On long trips, many riders experience muscle fatigue in their hands and fingers from holding the throttle for an extended period of time. While some bikes come equipped with a cruise control very much like the ones in cars, most lack such a device. To remedy this problem, there are a variety of after-market products available in a wide range of styles and prices.
An electro-mechanical cruise control automatically adjusts the bike’s throttle controls to maintain a constant speed. It uses a computer to monitor electrical impulses from the speedometer. If the speed begins to vary from the set frequency, a servo adjusts the throttle accordingly. The cruise feature will automatically disengage when you apply the brakes or let off the clutch.
Cruise control assemblies are expensive; with some units priced upwards of $900 (even more if you factor in labor fees.) The instillation is complicated, but it is doable for the mechanically-inclined rider. However, we recommend setting aside an entire weekend for the project.
Although sometimes advertised as cruise control systems, throttle locks work differently. As the name implies, a throttle lock temporarily locks the throttle in one position. It works by providing friction resistance to the twisting motion of the throttle grip. This resistance is adjustable, so riders can achieve a constant throttle position while still allowing the throttle to be manually increased or decreased.
Unlike cruise control, your speed will fluctuate depending on the terrain: increasing as you go down hills and decreasing on inclines. It is very important to remember that most throttle locks will not automatically disengage if the brakes or clutch are used. Riders must remember to release the throttle manually, which can be tricky in an emergency situation. Throttle locks are usually pretty easy to instill, even for a motorcyclist with minimal mechanical experience and simple tools.
These devices are simple extension levers that affix to the throttle grip. They allow you to hold the throttle open using your palm, reducing the wrist strain, cramping and numbness many riders experience on long trips. Popular models include the Throttle Rocker and Crampbuster. Some riders complain that assists get in the way or they have trouble keeping them in place. Others swear by them, even installing one for both left and right hands.
Don’t let your brain go on autopilot
Whether you choose to install a cruise control system, throttle lock, or throttle assist, it’s always important to pay close attention to your surroundings. Only use these devices on open stretches of highway with minimal traffic. We recommend practicing emergency stops before heading out on your journey.
Source: “Motorcycle Cruise Control – FAQ” by Cruisin’ Dave, Valkyrie Riders.