Well I finally got to go for a short (50 mile) ride after putting the forwards on last week, and I have to say the jury is still out.
But first, for those concerned readers worried about my minimalist fix for the old shift lever, I fabricated a metal bracket to hold it in place and was able to remove the quick-tie. You can rest easy now.
The reason I wanted to try forwards in the first place was because I spent most of my riding time with my feet on the highway pegs and found having to take them off to shift or use the rear brake was a pain. Besides, I like the look and I got them at a very good price, so my financial exposure was limited.
After an admittedly short time (and distance) here are my initial observations that might be of value to someone considering the change. I also expect to get some comments from readers who swear by forwards, so let’s get a dialogue going.
Now to provide a significant caveat… I have never ridden a bike with forwards before, so my decades of experience have always been with my feet firmly planted near, or beneath, my butt. Except for the rear-sets I had on my Z1, that is, but that was only for a year or so and I was much more flexible back then.
So with that out of the way, here’s what I found.
On the highway they are great. Very comfortable. As I indicated earlier, I was used to the highway pegs anyway, so this gives me the same riding position with the added benefit of not having to change foot position to shift or use the rear brake to slow down.
But in town and on the gravel roads around here I feel like I’ve given up a lot of control. I didn’t realise how much I managed balance and controlled my road position through my lower body and legs. With the forwards I find I’m using much more upper body with the resulting tensions in less-used back muscles. I expect that may change as I get more familiarity with them and my body acclimates to the riding position, but it caught me by surprise.
Also around here the roads can get pretty rough – even the paved ones. Having the ability to lift your ass off the seat, even slightly, when hitting a bump does a lot to smooth out the ride. Clearly that’s not possible with the forwards, although I have heard of some people leaving the mid foot pegs in place for exactly that purpose. I may have to give that a try.
And speaking of being able to get one’s ass of the seat, there’s a particular problem we guys face, and that is the need to adjust the “boys” once in a while. Sitting in one spot for hours on end, things can get, shall we say, cramped, and being able to lift off the seat and let gravity realign everything can be a great relief (ladies, trust me on this one). With the forward controls you lose that option unless you retain the mid pegs in place, which is another reason to consider doing just that.
While it may seem that this is mostly negative, and I am disappointed, I have no intention of pulling them off just yet. Over the next few days I hope to get a chance to put some serious miles on which will really let me get comfortable (or not) with them. But with a 4- or 5-day road trip in the planning stages for next month I want to be sure I have the most comfortable ride I can manage.