Home / What are the Forward Controls on a Harley Davidson?

For most Harley riders, their bikes represent the freedom of the open road. That’s a cliche in some circles and with some motorcycles, but it still applies to the Harley Davidson ethos, especially when it comes to what the forward controls are on a Harley.

But that freedom can come with compromises, especially for older riders, who constitute a good part of HD’s demographic due to the brand’s illustrious history. One of the most severe compromises involves comfort, especially when it comes to touring.

Harley has adjusted for long-term comfort in many ways, and one of the most important ones is with the forward controls. They can help considerably with ease on longer trips, so let’s take a more in-depth look at how they work in general and some of the Harley Davidson specifics.

Close up of forward controls on a Harley Davidson motorcycle

How Forward Controls Work

Simply put, forward control refers to the process of using extended pedals and rods to replace the standard equipment for shifting and braking that comes with most motorcycles.

The idea is to provide more comfort by changing the rider’s posture. Without forward controls, the rider’s normal posture includes bent knees, which is fine for running errands, trips around town, short trips, etc.

Longer trips, however, can be another matter. Riding in that position for hours can be uncomfortable and even painful, especially for older riders or riders who have experienced knee injuries. Forward controls are a game-changer for those people. 

What are the forward controls on a Harley? They essentially replace the original pedals and lever and shift them forward, allowing drivers to extend their legs and still reach the controls.

With most motorcycles, these forward controls are typically installed using a kit that allows them to be bolted onto the bike. The new pedals and levers are bolted onto the footage mounts, and the chosen forward controls then replace the stock components.

If you’re interested in forward controls, it won’t take long to find the right one for your bike most of the time. The aftermarket for forward controls is both large and comprehensive, and the worst-case scenario is that you may need a professional mechanic with extensive motorcycle experience to make the necessary pieces for you.

Forward controls are often installed as part of a package that includes highway bar extensions for many riders. It’s relatively easy to recognize a bike that’s had forward motor controls installed, and the comfort provided by this package also helps make the bike safer as well.

Many accidents occur due to rider discomfort and fatigue. While forward controls do have a certain ornamental value on certain kinds of bikes, they often play an essential role in safety in certain situations.

The ergonomics of forward controls are also important to consider. For tall riders using smaller motorcycles can be essential for safety and comfort.

Harley Davidson forward control kit

The Harley Forward Controls Solution

For Harley Davidson riders, forward controls are part of a package as well.

When Harley Davidson realized the number of people who were intent on using aftermarket kits to install forward motor controls on their bikes, regardless of the circumstances, they took the bull by the horns and took a comprehensive approach to offer forward motor controls on many of their motorcycles.

Most motorcycles have what’s known as mid control, which means what it sounds like—i.e., the pedals and levers are positioned in the middle position available for them on HD motorcycles.

Model-wise, most cruisers tend to have forward controls, which makes sense that these bikes are usually used for touring. Sportbikes and street bikes usually have controls and rear sets; these and middle controls allow a more aggressive riding position.

Another advantage of forward controls on a Harley is that they allow riders to get their feet on the ground as quickly as possible when they’re in stop-and-start traffic.

Forward controls also help improve visibility, and they provide control for slow-speed turns by allowing a more upright posture.

You can also take a mix-and-match approach when it comes to mid and forward controls. Some riders to this for increased safety and control, but style decisions are also involved.

These are related to both riding posture and the appearance of the bike, so there are a variety of factors that have different levels of importance to different riders.

The mid controls on a Harley can include racing-style pivot foot pegs along with a mega knurl, which allows riders to lean toward the road while maintaining an ideal level of visibility. They can also prevent accidents when unexpected braking is necessary, and they increase the confidence of many riders as well.

While an aftermarket kit can seem like the easiest solution if you’re looking for forward controls, there are plenty of reasons to turn to Harley Davidson for a solution.

For starters, the forward controls made by HD are designed to match the factory style of your bike. They’re made of laser-cut steel, and depending on the individual ride, they’re usually powder-coated in satin black. The length of the controls can be adjusted individually by Harley mechanics, and because these kits are custom-made, the rear brakes typically don’t need to be bled.

The versatility is impressive as well. Street bobs can come with forward controls pre-installed, usually with an L-shaped brake pedal instead of a standard T-shaped pedal.

Harley Davidson motorcyclist

If you’re one of those mix-and-match types, you can have the option to switch back and forth between mid controls and forwards controls, depending on the type of riding you’re doing. This may involve some periodic adjustments that take a little extra time or the occasional trip to the dealership. Still, the available flexibility is often invaluable if you ride a lot.

Plenty of Harley models come with forward controls, and the best way to find them is to your local dealer’s website in Kingwood. Visit the shop and see what the possibilities are. Harley Davidson also makes its own aftermarket kits, so be sure to check them out. Forward controls are a great way to ride in style, and Harley Davidson is committed to making sure that the broadest array of incredible options is available.

Harley Davidson of Kingwood

Harley-Davidson of Kingwood is your #1 Texas Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealer. Our full-service facility offers new and pre-owned motorcycles, parts, maintenance, riding apparel, and everything else you need to get your Hog on the road. As a winner of the Harley-Davidson Gold Bar & Shield Circle of Excellence, we’re committed to providing top-notch customer service every day of the week. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of Kingwood Showroom on Northpines Drive in Kingwood, TX!