Cruise control is so commonplace on today’s autos that we hardly give it a second thought. That wasn’t always the case. Early drivers sought accelerator pedal relief with a dashboard-mounted throttle cable. Long-distance truckers were more innovative, wedging a spring-loaded curtain rod between the pedal and dash panel. Full speed ahead! Cruise control was first offered to the public as a dial-operated “Auto-Pilot” on the 1958 Chrysler Imperial. Ironically its inventor, Ralph Teetor, was totally blind.
Relatively few motorcycles offer standard electronic cruise control, though a fatigued and aching throttle hand is no fun when you’ve still got many miles to go. Several mechanical devices are available to maintain road speed; one of the best known is the Throttlemeister.
Manufactured by Marker Machine Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1994, the Throttlemeister is a stainless-steel billet and bronze device with a well-machined friction lock; an internal piston applies pressure on the throttle tube as the rider activates the right side bar end with a roll-on/roll-off motion.
The Throttlemeister kit includes two cylindrical-shaped handlebar ends. The right is the throttle lock; the left is a matching bar end. The pairs are available in two sizes of black or natural stainless. We chose to install the device on a first-generation Yamaha V-Max for which only the “heavyweight” kit is available. We prefer it anyway because of its larger grip surface, and it looks sharp in natural stainless billet.
Installation is almost as simple as replacing a set of handlebar bar-end weights. Since the consequences of a stuck throttle could be disastrous, it’s important to read and follow the installation instructions. I was fortunate that a Throttlemeister meister managed my install and all was accomplished within 20 minutes. Most factory and aftermarket heated grips work correctly with a Throttlemeister, though Editor Tuttle reports that heated grips can expand and should be tested hot with the Throttlemeister before using them at speed.
Engagement/disengagement takes some practice, but soon becomes seamless. Once the desired throttle tension is set, it can be easily overridden by the rider for speed changes. The V-Max has a relatively heavy throttle pull and produces some handlebar vibration at higher rpm. Throttle twisting is a pleasurable experience for motorcyclists, but the Throttlemeister scored well as a means of giving my wrist a rest whenever it tired, without the necessity of a stop. The additional weight (1-1⁄2 pounds total) at the ends of the handlebar also helped to quench the annoying high-rpm vibes that contribute to hand fatigue.
There’s another potential benefit from the Throttlemeister. Major trucking companies report a 6 percent average fuel savings regularly using cruise control, and Edmunds.com saw 7-14 percent improvement in auto fuel economy. At $4-plus per gallon, every little bit helps.
The Throttlemeister is available for hundreds of different motorcycle models. Prices range from $113-$150, and the company says it hasn’t raised prices in 10 years! You can order direct from its website or purchase it from one of many authorized Throttlemeister dealers.
For more information: Contact Marker Machine Inc., 5240 N. 124th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53225; (414) 464-6060; throttlemeister.com