Hammerhead Designs CNC Shift Lever
Review by Thiess Lindsay // Photos by Michael Lindsay
One of the most feared mistakes in motocross is hitting a false neutral while approaching the face of a jump or a whoop section. Having a larger than average boot (size 12), I seem to constantly struggle with missing shifts on long straights, where multiple shifts are required. Almost every time I've had this problem, it's boiled down to me not lowering my toe enough to allow the shifter to reengage for the next shift. Occasionally, I also have the problem of bumping the shifter down after a hard landing, due to the length of my foot. After spending a little time sitting on the bike, while it was on the stand, I realized just how little room I have with the stock shifter configuration. I decided that both of these problems could be mitigated by extending my the shifter slightly, giving more room for my oversized foot.
Hammerhead Designs has made a name for themselves by providing riders with the ability to adjust the length and height of their foot controls, so they can avoid the situations described above. For this test, I grabbed one of their CNC-Machined Shift Levers and three folding tips, each with a different offset.
Hammerhead CNC Shift Lever features:
- Machine cut from a solid block of 6061-T6 aluminum.
- Stainless steel pivot pin and Ano-Slick coated spring.
- Hammerhead CNC model offers multiple shift tip offsets, from -5 mm shorter than stock, to +20 mm longer, and can be vertically adjusted for height.
- Mounting hardware included (spring, pin, and two circlips).
- MSRP $69.99 for shift lever and $24.99 for each additional offset tip.
When ordering a CNC Shift Lever, you have the choice of shift tip color, shift tip type (aluminum or rubber), and offset. Color options will vary according to the bike manufacturer. Since I was ordering one for my KX450F, I had the choice between black, blue, silver, and green. Please note that the Hammerhead rep warned me that the green tip is darker than typical Kawasaki green. To help determine which offset is right for you, Hammerhead provides a chart on their website recommending an offset for different boot sizes. Offset options are provided in 5mm increments starting -5mm (closer that stock) and up to +20mm (further out than stock). Based on this chart, I grabbed a +5mm and +10mm shift tip to compare against the stock offset.
Out of the box, I was impressed with the quality of the product and the amount of hardware included. I knew that the CNC Shift Lever would be significantly stronger and better-looking than my stock pedal, but I wasn't sure how much weight would be added. On my scale, the extra bulk only added 0.3 ounces (stock was 4.0 ozs, and the CNC Shifter was 4.3 ozs). With only 0.3 ounces of added weight, I was very impressed.
Installation is simple and straightforward, similar to the stock shift lever with a single bolt on the underside of the splined shift clamp. Trading out shift tips is equally as simple, requiring the removal of a circlip and pin from the underside of the shifter's tip.
On the Track
Of all the changes I've made to be more comfortable on my bike, extending the length of my shifter made more of an immediate difference than anything else, except for perhaps lowering my pegs. Combining the longer shifter and lowered pegs not only virtually eliminated my missed shifts, but also greatly decreased the number of times I caught the toe of my boot in the dirt while shifting during a corner, or when the suspension was low in the stroke. This can be attributed to decreasing the angle of my foot during shifting. Eliminating these two risks not only improved my comfort, but greatly increased my confidence, especially in long deep sections of the track.
After a handful of months, the shape and feel of the CNC shift lever has remained intact. As with any anodized aluminum part, wear marks have developed, but overall the part still looks great. I also have experienced several small crashes where the bike ended up on the shifter side without any problems
The Last Word
I'm very happy with changes the Hammerhead CNC Shift Lever has made to my comfort level and feel that from now on, it will be a "must-have" for me going forward. During this review, I have discussed how this product can add comfort to a larger rider, yet I feel that same result could be obtained for a smaller rider trying to decrease the length of the shifter lever. The price might seem a little high for a shifter, but for someone that struggles missing shifts, this is money well spent. For some one with a "average" sized boot, this product might not be as highly rated but to me this is a 4-1/2 star product.
Vital MX rating
For more information on Hammerhead's line of CNC (or forged) pedals and shifters, check out HDmoto.com.
About the Test RiderThiess Lindsay - born to a moto-crazed father who stole his first name from Greg Theiss, a regular on professional motocross scene in the late 70s. The family is still trying to figure out why the spelling is different, but the running joke is Thiess means “drunken father”. As a taller and “bigger-boned” rider Thiess is proud to give a voice to the large number of riders that were built more for football or basketball than moto. His inherently cheap nature also serves as a good measuring stick for the average guy who is trying to find the best value from the many aftermarket parts available. Between his career as an engineer (which means he can’t spell) / project manager and a young family, Thiess finds every opportunity to ride and enjoy the freedom and camaraderie that only a dirt bike can provide.
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Patented design permits a variety of tip sizes to fit any rider
Contoured lever design minimizes interference with boot
Stainless steel pivot pin and Ano-Slick coated spring
UV protected anodizing in your choice of colors prevents fading