In 1975 I bought a new Honda CB400-Four and rode it to Chicago from southern California, pretty much as fast as I could. The trip included several 500-mile days between free lodgings with relatives, and a butt-busting 750-mile finale. The little Honda ran like a top, but hanging on to the low handlebar on the café-styled bike gave me a sharp pain between the shoulder blades all the way to Chi-town and back. For relief, I had to let go of the throttle and move my shoulder around – not easy with 80-mph semi-trucks sniffing up my tail. Occasionally I’d tempt fate and ride with my left hand on the throttle.
I’ve had the same pain on long rides ever since then…until I fitted my BMW F 800 GS with a Kaoko Cruise Control. What a difference a little friction nut makes! Now I can get my hand off the grip for minutes at a time and let the miles roll by pain free. I’m still bushed after a long day on the bike, but that knife in the back is a thing of the past.
Simple in function and elegant in design, the Kaoko is a left-hand threaded lock nut assembly that applies pressure to the throttle-side hand grip when engaged. To operate, you grab the large knurled nut with your little finger as you roll on the throttle; doing so increases the friction between the grip and the nut. Set the throttle where you want it and the friction keeps it there. With a little dexterity and practice, setting the throttle and making small adjustments is easy. To unlock the throttle, just grab the nut and roll the throttle off. With the friction removed, the throttle responds normally.
That’s the theory, and that’s the way it works on my friend Mark’s F 800 GS. He has the BMW hand guards and the Kaoko unit for his application is a thin assembly at the end of the grip that’s easily grasped and operated. I have Barkbuster hand guards, which require the cruise control to incorporate a one-inch spacer between the grip and the friction nut. This means my puny hand has to gobble up that space to operate the Kaoko. It’s taken some practice to perfect my technique for setting the throttle control, but I have it wired after 3,000 miles of practice on the way to Oregon and back last summer.
The screw-off, screw-on installation is hard to screw up and takes just a few minutes with simple tools. A small set screw lets you adjust the total friction in the system; in the five months I’ve had the unit I haven’t touched that screw. Kaoko recommends disassembling the unit once a year to clean and re-lube. Given the importance of a throttle control working smoothly, I intend to do just that.
Kaoko (www.kaoko.com), a South African company, lists applications for 15 different brands of motorcycle on their web site. There’s a good chance yours is among them. My Cruise Control was $110.00 from Adventure Designs (www.advdesigns.net) in the U.S. and is worth every penny. In my research for this review, I also contacted Adventurer’s Workshop (www.advworkshop.com) and they were happy to help me out. Truth be told, I got the two “adventure” sites mixed up — but I’d happily recommend either one for Kaoko products and friendly service.
Editor’s Note: last paragraph updated 1/26/11