My summer rides are generally gas-stop to gas-stop with 8-to-12 hours of seat time for a week or more. Maintaining a throttle grip against the return spring on long stretches of highway will cause my right hand and wrist to painfully stiffen.
My forearm pumps up, and even my elbow starts hurting from being stuck in one position. My Yamaha Venture has cruise control, so most of the time, I can avoid those uncomfortable episodes, or they don’t last too long.
However, the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike is an ADV bike rather than a full-on tourer designed and customized for my comfort.
When I picked up the Ténéré 700 in Los Angeles for an 1120-mile ride to Portland along the Pacific Coast, the first feature of the bike I looked for was cruise control, which it doesn’t have. My first reaction was, “Uh-oh, this is going to hurt.”
I recently had carpal tunnel surgery, so I was concerned about my grip strength over extended hours of daily riding. Having owned a motorcycle with cruise control for nine years, throttle locking devices were not directly on my radar, though I had peripherally noticed them in ads and articles. One device stuck in my memory because of the name’s association with strength—Atlas Throttle Lock.
The Atlas Throttle Lock was born out of necessity when the creator broke his wrist on a long motorcycle tour. It is a universal fit device that uses friction to neutralize the throttle return spring pressure.
The Atlas Throttle Lock only takes a few minutes to install. You test fit the three supplied pressure pads to find the one that fills the gap between the device and the throttle housing to the left of the throttle grip.
By the Atlas fitment chart, it seems like every motorcycle has that gap. When you press the engage button, the friction pad pushes against the throttle housing eliminating any return spring pressure. When you press the disengage button, the friction pad retracts, and the throttle return spring pressure is no longer neutralized. The throttle will stay in any position you move it to with the Atlas Throttle Lock engaged.
On level ground, I found that it held my desired speed for extended periods. However, the roads I traveled were seldom level. Although the throttle will stay where you put it, any uphill will slow the bike, and any downhill will speed it up. Remember, it’s a throttle lock, not cruise control.
I found myself resting my hand on the throttle, making unconscious, subtle adjustments to keep a constant speed. The critical thing to remember here is that I wasn’t using grip strength to hold against the throttle spring; the Atlas Throttle Lock was doing that for me. It neutralizes the return spring, but that’s all.
The throttle is easily movable from closed to full throttle with your hand, though it requires your hand to make any movements while it’s engaged.
We are all accustomed to letting off and using the tension of the return spring to close the throttle—that doesn’t happen with the Atlas Throttle lock. It takes some getting used to having the throttle stay where you leave it.
If I wanted to shake out my right hand, extend my right arm for a stretch or use my right hand to help me do a body twist, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 had the Atlas Throttle Lock engaged, maintaining the throttle position.
I was glad I didn’t attempt 11 hours and 14 hours in the saddle on consecutive days without some way of giving my right hand a rest. This mechanical device gives your right hand a rest. That is what it is designed for.
Although the Atlas Throttle Lock buttons are always actuated with your right thumb, many motorcycles allow you to choose the Atlas actuator buttons either above or below the throttle. On the Atlas website, the company makes it easy to determine if your motorcycle is compatible with the Top and Bottom Kits. I chose above. However, after 1120 miles, I wished I had chosen the buttons-below configuration.
Buttons-below keeps your thumb still wrapped around the throttle, just extended outward. With the buttons on top, you have to move your thumb from its natural position wrapped around the throttle to above the throttle in a reaching motion.
While it’s a little thing, and it is easy to get used to either configuration, given a choice for your motorcycle’s fitment, I recommend the buttons below, which Atlas calls the Bottom Kit.
The Atlas Throttle Lock sells for $145 with free shipping in the USA—the company is based in Edmonds, Wash.—and it is easily portable to your next motorcycle. You will have to choose between a black or polished finish.
The only maintenance is the small friction pad that will wear down over time, depending on how often you move the throttle with it locked in place. Each kit comes with two pads of each width, so you should get years of right hand, wrist, and elbow relief before contacting Atlas to sell you a few more pads. If you didn’t know you could relieve throttle hand discomfort, you do now!