Whilst my thus-far pitiful efforts to pop dank wheelies are still going unrewarded, trying to do so highlighted some issues with my hand controls.
First it highlighted how much friction there was in the clutch cable I’d made for the stunt bars. There was a 90-degree bend at the lever which works for the original clip-ons location but not the new location. That friction meant the clutch wasn’t always engaging fully, which meant a vague and definitely very non-wheelie outcome.
The next thing I noticed was that if I have the clutch adjusted so it’s right, I can’t reach the lever easily since I have smallish hands. This gets worse when you’re practicing and are clutching over and over and over again.
So in an effort to get the best clutch-engagement possible but also be able to reach the levers (repeatedly, comfortably etc) I realised it was possibly time to get some adjustable brake/clutch levers.
Attempting to get the front wheel up also brought another interesting challenge – namely how do you organise your hands and more importantly how do you cling on if by some miracle the front wheel *does* actually come up
The bike doesn’t have enough grunt to just power-wheelie so for me to get the wheel up involves at least some pulling and throwing my weight around at the same time.
The throttle hand has to stay kinda loose and mobile so you can’t hang on too much, and clutch hand, well you’re doing clutch stuff but for me that’s usually 4 fingers which doesn’t really leave me much scope for hanging on. I tried with 2 fingers on the clutch and 2 fingers hanging on, but on the OEM clutch lever it fouls my other fingers.
The only way I can figure to do it, is to get shorter levers (check!) and move the controls in a bit so that the brake and clutch are better placed for reaching with 1 or 2 fingers rather than 4. I don’t think that would have worked on the OEM levers because by the time you’ve moved the clutch assembly in to where it’s good for 2 fingers, the bit of the lever to grab is so far away from the bar I can’t hope to reach it with anywhere near the sort of reliability I need.
On the clutch side with the new levers that means having the clutch adjusted really high, so just the tiniest little pull dis-engages it (e.g. for a clutch-up), and you can do so with 1/2 fingers, *without crushing your other fingers* (or having to remove them from the bar/change hand position. When riding normally you can use 2 fingers or more since everything’s a bit more relaxed then.
That means you’ve got between two and three fingers (ring, pinky and middle) to hang on with, do the clutch pop with index finger.
On the throttle side same deal – shorter brake lever and adjusted position means you don’t crush/block your ring and pinky when you pull the brake, and can operate the brake at full force with two fingers.
That way we’ve got at least 2 fingers each side to hang on with, and two each side to operate controls and stuff.
I was thinking of getting the complete brake/clutch lever units which were very prettyand my brake cylinder is scabby AF so I’d like to replace it, but I also wanted minimal fitting challenges rn and I’ve just bled the brakes etc recently when I set up the stunt bars. I’m not in a hurry to do it again.
I spoke to my friends at VegrentPower and they had a set they reckon are a direct replacement for the OEM levers. Also only £15. SOLD!
Somehow the levers arrived already this morning which is super quick – 10 days door to door from china – impressive! VegrentPower seem to have some magical portal they can send stuff through so it gets here loads quicker than when I normally order bits from China.
So naturally with my urge to try and pop wheelies currently foremost in my mind… I got fitting them ASAP.
As it turns out they were indeed drop-in replacements, no modifications or adjustments needed at all and a perfect fit. The overall fit and finish was also very good and like the stunt bars, has a surprisingly good quality feel and nice solid heft about them.
I gave all the little allen bolts and nuts a twiddle to make sure they were tight since I find they often miss the odd one, but other than that there was very little to the install. Here’s how they ended up:
The only other adjustment which was needed was that I had to adjust the other end of the clutch cable to give a little more length at the lever-end, since this lever swallows a little bit more slack than the OEM item.
There is a little more lateral flex in the levers now due to the extra hinge in the structure which I guess is to be expected and when riding it didn’t seem to be a problem. The levers felt firm and solid, and the adjustability meant I could quickly and easily set things up so it was comfortable for me when riding. Apart from it being weird to try and get used to clutching with 2 fingers, I didn’t even need to give the new levers another thought when out riding. Just what I was looking for. Result 🙂
The little ratchet has a cam which lets you adjust the reach over ~6 steps and gives a pretty decent range of motion. In practice this is a nice solid mechanism and gives a decent amount of adjustment.
I’d been dreading a flimsy concoction but no – it’s good :). The way the adjustment cam is set up means you don’t adjust it accidentally while riding either.
There’s a little nylock nut on the back of the adjustment mechanism one of mine was loose when I got it which could be down to not being tightened before shipping, or perhaps they work their way loose. – I guess we’ll see over time – if so it might need a drop of threadlock.
Thanks to the magic of photoshop, hopefully the pic below gives you an idea of the range of adjustment. It’s not massive motion but it’s useful and I found a comfortable position within its range:
Although I got the levers to allow me to bring the controls closer to the bars, I ended up running both sides almost fully adjusted the other way, since figuring out the leaving hand/fingers in place thing. That aside, having the option to adjust the reach is very nice and seems to work well, and they look pretty decent too. I’m kinda digging the slightly-gnarly-everything-cnc-and-anodised look which is developing 😉
The new lever placement along with the improved clutch cable means a nice positive engagement on the clutch, whether with 1,2 or 3 fingers, and nice crisp brake feel too.
I am sorta wondering about putting a helper spring on the other end of the clutch cable just to make absolutely sure it engages properly every time, but let’s see how we get on with the current setup for a bit first. I’m sure my lack of wheelies is more about my technique now than mechanical malfunction.
Although I was exhausted from doing stuff all day I kinda had to go by my little practice spot to see if wheels-up-ability had been improved any. Tbh It’s hard to say because I still suck so bad at getting the wheel up but I managed to get it as high as I had before, twice, and got there much more easily and predictably…which seems like progress \o/.
I only had the energy to stay and practice for a few mins but I think the whole clutch feel/engagement thing might be much better for stunting and tricks now….here’s hoping future practice will be more rewarding than it has been 🙂 #wheelsup #eventually