Why Does Every ATV Seem To Have A Thumb Throttle And No Twist Option?

My dad never really warmed up to ATVs, mainly because they came equipped with a thumb throttle. You see, he had undergone shoulder surgery, which made operating a thumb throttle quite painful.

So, I decided to delve into the topic, researching extensively. However, we ultimately decided against making the switch to a twist throttle, and I’ll explain why in this post.

A Twist Throttle Is Not Better

While many believe a twist throttle is superior, when you break it down, you’ll discover it might not be the best choice.

ATVs don’t lean into turns like motorcycles, and you have to maneuver the handlebars more frequently, which can be quite challenging with a twist throttle. For those curious about converting it, it is indeed possible, but there are some factors to consider.

The reasons for the thumb-throttle over a twist-throttle

  1. Safer.
  2. Better control.
  3. Ergonomics.
  4. More durable.
  5. Better for beginners.

I’ll go over each advantage of a thumb throttle to give you a better understanding.

1. Safer

When it comes to ATVs, a thumb throttle is far safer than a twist throttle.

You don’t lean as much into turns, and you run into more objects like tree limbs that will smack your hands. With a twist throttle, you’re at a greater risk of accidentally giving it gas in a panic situation or when a limb hits your right hand.

Having the throttle at the thumb prevents accidental acceleration. If a branch or limb hits your hand, the thumb throttle’s natural direction reduces power, whereas a twist throttle increases acceleration when pushed back.

2. Better Control

Quads go in all kinds of terrains, from the back woods, the mud, or the dunes, every situation is different.

Having a thumb throttle offers the driver better control no matter the situation.

The thumb throttle allows you to have all your grip on the handlebars without twisting your wrist too much.

Twist throttle on a motorcycle makes sense as you don’t move the handlebars as much, most of the turning is done with leaning. While on an ATV, you move the handlebars fully as that is the only way to steer.

3. Ergonomics

Where a twist throttle works well is with constant speeds, like you see on a motorcycle driving down a road.

An ATV, on the other hand, will be changing its speed more often and ride at much lower speeds. You will also be going over more unpredictable terrain and can see kickback that would cause issues if you have a twist throttle.

You tend to sit higher on an ATV and have a wider stance, having a thumb throttle helps with comfort for this riding style.

4. More Durable

A thumb throttle is a simpler design compared to a twist throttle.

It’s also tucked under the handlebars and gives it better protection from all the things you’ll hit on the trails.

5. Better For Beginners

I tend to find new riders take to the thumb throttles a lot better than twist throttles.

A thumb throttle resembles more of a car’s gas pedal and responds very similar. With a simpler design that is familiar, new riders take to it very well.

How Thumb Throttles Work

The way a thumb throttle works is very similar to how other throttles work, the more you move it, the more gas you give to the engine.

What is different about a thumb throttle is that you push it forward to give it gas, while a twist throttle, you pull it back to give it gas.

Pushing the throttle forward is a huge safety feature because if something hits your hand backwards, or you start to fall off backwards, the natural movement is backwards which kills the throttle on thumb throttles.

Can You Convert To Twist Throttle?

It is possible to convert a thumb throttle to a twist throttle, but it’s best you don’t.

I know some really like a twist throttle either because they’re used to it with motorcycles or dirt bikes, but it’s not worth it for ATVs.

You will hate having a twist throttle on your ATV and run the risk of further safety and comfort issues. Even if you have years of experience with your motorcycle, it’s very different on an ATV.

The Thumb Throttle Is Far Better

The design of the thumb throttle on ATVs isn’t just a dumb decision. It’s a carefully thought-out feature that increases safety, control, durability, ergonomics, and accessibility for beginners.

As talked about, the unique demands of ATV riding make the thumb throttle a better option over the twist style.

Whether you’re an experienced rider or just dipping your toes into the ATV world, understanding these nuances ensures a safer and more enjoyable off-road adventure.