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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
Motorcycle fitting guide.
We like Jerry Palladino for cruiser riding position and Lee Parks for a more sportsbike approach.
Jerry Palladino of Ride like a Pro explains:
Here's how the motorcycle should fit in order to properly control the bike and be comfortable at the same time. The bars should be well below the shoulders and the grips should allow the elbows to be bent. You should be able to turn full lock while only leaning slightly forward, or not leaning forward at all. With the bars fully turned, the grips should not hit your legs while your feet are on the pegs or floor boards.
You can achieve this by loosening the four bolts in the middle of your handlebars, which will allow you to pivot the bars back and forward. If this doesn't provide enough adjustment, you can buy aftermarket risers, which can raise the bars and optionally move them back also.
Don't forget to torque the fasteners and add a little thread adhesive when tightening them back up, this is one set of bolts you don't want to loosen up during the ride.
Clutch and Levers
Lee Parks suggests angling levers level or down, so that the palm and fingers follow the line of the arm, when in the riding position. This is a wrist-neutral position, which is less stress on the wrist, and gives more control on the levers.
The play on the levers can be adjusted on most bikes by adjusting an allen-head bolt. Cable-operated clutches can also be loosened from the clutch casing end to change the play at the lever.
Check your shop manual or model-specific forum for more specifics.
The seat should be adjusted so you can get feet flat on the ground, and properly operate the brake lever and other controls. Our bike-lowering page has information on replacing or changing the saddle for a lower seating position.
Most foot controls can be adjusted for initial height. Jerry Palladino doesn't recommend forward controls for people under 5' 8". Most experts claim you get better control with standard controls.
Lowering a Bike
One additional area of modification that can help safety is lowering the bike. If your bike is too high, in the case of people with short legs, including many women, it can be hard to get your feet planted on the ground, especially on slopes or uneven surfaces. Otherwise, it appears to be unsafe, in general, to modify your bike beyond the ways we already discussed.