I want a throttle lock/cruise control
Kinds of speed controls
Before you start looking at products, you have to decide just what it is that you want: cruise control, throttle lock or wrist rest. They're all different.
Cruise control is just like in your car: a digital device that maintains a set speed by engaging or disengaging the throttle.
A throttle lock just locks the throttle in one position. Your speed will increase as you head downhill and decrease as you head uphill. This is the most common device for motorcycles. They're stupidly simple to install.
A wrist rest is just a small device that slips onto the throttle and allows you to maintain a set throttle position with your wrist, instead of having to hold onto the throttle with your thumb and finger(s). Also incredibly simple to put on.
Do I need this?
I haven't had need for one in my about 200k miles of riding.... And 800 mile days are a good day for me. You may not be accustomed to the feeling of long rides, and it'll get better the more you ride.
On long rides a throttle lock is a godsend - you can take the right hand off the handlebars completely, exercising it and thus reducing fatigue accumulation.
I think a throttle lock is an incredibly useful addition to a touring motorcycle. Personally, I use it for short time periods, no more than 10-20 seconds, two-three times per hour, to take my right hand off the throttle. Stretching and exercising the right hand helps me a great deal to reduce fatigue on long rides.
The best fix I've found for right-hand vibration is a throttle lock. I'd say it's the biggest key to managing long days, even more than a good seat. Being able to stretch my right hand frequently is a must, especially in cold weather, or on any day over 15 hours in the saddle.
A throttle lock is not meant to be put on for indefinite periods of time, like the cruise in your car. You should use it for only about 30 seconds every 15-30 minutes or so, but those 30 seconds of freedom to flex your hand will do absolute wonders. Make certain you have a loose and relaxed grip; you should not be holding onto the bars tightly, or supporting any weight with your hands. Grip pressure should be no more than how hard you'd hold onto a banana without destroying it.
Riding with a locked throttle in heavy traffic is a recipe for disaster, even though it is very easy to override the "lock" by twisting the throttle handle. ONLY use it on the highway, and in very light traffic.
Note: The bar size is required for the purchase of some models. The EX250, like most sport bikes, has 7/8" bars.
Since the throttle-lock type of control is the one that is most widely used by club members, we'll cover the other two first.
An actual cruise control simply won't work on the EX250. The lower priced cruise controls use engine vacuum to open the throttle. But, when you roll on the throttle, there is less vacuum available. Vacuum operated cruise controls will only open the throttle about half way. When installed on the 250 they work great, as long as you don't try to use them in 5th or 6th gear.
It may be possible to set up the Rostra all-electronic cruise control (#250-1223) to work all the way to full throttle, but there are three main problems: It's hardly plug-and-play, no one's ever done it, and it's in the vicinity of $200.
You'll have to take a look at the design of these things and see if one is right for you. People either swear at or by these products. By looking at the design you can see why some people think that they get in the way more than anything else. There are other members who like the fact that it doesn't lock the throttle, but allows you to almost completely relax your right hand.
At $10, experimentation won't hurt you too much.
This is what the majority of riders with a speed control device settle on. Products that fit the Ninja 250:
Which one is for me?
As usual, you'll have to figure that one out for yourself. Following are reviews and opinions to help you make up your mind.
Vista Cruise Universal
There's really nothing better for the price. These run about $35. While it isn't as pretty as the Throttlemeister, Leon prefers the way it works. The thumb lock for the throttle seems easier to use.
One thing to remember is that the regular Vista Cruise won't work without some modification. The angled piece that's supposed to connect to the throttle cable is too short. The housing on the Kawasaki is larger than Vista Cruise thinks it should be. You have to use the Universal model on the EX250.
The Vista Universal is basically two rings, one inside the other, and a lock. The inner ring is fixed to the throttle handle; the outer ring to the handlebar. When the lock is disengaged, the rings rotate one inside the other, and you ride as usual. Engage the lock, and the inner ring is jammed inside the outer ring, and the throttle handle is held in place by friction. The lock is not nearly strong enough for the throttle handle to get stuck - you can close the throttle by applying very little force.
loudboys has had a Throttlemeister on his bike for about 10,000 miles now, and loves it. It took about 3 tries to get the shims right, and a little practice to get used to it, but it is very easy to use. As far as technique, most of the time you just roll it on and off with pinkie and ring finger, but if you have to slow unexpectedly you can wrap your hand around the grip and the Throttlemeister at the same time and roll them both off together.
The Throttlemeister works by replacing the bar ends. (Getting the heavy version will help to cut down on vibration.) It is generally acknowledged that the Throttlemeister design is cleaner and simpler than the Vista, but then there is the small matter of price discrepancy: Throttlemeisters run about $125.
Manic Salamanders work just like Throttlemeisters. They are very heavy bar ends, and not only do they work well, they also minimize vibrations in the bars. To lock the throttle, roll the bar end towards you, causing friction against the throttle tube and holding it in place, but not so much that you can't roll the throttle back to close it. To turn off the throttle lock, simply roll the bar end away from you.
Throttle lock reviews
Universal Vista Cruise
I mounted this throttle lock a few weeks ago. It won't win any beauty prizes. It just kinda sticks out there. The mount requires that you shove your whole front brake assembly, lever and all, to the left by 1/2". This makes for a somewhat uncomfortable hand position at first. It doesn't really hurt anything, it just feels funny and takes a little getting used to.
It receives almost no use in daily riding. However, on a long weekend, it adds quite a bit of comfort and convenience. It is VERY nice to be able to take your right hand off to flex your fingers, or just to change your riding position for a while. It helps your wrists and shoulders quite a bit because it gives you the flexibility to move around. If need be, you can make small speed adjustments by reaching up and adjusting the throttle without releasing the friction lock.
I mounted mine slightly differently than normal. I think it looks a little better, and I like the ergonomics a lot better the way I have it mounted. It doesn't stick up so visibly, and the switch is right under your thumb. I just rotated the whole assembly forward. The cross member from the clamp passes between the engine cutoff switch and the starter button. Then the friction lock lever faces approximately towards you while you're seated and is right under your thumb.
The quality of manufacturing and materials in the Throttlemeisters is very high. The bar ends are billet, nicely engineered and machined to close tolerances. They also are larger and heavier than stock (271 grams per bar end for the Throttlemeisters vs. 141 grams for the stockers). Theoretically, this should reduce bar vibration, but since that's never been an issue, the advantage in that regard over stock is probably going to be negligible. I do like the look of the larger billet bar ends, though.
Installation was a 5 minute job, including removal of the old bar ends. You just remove the old RH bar end, roll back the grip about an inch, insert a plastic friction ring supplied by Throttlemeister, roll the grip to its original position, and screw on the new bar end. Good to go. On the LH side, it's just a straight swap of bar ends. There are shims included with the Throttlemeisters to get the fit just right, and the directions are good (though not great).
I was amazed at how simple and easy this gizmo is. To engage, you just turn the bar end toward you 1/4 turn. It holds the throttle position with friction against the installed friction ring, but when properly adjusted you can still move the throttle in either direction. The friction just holds it where you put it. Give the bar end a 1/4 turn away and the friction releases, letting the throttle-return spring operate normally. By using different shims, you can increase or decrease the amount of friction when the Throttlemeister is engaged. A simple, high quality, low tech solution.
Throttlemeisters aren't cheap, but are very well built. If you can live with the looks and functionality of the Universal Vista Cruise, then that is a cheaper option. The Throttlemeister site lists part #s for the EX250, but not all retailers do. Look for the EX500 (500R) or Concours kit. They'll work.
They work perfectly. I do a lot of riding, and highway riding really hurts the back of my hand. With the cruise control, it really cuts down on the pain.
Photos of a MANIC Salamander on an 08 EX250J.
Closed (left) and open and locked (right)