Resources 9 Feb 2012

How To: Cockpit Set-Up

MotoOnline.com.au looks at key areas to focus on when setting up your controls.

Bike manufacturers spend a hell of a lot of time on the design of a bike, and whether it be the engine, suspension, or ergonomics, this design process is built around the bikes’ intended ‘average rider’. However, it remains to be seen if anyone has actually met this guy that has these custom bikes built to his exact specs!

Every rider is different in size, riding style, and the type of riding they do, so when it comes to the ergonomics and set-up of your machine, there are some very effective changes you can make that often cost nothing to make yourself feel comfortable on your steed.

’BAR BASICS
When it comes to setting up your cockpit and controls, handlebars are an obvious place to start. Thankfully, most bikes now come with alloy bars straight out of the factory, so quite often they will not even need replacing. In regard to positioning, a great starting point is to draw an imaginary line up from the fork angle and the bars should follow that.

From there you can make small fore and aft changes, but don’t go too extreme either way. This will cause the backward sweep of the ’bars to start to point either up or down.

If you are a rider who is substantially tall or short, or you’re still not quite happy with the feel of the stock unit, aftermarket companies provide plenty of height and sweep options. Your best bet is to sit on a few bikes with different bars and base your decision from that, rather than what your favourite supercross hero runs!

GET A GRIP
While on the subject of handlebars, your choice of grips can be a more important point than many may think. There are plenty of compound options, as well as the amount of waffle and thickness of the actual grip. Some riders like a thin grip for more feel, while others may choose a thicker, softer grip that can sometimes lessen arm pump and blistering.

Once again, run with personal preference and try to give a few different styles a run to find what works for you. Remember to always plug your bar ends and wire your grips to prevent the dreaded double throttles.

There are some very effective changes you can make that often cost nothing to make yourself feel comfortable on your steed.

LEVERAGE
Levers can be overlooked easily, but don’t be fooled, well set-up levers could change your next ride, both in the way of comfort and in how they handle their next dirt sample!

Try to mount them a fair way in along the bars, at least so they don’t stick out past the bar end itself. The further in you go, the more leverage you will gain, giving you an instantly lighter clutch and a more powerful front brake, for free.

Wrapping some plumbers Teflon tape around the ’bar where they are mounted is also a great idea. This allows you to tighten them up, but in the event of a crash, the whole assembly will turn, often saving in a broken lever, or even the whole perch.

Anyone who has had to buy a new hydraulic brake or clutch perch would strongly vouch for this little trick. It also gives you the ability to adjust your lever height on the side of the track without busting the toolkit out.

If you want to spend the money, a set of ‘unbreakable’ levers that bend back on themselves are also a great investment. They’ll save some money in broken levers and often save you from an otherwise front brake or clutchless ride home.

Try to mount your levers at an angle that will be comfortably reached in all riding positions, and also that won’t put a bad angle on your wrists. 30 or so degrees down from level is usually a fairly good starting point.

DOWNSTAIRS FOR DANCING
We’ve looked at our upstairs cockpit, but don’t forget those ever important foot controls. The generally accepted position for your brake and gear lever is to run them dead level with your foot peg. Slight adjustments up and down from there can be easily made.

And there you have it, with those easy steps you can customise your ride to feel like it’s built for you (not this elusive average rider) and save yourself some hard earned cash in the future.

The generally accepted position for your brake and gear lever is to run them dead level with your foot peg.

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