What Are Forward Controls On A Motorcycle — 4 Pros (and 1 Big Con)

What Are Forward Controls On A Motorcycle? — 4 Pros (and 1 Big Con)

I have to be honest now. 

Before researching and writing this article, I didn’t even know what are forward controls on a motorcycle, nor did I know I had them and used them. I’m riding for 8 years straight, and I felt ashamed I didn’t know one of the BASIC motorcycle parts.

Feeling the same? 

Don’t be! 

After you’ve done reading this article, you’ll understand what forward controls are on a motorcycle better than I did. Better yet, you’ll know what are the key benefits of motorcycle forward controls a.k.a Forwards.

Let’s dig a little deeper. 

Forward controls are the location of your foot pegs or floorboards, brake, and shifter controls. They are mostly found on a cruiser or a chopper motorcycle.

That’s it… Article over. 

Well, not so fast! I’m not gonna leave you with a blunt explanation.

Let me explain. Behind those mechanical functions and the price that few of us can afford, forward motorcycle controls have something special about them.

Forward motorcycle controls are GREAT for:

  • Long-distance cruising
  • Offering more room
  • Preventing stiffness during riding
  • Having chill rides

That’s great, but how will all of this help you and improve your ride?  

Here is how.

4 Reasons Why You Should Install Forward Controls:

cool naked chopper motorcycle

1. Bringing on a SUPER COMFY ride, perfect for long-distance cruising

This was a deal-breaker when I was buying my Sprint Prince, which originally had forward controls installed (I didn’t know that till recently). The riding experience is like sitting in an armchair.

2. More room equals more space for big feet

If you have big feet, plus riding boots on them, that could cause trouble when shifting or braking. Trust me, I’m kinda ashamed I feel the same way. 

With more room on the forward controls, there is NO misinterpretation of where the lower, upper gear peg, or the floorboard is.

3. Say goodbye to knee and lower-back stiffness (for real!)

Forward controls allow the leg to extend, creating a more comfortable ride with reduced stiffness. Since it has that NEAT feature, it makes you more alert and physically capable of responding to roadway hazards or soccer moms in their SUVs.

4. Long-legged people can finally have chill rides 

Having long legs causes cramping or stiffness in your knees. When stopping for a pause, after a long ride, that stiffness felt like I would fall off my feet. Not a pleasant feeling!

Beside yourself, your passenger would also have a comfier ride, since they don’t have to worry about their feet hitting the back of your leg. (When riding with my sis, this was a big pain in the where-the-sun-doesn’t-shine area).

man riding a motorcycle with forward controls

Chill rides are a pinnacle of motorcycle cruising and should be available for everybody! Even for those walking Everest’s with long legs out there (such as yours truly)!

You might be sold on the benefits of the forward controls for your motorcycle, but stop for a second before you rush in and spend a couple of Benjamins on them. 

There is some bad stuff too that you should know about forward controls on your motorcycle. So, you’d better brace yourself!

A Big Trade-Off of Forward Motorcycle Controls

Three words: Comfort. Or. Control.

I’ve been riding with forward motorcycle controls for as long as I remember. It gives me everything I need to enjoy a ride. But like everything, it comes with a price.


Turning, stopping and starting is a bit FREAKY with forward controls. At first, it felt like I was going to fall at every god-damn stop light. Eventually, I got used to it and figured out how to better control my motorcycle.

I needed to learn to trust my bike more when I’m carving turns, since the geometry is totally different than with other bikes (it isn’t easy when your life is determined by a machine!).

Know this.

When push comes to shove and life starts coming at you at light-speed, forward controls might not be able to save your life. They are just not good at diverting danger.

When looking for better control, go with middle motorcycle controls a.k.a. Mids. They will offer better control over your motorcycle and keep that sportiness look on a bike.

There is a reason why sport bikes don’t have forward controls on them. It’s because you’re laying flat on the gas tank. Or as my dad used to say: You’re riding them while standing on your head.

But that’s not all bad! (Please tell me it’s not, because I’m getting skeptical.)

Cornering might feel like it’s taking forever, but with forward controls it’s waaaay easier to dive into a turn, when you get the hang of it.

It’s almost like magic. Pretty sweet, RIGHT?

Forward Motorcycle Controls — Comfy Ride with LESS Control

front view motorcycle ride

Let’s recap.

Forward controls are great for many things and give you benefits that middle controls won’t.

Yes, they are definitely a different feeling and switching from mids to forwards will feel weird. That’s just the fact.

It’s IMPORTANT to trust yourself and do whatever feels natural. If mids give you a better feel, then stick with mids. If forwards make you more comfortable when riding long trips, then stick with forwards. 

Ride safe and trust yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you ride with forward controls?

At first, it is a bit difficult, at least it was for me. Your legs are more extended than with other controls, so that makes a weird feeling. But, when you get the hang of it, you’ll think – How on Earth did I ride without this. (Now, I have the same feeling)

How do you shift forward controls?

There are plenty of clips and manuals on how to shift forward controls on your bike. Sometimes it’s a straightforward process and sometimes you need to improvise with aftermarket kits.

When people say forward controls, they think Harley (see video below). That’s why there are a LOT of clips of shifting or adding forward controls on a Harley.

How do forward controls work? 

It’s simple. They work like any other controls out there with basic functions – braking, gear shifting and feet resting. What’s different is just how they make the rider feel and maneuver the motorcycle.

What does it mean when a motorcycle has forward controls?

It means that foot, shifting and braking pegs are moved all the way forward. Almost to the beginning of the engine. That directly influences the rider’s riding position and the level of comfort and control you’re gonna have.

Are forward controls useful?

OMG, YES! If there was a definition of comfortable, forward controls would be it.