When it comes to riding fast and for long periods of time, most people only think of suspension and engine tuning but forget the very basics like proper bar and control positioning. Maybe that brand-new quad you just picked up comes with what is considered the hot ticket in handlebar options, but the settings from the factory might not be in the optimal position for you. I recently met up with Cole Townsend and Chris Avery from Fasst Company at one of our local tracks to discuss this topic. I figured that if I had any questions on this subject, who better to ask than the guys who make one of if not the best bar in the ATV industry.
What’s The Proper Bar For You?
The above photos show the...
The above photos show the right and wrong ways to position your handlebar and controls. In the middle you can see that the rider’s wrist position, grip and reach for the levers is at a natural and comfortable angle, while the others show the bar swept too far forward or back putting an extreme angle on the wrist as well as improperly positioned levers preventing a comfortable riding experience.
This question gets asked a lot, but nobody has ever really given a definitive answer. According to Cole and Chris, the key component to making the proper handlebar selection is paying attention to your outside arm extension as well as the inside mobility while you’re turning. “The rider’s outside arm when turning full lock should not be overly or fully extended. A fully extended arm reduces the control of the machine and quickly fatigues the rider, which can lead to injury. At the same time when turning full lock, the rider’s inside arm should be able to move freely.”
With this information, finding the correct height bar will be much easier. What you’re looking for is a bar that lets you push in a semi-downward motion allowing you to be in the most powerful position on the ATV. Having too tall of a bar can fatigue your shoulders and upper back, while too low of a bar fatigues your lower back. Most shops or mail-order stores don’t like to send out bars and have them come back, so often the best thing to do is find someone who might have a similar machine and see what bar they’re running so you can feel the difference yourself.
Clamp In And Go Right?
You just walked into your garage with your brand-new bar and now it’s time to clamp them on and hit the trail, right? Wrong. Making sure your bar is on or close to the same plane as your steering stem ensures that proper balance is attained and allows the rider to fully maneuver the ATV properly. According to the guys at Fasst, “If you run the bars too far forward, you can throw off the balance of the quad which leaves you overly extending your outside arm. If you have the bars rolled too far back, then the you end up feeling very cramped and bunched up on the quad, potentially putting you too far over the rear end.” Being too cramped while you’re riding is definitely not a good thing and could potentially lead to serious injury from a lack of control of your machine.
So now you’ve got the right bar and it is clamped into the steering stem right, so everything must be good to go, right? Wrong again. A few other adjustments still need to be made before you’re ready to ride.
Proper Positioning: Where Controls Need To Be
In my years of riding I’ve seen some crazy control positions, and some have just made me plain scared for the riders. To properly control your machine, increase ride longevity and decrease lap times, you must have your clutch, brake and throttle controls in the proper positions. “If you’ve ever looked down the start line of the pro class at any race, you would see that all of their controls are very similar in their setup. This is because it’s efficient and allows them to perform at their maximum potential.”
Barring any range-of-motion issues you may have, your levers should generally be in line with your arms while you’re sitting down. You also need to make sure they’re at the proper reach for your hand. It should never be a struggle to reach any of your controls because you should be comfortable enough reaching for them without having to think about it. For the throttle it all depends on what kind you use. If you ride a thumb throttle, you’ll want the lever range to move in a natural motion, which is usually slightly down. If you’re running a twist, you need to make sure you don’t have to roll your wrist back under the bar for full throttle.
Now that you’ve finally set up your new bar or even your existing one properly and your controls are dialed, put some fresh grips on that thing and get outside and ride. See if you can notice how much of a difference, if any, there is between your old setup versus the new one. We think you’ll feel a difference and like it. ATVR