We should be paying a lot more attention to how our bikes fit us.
We tend to think so much about our bikes, don’t we? We’re fascinated by the specs and features in the excitement of the buying process, and once that lovely thing is home, we’re consumed by what kind of mods we want to make to it. But have you ever stopped to consider how well your bike fits?
Think about driving a car that’s new to you. You climb in, immediately adjust the seat, and steering wheel and (hopefully) check your mirrors to match the changes you’ve made. But on a bike? Hop on, (hopefully) ensure that the mirrors are reflecting the right view and off we go. The same tends to hold true with motorcycle ownership – most riders simply adapt to the bike they ride, rather than adapt their bike to correctly fit them.
Us motorcyclists come in all shapes and sizes – arms, legs, torsos, hands and feet, all come in various lengths, and manufacturers do their best to find some sort of ergonomic middle ground. Usually, the fit is “good enough,” but the fact is that you can get your bike to feel so much better than that.
The simple act of ensuring your hand and foot levers are correctly placed can go a long way. This is something most don’t notice, but awkward wrist angles, or having to overextend your ankles to use the levers are quite common issues and they can cause aches and pains in different parts of your body. These things can be so easily corrected with just some basic adjustments using a spanner.
Then there are aspects that can be improved with some money. If your non-adjustable hand levers don’t fit you right, adjustable levers are worth the investment. An overly soft or hard seat can be a real pain and it’s worth fixing this if you spend long hours in the saddle. Another possibility is that OEM handlebars simply may not be in the right shape for you, so buying something with less/ more width or a different taper can do wonders to your sense of control over the bike. Aftermarket rearsets can help too, but these tend to be more expensive.
What’s harder to work with are things like fuel tank shapes and this is something that’s better recognised before making a purchase decision. For example, I’ve got extra-long legs, so the kinked-out section of the Royal Enfield Himalayan’s tank intrudes with my knees under hard braking. It’s an annoyance and there’s no easy fix. As fond as I am of the Himalayan, this seemingly small issue is what holds me back from adding it to the imaginary list of bikes I could see myself owning. Things like this are why taking a test ride and paying attention to all the sensations you’re feeling is so important while motorcycle shopping.
There is a science to getting your motorcycle ergonomics right and you’ll find some great educational videos on YouTube. It’s only after you try this that you’ll realise how lovely a well-fitting bike can feel.
If nothing else, consider these adjustments to be a free upgrade, and who doesn’t love that!