After doing some work on some friends bikes today, I struck me just have poorly people have their bikes set up for themselves.
How many people actually spend the time to adjust the bike to fit them properly ?? I adjusted their bikes and they're much happier and comfortable on them.
The amount of people you see riding around with brakes they cant reach, bars that give them sore wrists or brake pedals that drag is beyond belief..
Of course, most old hands on here can go back to their tea, but if you've just bought a bike, new or second hand and you're new to biking, spend some time to set it up properly.
Most new bikes from a dealership are thrown together out of a box in a hurry. When I used to sell bikes, I used to have the new owner sit on it and try and get a technician to move the controls to suit the rider. Was that done for you ?? Probably not.
Second hand bikes are set up for the previous owner... NOT YOU !!!!
Brake & clutch Levers.
Unless you're riding a 1940's boneshaker with drum brakes, you should be using 2 fingers (usually index and middle) for clutch and brake operation. This gives you more grip and control on the bars.
Losen off the clamps and move the controls inwards on the handle bars so you grip the lever near the very end of it with these 2 fingers. This will give you more "leverage" and therefore more power. Who doesnt want more braking power on a heavy bike ??? It also reduced fatigue on your clutch hand in traffic. Foam lever cushions are also nice as they reduce the sharp force on your fingers. Rotate the lever controls until you can grab them in a hurry without having to move your wrist off the bars.
Rear Brake pedal
Usually almost always forgotten about ! Is your back brake rubbish ? Do you find yourself wondering why your new pads and clean disc still doesnt stop you ??
Adjust the pedal using the rear master cylinder nut. Raise the lever so your foot (with the boots you ride in) just sits ontop of the lever. You should be able to just rotate your foot left and right and feel drag on the sole of your boot from the pedal. Many people have their pedal too low, reducing the effective distance they can push the pedal in stiff riding boots and in affect, giving them little stopping power.
If you cant almost lock your back wheel with fast, hard stomp on the pedal, it's not right !! (please dont try this on a wet road, fully loaded lol)
If you're pushing the pedal all the time while cruising, this is called "dragging" and will prematurely wear your disc and pads and cause poor braking as the disc is always hot.
Remember to adjust the rear brake switch to match the pedal.
Handle bars & Risers
Bad back ?? Aching wrists ?? Try rotating your bars forward and backwards until you get a position that doesnt put stress on your joints or aukward bends on your wrists.
Higher, wider bars give you more slow speed control as you can utilise your shoulder and back muscles more.
Don't be afraid to swap your cheap factory bars. "Renthal Dakar High" bars work wonderfully on almost all overland bikes.
If you need even more height, you can swap you "Risers" or "clamps" to get more height.
Can you reach your indicator while riding slowly feathering the clutch ?? If not , its in the wrong place !! Rotate and slide it on the bars until you can... You may need to remove the control and grind off the plastic locater to allow movement. Dont worry though, a little electrical tape wrapped around the bar will stop it rotating when it's retightened.
Very few people set up their suspension even though its one of the MOST important way to how your bike feels and handles. It's too detailed to go into here but spend the time and DO IT !! It will TRANSFORM your bike and your comfort.
There are plenty of online guides and even detailed threads on the hubb. Use the seach function and find them.
Hope i've helped. Feel free to add your own advice and comments !