Do Motorcycles Have Cruise Control?

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When you are on a long ride on your motorcycle, you may experience fatigue in your hand due to the continuous throttling.

This is common among riders who tour, and breaks are essential for safety and comfort.

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

Coming to our article’s question “do motorcycles have cruise control?”, the answer is “yes”.

There are many motorcycles (especially touring model) on the road with stock cruise control, and there are more that have been fitted with one or another form of aftermarket cruise controls.

This article answers common questions about motorcycle cruise controls and takes you through the subtopics, including:

  • What is cruise control?
  • Do motorcycles have cruise control?
  • How it works.
  • Popular motorcycles with cruise control.

What is cruise control?

In simple words, cruise control allows you to set the speed of your motorcycle to the desired level and the motorcycle will maintain this speed without the need of throttle input 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 wrist fatigue and give your hand the much-needed rest.

Do motorcycles have cruise control?

The answer is yes.

There are many 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 can partially do the job of cruise control.

The benefit of cruise control may be more apparent 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 can also improve fuel efficiency.

How Motorcycle Cruise Control Works

Cruise control is designed to lock the motorcycle’s speed at a particular value set by the rider. The set speed is then 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).
  • The computer unit (this is the backend of the cruise control and is placed inside the motorcycle, as far 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 including:

  • ECU (electronic control unit).
  • Speedometer.
  • Fuel injection unit (FI).
  • Throttle system.

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’ll usually see better fuel efficiency.

And while going downhill, the cruise control cuts on the fuel consumption and this improves the fuel efficiency even further.

Electronic cruise controls can be either factory-fitted (OEM or stock) or aftermarket units.

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 can detect the vehicles in the front and 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.

The BMW 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.

They’re a sort of “dumb” cruise control.

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.

Tips on Using Cruise Control on Your Motorcycle

Keep these tips in mind to safely use cruise control while you ride:

  • 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.

Popular Motorcycles with Cruise Control

This is only a small list to give you an idea.

There are more motorcycles either with stock cruise controls or have the feature as an option.

Also, depending on the model of your motorcycle, you can find an aftermarket cruise control unit.

  1. Honda Gold Wing
  2. Honda Africa Twin
  3. Honda Rebel
  4. BMW K 1600 GTL
  5. BMW R1200 GS
  6. Yamaha FJR 1300 ES
  7. Triumph Tiger XRx and XRx LRH
  8. Kawasaki NINJA 1000 SX
  9. Kawasaki Vulcan 1700
  10. Indian FTR 1200
  11. Ducati 959Panigale

Can 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 you may be able to use, 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.

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. Opinions are divided on using cruise control.

Some riders want to take the advantage of it, while other riders want to be in full control.