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Thread: Throttle Ergonomics

  1. #1
    Peter D dunc723's Avatar
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    Throttle Ergonomics

    Looking for some advice / experience on avoiding hand cramps. I got my first BMW late last year, a 2004 K1200 GT, and started putting in more time in the seat as soon as the weather turned this year. It doesn't take long for my throttle hand to start getting sore and stiff. I never had this problem with other bikes, and I'm wondering what's different, if other riders have experienced the same, and potential solutions (either equipment or riding habits). I've thought about things like diameter of the grip (smaller than other bikes?) and throttle spring tension that can make me work harder and grip tighter, and I've consciously tried to relax my grip without much success. Thank goodness for cruise control, but that's not always practical when you need it.

    What's the collective experience?

    Thanks,

    Pete
    "It's a simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes, it rains. Think about that."
    - Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh
    Current: R1200RT, K1200GT Prior: Honda VTX1300C, Yamaha FZ6, Honda Shadow 600

  2. #2
    BMW Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunc723 View Post
    Looking for some advice / experience on avoiding hand cramps. I got my first BMW late last year, a 2004 K1200 GT, and started putting in more time in the seat as soon as the weather turned this year. It doesn't take long for my throttle hand to start getting sore and stiff. I never had this problem with other bikes, and I'm wondering what's different, if other riders have experienced the same, and potential solutions (either equipment or riding habits). I've thought about things like diameter of the grip (smaller than other bikes?) and throttle spring tension that can make me work harder and grip tighter, and I've consciously tried to relax my grip without much success. Thank goodness for cruise control, but that's not always practical when you need it.

    What's the collective experience?

    Thanks,

    Pete
    To get younger...

  3. #3
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Pete,

    I also find the current BMW grips too small in diameter and too hard. The older Touring-type grips with transverse ribs were better.

    I have Excel Cycle Werks' O-ring kit on my bike, which helps. The grips can still can be a bit slippery; I'm musing that originalbeemerbuddies.com wrap-around neoprene grip covers might be better.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  4. #4
    NC Piedmont Rider ncstephen's Avatar
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    Somethings other to explore related to this.

    I) My 03 K12RS had a drift to the right. I made it worse by putting all my daily things in my right side bag. Thus I was always having to have some pressure on the bars. That did make for some fatigue that I recognized only after I changed that. I found putting all my usual stuff in the left bag and leaving the right bag mostly empty balanced things out so the bike tracked straight without added input. Check to see how yours is doing. Try a moment of cruise with both hands over the grips but loose from them. Hopefully you can adjust things to find that sweet balance. If you ride one handed with the left hand dropped and the right hand on the throttle, this will slightly twist your shoulders so they act a bit like a rudder and push the bike right as well. Again try things and work to find the balance where your ride is true and you can easily hold the bars.

    2) If you are finding your hands sore, try holding the bike a bit more with your knees and engage the core muscles in your torso. This tends to relax the grip with the hands.

    Let us know your progress.

    NCS
    03 K 1200RS (Black is Best)
    03 Honda RC51
    74 Honda CB750 K4

  5. #5
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    Personally, getting older has led to increasing every grip I use. Golf grips, tennis grips, anything grabbed by old hands seems to work better if larger. Was doing a lot of hammering this winter, actually wrapped the handles with old rubber bands cut from old tubes for a better, grip.

  6. #6
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Like ME;

    Maybe you find yourself getting older? Those neat spring grips you squeeze for hand exercise, bought at any sports store, work wonders and easy to pack and use anywhere the moment strikes. This will make life easier in the throttle dept.. If youre already strong enough in hands, you must go further to relieve pains and my Kaoko CC works best for me on GSA. The bigger 4 cylinder engines do have more pull in throttle, so maybe a Boxer in your future? Best regards, Randy

  7. #7
    na1g
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    Beemer Buddies grip covers work for me. Easy to install and inexpensive, they make the grip a bit bigger in diameter. There are also foam grip covers available but I haven't liked them as much.

    Have a look at the angle your wrists make when you grip the bars. Is your current bike different from previous ones? Are you leaning more heavily on your wrists? Could be time for some bar risers?

    pete

  8. #8
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    +1 on the Beemer Buddies. Been using them for years. My hands go numb after about 20 minutes with them and in just minutes without. I also find that If I have a glove with a little tac to it I can just about lay my palm on the grip and keep the throttle set. As was mentioned, don't hold yourself up with your hands. Use your core body strength to hold yourself up. I have added risers to my GT, but it didn't make much difference on my hands.
    Jeff
    93 K1100LT
    03 K1200GT

  9. #9
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
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    I use the old standard Grab-on style foam grips over the stock heated grips for the increase in diameter and the softness. The heat comes through just fine, at least down to the low 30's. To install the grips I heat them slightly with a heat gun and spray a little WD40 inside, they slide on relatively easy.
    I also use a throttle rocker, the throttle springs on this series K are fairly stiff. There is a mod in the I-BMW website to reduce spring tension, but the rocker works well for me.
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

  10. #10
    Peter D dunc723's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by na1g View Post
    Beemer Buddies grip covers work for me. Easy to install and inexpensive, they make the grip a bit bigger in diameter. There are also foam grip covers available but I haven't liked them as much.

    Have a look at the angle your wrists make when you grip the bars. Is your current bike different from previous ones? Are you leaning more heavily on your wrists? Could be time for some bar risers?

    pete
    When I first got the K12 both hands were getting numb fairly quickly, and I could tell I was leaning on the outside heel of my hands a lot. A pair of risers came with the bike, and that relieved that problem. When I lean on the bars too much, I feel it in my elbows more than wrists and hands, and I consciously take weight off my arms and use my back and hips more, but still get a stiff right hand. Two of my previous bikes were cruisers - no weight forward - but one was a naked sport with a similar riding posture.

    The grip covers sound like a good solution to try... I'm going to look into it.
    "It's a simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes, it rains. Think about that."
    - Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh
    Current: R1200RT, K1200GT Prior: Honda VTX1300C, Yamaha FZ6, Honda Shadow 600

  11. #11
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    An easy and cheap remedy could be a "cramp buster" for around $10.-. It is a hard plastic piece that wraps around the throttle grip and you can rest the bottom of your palm on it to turn the throttle. this will take a lot of pressure off the palm of your hand which causes numb and tingling hands. (carpal tunnel syndrome)
    I have and ride 15 different bikes and I find those that require a riding position with more weight on my arms and shoulders to be the ones that cause that particular discomfort, although I do not have the problem when riding for short trips only. On both my long(er) distance tourers - R1100RT and K1600GT - I use the cramp buster, although the ergonomics are not that radical.

  12. #12
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
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    What no cruise control? Seriously, I use mine a LOT.
    I also don't like the stock grips on my 02 K12RS. And even with the risers on, there's something about the position of the bar ends... Can't put my finger on it- but I get fatigued or feeling funny on the K12, where I don't on my K100, R100, or on my 74 Norton Commando.
    These three, I can ride all day without a hitch. 20 minutes on the K1200, my hands are feeling it. Not sore, per se, but uncomfortable. CC helps tremendously.

    Just a note, like many of us here at MOA, I'm a bit older (56). A couple years ago, I had carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. I have a physical jobs and work with my hands. After the surgery, my hands haven't ever fully gotten back to where they were...

    But there is definitely something about the ergos on the K1200.

    As for grips, I have a sweet pair of gel grips on my R100. They have a fatter diameter, and are soft(ish) but not spongy. I think they cost about 12.00. Was thinking I'd get a pair for the K1200.
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  13. #13
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Look at the position of your wrist - determine if it is part of the problem - then decide how to change it. On my first K75 I changed the position of the bars at least five times in the first three months I had the bike until I was happy. On my R100GS the bar end position was too straight across. I reshaped (bent) the bars to change the angle of the bars relative to straight across - I brought the ends back. On My R1150R I unstalled bar backs - up 1 inch and back 1/4 inch.

    These are just examples but if your specific bike puts your wrist in a less than ideal position you will never be happy.

    By the way - BMW really got it right on the R1100RS. The stub bars can be moved forward or aft, and rotated inward or outward. That coupled with the quick change - 30 seconds - three position seat height made these types of changes simple. Not so much on later models.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  14. #14
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    I'm with Paul on this one, different bar angles make a big difference. I always rotate the bars back so that the ends point slightly down. I find that this helps alot. I also use Beemer Buddies and QWI gloves. Both help.

    At one point I took a Beemer Buddy like product and cut one of them in half. I used the halves and a product called extreme tape to make grips that were fatter in the palm area. If you look at a diagram of nerves in the hand, you'll see that they run through the two fleshy parts on the outside edges of the hand. I figured that taking the weight off of those sections would help. I did find this more effective than standard Beemer Buddies. I think any amount of foam over the nerves will compact and allow a hard spot to pressure the nerves.

    Another experiment I tried was to use oblong pieces of very stiff leather in my gloves. The leather covered the fleshy heel of my hand and the stiff material spread the pressure out. This was also effective at stopping pain and numbness, but I never found a good way to form the pads and secure them in my gloves. I may try again using Kydex, a tough thermo formed plastic used to make knife sheaths and pistol holsters. It's generally handy stuff and can be found at knife making supply outlets.

    This is a photo of my effective, but ugly grip pads. The Extreme tape has a slightly tacky feel and makes gloves grip better without having to hold tightly.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  15. #15
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    My cramp buster was the best $10 I've ever spent on a motorcycle.
    Howard Edwards

    2014 Road King; 1975 R75/6

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