Forward Controls vs Feet Under You

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Zanotti, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Zanotti

    Zanotti Been here awhile

    Apr 8, 2004
    I recently rode a Harley Softail Slim ( ) and really liked the overall bike.

    The big change for me was using forward controls vs having my feet under me. I have ridden standard bikes for 30 years and wonder how long it would take to get used to forward controls.

    Does anyone regularly switch betweeen these two types of controls and get used to it quickly?
  2. doxiedog

    doxiedog Been here awhile

    Feb 12, 2007
    Ow,ow, getting a cramp in my leg.
    Better stand up,woops Forward controls....drat! :)
  3. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    I will never own another feet forward bike.

    With the Slim your biggest concern should be that the bike only has 24 degrees of lean available and a SOFT suspension so you now need to pay attention to the corner speed signs. :deal

    Edit: This does not mean the FLS is a bad bike... but it does take more discipline to ride well.
  4. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

    Jul 7, 2005
    Asheville NC
    To actually answer your question:
    I don't get used to it quickly. It's a muscle memory thing for me. I need almost a week to get used to a feet forward bike because a lot of my learned responses to traffic situations involve peg use. Same for regular riding skills involving curves.

    I'd have to have a feet forward bike and nothing else, or not have one at all. I don't care for them at all.
  5. Me and my monkee

    Me and my monkee Out makin' Monkee Maps

    Apr 13, 2007
    Augusta GA
    I switch between the bikes in my sig all the time with no issues. The Eliminator has the most forward pegs, the Guzzi slightly less so. I do tend to use the passenger pegs in longer sections of highway though.
  6. scapegoat

    scapegoat Pushin forward back

    Dec 21, 2005
    The Left side
    Switching back and forth several times a week between a Wide glide with forward extensions no less (long legs) and a Ducati E900 was mentally ratteling. The FXDXT I recently parted with had the pegs in a comfy place (mid glide)for riding, but when it came to the stop light the pegs were just in the way, not far enough up or back to keep from trippin on them when you put your foot down, never did get used to that really.
    After years of switchin bikes up the GS'es, Tiger's, KTM 950 and E900 soon felt like they had rear sets and forward control bikes like I was sittin on the ground. At any rate the forward control bikes sit you on your ass cheeks, the trallies on your taint.:lol3
  7. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

    Jul 19, 2007
    You might miss the pegs a couple of times in the first few week, but once you get used to knowing where they are you switch between bikes very easily, unless you dont ride one for ages.

    Once going it is the same difference as riding two different feet underneath bikes.
  8. RaY YreKa

    RaY YreKa Palanquins RTW

    Mar 4, 2007
    Carried Forth
    Homo sapiens, out on the steppes and in the mountains, didn't have foot-forward controls on their wild horses.

    Our ancestors didn't hunt mammoths sitting back on their asses.

    We were hunched, ready, willing ourselves into battle.

    What was the question again? :D
  9. concours

    concours WFO for 44 years

    Dec 2, 2008
    Kensington, NH USA
    Feet forward puts ALL YOUR WEIGHT on your ass, totures your lumbar region. Pegs under you helps support your weight with you big leg muscles. Forward controls are a hold over from the Easy Rider days... a fad the MoCo and others are trying to keep alive. For a cruiser, the holy grail is the "kitchen chair", knees at 90 degrees. Highway pegs are usefull for stretching the knees occasionally. (NOT for continual use on city streets where the brake is 1.5 seconds away)

    This is me, 34 years ago, it hurts just to look at the picture now. I will NEVER, EVER ride a bike with forward controls again.
  10. Wobbleside

    Wobbleside Been here awhile

    Oct 23, 2011
    South Bay, SF Bay Area, California
    Can't stand feet forward personally.
    Did ACS Civilian Moto Course and rented one of their KZ1000P's and it was almost a deal breaker for me. I couldn't stand the floorboards. Foot and arm was cramped as well by the end of the 8 hours with those high angled toward me bars. I was so glad to get back on the Multistrada. But the nice thing was doing all those drills on a 600lb, super wide, super long wheel base bike then getting on my Multistrada made everything feel so easy!
  11. DRconvertible

    DRconvertible Lurking in SoCal

    Oct 13, 2004
    Westminster, CA
    You do get used to it and the more you trade back and forth, the faster that happens. I commute on a GSXR and then spend the weekend and long trips on a Kawsaki VN1700 Voyager.

    The Voyager has more of a feet mid-forward, rather than a full forward, but it does change the way you ride. It's funny the poster above talked about a KZ1000P. That's the first feet forward bike I ever rode and while it felt really odd at first, I adapted and reached a point where I could easily scrape boards at both low and high speeds. It is amazing at parking lot speeds.

    The Voyager is a big, heavy tourer, but is easy to handle at moderate speeds and drags boards staying ahead of the typical cruisers but falls behind when chasing the sport bikes.
  12. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Long timer

    Jan 9, 2011
    I forget
    When I started riding Harley touring bikes, I couldn't stand the foot positioning. And they're much less "foot forward" than the Slim. I'd spent my life riding standard/sport/dirtbike position. I felt unnnatural, and I kept missing shifts.

    That said, after a few weeks, the position grew on me. I have highway pegs on my Road glide...and that's waaaay foot forward, and I put my feet up there almost immediately when I go for a ride. I only put my feet on the floorboards to shift...or use my back brake.

    Except for: Rough roads, or dirt,, and when I really want to move thorugh the corners. Then I revert back to feet right under me, moving all around the seat and, ahem, trying to get my knee out there (silly, yes, on a Road Glide).

    But for most riding, the foot forward position is kinda a gas. It helps immensely to have a back rest. Then you can push against it while riding and give your butt a rest.

    Is it natural? I dunno. It's a lot like driving a car. Not like riding a horse. Not at all like making babies with the missus.

    One last thing: the heel toe shifter bugged me, until I broke my toe during a trip. I couldn't hardly touch the shifter with out toe pain...but smacking on the heel shifter: Genius!

  13. KingOfFleece

    KingOfFleece SplitWeight(tm) waterproof seat covers

    Aug 1, 2010
    Western New York
    If you want the Slim, buy it. You won't KNOW until you own one and ride one. I had 5 bikes with forwards-never again. That was then....................
  14. Bones750

    Bones750 Adventurer

    Mar 28, 2008
    Had forwards on my last cruiser and liked them. That being said, having had lower back issues for many years now, they really wreaked havoc on it and I got rid of the was just a bit small for me for the standard setup. My current bike has standard set-up with a heel-toe shifter and I really like it.....rarely use the toe. I like the solid, sure feeling of the gear change with the heel. Side benefit, your boots look nicer for longer.........yeah, yeah...I know.
  15. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

    Jan 26, 2011
    Richmond, Ohio
    My softail had foreword controls, sold it a few years ago, and my Sportster had forewords but I switched them out for mids. Also, my KLR has highway pegs that are in a comparable spot to where the Sportster forewords were. I reach for the brake sometimes on that one. :lol3

    Anyways, I somewhat like the forewords. Just cruising around on backroads they are very comfortable to me. Not exactly a 'natural' position, but still comfortable. The problems for me occur on the highway.

    For the Softail, that's what will concern you more:

    When I rode the Softail on it's one and only trip I was getting a bit beat up from them. For one the wind was pushing my feet off the pegs at 70+ mph, and two the wind was following my legs up and hitting me in the chin. I had a windshield on at that point, rest of the bike stock.

    When riding on the highway with no windshield it pushes your upper body back, and you rely on your arms to hold you up.

    More weight on your butt, with no relief in sight.

    For my Sportster I switched them to mids, for a combination of weight on my butt and for feet blowing off the pegs on the highway. Worth mentioning is that if I couldn't have switched them for free I wouldn't have done it, it didn't bother me much. I plan on buying highway pegs one day, and they will mount roughly in the same spot the old pegs were.

    Deal breaker? Nope. Not for me. I sold the softail to buy a Road King. I wanted a more long-haul capable bike, and the foreword controls vs. floorboards were just one piece of the puzzle. My main reasons were luggage ability and ride quality. My softail was lowered with a springer front end, not exactly the best long haul bike. The ex and I spent a week touring New York area on it, I was pretty sick of seeing the bike by the time we got back.
  16. uconnapharm

    uconnapharm Been here awhile

    Aug 30, 2005
    the 3 Harley's I have owned ,
    '98Sportster,'99Sportster & 2000 Dyna FXDX
    I always had to have
    BOTH mid-bike controls and foot forward controls
    around the city I used only mid-bike controls as I enjoyed riding aggressively ,
    whereas on the highway , foot forward controls relieved by back pain.
  17. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

    Jun 18, 2009
    the hills
    Cannot stand forward controls. The only exception is the footboards on my '80 FLH. Along with the pogo seat they work well.

    Another I could tolerate was the Softail Rocker. Surprisingly rideable and hadled well for what it was. Wouldn't buy one but they were fun to road test after working on.
  18. scapegoat

    scapegoat Pushin forward back

    Dec 21, 2005
    The Left side
    Ahhh...but they sat back on their asses after they got done whopin some :lol3
  19. Stobie

    Stobie Mr. Motivated

    Jun 27, 2002
    Stanley, NC
    I have had off-and-on lower back problems since tearing a muscle in my left lower back when I was a teenager, and have avoided riding anything with forward controls based on other people's comments about how they kill your back. Actually, I avoided cruisers altogether, for that and functional reasons.

    Within the last year or so, I have ridden my cousin's Star Raider several times, for about two hours at a time, and was really comfortable. The scooped-out shape of the seat is almost like having a mini-backrest that kept my pelvis from rotating back, keeping my lower back straight. The seat is also large enough to give a lot of support on the back of my thighs, spreading out the load very well. With a small shield, I could tour on that bike. Honestly, I was surprised at how well the bike worked as a motorcycle; not as compromised as I thought it would be, given the way it looks.

    Would I own a bike with forward controls? Yeah, but not the Raider. Don't like the chopper styling. I do like the Triumph Thunderbird Storm (have ridden a T-Bird SE), and the Harley Fat Bob. With the right seat, forward controls would be fine for a cruiser/weekend tourer for me. My 6'4" tall 36" inseam frame likes the legroom. The only adjustment I would have is the time it would take to get used to finding the pegs when pulling away from a stop.
  20. RevyRider

    RevyRider FXD Traveler

    Feb 24, 2010
    Revelstoke, BC
    I ride a 98 Harley FXDWG, it has the stock foot pegs and I have highway, or forward mounted foot pegs as well. I am not sure that I would be comfortable with just forward controls as I need to change up my riding position on long trips. I also like to have my feet on the stock pegs when I am getting into any tight curves or where a concieved requirement of techincal riding may be present. I feel that I have better control of the bike with my feet below me, versus in front of me.

    I like to ride long distances and find my body just needs to change up positions and/or to strecth out my legs, (34" inseam....). I also like to stand-up occassionally to further stretch for short periods at lower speeds. I have not tried foot boards, don't know how they would be??

    Sometimes on long trips on the highway, particularly freeways where one is unlikely to require immediate response, I will hook my heels over the passenger pegs behind me, again this helps to strech out the legs in a different position, ...a change is as good as a rest sometimes.

    My last bike was a DL 1000 V-Strom with stock foot pegs, ..kinda wished I would have had "highway pegs" on this bike to stretch out.

    Bottomline, ..I don't know that I would want to be restricted to just forward controls. :1drink