Have you ever worn a pair of jeans that are too tight? It’s uncomfortable to sit and you wonder if it’s obvious to those around you that they should be one size larger. How about when they’re too loose? You’re constantly pulling them up and might find yourself walking on the bottoms causing them to fray.
It’s so nice when you find that pair of jeans that allow you to move easily, have the flexibility you need, and look good!
You can also have that feeling when it comes to fitting your bike. There are many adjustments you can do yourself and others that will likely require professional help.
Proper seat height should allow for a bend in your knee so you can maneuver your bike easily. I adjusted the height of my latest motorcycle, a Harley Davidson Street Glide, by having much of the foam shaved from the sides of the seat where my thighs were.
I then had the rest of the seat shaved by one inch and the area under my buttocks hollowed out and replaced with a gel pad. The leather was re-stretched over the seat, secured, and it was perfect!
You may also want to add padding in back of your buttocks to help move you forward. Or if you are tall, you may want the seat moved back to allow more leg room.
Whether you have older shocks or the newer air shocks there should be some adjustment that you can make. Consult your owner’s manual. If you have air shocks, NEVER use compressed air to add air to them. A simple hand pump is all you need.
You may be able to buy shorter shocks, but putting them on may be difficult since the rear tire has to be removed. There are also lowering kits that can be ordered and installed but that should be done by a professional. Any time you alter your suspension you typically give up a bit of comfort in the process.
Adjusting how far the handlebars move toward you or away from you is easy but best done with a friend.
- With your bike on the kickstand, put your feet on your footboards or foot pegs and both hands on the handlebars. There should be a significant bend in your elbow.
- Now turn the handlebars as far as you can to the left. Your right hand should still be able to fully grip the handlebar. Your left hand should be able to pull the clutch in and not be so close to you that it is difficult to operate the controls.
- Do the same to the right. If the bars need to be adjusted toward you or further away from you, have a friend loosen the nuts on the risers (do not remove) and adjust the handlebars to an area of comfort, then tighten the nuts making sure they are very snug.
- Move the handlebars to the left and again to the right. If after adjusting the handlebars you are still uncomfortable, you may need to consult a professional about changing them.
Handlebar posts (see pictures) can also be added or adjusted to bring the bars closer to you.
Many years ago a clutch took a bit of effort for a person with small hands to pull in all of the way in to disengage the gears and shift. But most new bikes are equipped with an easy clutch.
If you have don’t have an easy clutch, the Old School fix is to loosen the clutch cable, making it easier to squeeze. You will need to lubricate the cable from time to time so that it doesn’t bind up or fray. You may also want to carry an extra clutch cable and installation tools along on longer trips since clutch cables are known to snap.
The front wheel brake lever can typically be operated with just two fingers and adjusted without disengaging anything.
Position the levers so that your hand is in a comfortable position and you are not reaching for the levers. Loosen the screws that hold the levers on and just like the handlebar adjustment, have someone tighten the screws securely after rotating the levers to a comfortable position.
The left mirror should be angled so that you are looking over your shoulder at the lane behind you. Your right mirror should give a view of the top of your shoulder and the lane to your right.
Proper mirror adjustment helps you keep track of your surroundings, but you still need to turn your head to look for blind spots before changing lanes.
If you have any difficulty lifting the shifter up with your toes, it will need to be adjusted.
The shifter peg is on a spline—a shaft with a gear type or end—and typically is held in place by one screw.
Remove the screw. Pry the shifter peg off with a screwdriver. Adjust for comfort and function then tap back on with a hammer until the peg is flush with the shaft, making sure to line the grooves up. It should tap on easily. Do not force.
Rear Brake Pedal
The rear brake pedal should not need adjustment, as it only requires that you press down on the pedal.
You want to be able to easily reach them. Depending on the style, you will need a couple of wrenches or an Allen wrench.
- Loosen screws or bolts
- Adjust for comfort.
Once you are comfortable you will be able to handle your motorcycle with more ease. Faster stops and handling of the bike becomes easier and you don’t have to “work” so hard just to ride.
If you are new to motorcycling have someone give you a hand. If you have an owner’s manual check to see what instruction it might provide. The best benefit from adjusting your bike is maximum comfort and you’ll enjoy your ride that much more!
The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of Allstate.