The modern-day motorcycle comes loaded with a ton of features. There is a new feature introduced in terms of mechanicals, convenience, or connected tech with every new launch. OEMs are also striving to equip their machines with adjustability features that allow users to tweak their rides as per their liking and needs. While still not readily available on all mainstream motorcycles, these features enable users to customise or adjust their ride experience based on their specific requirements. Here in this article, we are listing down some of these adjustability features and their benefits.
Most motorcycles come equipped with two levers on the handle. The left one is to engage the clutch, while the right is for the front brakes. Usually, both these levers have a standard position. This standard position, however, might not be suitable for all riders. Riders with longer fingers might find the position too close to the handle, while those with shorter fingers might find them too far to reach. If the reach is not proper, the rider's grip on the levers will be very uncomfortable, degrading the riding experience. In some cases, not engaging the levers properly could also lead to a mishap.
Some motorcycles come equipped with span adjusters for levers to overcome this problem. To give you an example, TVS Motor Company’s TVS Apache 200 4V and TVS Apache RR 310 motorcycles come equipped with span adjusters for the levers. The TVS Apache 200 4V, for example, gets 3-step adjustable levers that can be adjusted without any additional tools. There is a knob on each lever with markers for the lever position for most such adjusters. You can simply rotate the knob to change the levers' position and increase or decrease the reach based on your comfort. This is a convenient feature as it can make riding more comfortable and reduce stress on your fingers.
Preload adjustable suspension
Gone are the days when you had to stick with the stock suspension setup for your motorcycle. A whole bunch of motorcycles offer preload adjustability these days. Preload adjustment allows a rider to play with the sag or ride height of a bike to make it suitable for the load or weight the person intends to ride with. For example, a heavier rider would do well to reduce the preload, while it would generally be more advisable for a lighter rider to increase the preload. Preload is also beneficial when one plans to ride with luggage or with a pillion rider to make up for the additional weight the motorcycle has to carry.
As mentioned above, many motorcycles come equipped with preload adjustment for the rear suspension in both twin-shock and mono-shock setups. In most preload-adjustable rear suspensions, one can easily adjust the setting using a shock adjustment spanner or wrench. As the suspension adjuster is moved right or left, the preload on the suspension is increased or decreased. Based on one’s requirements, this could be easily adjusted, and one can note the values for future reference.
THE TWO EXCEPTIONS IN THAT CONTEXT ARE the TVS Apache RTR 200 and the TVS Apache RR 310. Both these motorcycles offer preload adjustability on their front suspension. While preload adjustment for the rear suspension is a relatively common feature, almost no mainstream motorcycle provides it as an option for the front suspension in India. One needs only a simple tool like a screwdriver or spanner to adjust the preload on the front suspension. Based on the number of stops or steps available, one can adjust the preload simply by turning the screw or nut clockwise or counterclockwise. For example, while on the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, the preload is adjusted using a screwdriver, on the TVS Apache RR 310, where you also have compression and rebound damping, you have to use a spanner. It’s easy to have the task accomplished in both cases, and sometimes, you can even use the motorcycle’s key or a coin in place of the screwdriver to carry out the adjustments.
Compression and rebound damping
While preload adjustability on the front suspension is a rarity on everyday motorcycles, when it comes to compression and rebound damping, the feature is almost non-existent on Indian motorcycles. The exception, again, is the TVS Apache RR 310, which offers both compression and rebound damping on the front suspension and rebound damping on the rear unit. Adjusting compression and rebound damping on the front suspension is as simple as turning a screw head in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. The rest is up to the rider as to what setting suits his needs or requirements. So, while preload essentially has to do with the ride height or sag, damping adjustment can tweak a motorcycle to make it more suitable for use in various environments like streets, rough roads, or tracks. A rider can fine-tune his suspension based on how sporty or absorbent he wants it to be. The damping essentially is the rate at which compression or rebound happens. A rider can experiment and play around to find the best suitable setup for the environment they intend to ride in.
The adjustments for compression and rebound damping on the TVS Apache RR 310’s front fork can be made with a simple tool such as a screwdriver, and there are as many as 20 steps to choose from. The rear suspension system on the motorcycle also offers a 20-step rebound damping adjustability. The TVS Apache RR 310’s rear mono-shock can be adjusted for rebound damping by twisting the circular dial on the shocks. Interestingly the system at the rear does not require any additional tools and can be adjusted using the motorcycle’s standard key itself.
Adjustable riding modes
Riding modes have become all the rage on motorcycles of all sizes in recent times. This technology allows the rider to control the motorcycle’s performance and braking to suit the bike's environment. While there isn’t a set rule to classify riding modes, they are often named Urban/City, Sport and Rain/Wet. Here’s a broad explanation of what these modes are meant for.
Urban: This is often the default riding mode and will have a balanced power delivery and throttle response, along with moderate levels of ABS intervention.
Sport: This mode de-restricts the power delivery, enables sharper throttle response and allows ABS to cut in at a relatively later stage.
Rain: Meant for wet, low traction, slippery conditions, this mode blunts down throttle response and cuts down on power to prevent wheelspin. The ABS also cuts in very early in this mode to prevent wheels from locking up and breaking traction.
In essence, riding modes allow you to change the character of your motorcycle at the flick of a button. Motorcycles like the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V come equipped with the modes explained above. More advanced machines like the TVS Apache RR 310 have additional modes such as a ‘Track’ mode which offers even quicker throttle response and the least possible ABS intervention.
Having customisation options is a boon on motorcycles to wrap it all up. It allows a rider to tinker with various settings to get the best riding experience. If you don’t believe in the concept of one-size-fits-all, do consider buying a motorcycle that comes with a fair degree of adjustability. Ride safe!