For a long time, I was only familiar with twist throttles. It was much later when I saw a few riders installing thumb throttles in their motorcycles that I became familiar with a thumb throttle.
So, thumb throttle vs twist throttle, which is better? Both the thumb throttle and twist throttle have their pros and cons. For motorcycles and other two-wheelers, a twist throttle is the better option.
Thumb throttles are more suited for ATVs.
As for why is that, let’s discuss the pros and cons of each of these throttle systems in detail.
The thumb throttle is a throttle setup with a spring-loaded lever that accelerates the bike when you push the lever using the thumb.
If you release your thumb pressure on the lever, the bike decelerates.
So to accelerate – push the thumb forward and throttle up. To decelerate – pull back the thumb and release to throttle down.
The thumb movement determines the entire acceleration and deceleration – and hence the speed of the vehicle.
The thumb throttle is usually present as a lever below the right handlebar.
Thumb throttles are used in ATVs, a few electric bikes, and a few dirt bikes. They are not used in motorcycles much. Their main presence is in ATVs. Apart from that, thumb throttles aren’t really popular.
Let’s now discuss the pros and cons of thumb throttles.
First and foremost, thumb throttles are easier to operate especially on rough terrains. The modulation is far more easier with a thumb throttle.
Bumpy terrains can make us lose the wrist grip on the twist throttle and cause unnecessary throttling up or down. Thumb throttles are easier on these roads.
Second, with thumb throttles – there are no sore wrists. This is helpful for people with arthritis and people that have low wrist mobility.
Often what happens with twist throttle is – the constant wrist movement leads to soreness. Especially on the radius and ulna parts.
With the thumb throttle, the wrist pain is no more. But you could argue thumb can itself feel numb.
That’s true. It totally depends on the rider on what he wants to avoid and what he/she can bear. If a sore wrist is a problem then thumb throttle is the way to go.
Third, the thumb throttle makes the handlebar less cluttered. With already so many controls added on the handlebar – ranging from kill switch to horn to turn indicators to high-low beam headlights – the handlebar is too cluttered.
The thumb throttle removes some clutter there. Now the rider can use the handlebar only to grip. No need for constant twisting and turning the right handlebar.
First, a thumb throttle offers lower control and poor adjustability when compared to a twist throttle.
Controlling the throttle with the entire hand, especially during difficult ride maneuvers, makes more sense than using a thumb throttle and controlling with just a thumb.
Second, the rider’s grip is usually loosened with twist throttles. Two-wheelers need a better handlebar grip for good balancing.
While this might not sound like a big issue when you are riding a smooth straight road, the grip becomes significant while riding rough terrains or cornering maneuvers.
In case the tire contacts a heavy stone or object, the rider may lose grip on the handlebar, and hence the balance instantly.
Also, thumb pian is another concern that the rider needs to be aware of.
Third, maintaining a steady throttle position gets difficult with the thumb throttle.
Rather than controlling the throttle with the entire hand grip, you are controlling the throttle position with just a thumb.
The steadiness in position with one thumb is of course poorer when you compare it to the hand grip on the throttle.
- Easy to operate on rough terrains
- No sore wrists and better for people with arthritis and low wrist mobility
- Less clutter on the handlebar
- Lower control and adjustability
- Loosened grip on the handlebar and sore thumb
- Difficult to maintain throttle position
- ATVs (most popular)
- a few electric bikes, and a few dirt bikes
Twist throttle throttles up or down (accelerate/decelerate) depending on your wrist movement on the throttle.
The throttle here is in the form of a twister on the right handlebar itself.
The twister needs to be rolled up or down by the wrist. Rolling the twister down accelerates the vehicles. Rolling up the throttle decelerates the vehicle.
Twist throttles are the popular throttle type.
They are used extensively in almost all two-wheelers.
Motorcycles, scooters, dirt bikes, and electric bikes – all have twist throttles.
So, almost all factory-installed motorcycles come with twist throttles.
First and foremost, the twist throttle offers good control and adjustability. Especially with the two-wheelers.
With twist throttles, the turning, cornering, and maneuvers are far more easier with twist throttles when compared to thumb throttles.
Second, the rider will have a good handlebar grip with a twist throttle.
Now why a good grip is important?
Two-wheelers especially motorcycles require a good handlebar grip from the rider to balance the vehicle.
A loosened grip combined with the two-wheeler bumping something on the road can cause the vehicle to fall off easily.
Third, it is easier to control the vehicle speed with a twist throttle.
With a thumb throttle, the speed is sensitive to the pressure on the spring-loaded thumb lever. Which can be difficult.
But with a twist throttle, the wrist position and movement control the speed. Which is relatively easier compared to the thumb ones.
One can argue that twist throttles are not the best for riding rough terrains.
While offroading maintaining a strong grip on the handlebar can be challenging. On top of that, maintaining a good wrist grip and position can get a bit uncomfortable.
That’s why many offroading enthusiasts prefer thumb throttle over twist throttle.
Another complaint about the twist throttle is it makes the handlebar too cluttered. The handlebar already has too many switches and buttons to confuse a beginner rider. And twist throttle adds to the clutter.
- Good control and adjustability
- Better grip on the handlebar
- Easier control of the vehicle speed
- Tough to navigate on rough terrains
- Clutters the handlebar
- Popular in motorcycles
- Scooters, dirt bikes, and electric bikes
You can change the thumb throttle to twist throttle and vice versa. Installing and changing the throttle type is not easy. It requires technical skills. And a good set of mechanical know-how.
Both thumb and twist throttles have their own set of pros and cons. In general, a twist throttle is better for motorcycles. A thumb throttle is more suitable in ATVs.
Thumb throttles are used in ATVs, a few electric bikes, and a few dirt bikes. Their main presence is in ATVs. Apart from that, thumb throttles aren’t really popular. They are preferred in rough terrains.
Twist throttles are the popular throttle type for motorcycles, scooters, dirt bikes, and electric bikes.
Thumb throttles, on the other hand, are popular with ATVs.
While one can change the throttle type in their vehicle from twist to thumb and thumb to twist – it requires lots of work and technical know-how.