A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Install Forward Controls on a Sportster


White Star Rides is your trusted Harley-Davidson companion, offering expert guidance and information to enhance your riding experience.

How To Install Forward Controls On A Sportster

Welcome to our step-by-step guide on how to install forward controls on a Sportster! If you’re a Sportster enthusiast and want to take your bike to the next level, this guide is for you. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, we’ll show you exactly what you need to know to get the job done correctly. We’ll provide detailed instructions, tips and tricks, and other important information to make sure you get the most out of your experience. So, let’s get started!

What do Forward Controls do on a Sportster?

Harley-Davidson Sportster has garnered a loyal following thanks to its iconic design, raw power, and highly customizable nature. One of the popular customization options for Sportster models is the installation of Harley-Davidson forward controls.

Forward controls refer to the modification or accessory that alters the positioning of the foot controls on a bike. Unlike mid-mounted controls which position the footpegs closer to the rider, forward controls extend the footpegs and shift them further towards the front of the bike. This adjustment relocates the rider’s feet, providing a more stretched-out riding position.

One of the primary roles of forward controls will be to enhance rider comfort. By extending the footpegs forward, the rider will be able to achieve a more relaxed riding position, especially for individuals having longer legs. This configuration reduces knee bend and allows the rider to stretch their legs comfortably, minimizing fatigue on long rides.

Further, forward controls also improve ergonomics by optimizing the rider’s body position. The extended reach to the foot controls provides a natural alignment between the rider’s feet, knees, and hips, which results in a more balanced and comfortable riding position. This alignment enhances control and stability, particularly when maneuvering through corners or navigating uneven terrain.

Forward controls also serve the purpose of providing additional space on the Sportster’s frame, allowing the rider to install various accessories, such as highway pegs or custom footrests. These accessories further enhance rider comfort and versatility by offering additional options for foot placement during long rides.

How To Install Forward Controls On A Sportster

Benefits of forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster

When it comes to customizing a Harley-Davidson Sportster, forward controls are a popular modification that can transform the riding experience. They offer an impressive range of benefits, from enhanced comfort to improved control and style. Here are some of the benefits of forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster and how they can elevate your riding experience.

#1. Comfort and ergonomics

One of the primary benefits of forward controls on a Sportster is the enhanced comfort they provide. By extending the footpegs forward, riders will be able to achieve a more relaxed riding position, especially for those with longer legs. This adjustment reduces the knee bend, alleviating strain and fatigue during long rides.

The ergonomic advantage of forward controls will help riders maintain a natural alignment between their knees, feet, and hips, promoting a more balanced and comfortable riding posture. This improved ergonomics translates into less fatigue, allowing bikers to enjoy their journey to the fullest.

#2. Improved control and handling

Forward controls also contribute to improved control and handling on a Sportster. The extended reach to the foot controls will allow riders to shift their weight more effectively, enhancing maneuverability and stability.

With forward controls, bikers will have better control over the motorcycle, especially with navigating through tight corners or tackling challenging road conditions. The increased ground clearance offered by forward controls prevents footpeg scraping, offering riders greater confidence and freedom to explore the limits of their Sportster’s capabilities.

#3. Customization and style

Installing forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster allows riders to personalize their bike’s appearance and make a unique style statement. Forward controls come in various designs, finishes, and customization options, allowing bikers to match their preferred aesthetic vision.

Whether it is a sleek and minimalist look or a bold and chrome-heavy style, forward controls can complement the overall design theme of the Sportster. This customization will not only enhance the visual appeal of the motorcycle but also showcase the rider’s individuality and attention to detail.

#4. Versatility and adaptability

Forward controls offer versatility and adaptability for bikers on a Harley-Davidson Sportster. They offer additional space on the frame, allowing riders to install various accessories such as highway pegs or custom footrests.

These accessories offer alternative foot placement options, allowing riders to adjust their riding position for different situations or personal preferences. The ability to customize and adapt the foot controls enhances the versatility of the Sportster, accommodating different riding styles, preferences, and passenger comfort.

See also  How to Start a Harley-Davidson Street Glide

Tools needed for installing forward controls on a Sportster

Installing forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster is a popular customization choice that can easily enhance comfort and transform the riding experience. For successfully completing the installation, it will be important to have the right set of tools at your disposal. Here are some of the standard tools and specialty tools needed for installing forward controls on your Harley-Davidson Sportster.

The standard tools needed for installing forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster are –

#1. Socket set

A comprehensive socket set is important for removing and installing different nuts, bolts, and fasteners during the installation process. You should make sure that you have different sockets of different sizes to accommodate different bolt heads.

#2. Wrench set

 A set of combination wrenches or open-end wrenches will be required for loosening and tightening nuts and bolts. Make sure that you have the appropriate sizes for the specific fasteners on your Sportster.

#3. Allen key set

Allen keys or also known as hex keys are commonly used in motorcycle installations. They are important for removing and tightening socket-head bolts and screws that secure various components of the forward controls.

#4. Torque wrench

A torque wrench is important for ensuring that all bolts and nuts have been tightened to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications. This will help prevent overtightening or undertightening, which can result in component failure or damage.

The specialty tools needed for installing forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster are –

#1. Brake bleeder kit

If your forward control installation involves disconnecting the brake lines, a brake bleeder kit will be important to properly bleed the brake system afterward. This tool will ensure that any air bubbles are removed from the brake lines, maintaining optimal braking performance.

#2. Locking pliers

Also known as vise-grips, locking pliers can be useful for securely holding parts in place while you tighten or loosen fasteners. They offer an extra set of hands and ensure a more efficient installation process.

#3. Loctite or threadlocker

Loctite or threadlocker is a specialty adhesive that helps in securing threaded fasteners to prevent them from loosening over time because of vibration. Applying a small amount of Loctite to the threads of critical bolts and screws can add an extra layer of security to your forward controls installation.

Preparation before installing forward controls on a Sportster

Before you can dive into the installation part of the process, it will be important to take proper preparatory steps. This will help you ensure a smooth and successful outcome. Here are some of the preparatory steps that you need to follow before you can install forward controls on your Harley-Davidson Sportster.

#1. Read the owner’s manual and review the instructions

The owner’s manual will provide detailed instructions, torque settings, and diagrams that will guide you through the installation process. Review the instructions that accompany the specific forward controls kit. Familiarize yourself with different components, hardware, and specific guidelines provided. Understanding the process beforehand will help you anticipate the steps involved and ensure a more efficient installation.

#2. Identify the attachment points

Examine Sportster’s frame to identify the attachment points for the forward controls. These attachment points might vary depending on the specific model and year of your Sportster. You should carefully inspect the areas where the existing foot controls are mounted and note any differences in the design or configuration between your stock controls and the forward controls kit.

#3. Clear the workspace

Create a clean and organized workspace where you can comfortably work on your bike. Clear the area of any debris or obstacles that might hinder your progress. This will not only ensure a safer working environment but also make it easier to locate tools, hardware, and parts during the installation process.

#4. Disconnect the battery

To prevent any electrical mishaps or accidental activation of electrical components, you need to disconnect the battery on your Sportster. This step will ensure your safety and avoid potential damage to the electrical system during the installation.

#5. Take photos and label components

Before you remove any existing foot controls, you must take clear photos of the setup from different angles. These reference images will be helpful during the installation process, serving as the visual guide when you assemble the new forward controls. Moreover, labeling the components and hardware as you remove them will make reassembly more straightforward.

#6. Perform a visual inspection

Conduct a visual inspection of your Sportster’s existing foot controls, paying close attention to any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. If you’re noticing any issues, you should address them before proceeding with the installation. It’ll also be a good time to clean and lubricate any relevant components to ensure smooth operation.

How To Install Forward Controls On A Sportster

How to remove the forward controls on your Harley-Davidson Sportster

Upgrading the foot controls on your Harley-Davidson Sportster by installing new forward controls can greatly enhance your riding experience. Before installing the new controls, it’ll be important to properly remove the original forward controls and prepare your Harley-Davidson Sportster for the mounting process. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow for removing the forward controls already installed on your Harley and preparing your bike for the installation of new forward controls.

See also  How To Check Sportster Transmission Oil: Step-By-Step Process For Checking The Transmission Oil

Step 1: Remove the footpegs and foot controls

Start off by removing the footpegs and foot controls on both sides of your Sportster. Typically, you will find a series of mounting bolts or screws that secure the foot controls to the frame. Use the appropriate tools for carefully removing these fasteners and set them aside for future use or replacement.

Step 2: Disconnect the linkage

On the brake side, you should locate the linkage that connects the master cylinder to the rear brake pedal. Loosen the fasteners and disconnect the linkage, allowing the brake pedal to be separated from the foot controls.

Step 3: Disconnect the shift linkage

If your Harley-Davidson Sportster comes equipped with a gear shifter, you will have to disconnect the shift linkage. The linkage will connect the shift lever to the transmission. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly remove the linkage, ensuring a smooth disconnection.

Step 4: Inspect and clean

With the original forward controls removed, take the opportunity to remove the mounting areas and surrounding components for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. Clean the mounting points and ensure that they’re free of debris, grease, or any other obstruction that might affect the installation of the new forward controls.

Step 5: Prepare for new mounting

Refer to the instructions mentioned with the new forward controls kit to determine the specific preparatory steps required. This might include assembling components, applying Loctite or threadlocker to specific fasteners, or making any necessary adjustments or modifications.

How To Install Forward Controls On A Sportster

How to install forward controls on a Sportster

Once you have removed the original forward controls and prepared your bike, the next step would be to install the new forward controls on your Sportster. Here are the steps you will need to follow for installing new forward controls on your Harley-Davidson Sportster.

Step 1: Attach the brake pedal

First, you will need to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for determining the specific method of attaching the brake pedal for your forward controls kit. After that, you will need to position the brake pedal assembly in the designated mounting area on the fame. Make sure that it aligns with the brake master cylinder and the linkage for proper operation.

After that, insert the mounting bolts or screws through the designated holes in the brake pedal assembly and into the mounting points of the frame. Then, tighten the fasteners securely using the appropriate tools. Make sure that the brake pedal is attached to the frame firmly.

Step 2: Attach the shift lever

If your Harley-Davidson Sportster is equipped with a gear shifter, you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for attaching the shift lever. Position the shift lever in the designated mounting area, typically on the left side of the motorcycle.

You will have to align the shift lever with the transmission linkage and insert the mounting bolts or screws through the holes in the lever and into the mounting points on the transmission. Tighten the fasteners securely, ensuring that the shift lever is properly attached and aligned for smooth gear shifting.

Step 3: Adjusting the controls

Sit on your Harley-Davidson Sportster and position your feet on the newly installed forward controls. Check the positioning of the brake pedal and shift lever for ensuring that they are within comfortable reach. Moreover, they should allow for easy operation while maintaining proper riding posture.

Adjust the controls as needed by loosening the mounting bolts or screws and then reposition them to achieve the desired ergonomics. Once you have made the needed adjustments, you should tighten the fasteners securely, making sure that the controls are firmly in place.

See also  How To Charge Harley-Davidson Battery: Charge The Battery In 7 Simple Steps

Step 4: Adjust and fine-tune

Once you have attached and adjusted the brake pedal and shift lever, you should perform an inspection to ensure they function properly. Operate the brake pedal and verify that it engages the brake master cylinder smoothly and provides the desired braking response.

Shift through the gears using the shift lever and make sure you have smooth and precise gear changes. Take a short ride to assess the comfort and functionality of the newly installed forward controls. If needed, you should make further adjustments for achieving optimal performance and comfort.

Inspect and test the forward controls after installation

After you have successfully installed the forward controls on your Sportster, it’ll be important to inspect and test the controls to ensure they are properly installed and functioning correctly. Proper inspection and testing will guarantee your safety, comfort, and optimal comfort while riding. Here are the steps you should follow to inspect the forward controls and conduct tests to ensure the proper installation on your Sportster.

#1. Visual inspection

Start off by conducting a visual inspection of the forward controls to ensure all component are securely attached and aligned. Check for any loose bolts, screws, or fasteners. You must verify that the brake pedal and shift lever are in the correct position and are free from any obstructions.

#2. Brake system check

Check the brake pedal for smooth operation. Depress the pedal and make sure it engages the brake master cylinder without any excessive play or resistance. Confirm that the brake lever returns to its original position after release and that there are no signs of dragging or binding. Test the brake system by applying the brakes at low speeds to ensure proper stopping power and responsiveness.

#3. Shifting test

Engage the clutch lever and shift through the gears using the shift lever. Pay close attention to the smoothness and accuracy of the gear changes. Make sure that the shift lever doesn’t interfere with other components, such as footpegs or exhaust systems, during gear shifts.

You should verify that the transmission engages each gear smoothly without any grinding or skipping.

#4. Range of motion check

Sit on your Harley-Davidson Sportster and place your feet on the forward controls. Check that you have a comfortable range of motion for operating the brake pedal and shift lever.

Test the controls by simulating riding conditions, including engaging the brakes and shifting gears while seated on the Sportster. Make sure that your feet have adequate clearance from other motorcycle parts, such as the exhaust system to prevent accidental contact during operation.

#5. Road test

Take your bike out for a short test ride in a safe and controlled environment, such as an empty parking lot or quiet road. Gradually increase your speed and test the functionality of the forward controls in different riding situations, such as acceleration, braking, and gear changes.

Pay close attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues that might indicate improper installation or functionality of the forward controls.

#6. Make final adjustments

If you’re noticing any issues during the inspection or testing process, make the necessary adjustments for ensuring proper installation and functionality. This might involve repositioning the controls, tightening loose fasteners, or consulting with a professional if needed.


What are forward controls and what are their benefits?

Forward controls are a type of footpeg assembly that moves the rider’s feet forward on a motorcycle. Having forward controls allows the rider to rest their feet in a more comfortable position, providing more legroom and a better riding experience. Forward controls also provide better stability and control when maneuvering the motorcycle.

What tools and parts do I need to install forward controls on a Sportster?

To install forward controls on a Sportster, you will need a set of forward controls, a screwdriver, a wrench, and a hex key. You may also need some additional tools depending on your specific model.

What is the process for installing forward controls on a Sportster?

The process for installing forward controls on a Sportster will vary depending on the model and type of forward controls you are using. Generally, you will need to remove the existing footpeg assembly and replace it with the new forward controls. You will then need to attach the new controls to the frame using the included mounting hardware. It’s important to refer to the instructions provided with your forward controls for specific instructions for your model.

Photo of author
White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.

Leave a Comment