How to adjust a motorcycle brake hand lever

Motorcycle riders, like their motorcycles, come in different shapes and sizes. To accommodate for riders with smaller hands, many motorcycles offer adjustable brake and clutch levers. Since a longer reach to the lever can be both uncomfortable and hamper the rider's braking ability, adjusting the brake lever is a requirement before riding an unfamiliar motorcycle. While adjusting the lever on older, drum-type brake levers required time-consuming cable adjustments, newer models equipped with hydraulic brakes offer adjustments from the brake lever to simplify the process.

Sit on the motorcycle, grasping the handlebars, and place your fingers over the brake lever. Ideally, the brake lever should rest just behind the first knuckle of your fingers without engaging the front brake.

Locate the span adjustment knob on the top of the brake lever. Span adjustment is performed in steps, indicated by a number imprinted into the adjustment knob. Normally, the lever will be at its furthest position when placed on the "1" indicator.

Push the brake lever forward slightly to lift it off of the master cylinder and turn the span adjustment knob to the next numbered step.

Place your fingers onto the brake lever again. If the brake lever is still too far away, adjust the knob to a lower step until you are comfortable.


For riders with larger hands, set the lever at its lowest span setting and increase the lever span one step at a time until you have found a comfortable lever position. To increase comfort, adjust the vertical position of the brake master cylinder on the handlebar as well.

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About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.