Do Motorcycles Have Cruise Control?

I. Introduction

When you are on a long ride on your motorcycle, you may experience fatigue in your hand due to the continuous throttling and want to rest your hands briefly by pulling off the road. This can be common among motorcycle riders and the break is essential for the rider’s safety and comfort.

Cruise control on a motorcycle may ease this situation and allow the rider to have a long and continuous ride without much strain on the hand.

Coming to our article’s question “do motorcycles have cruise control?” and the answer is “yes”. There are many present-day motorcycles (especially the touring ones) on road with company-fitted cruise controls and there can be an equal number (or more) of motorcycles on the road that are fitted with one or the other form of aftermarket cruise controls.


This article answers most of your questions on motorcycle cruise controls and takes you through the subtopics, such as: what is cruise control; do motorcycles have cruise control; working of cruise control on a motorcycle; list of a few popular motorcycles with cruise control; and frequently asked questions.

II. What is cruise control?

In simple words, cruise control allows you (rider) to set the speed of your motorcycle to the desired level and the motorcycle will maintain this speed without the need of throttling by the rider. So, you can set a speed, take your hand off the throttle, and enjoy your ride while your motorcycle maintains the set speed for you. This will reduce fatigue and give your hand the much-needed rest.

III. Do motorcycles have cruise control?

The answer is yes. There are many present-day motorcycles on the road with factory-fitted cruise controls and many have stock (OEM) cruise control as an option.

There are older motorcycles fitted with aftermarket throttle locks that partially do the job of cruise control.

There are no exact statistics as to the percentage of motorcycles that have cruise control either as a regular feature or as an optional feature. The requirement of cruise control may be more felt in touring motorcycles that are meant for long-distance riding. Cruise control helps your hand to relax, reduce fatigue, and can help riders to cover longer distances without a break. It improves fuel efficiency.

IV. Work of cruise control on a motorcycle.

The cruise control is designed to lock the motorcycle’s speed at a particular value (set by the rider) and this set speed is maintained without the need for manual operation of the throttle.

There are basically three types of cruise controls used on a motorcycle and they are:

Electronic cruise controls (ECC)

The electronic cruise control has two major units, a control unit (this is the front end and it is fixed on the top, near the handle that enables you to do the settings) and the computer unit (this is the backend of the cruise control and is placed inside the motorcycle, as away from the engine as possible).

The control unit and the computer of the cruise control are connected with each other through wires and they are connected with the motorcycle parts viz. ECU (electronic control unit), speedometer, FI (fuel injection unit), throttle system, etc. The exact connections depend on the individual motorcycle. Connecting the cruise control unit with the ECU helps to share the data to control the speed.

After connecting the cruise control, it needs to be calibrated with the motorcycle’s power output, torque output, and the related things so that the computer of the cruise control is synchronized with the throttle input, the reading of the speedometer, and the ECU. This will enable the cruise control to maintain a set speed.

The cruise control reads the speed you have entered into the input control unit and matches it with the reading of the speedometer. The cruise control then connects with the ECU and the FI unit to manage the fuel supply to the engine, thus maintaining the set speed of the motorcycle. This process goes on continuously and this is how the cruise control ensures the constant set speed.

Most electronic cruise controls allow the rider to change the set speed dynamically on the move.

Cruise control units have an auto cut-off system and when the motorcycle speed falls below 60 to 80% of the set speed, the cruise control cuts off automatically and transfers the control of the motorcycle to the rider. Also, the cruise control cuts off automatically when the rider applies a brake (either hand or leg) or operates the clutch.

Since the cruise control manages the optimum fuel consumption for any set speed, you can observe a better fuel efficiency. And while going downhill, the cruise control cuts on the fuel consumption and this improves the fuel efficiency.

Electronic cruise controls can be either factory-fitted (OEM or stock) or aftermarket ones. Even though cruise control can fit into any motorcycle, it is better for the motorcycle to at least be using fuel injection and ride-by-wire technology for effective functioning.

Adaptive cruise control

Adaptive cruise control does all the functions of electronic cruise control and goes a step further. This system has radar sensors in the front of the motorcycle and using radio waves, the radar can detect the vehicles in the front and also gauge the distance between them (the transmitter of the radar sends out the radio waves and the reflected radio waves are received by the receiver to judge the distance of the objects in front of the motorcycle).

If you are cruising on your motorcycle on a freeway and there is a vehicle in front of you, the radar judges the distance. If the adaptive cruise control is on, the ECU of the motorcycle uses the radar data to maintain the set distance between the two vehicles.

If the vehicle ahead accelerates or decelerates, the radar catches the data and sends it to the ECU to act on it. The ECU, in turn, increases or decreases the throttle opening or fuel injection to maintain the set distance between the two vehicles.

BMW motorcycle K 1600 GTL has this system.

Throttle locks

Throttle locks are mechanical devices fitted on the motorcycle handle and the rider can lock the throttle at the desired position. Throttle locks are not exactly the same as cruise control, but it is a method of locking the throttle at a desired position. Yes, you can use it to lock the throttle (speed) at a particular level. However, high-tech cruise control does more functions.

Few tips on using cruise control

  • Do not use cruise control when you are tired (you may get drowsy).
  • Do not use cruise control on icy roads, wet roads, during heavy rain, or snow.
  • Do not use it on roads with heavy traffic, winding roads, and when you are approaching a bridge or overpass.
  • It is better to practice the use of cruise control on an empty parking area or road before entering a road with vehicles.

V. Few popular motorcycles with cruise control

This is only a small list to give you an idea. There are more motorcycles either with factory-fitted cruise controls or have the feature as an option. Also, depending on the model of your motorcycle, you can go for a suitable aftermarket cruise control.

1Honda Gold Wing Tour motorcycles
2Honda Africa Twin motorcycles
3Honda Rebel Motorcycle
4BMW Motorcycle K 1600 GTL
5BMW Motorcycle R1200 GS
6Yamaha FJR 1300 ES motorcycle
7Triumph Motorcycle models Tiger XRx and XRx LRH
8Kawasaki NINJA 1000 SX motorcycle
9Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 motorcycle
10A few models of Harley Davidson
11Indian motorcycle FTR 1200
12Ducati 959Panigale motorcycle

VI. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

 

1Can I add cruise control on my old motorcycle?
Yes, you can add cruise control to your old motorcycle. There are two types of cruise controls, electronic cruise control and throttle locks. Throttle locks are not exactly the same as cruise control, but it is a method of locking the throttle at a desired position.

For effective functioning of electronic cruise control, your motorcycle must at least have fuel injection and ride-by-wire throttle technology. Also, electronic cruise controls cost more (700 USD or more).

The throttle locks are fitted on the handle and the rider can lock the throttle at the desired position. Throttle locks are available from 50 USD to 200 USD and you must buy the one that is easy to use and have safety features.

2What is a throttle lock? Can I use it for cruise control?
Throttle locks are mechanical devices fitted on the motorcycle handle and the rider can lock the throttle at a desired position. Throttle locks are not exactly the same as cruise control, but it is a method of locking the throttle at a desired position. Yes, you can use it to lock the throttle (speed) at a particular level. However, high-tech cruise control does more functions.
3What are the pros and cons of cruise control?
Pros:

  • Reduces rider’s fatigue and cramps in the hand.
  • Maintains constant set speed, which eliminates the tendency of accelerating and speeding past other vehicles. This increases the safety level.
  • Improved fuel efficiency.

Cons:

  • You cannot use cruise control in crowded areas.
  • Using cruise control increases the risk of drowsy riding leading to accidents.
  • May be difficult to change lanes on a freeway when the cruise control is on.
  • Cruise controls are not safe on wet roads.
4Is installing a throttle lock on a motorcycle simple? Can I install one on my motorcycle?
Most throttle locks are simple to install and you can do it yourself by watching online videos and following the manufacturer’s instructions. However, you will need the guidance of a mechanic or a friend who is already using a throttle lock. Wrong selection or wrong fitting of a throttle lock can lead to serious accidents. Your safety is very important.
5What is the difference between throttle lock and cruise assist?
Both throttle lock and cruise assist are simple mechanical devices. A throttle lock locks the throttle at a particular position and you can take your hand off the throttle.

On the other hand, cruise assist allows you to do throttling without the necessity of completely gripping the throttle with your hand (throttle assist allows your wrist/palm to rest on its extended portion and you can throttle or hold the throttle at a particular position without the necessity of gripping the throttle). Throttle assist allows you to open your palm and still do throttling comfortably.

VII. Conclusion

Cruise control has some advantages and few disadvantages. However, the fact that it reduces the rider’s fatigue and cramps in the hand when riding on a continuous straight stretch is true. The opinion of the motorcycle riders is divided on using cruise controls.

Some riders want to take the advantage of it, while other riders want to ride the motorcycle in their independent way and enjoy their ride. So, using cruise control or not is the choice left to the rider.

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