What Are Forward Controls On A Motorcycle: Know All About Harley-Davidson Forward Controls


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What Are Forward Controls On A Motorcycle

Have you ever heard terms like forward controls thrown around and had the curiosity to know what are they? If so, then that’s exactly what you’re going to know about here. 

Forward controls on a motorcycle will allow the driver to extend their legs and still be able to reach the controls. This will offer a more relaxed posture and space to the rider.

In this article, you will get to know all about what are forward controls on a motorcycle, how to install them on a Harley-Davidson bike, their benefits, and a lot more. So continue reading to know more.

What are forward controls on a motorcycle?

There is nothing like driving a Harley-Davidson bike and the freedom of the open road. The rush of the wind, the panoramic view, and the hum of the motor is bliss for all Harley-Davidson riders. A road trip on the back of a Harley-Davidson bike could make even mundane highways a true adventure. However, there are certain challenges to long trips on a Harley-Davidson bike. It can be quite uncomfortable to maintain a proper riding posture over long distances.

Fortunately, there are certain measures you can take that makes traveling more comfortable for long trips. One such measure that Harley-Davidson riders can take is using forward controls. Forward controls for Harley-Davidson bikes use extended pedals and rods for replacing the standard shifting and rear brake pedals. This will offer the rider a much more relaxed posture while helping make long trips comfortable. 

On most Harley-Davidson bikes, the shifting rear braking controls will be manipulated by the rider’s foot. The controls are located underneath the seat of the rider, which keeps the driver in an upright, vertically oriented position. For using the controls, the rider’s knees need to be bent. While this might be fine for little trips around town, it can get quite uncomfortable on longer trips. Forward controls use extensions, allowing for the pedals and levers to get replaced to move controls forward on the bike. This allows the driver to extend their legs while reaching the controls and offering a relaxed posture for the rider.

How to install forward controls on a Harley-Davidson bike?

Depending on the model of the Harley-Davidson bike and the kit used, adding forward controls can be a simple task. The best forward controls come in the form of bolt-on kits, and they can be installed on the Harley-Davidson bike easily.

Motorcycle Forward Controls

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are normally ridden with your arms facing up and feet stretching out in front. Harley-Davidson Sportster bikes are the exception. In these Harley-Davidson bikes, the rear brake, the foot pedals, and the shift lever will be located under the knees. This is considered comparatively less comfortable than the traditional riding method. Fortunately, the forward controls will help you achieve the laid-back position on the Harley-Davidson bikes. Here is how you can install forward controls on a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.

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Remove the knee control system

  • By holding the shift lever in place, slowly remove the lever-retaining screw. It is present on the left side of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 
  • Once the screw has been removed, simply pull the shift lever from the shifter shaft. 
  • Then, unscrew the shifter peg and then set the pieces aside to keep them safe. 
  • Then, remove the socket screws that hold the footrest bracket to the frame. You will have to remove the footrest. Take the plugs from the forward controls kit and stick them in the holes where the socket screws were present.
  • By making use of pliers, take the retaining ring off the footrest clevis. 
  • Now, remove the clevis pin and footrest from the support. Put the footrest in a safe place.
  • Then, remove the brake rod cotter pin away from the brake rod clevis. Using your hands, simply unscrew the clevis from the master cylinder located at the back of the bike. 
  • Remove the brake pedal screws and footrest located on the right-hand side of the bike. Now, remove the support bracket and brake assembly before filling the screw holes. 
  • Then, remove the J-clip located under the right front down tube using an Allen socket and a socket wrench. 

Install the new forward controls system

  • The Harley-Davidson forward controls kit will come with a brake pedal assembly. Slide it on the footrest mount and put the clevis into the bracket that holds the footrest in place.
  • Line up the support bracket holes and the clevis. 
  • Using 20lbs of torque, tighten the locking screws. Then, secure the J-clip in place with the two screws you had set aside previously. 
  • After that, insert the new, ultra-long rear brake rod into the master cylinder before threading one end. 
  • Carefully, insert the brake rod’s other end into the clevis before locking it into place using a copper pin. 
  • Put the footpeg mount in the brake pedal mount using a spring washer. Simply press the clevis pin down the mounting hole and then secure it with a retaining ring.
  • Insert the support bracket in the shifter pedal or footrest on the left side of the motorcycle’s frame. After that, secure the screws using 50lbs of torque.
  • Carefully glide the left-hand side pedals on the clevis on the shifter. Install the clevis on the support bracket.
  • The locking screw should be threaded through the clevis and the support bracket holes. Then it must be secured with 20lbs of torque.
  • After that, press the retaining ring to the end of the clevis. Once done, use the Allen screw to secure the shifter rod at the far end of the shifter shaft. Secure its other end to the accompanying arm. With 150lbs of torque, secure all the screws.
  • Insert the shifter peg into the shift lever and then rotate it. Install the male side of the left footpeg in the female clevis. Now, secure it using a spring washer.
  • Lastly, line up the clevis pinhole and lock up the clevis in place using a retaining ring.
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Reasons to add forward controls on a Harley-Davidson bike

  • A super comfy ride will be perfect for long-distance trips

Forward controls are designed to offer the rider a more comfortable experience. You can enjoy that by adjusting your posture and allowing proper extension of your legs. Moreover, you can do that without actually losing the ability to shift or brake. 

  • No more knee and lower-back stiffness issues

Forward controls will allow your legs to extend. This not only creates more comfort for your legs, but also helps reduce stiffness in your knees and back. As you won’t have to worry about stiffness and fatigue, you’ll be more alert to responding to roadway hazards.

  • More room will mean more space for your feet

In case you have big feet or you drive with riding boots, then you probably face trouble shifting or braking. You will never face such troubles after using forward controls. With more room, there will be no misinterpretation of where the floorboard, upper, or lower gear peg are.

  • Long-legged riders can have chill rides

Having long legs can often cause cramping in your knees. When you’re stopping for a moment after riding for a while, the stiffness can feel like you want to fall. It isn’t a pleasant feeling. This is something that you wouldn’t have to deal with if you’re using forward controls on your Harley-Davidson bike.

Using forward controls, not just the driver but the passenger too will have a comfortable ride. They will no longer have to worry about their feet hitting your legs. 

Reasons why you might not want to get forward controls

Chill rides are certainly the pinnacle of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding experience. Who doesn’t love cruising along and going on long rides on a Harley-Davidson bike? You can add to the riding experience by making use of forward controls. You may be sold on all the benefits of the forward controls, however, don’t rush into the decision yet. Think for a second, as with the positives come the negatives. There are reasons why you might not want to get forward controls on your Harley-Davidson bike.

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A major trade-off of forward controls on your bike is control. If you’re going for the comfort of the forward controls, you might have to compromise on control. Riding with forward controls on a Harley-Davidson bike, you can get everything that you need to enjoy your rides. But like everything, this will come with a price. That price is control.

Turning, stopping, and starting over will be a bit freaky with forward controls. Initially, it may feel like you might fall at every stop sign. However, you will eventually get used to that feeling and be able to figure out how to control your bike. You will have to learn to trust your bike more when you’re carving turns as the geometry will be different.

You must keep in mind that during accidents, forward controls may not be able to save your life. They aren’t very good at diverting danger. If you’re looking to have better control, it would be smarter to go for middle motorcycle controls. They’ll offer far better control over your bike while keeping up with the sporty look.

There is a reason why sports bikes normally don’t come with forward controls. This is the case because you’ll be lying flat on the gas tank. But it isn’t all that bad. Cornering could sometimes feel like it is taking forever. With forward controls, it’ll be easier to dive into the turn once you get the hang of it. It will almost feel like magi con your Harley-Davidson motorcycle.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know more about what are forward controls on a motorcycle and how to install them. Forward controls will be an exceptional addition to your Harley-Davidson bike and offer many benefits. They’re definitely a different feeling and give you a riding experience unlike any other. Adding forward controls to your Harley-Davidson motorcycle will give you incredible comfort and more room for your legs. Further, you will no longer have any issues with back stiffness or knee pain if you install forward controls.

It is important that you should trust yourself and do what you feel is natural. If you own a Harley-Davidson bike and enjoy taking long trips, then you must consider adding forward controls. Adding them will improve your comfort level and make future long trips far more enjoyable.

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