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W650 in Kinosaki

Motorcycle Cruise Control

Motorcycling is also about braving the elements, about ergonomics as an afterthought, and just because motorcycling is the most fun way to get around that doesn’t make it an easy way.

For those reasons I wasn’t sure where I stood on the motorcycle cruise control argument.

In the past we’ve compared disk brakes to drum brakes, air cooling to liquid cooling and carburetors to fuel injection. This week the YouMotorcycle Team was asked to answer a simple question:

Motorcycle cruise-control, yay or nay, and why? Three experienced motorcyclists all of whom work or have worked in the motorcycle industry were asked. Each weighed out the pros and cons.

First up, new contributor and former interviewee, Worth Cadenhead. Worth might be the new guy on the team, but he’s seen his share of the motorcycle business too.

Worth: Objectively, I don’t care. But for me, Nay. Why? Because I’ve used motorcycle cruise control before and hated it, both the aftermarket, throttle lock variety, and also factory installed electronic cruise control. I found the word “control” to be a misnomer, because once I released pressure on the throttle and didn’t slow down, it felt like I had NO control. The last thing I want is to be in the pilot’s seat and feel like somebody else is driving.

Honda VFR V4 VTEC

Second up is veteran YouMotorcycle contributor and sometimes motorcycle stuntman, Happy Gilmore. He’s been a long time contributor to YouMotorcycle and has written some of site’s most popular and least popular articles. Happy’s been in the motorcycle industry for five years and knows a thing or few.

Happy: Yay. Motorcycle cruise control is smart. It can improve mileage and reduce hand cramping which could result in improved motorcycle touring. Being Germanic though I have to look at the details. I’d say it should be like a car’s in which if you touch any of the levers or foot pegs it automatically cancels. Furthermore, lets get adaptive cruise control as a standard feature for bikes with cruise control. Let it works like a park-assist sensor for the back of the car, but one that would cut throttle positioning to slow the bike down if it noticed it was approaching a slower moving vehicle. Not only would this improve bike safety, but it should reduce squiddy-squidness so that immature sport bike riders couldn’t ride the asses of slower cars while they are in cruise control.

If you don’t like the feature don’t use it. But it’s about time motorcycles receive the same technology that is already available for other modes of transportation.

W650 in Kinosaki

Finally, YouMotorcycle founder Adrian’s take on motorcycle cruise control. No one asked him, he just sticks his nose in everything around here.

Adrian: Motorcycle cruise control? Nay. In all honesty, I would infrequently feel comfortable using it. Guestimation tells me that 80% of my riding is done within 50 km of the most populated city in the country. I never have the space to on the road to afford myself the luxury of traveling at a constant speed for very long.

I know of other riders, like MISSRIDER, tour ten thousand miles across continents every year. I’ve seen her cruise control setup. I understand and admire her need for it, but I am not worthy of it.

Recap: Motorcycle cruise control can be great for those who really need it, though those riders are probably few and far between. It’s not for everyone, and the name “cruise control” is a bit of a misnomer. Many motorcyclists won’t be a fan of the with the loss of control associated with it. Nonetheless, more options for motorcyclists is never a bad thing.

It’s interesting that none of the three motorcyclists thought to mention the negative reaction many in the motorcycle community have had to new technology in the past. Talks about Anti-lock Braking Systems and Fuel Injection saw plenty of nay-sayers as the technology slowly became adopted by the motorcycle industry. Are we seeing the same stubborn nay-sayer vs. eager early adopter type of argument here?

Where do you stand? Cruise control on a motorcycle, yay or nay, and why?

Please leave a comment and say your bit!

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

13 comments

  1. Yay living in Western Australia we have some of the longest roads in the world you can leave perth and go on a 500 km cruise without a stop I have found my hand cramps every now and then and I was seriously thinking of forking out several hundred dollars for a cruise control for my bike because when your coming from a highway into a small town and you need to slow down and your fingers are cramped around that throttle and you have to use your other hand to un grip your hand that can be quite dangerous in my book I’ve had it happen to me on a number of occasions if I wasn’t an expirienced rider I may have had some dilemmas it’s nice to know that there are these concepts floating around in the motorcycle developers heads

    • Hey David! I hear you on the sudden need to change speeds. Welcome to the site and thanks for leaving a comment by the way. My best friend has vanished for a year to travel across Australia in a purple minivan with his girlfriend. If you see him be sure to give him a wave as you ride past alright?

  2. A good cruise control only takes control when the rider wants it to so for me it is not about giving away the control but just about having some assistance on long trips.
    On my current bike, a BMW R1100GS, I don’t have cruise control but on previous bikes I had and I have it in my car.
    I don’t use it very often but sometimes, on long trips, it is nice to be able to give your throttle hand some rest.

  3. I have cruise control on my bike (BMW K1200 LT) and use it rarely, but when I do it’s handy to have. I do lots of long distance trips (5 to 15,000 kilometers at a time). It gives a break to gripping the throttle all the time. I do not feel i am giving up control of my bike at all as I set the speed I want and it stays there till I want to change it, and mine does switch off the instant I touch a brake pedal or handle, just the way it should. I would say it’s a definite benefit.

  4. I have a palm attachment. Looks like a bent shoehorn, works great to take the strain off the fingers and hand on long rides.

    • Hey Rick, I had the same thing on my 2005 Suzuki Boulevard M50. I would lean on it for a few minutes at a time to stretch out the hands. Definitely nice to relieve the pressure.

  5. My next bike will have cruise control. I’ve ridden 600 miles on my VStrom 650 to attend motorcycle events. These are usually events with recommended rides in the area. I found my throttle hand tired from the long ride the day before and don’t enjoy the local rides as much because of it. It would be very helpful to have cruise control for the long straight stretches of road. Also, a little more than a year ago I hurt my wrist hunting (actually retrieving a deer). My hand and wrist are mostly healed but I’d still like to be able to give them a rest on a long ride. My father-in-law (89 y/o) now has went off the road twice in his big Mercury sedan while using cruise control on patchy snowpack. So, yes, cruise can be dangerous if you use it when you should not, but it is a useful tool like most other tools when used appropriately.

    • PJ, a cruise control will really help you. As for your comment about losing control in a car on snow pack, it’s unlikely you would be riding your bike in snow pack, and if you were you probably wouldn’t be using cruise control in that situation.

      • @ Dave: From your previous post, it sounds like you have the ideal cruise control installed by the manufacturer. New bikes are computer controlled, so I don’t understand why so few have cruise control. The aftermarket stuff seems to have inherent weaknesses, so I’d like it factory installed. I added the comment about my father-in-law just to illustrate that even with a car, cruise control can be misused (as can the throttle, the brakes, high beams and steering). So, I don’t agree with the comments about giving up control (by using cruise control), either.

  6. I had three bones removed from my right wrist and Cruise Control is almost a must for me.

What do you think?