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Why do ATVs have thumb throttles vs twist throttles?

Why do ATVs have thumb throttles vs twist throttles?

There are two main types of throttles available for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Although a thumb throttle is the recommended option, the twist throttle is a viable alternative. In this expert guide, we explain everything that you need to know about thumb and twist throttles. We cover everything from the safety features they offer to the precision each affords.  


What is a twist throttle?

A twist throttle is a kind of throttle that uses your grip to dictate the power of the vehicle. All you need to do with this type of throttle is twist it forward or backward in order to gain the power you want.  

You will usually find twist throttles on vehicles such as motorbikes and e-bikes. The main advantage of a twist throttle is that the entire handle bar is the throttle, so you don’t have to think about positioning your hands in a specific place. 


What is a thumb throttle?

A thumb throttle is a throttle that has a thumb lever on the inner side of the handlebar that you need to press to give your ATV power. The lever is ergonomically designed to be placed under your thumb, making it easy to access. 


What are the advantages of each?

Both thumb and twist throttles have their own advantages. To begin with, each is used for different vehicle types. Below is a breakdown of the advantages of each:

Thumb throttle advantages

  • Smaller 
  • Prevents the development of a sore wrist 
  • Allows for the retention of the original handlebar and grips
  • More controlled movement
  • Less obtrusive 
  • Won't interfere with the brake lever
  • Allows lights and mirrors to be added to it

Twist throttle advantages 

  • Familiar for motorbike riders
  • Easy to wrap your hand around
  • Allows you to gain more power 
  • Molds to the handlebars


Why do ATVs use thumb throttles?

Although both twist and thumb throttles have their advantages and disadvantages, ATVs use thumb throttles, and for good reasons. Below are just a few of the benefits of thumb throttles. 

Easier to control 

Thumb throttles are easier to control than twist style throttles, which is important when riding on rough terrain. With twist throttles, although you have a solid grip, your wrist is more likely to move with the terrain. For example, when you go over bumps in the road, you could accidentally increase the throttle without meaning to. However, when you have a thumb-operated throttle, you can control when and how you press it. As a result, there is no risk of unintended acceleration. 


One of the biggest advantages of a thumb throttle is that it is safer. Since ATV riding is an inherently dangerous sport, all additional safety elements are welcomed.  There are fewer safety issues with a thumb throttle, as you are not thinking about twisting your handlebars and using them to navigate at the same time. You can therefore fully focus on the terrain ahead of you. 

Everything you need to know to avoid ATV accidents

Easier to use

Thumb throttles are easier to use because they give you more control. You don't have to think about keeping your throttle still while turning your handlebars. If you want to speed up, you need to press the button. Having this as the only way to gain power allows you to only use it when you need it, whereas with a twist throttle, you are more likely to accidentally accelerate to a dangerous speed.


How does a thumb throttle work?

The thumb throttle is engaged when you press down on the lever. It has the ability to override the pedal assist and can provide the ATV with full power, which is extremely useful for hill starts and when you need that extra bit of juice to get you over tough terrain


What if the thumb throttle doesn't suit your needs?

If the thumb throttle doesn’t suit you, you can change it for a more viable option. All throttles are customizable. However, it is recommended that you use a thumb or finger throttle due to the safety benefits it provides.

You will also need to verify whether or not a twist throttle is appropriate for the make of your ATV. For example, ATVs with electrical drive-by-wire systems don’t allow you to easily swap your throttle type. You can use an aftermarket twist throttle conversion kit to easily swap them if you are suffering from finger fatigue from your thumb throttle. 

Customize your ATV


How can I install a twist throttle on my ATV?

If you think you would benefit from a twist throttle, you can install one yourself. Below is a breakdown of how to do it. If you have any doubts, you should seek the services of a professional mechanic. 

The first thing you need to do is remove the existing handlebar, thumb throttle assembly, and thumb throttle cable. Then, you need to take the components of your twist throttle assembly kit, and install them in the exact place of the components you just removed, including the throttle cable. After this, you need to reinstall the handlebar grips and test the vehicle in a controlled environment. 


Shop for ATV accessories

Customization is an important part of the ATV ownership experience. Whether you want to raise your vehicle with lift kits or accommodate bigger tires with wheel spacers, the choices are endless. 

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