Here’s why ergonomics is everything for a rider.
Imagine building the most wicked high-performance American V-twin bagger imaginable. It’s souped up with a crate engine with ripping horsepower, top-shelf suspension components, and a serious amount of carbon composite.
Unfortunately, if your bike still lacks proper control and handling, those performance gains become more of a hindrance than an improvement.
The easy fix? Finding an optimal riding position that balances control, leverage, and comfort for ripping your V-twin motorcycle in the twisties, racetrack, and everywhere in between. With the help of a Harley Bagger Kit and some simple tips to improve the rider triangle, you can improve the performance and comfort of your bagger or V-twin to best match your riding style.
Here is why ergonomics and riding position is so important and how to find the ideal fit for your V-twin.
Benefits of Improved Ergonomics
Improved Ride Position
Tailoring the riding position of your Harley-Davidson or Indian V-twin is about enhancing the level of control to take advantage of its true performance and maximizing safety when pushing the envelope.
A high-performance American V-twin's ideal in-command ergonomic position will change everything. More leverage through an aggressive triangle, including an athletic lower-body stance, will improve your ability to handle your bike at high speeds. For example, you’ll notice when ripping through the canyons or on the racetrack you need to lead the motorcycle with your body rather than it leading you. Fixing this awkward position begins with rider fitment.
A properly fit, aggressive riding position will improve this type of riding efficiency by utilizing the strongest areas of your body instead of overworking other areas.
Overall the benefits of improving your riding position include:
- Better handling through turns
- Better control at high speeds, enabling you to go high speeds
- Improved safety
- Greater comfort while cruising
Better Ground Clearance
Increasing ground clearance is one of the major benefits of altering your V-twin's ride height. The higher the bike, the more lean angle before you start scraping floorboards and footpegs. ( Kraus One Floorboards have Delrin sliders, so you won’t destroy them.) This results in higher potential speeds when smashing the apexes of corners as well as increased safety due to the ability to maneuver to a greater degree in case that time comes.
How many videos have you seen or stories have you heard of riders coming into corners too hot but being limited by dragging hard parts until they run off the road? A few extra degrees of lean angle could be the difference in saving an accident.
First, lifting the rear of your bike as little as 1” with shock extensions can make a real difference. Second, replacing your front fork tubes with longer +2 models allows you to dial in the ride height.
The benefits of improving ground clearance for your V-twin’s lower body include:
- Higher lean angles at high speed
- Increased safety through turns or while leaning the bike
OK, so this point may be mundane, but upgrading your Harley-Davidson or Indian Rider controls is an easy step toward a high-performance build.
Aftermarket controls, especially minimalistic components like the Kraus ERG One Mini Boards will physically and visually lighten the appearance of your V-twin while adding a trick aftermarket look.
So get rid of those bulky floorboards and OEM components to improve the appearance of your V-twin and make it lighter.
Ways to Improve Ergonomics Easily
Let’s admit it: The V-twin crowd likely has the biggest discrepancy in rider shapes and sizes, so should we all be in the same position? Shorter riders, taller riders, riders with ailments, and other factors will demand different riding stances.
Unfortunately, a series of trials and errors when searching for the perfect fit can be time-consuming and expensive.
Products like the Kraus ERG Adjustable Moto Bars allow for fine-tuning handlebar angle and sweep without investing in another set of bars. The Road Glide handlebar arrives with everything you need to set up your Road Glide with the acclaimed Kraus Moto Bar treatment.
Other pieces, like the Kraus ERG One Floorboards, allow for the adjustability of a rider’s lower-body stance through one inch of the flexibility of front-to-back movement.
The Ideal Performance V-twin Position
Considering all that we’ve mentioned above, we’ve created a guide for the ideal blend of rider control, efficiency, and comfort to improve the ergonomics of your V-twin.
The handlebar is the motorcycle’s main point of control and where most riding inputs begin. Therefore, it’s likely the first aspect that should be considered when dialing in your ergonomic position.
It’s all about leverage. Ditch the ape hangers for a set of Road Glide T bars or something that offers easier reach and better control. The ideal position for a high-performance bagger has little rise and puts the rider slightly “on top” of the handlebar in an aggressive elbows-up stance.
The aforementioned ERG Moto Bars offer adjustability, but other options like handlebars from Fly and ODI may fit your preference.
Floorboard/ Footpeg Position
Regardless of what type of riding you’re into, the placement of lower controls is absolutely critical regarding maneuverability and safety.
Changing the lower-body stance of your riding position will take advantage of strong leg muscles to maneuver the motorcycle through a set of corners while using less upper-body strength to achieve the same goal. The result is more efficiency, quicker handling, and less strain on your body.
Regarding a high-performance V-twin bagger build, we typically place the aftermarket floorboards or footpegs in a more aggressive position relative to the OEM location.
Think of any athletic position, like the stance of an outfielder ready to pounce on a fly ball or a football player ready for a play to start. Almost every position imaginable encompasses a slight squat on the balls of your feet, ready to take advantage of the upcoming situation. A motorcycling position should be no different, especially if you plan on tearing it up at high speeds!
Of course, there’s a balance here, and you’ll have to find what works best for you. If long miles are still in your plans, the aggressiveness will be more limited than a track day build.
Traditionally, we think of saddles as comfort only, but on a high-performance build, it’s a critical component that offers control and safety.
Hammering through the twisties or racetrack presents much higher forces than a coffee shop ride, and the shape of the saddle can reinforce the riding position and ergonomically fit your body shape better. In addition, it will help you hold onto the motorcycle!
Secondly, the material that covers the saddle is equally essential. Hard acceleration and braking forces may slide you forward in the seat, especially if you’re wearing a slippery one-piece racing suit. Gripper material will combat this and hold you in place.
Bonus: Aftermarket Levers
Okay, one of the biggest gripes of American V-twins is the shapes and sizes of OEM-fitted clutch and brake levers.
Truthfully, they’re bulky and rob you of important feel and understanding of how much pressure is being applied. This is especially vital when trail braking hard toward the apex of a corner!
Aftermarket options, like those from Beringer, offer a more sportbike-like profile to combat this issue. The result is an improvement in feel and trust in your bagger.
Improving the rider triangle is the most simplistic yet effective upgrade to your high-performance bagger build. Forget the horsepower and bling bling for now. If the rider doesn’t have the control to take advantage of a ripping build, what’s the point?
Take your time, define what you’re looking for out of your bike’s performance, fit for your shape and size, and your body will thank you.