the cables get tight. At that point figure out what cables are tight and see if you can cut any cable ties that might be holding them from gaining a bit more length. Next see if they can be rerouted if needed. A lot of times gaining a very little bit goes a long ways with risers.
The next question we get asked is: “What bar diameter does my bike come with?”
Again, I wish we knew what all bikes had. In the dirt bike, enduro and dual sport world there’s typically 2 sizes used; 7/8” (22mm) or 1 1/8” (28mm). Some of the newer BMW’s are coming with 1 ¼” bars too.
Once that’s figured out, decide what you’d like to gain from installing a riser. Most folks want to sit upright more on dual sport bikes. Dirt bikes and enduro bikes, it’s more common to get the bars more comfortable for standing. The biggest thing is to make the bike fit you, it’s amazing how much better the bike can be and how much more fun you can have when you make the ergonomics come to you.
TT: What is a 2-axis bar riser?
RJ: A 2 axis or “pivoting” handlebar riser allows you to pivot the bars right where you want them on the machine all while maintaining proper handlebar alignment. They are a way for you to make the machine come to you.
TT: Does installing bar risers affect any other parts of the bike’s ergonomics?
RJ: It can yes. Depending on the person, it can feel much different and most of the time for the better. Sometimes getting the bars more comfortable can bring out other areas that need some adjustments but rarely does it ever cause any negative issues.
Altering your seat foam is the least inexpensive, easiest and simplest way to raise or lower the seat height of your motorcycle. I’ve used this technique with great success on a number of my off-road mounts.
The lowering procedure has very little room for error, so if you aren’t comfortable with wielding an electric knife or installing a seat cover, it’s best left to a professional upholsterer. I’ve never seen this method used on street applications, and I would guess that is primarily due to the total re-engineering of the fitted seat cover.
Altering your seat foam so it’s taller is a lot easier and is a great method for taller riders to achieve the correct positioning on top of the bike. Manufacturers such as Enduro Engineering, Factory Effex, Guts Racing and SDG offer taller foam, replacement seat covers and even pre-made complete seats with approx. 1.5” of taller seating position.
FOOTPEGS , SHIFT LEVERS and BRAKE PEDALS
Many options abound for both street and dirt machines when it comes to altering the position of your footpegs and associated shift lever and brake pedal.
Off-road aftermarket footpegs are available from our friends at Pro Moto Billet, who make some of the best products in this segment. I’ve used their Fastway pegs, I have a set on my YZ144 and they are the bomb. Let’s look at what how they can help a rider “fit” on the bike.
We spoke with Caleb Frankamp from Fastway about how their footpegs work and what features they offer…
TT: How do adjustable footpegs help riders fit on their bikes?
CF: All Fastway footpeg styles are designed to utilize three patented adjustments: Adjustable Height, Adjustable Traction, and Adjustable Camber (tilt). Our Universal Collar System (UCS) allows you to mount Fastway foot pegs in either the stock or lowered positions on most bikes – simply by reversing the collar.
For shorter riders, they run them in the stock position. Taller riders (and those wanting less transition from sitting to standing) love our low-boy position, which offers up to 10mm of drop. The UCS system also makes it easy for you to fully rebuild your pegs, or take them with you to your new brand or model bike by simply changing out the collars.
All sets of Fastway pegs ship with 2 sets of F3 (replaceable) threaded cleats; short (10mm), and tall (12mm cleats); which allow you to customize the shape and traction level of your footbed. Set them up all tall, all short, arched center, tall outside, tapered, or get creative… We also offer F5 Serrated cleats, and the ultimate in traction– our F6 spiked cleats. F6 cleats are like being velcroed to your pegs.
Fastway has a Patented Camber (tilt) System allows you to customize the up or downward angle of your pegs to match your skeletal and joint angles. If it’s important to tune your motor, your suspension, your bar height and rotation– what about tuning the most load-bearing contact you have with your bike? Yep, your footpegs! Tune them in, and gain more endurance, control, and traction.
For the street side, there are also a huge range of options in aftermarket adjustable footpegs, and one cool new option for cruisers is the Kuryakyn SwingWing pegs which actually fastens in place of your stock peg and provides a secondary fold-out peg 3″ forward.
MFW (Germany) makes some really good options for footpegs for many sportbike/ADV and dual sport machines and it’s worth taking a closer look at their Vario System which helps you to find an ergonomic riding position with an adjustable footpeg system provides (up to) eight possible positions over a 360 degree range, and thus changes the position of the inside edge of the footpeg slightly thus by moving the foot outwards.
Adjustable shift levers for off-road machines from folks like Hammerhead Designs are “adjustable upward and downward with shim placement and fore and aft with optional shift tips”. These shift tips include options for different offsets that are quoted in degrees! We’ve seen this system and it is very trick…you can actually design the shifter using a myriad of different parts for a perfect feel, no matter the size of your foot or sole design on your boot.
Adjustable brake pedals for the street are fairly common with manufacturers like Cycle Pirates offering a forward-thinking adjustable unit that features three possible position combinations as well as a removable arm and folding toe tab.
Of course Hammerheads also offers some ultra-trick hardware in this category and their rear brake pedal with adjustable tip is machined from 6061 billet aluminum and the rotating tip positions are adjustable to change the length shorter, longer or stock.
Changing your handlebars is a simple way to change the way you fit into the cockpit of your ride. Almost all off-road handlebar manufacturers offer a variety of different sizes and shapes of handlebars. When looking at a change in your dirt machine’s handlebars, it’s best to ascertain what you don’t like about the current ones you use. Is the bar too far away when you sand up, not allowing full body extention? You need “taller” bars. Does your upper body feel cramped and you have to stand up to get leverage? Your bars are too short.
Handlebars are measured with three ways: Width, Height and Sweep (aka Pullback) so it’s best to know these measurements on your current ride so you know what measurements will need to change to suit your riding style.
On street bikes this becomes more complicated. Because of the various mounting systems and styles of handlebars, swapping them out can make for unwanted drama and expense.
LOWERING LINKS AND OTHER METHODS
And in our next installment (Part 2) we’ll expand this topic to include more sophisticated methods; including items like lowering links, adjustable linkage guards and more extensive suspension modifications and also delve into how these items can adversely affect handling and the remedies to such issues.