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Where to put your feet on the footpegs

boots Footpegs pain - throttle wrist handlebars
Adjust your levers and pedals

Where you should place your feet on the footpegs has long been a subject of debate among riders.

If you want to race, go ahead and put the balls of your feet on the footpegs, but if you want to ride in the real world, the arches of your feet go on the footpegs.

I spoke recently to a bike cop and he named this as one of the biggest failings of riders.

If you have the balls of your feet on the footpegs, it gives you a bit more push on the pegs which helps steer and control the bike.

No doubt about it.

However, your feet are not anywhere near the brake or gear shifter and, in an emergency, you waste valuable milliseconds reaching out for those levers.

Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez in action motorcycle insurance footpegs
Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez in action

On a racetrack, you know where the corners are, you know there is no approaching traffic or livestock wandering across the road and you even know where the braking markers are for the corners.

So you can afford to put the balls of your feet on the pegs to turn and control the bike, knowing exactly when to move your feet forward to shift gears or hit the brakes.

But in the real world you don’t know when those emergencies will arise.

Instead, we need to ride for the unexpected and unfortunately there are unexpected things everywhere. Livestock, gravel on the road, cars on the wrong side of the road, speed cameras!

roadkill footpegs
Take care around livestock

That means we need our feet close to the brake and gear shift, so you’ll need to have the arches of your feet on the pegs.

If you claim that having the arches of your feet on the pegs actually makes it more difficult to reach the brake and shifter then you have another problem entirely – you have not set the pedals at the right position.

Make sure that the pedals are set at a position so you don’t have to move your feet far to reach them.

Apart from the track, there is only one other time when you need the balls of your feet on the pegs and that is when you are riding off-road, particular through ruts as you don’t want your toes sticking out and getting caught on an obstacle.

Other than that, keep the arches of your feet on the pegs.

Do you agree, or disagree? Leave your comments in the box below.

  1. I agree Mark, although if you have linked brakes does this make a difference, given you can apply front brake only and engages rear? Thanks for the riding tips you post too!

  2. A matter of opinion methinks. I have days when I feel like chillin’ and the arch becomes my pal. Next ride is a bit more enthusiastic & I feel the need to be up on the balls (of my feet, that is!), especially in the twisties . ….

  3. Foot position is entirely dependent on type of bike, style of riding and personal comfort/ergonomics.
    Cruiser style would in my view be the worst for foot position in relationship to access to brake and
    gear shift, requiring an excessive amount of movement especially ones with footboards.
    Touring bikes tend to be a much more neutral position while sports bikes tend to require the balls of the feet.

  4. When dirt riding never ride with your feet pointing down. I once (and it only took once to learn that lesson) hit a small tree stump which twisted my foot down and momentarily jammed it between the stump and the footpeg. It was very painful but surprisingly there were no broken bones. Keep your feet flat or close to it. That may seem unnatural at first but you will soon get used to it. A slight downward angle is okay because if you run out of ground clearance or hit something it will push your foot backwards and upwards. Also when dirt riding, always keep the arch of your foot on the peg. It is much less likely to slip off than if you use the ball of you foot, and gives you a much more solid connection with the peg so that you can instantly take some weight on your legs or stand up if you need to.

    Road racers and sports bike riders often put the ball of their foot on the peg because it gives more clearance to prevent dragging their boots through corners. It also makes it easier to get their knee out and down.

  5. Racers use the ball of their foot essentially for more clearance and to save toe sliders; i.e. to get their feet out of the way. Some contort their inside foot so the sole is against the frame so the rear brake and the gear lever can be operated with the side of the foot. And because most use a race-pattern gear shift and now the ubiquitous speed shifter, you only need to tap the gear lever down to hook a higher gear while at an extreme lean angle.

    On the road you can get just as much pressure on the outside peg with your instep. And the controls are, as you say, more easily accessible.

  6. Good luck in getting the brake and gear lever close to your foot if you have size 13’s like I do. To compound the problem I wear Forma Adventure boots as well and as much as I love ’em they are big boots compared to my previous Sidi ones.

    1. I don’t know who you are, but I do know that you could not ride out of site on a dark night given your understanding of the way motorcycles work. The term countersteer refers to the handlebars. People like you have caused the cost of motorcycle insurance to become almost unaffordable. Do the world a favour and never get on a bike again, or God forbid, tell anyone else how to ride.

    2. WRONG! You get more push and that transfers your weight off your fat bum and lowers the bikes COG, it allows you to easily slide off the seat sideways, and transfer your weight to the inside of the corner. this allows the bike to standup more and negotiate a corner with less chance of sliding out under you.
      Very few riders encounter a cow but many drop it through corners because they lose traction.

      “If you have the balls of your feet on the footpegs, it gives you a bit more push on the pegs which helps steer and control the bike. ” Note: Marc Rantner says “HELPS steer”, and it does help, in the way I just described.
      Did you know that a motorcycle is essentially steered via the back wheel marching across the road and pushing the bike through corners? That the lower you lean a bike over the greater is this effect. There are a lot of counter-intuitive aspects of cycling but the techniques derived and practiced on race courses are what has given up the ability to ride more confidently and safely on the roads.

      1. You steer with the handlebars/clipons, not with the foot pegs. If you’re cornering properly, you are actually weighting the outside peg more than the inside while at full lean, since you have one butt-cheek off the seat and your knee down to give you an idea on how much lean angle you still have left. Your outside leg will be taking any weight the seat isn’t. You also have the balls of your feet on the pegs and away from the controls until you consciously need to use them. “Hovering” is bad, since you can give the bike unintentional input which can cause you to lose control.

        Long story short, don’t ride around with the arches of your feet on the pegs. It’s a bad habit that will cause you trouble down the line.

  7. Ride with your toes on the pegs. Toes, like fingertips, tell you everything about what your bike is doing. Forget about the back brake for retardation. USE the FRONT. It’s 10 X more effective than the back brake. That is unless you ride a Harley, might as well drive a truck!

  8. The load of dangerous BS crops up from time to time as a safety tip usually from the Harley camp.
    You ride in the most comfortable position suitable for the bike and the type of riding you are doing at the time period. A practiced and experienced rider will not need to keep their feet close to the controls or hover the break pedal as they will automatically put their feet in the right position at the right time and any delay is either inconsequential or beneficial because the best way to apply the brakes is front first then rear and with gradual measured pressure to ensure that they do not lock yet achieve maximum breaking force.
    The reason the positioning of your feet in such a conscious manner as to hover the brake or just keep your feet in a position that is not comfortable is that it increases fatigue and is likely to cause the inappropriate activation of the rear brake resulting in an accident it is idiots who only use the foot brake or lock it up first before using the front brakes that has caused the brakes to be linked on most if not all new bikes .
    Creating bad habits and catering for them with bad technology and worse instruction is what is adding to the road toll. Any one who learns these bad habits then gets on a bike without abs and without linked brakes will suffer greatly when and emergency occurs.

  9. A good biker will never encounter an “emergency”. Always ride expecting the unexpected. Besides front brake is 10x more effective, use it! Put the balls of your feet on the peg for maximum feedback and control.

    1. Haha a good biker will never encounter an emergency hu??? Like going 45 mph ( the speed limit) and a car making a left in front of them with less than 30 feet to spare, than the said car panic breaking in the intersection and completely stopping. Yeah please tell me how a good biker can escape that ( all of which was my father with 30+ years of riding). It can happen to all of us!

      1. To broad of a statement was your father paying attention to the road he could have been distracted. Looked a way for a second

  10. if you brake front brakes instead of braking both brakes in an emergency you will kiss the road. the riders cant encounter an emergency because this is an accident. accidents happens lightning fast and the results are unavoidable. ı personally think that put your foot that you feel safe. adjust your bike not to wear cluth and turn the stop lights. ride safe.

  11. Its pretty obvious that a large number of people in here have absolutrly no idea how to ride well. Do some proper professional training! Most of what has been said on here is just wrong. No, you don’t steer with your feet or your weight – you only steer with the bars and over a few mph every bijer counterstters because that is the only way to steer. No you don’t need to cover the foot controls in case of an emergency – a motorcycle isn’t a car – you can pull the clutch and use the front brake without crashing! Cops are just as ignorant about riding as anyone else. Watch the road racers on TV and try to spot even one with their toes on the pegs. Riding with your toes on the pegs is more tiring on the feet but less tiring in your backside – ride how you feel most comfortable because then you will be paying more attention to the road and not being distracted by discomfort.

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