Motorcycles are complicated beasts, but every component of your machine is working in tandem to create a unique riding experience. The first step to customizing a motorcycle to your needs and style is understanding how everything works together.
Basic Motorcycle Ergonomics
Your seat position, seat height and of course, handlebars all influence your riding position. But motorcycle ergonomics don’t just depend on the structure of your bike. They also depend on your body and desired riding position.
Sit down on your bike and think about these different elements. What angle are your arms at when your hands are on the bars? Is your back upright or leaned forward? How much do your knees bend when your feet are on the footpegs?
If you don’t yet have a bike, are shopping for a new one, or want a better perspective on these different elements of riding position, try using an ergonomics simulator. A simulator, like this one from Cycle-Ergo, allows you to select different motorcycle models and test the positioning based on height, angle, and seat position.
Why do Motorcycle Ergonomics Matter?
Okay, so you grasp how your body’s shape and size interact with the bike and its components, but why should you pay attention to these things? There are 5 crucial ways that your ergonomics affect your ride. Being aware of these mechanisms can help drive your decisions about not only which bike to buy, but how to customize your current ride or plan your outings.
Nobody likes to ride with shoulder, neck or back pain and numb hands or sore wrists! That feeling of "I just can't ride another mile..." should have no place on your rides. Proper ergonomic posture is essential for comfort and a must for long distance motorcycle riding.
Everyone has a different preferred riding position that gives them the most comfort. Don’t let your bike dictate your positioning. Check out these common riding positions and consider which is most comfortable for you.
Some riders make the mistake of choosing bikes and components for their style and not their ability to improve motorcycle performance and control. Motorcycle manufacturers are often the same. They design with style first and comfort last because style sells.
If you can’t make tight parking lot turns without leaning forward to reach for a grip that’s too far away, then your motorcycle ergonomics are working against you. Your handlebar reach is incorrect. You shouldn’t need to move around in your seat to accommodate low speed turns.
With proper ergonomics, you are able to feel fully in control of your machine even at low speeds.
Are you happy with your motorcycle performance? If you stop after only a short ride because you are uncomfortable or feel a lack of control, then neither you nor your motorcycle is performing well.
Good motorcycle performance comes from a lack of operational distractions and an overall sense of control. Your movements should be natural and unstrained to achieve the smoothest ride. To foster that state of control, you need to perfect your ergonomics. You can achieve this through simple bike modifications like installing handlebar risers or getting adjustable handlebars.
Confidence comes from feeling "one with the machine." Confidence is a state of mind derived from practice, experience, and reduced distractions. Without confidence, you are more prone to mistakes, cutting your rides short and getting less out of your motorcycle overall.
All the important elements of motorcycle ergonomics work hand in hand to help build your confidence on your bike. Comfort and control enhance your performance, and that, in turn, naturally improves your confidence in your abilities and your bike. The goal is to feel good when you are out riding, not only physically, but mentally too.
If you're not comfortable, you're not in control. Without good control, your performance level goes down, and your confidence is compromised. When you’re uncomfortable and uncertain you relinquish full safety. Do you see where we’re going with this?
First and foremost, to safely operate a motorcycle we must imagine that we are invisible to all other motorists on the road. To safely navigate the road, we must be able to achieve comfort, control, performance, and confidence.
If there is one thing you take away from this explanation of motorcycle ergonomics, it’s that optimizing your riding position is essential to your safety. Don’t compromise on motorcycle safety, it’s the most important aspect of your riding experience..
How to Change Your Motorcycle Ergonomics
If you’ve come to realize that your riding position is not ideal, there are ways to fix it. We discussed earlier that motorcycle seat height, seat position and handlebars all contribute to how your body fits on your bike. Making some adjustments to these motorcycle features can drastically change your ergonomics and provide you with a better ride--and for less money than purchasing a whole new bike.
Motorcycle Seat Modifications
If the stock seat is causing you pain or not providing the right ergonomics, you can change the seat of your bike to help you get a better overall position. Explore high quality, hand crafted seat modifications from our friends at Corbin.
Changing Handlebars Can Improve Your Comfort
Many top motorcycle mod lists fail to include handlebar modifications as one of the easiest and most effective ways to change your riding position and eliminate motorcycle pain. Your handlebars are a point of control between you and your bike, and if you can achieve a comfortable hand position and grip, your ride will improve greatly.
To understand different types of handlebars and how each would affect your ride, check out our complete guide to handlebar modifications.