Do forward controls = long term back problems??

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by RAWLDYMAN, Oct 23, 2010.


    RAWLDYMAN Active Member

    Just interested to know if members have views on this.
    Got chattin to an old acquaintance of mine the other day who happens ot be a physiotherapist and a biker (rides a 78 Honda) and he was admiring my wee sporty. "See ye got mid controls, very wise, he says, those stretched out bikes that you see with forward controls are terrible for causing back problems" He went on to tell me about working on several patients (bikers) who experience long term back issues which he feels are definitely connected with the feet forward arms outstretched stance. "Ergonomically (had to look that one up afterwards!) unsound" he says.
    The kinda roads we have round here I don't mind saying the mids are good for me but most Harley riders I see have forwards.
    Now I'm only a novice in terms of bikes but many on this forum are riding for decades. What's your experience?
  2. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

    Dont know the long term answer here as I have a bad back to begin with,AllI can tell you is riding is the best Therapy I have found and My Dr agrees with me. I have ridden hard tails, baggers Sporties and am currently riding a streetbob with mid controls. :s
  3. skywarrior

    skywarrior Banned

    I have a back problem, had it for 20 years. Been riding a 03 FXST with 3" extended forward controls, a sundowner seat for 70,000 miles. Back fills great now and plan on riding it for another 70,000 miles.
  4. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    Basically if you have long legs (I'm 6'2") and you don't have drag bars with 1" risers, then forwards controls are actually more comfortable. If your legs are too short for them and you don't have handlebars that pull back enough so your are not stretched in a forward C shape then yea it could get to ya after a bit.
    One thing I will say, you need to have toned up stomach muscles to swing your long legs and heavy boots up to the forward mounts from a take off. Additionally I don't find forwards comfortable for long rides UNLESS I have heel stirrups with them. At high speeds on forwards with no stirrups, my boots tend to feel like they are vibrating off. With my kuryakyn stirrups and a wide vintage mustang seat and standard Street Bob mini apes I feel very comfortable. Years of heavy lifting in construction did give me a bad back though.
  5. Joyflyin

    Joyflyin Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator

    One more with back problems before the motorcycle, so I cannot answer that question. I do not seem to have any more or less back trouble when I ride, if my back hurts, I still ride if I can. There have been times when my back hurt and I didn't ride when I had thought about it, but I also didn't do much else but lay around then either; so if my back hurts bad enough to keep me off the bike, it's keeping me from doing other things too. I will add that I too love my Kuryakyn stirrups though. They make a huge difference on the comfort with forward controls.
  6. martin14

    martin14 Active Member

    Same for me, 3" extensions and sundowner. I find the bike now make my back feel better.

    But it would be interesting to see if the forwards 'caused' the problem in the
    first place. Personally, I blame it on 2 years on a hardtail, on very poor roads.
  7. streitm

    streitm Member

    I had back problems before I started on the bike, but I can tell you that with forward controls, 6" risers and a drag bar, it never feels any worse. I am only 5' 8", I really dont need the forward controls but I had a metric with mid and my back woud hurt after 100mi, now I can ride all day. It feels to me like it helps me stay streched may just be because I am short.
  8. nakkers

    nakkers Active Member

    I've heard the theory that forward controls puts puts more stress on your tail bone. And your legs can not provide any support. Then, as it's been mentioned, body position/posture of reaching for the bars and bending your back in a "C" shape.

    Even with my little sporty, the forward controls are comfortable and work.

    Side stepping a bit, my friend is a claims adjuster. Says bikes are dangerous and doesn't understand why I would even consider riding.

    I think if your profession has you seeing people with common injuries/pain on a daily basis, it's easy see commonalities and start drawing some conclusions.

    There probably is a few people with forward controls that is causing some back issues for the rider. I would even suggest some riders have other aches and pains from their bikes, regardless of peg position.

    That's why there are choices to adjust every aspect of a bike's ergos. When it comes to a professional's opinion, I try to understand their perspective but take it with a grain of salt.

  9. Porter

    Porter Junior Member

    +1 on this. The BIG assumption being made is that there is a position that your (take your pick: knee, spine, hip, elbow etc...) should be in to be "pain free/best for long term health. Doesn't pass the common sense test. Also, "bad back" is a very complex issue. Do you have pain because you are have 50lbs of belly hanging over your belt and are now blaming the forward controls? (Not saying you do, but just giving and example). This type of argument is very similar to saying that walking will cause athritis in you knees and hips. So are you going to stop walking? Pain is VERY poorly understood in humans.
  10. Elmosac

    Elmosac Active Member

    Amen, this is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Each of us needs to set his/her bike up to fit their body.