wBW Quick Look by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
This time, I fit one to the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS (Blog).
The Kaoko is a snap to install; in fact, it's even easier to install it on the V-Strom than the BMW scooter.
While the Kaoko itself is just as easy to use, the V-Strom's steep torque curve and on/off throttle response mean that a throttle control is less useful.
But that's the fault of the bike, not the control.
Otherwise, the Kaoko is still a beautifully made hunk with a simple and elegant design.
It's much more expensive than those cheap plastic throttle positioners like the "Throttle Rocker" (review) or the GoCruise Throttle Control (review) and it's also less conspicuous, looking for all the world like a standard accessory.
I covered just about everything you need to know about the Kaoko throttle control in my previous review, where I fitted it to the BMW scooter.
At the time, the BMW scooter version of the Kaoko was brand new and Kaoko shipped me the first production example.
It works perfectly on the scooter and it was very easy to install.
The Kaoko throttle lock or throttle control is available in dozens of different designs to fit just as many bikes of all shapes and sizes. But pretty much whatever you read here and in the previous review is all you need to know to fit one to your bike.
The Kaoko is even easier to install it on the V-Strom than the scooter -- you can literally do this in less than 3 minutes.
On the V-Strom 1000 ABS, remove the single Phillips head screw in the end of the bar end weight, pull out the stock V-Strom handlebar end, insert the Kaoko with the nylon thrust washer towards the hand grip, tighten the hex bolt and you're ready to go.
On the V-Strom Adventure model, you'll have to pull out the hand guard once you loosen the stock bar end weight assembly and then insert the hand guard again into the Kaoko before you tighten it up.
Let's take a look in photos:
Installing and using the Kaoko is no different from my narrative in the BMW scooter application, so I'll repeat most of that here.
There is a nylon thrust washer that goes between the castellated locking nut and the end of the throttle, as you can see in the photos below with the yellow arrow indicating the washer.
It is designed to fit over a machined shoulder on the inside of the Kaoko Throttle Control, which keeps the washer centered and correctly located.
The machined castellated nut that looks like a big gear has a small Allen set screw (grub screw) that can be used to increase friction if/after the Kaoko becomes loose over time.
Some owners have said that they use the set screw to lock the nut down towards the outside to keep it out of the way when they're riding off-road, but I don't really see where that is necessary.
To set up the Kaoko, turn the machined ring until it just starts to touch the throttle hand grip or tube. It pushes the thrust washer against the throttle tube, just touching it.
Use the throttle normally and you'll never know the Kaoko is there. If you want to use the Kaoko to set the throttle position, move the outer edge of your hand out to just cover the castellated friction ring and the throttle simultaneously.
As you roll on the throttle, the ring also turns and it moves closer to the throttle tube (it has a left-handed thread) to create enough friction against the throttle tube to hold it in place.
Even with the Kaoko engaged, you can always roll back on the throttle to get back to idle.
The company says the Kaoko can not lock the throttle open, probably because the nylon thrust washer has enough lubricity to allow the throttle tube to move if you overcome the friction.
Of course, with any type of device like this, you must be aware and know what you're doing.
Once the Kaoko throttle lock is engaged, you can make adjustments to the throttle, either up or down, and the throttle will stay in place at the final setting.
To disengage the Kaoko, cover the ring with the outer edge of your hand as you cover the throttle with the rest of your hand.
As you roll the throttle forward, the nut turns and disengages, moving away from the throttle tube and ending the friction and the throttle then reacts as normal.
It's actually very intuitive and works faster and easier in reality than it seems when I describe it.
And that's the genius of the design actually; it's intuitive and natural, versus the "stick" type throttle locks that take finger fiddling and a look down to set.
Once you've tried the Kaoko a couple of times, you don't have to look down at it -- just move your hand out, cover it, move the throttle and the Kaoko holds or releases the throttle.
Here is another quick video we put together to illustrate how the Kaoko throttle control works.
The new V-Strom 1000 ABS has a beefy torque curve that's packed into the first 4,000 RPM.
Combined with a razor-sharp on/off sportbike-type throttle control, the bike is disappointingly hard to handle, especially at slow speeds.
Because of this, the Kaoko isn't as successful when used on the V-Strom as it is on the BMW scooter. The scooter has a soft engine response and a CVT transmission, which is a perfect match for the Kaoko.
On the V-Strom, it's difficult to set the Kaoko to a desired speed and then micro-adjustments make a big difference in the speed also, due to the characteristics of this bike.
This is no fault of the Kaoko; it's a problem with the V-Strom. On the V-Strom, the Kaoko works better on flat interstate highway roads.
Once you find an acceptable throttle position, the Kaoko works fine, but it just isn't as easy to get the bike "settled in" with minor throttle adjustments as it is on the BMW scooter.
The amount of friction or grip of the Kaoko control ring can be modified by tightening or loosening the grub screw on the ring itself and we tried various amounts of friction but the V-Strom's throttle is so sensitive that it doesn't seem to make much difference.
We'll be installing a G2 Throttle Tamer (review) to see if that helps...
The Kaoko does help to relieve the arm strain that can occur due to the slightly odd handlebar angle of the V-Strom and the long reach to the handlebars over the big fuel tank. This has helped make the bike more enjoyable on longer rides.
The Kaoko Throttle Control is easy to install and easy and intuitive to use. It fits and looks like it came with the bike and it can make long rides (especially on the highway) much more enjoyable.
UPDATE: Part 3 - Kaoko Cruise Control for use with hand guards.
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From "W" (July 2014): "I installed a Kaoko throttle lock on my FJR 4 years ago and love it. I didn't like the look of some of the other throttle locks that are available and a cruise control was way over my budget. Installing it was a snap, I think it took me less that 5 minutes. It is easy to use and very inconspicuous."