Motorcycle levers are an important component of a motorcycle, giving riders control of acceleration and braking. As these parts are utilised again and again and put under a lot of stress, they often need to be replaced. While some riders may take the opportunity to replace a set of levers with a new design approach, many motorcycle owners prefer to maintain the design integrity of their motorcycles and find OEM motorcycle levers for their rides. Fortunately, with the wide-ranging world of online retail, finding and purchasing OEM parts for any motorcycle is easy, especially through aggregator sites, such as eBay. Learning about how to leverage a resource, such as eBay, can be a crucial part of the purchasing process when seeking out OEM levers. OEM motorcycle levers can also be purchased at motorcycle parts retailers, however. Before purchasing an OEM motorcycle lever, consumers should understand the difference between OEM and aftermarket levers, know the different types, designs, materials, and colours of levers, and understand how to find OEM levers.
OEM vs. Aftermarket Levers
For consumers who are new to replacement parts for a motorcycle, the terms "OEM" and "aftermarket" may present some confusion. OEM parts, or original equipment manufacturer parts, are those parts that were created and engineered specifically for a motorcycle during its design process. These parts may have been made by the motorcycle manufacturer itself, but more often than not, are made by third-party manufacturers in tandem with, and under the guidance of, the motorcycle maker.
Aftermarket levers are replacement parts that were created after a motorcycle was released to market. These parts are typically designed to create an enhanced alternative to an OEM part. In terms of levers, for example, a rider may want a new clutch lever for his Yamaha, but prefer a shorty grip to a standard length grip. He could then find a shorter lever in the marketplace of aftermarket parts that fits the specs of his bike. Aftermarket parts vary in design and do not come with the assurance of quality that an OEM part from a reputable motorcycle manufacturer does.
Types of Motorcycle Levers
Motorcycle levers can address several different functions on a bike and operate at both the handlebars and near a rider's feet. Consumers should make sure that they are familiar with the different types of motorcycle levers in the marketplace.
Clutch levers are used to engage the clutch when shifting gears on a motorcycle. These levers can be located at either the handlebar or as a pedal lever placed near where the rider keeps his or her feet.
Shift levers are like the gearshift on an automobile; while the clutch is engaged temporarily, the shift lever is used to transfer the transmission into a new gear. Shift levers can also be handlebar-operated or foot-operated.
Brake levers can also install at the handlebar and come in front and rear brake varieties. Some motorbikes also use foot-operated brake levers as pedals.
Kickstart levers are a ratcheting lever operated by a rider's foot that helps to engage an internal combustion engine on a motorcycle. Many modern motorcycles use electric starters instead, but there are still many kickstart bikes on the road, and some that even use both electric and kickstart methods.
Different Designs Used in Handlebar Levers
While shopping for OEM levers, consumers may come across different design terms for levers. Understanding these can help consumers determine whether or not they have found the right OEM lever for their motorcycle.
Shorty levers are just what their name indicates: very short levers. Many riders prefer this design type because it allows them to switch quickly between different operations on a motorbike and they are less ungainly than many full-length levers. Shorty levers are typically an aftermarket product, but many are sold "OEM-style" and can fit in OEM mounts.
Trigger levers feature a small grip for a rider's "trigger" finger, allowing the rider to maintain a confident hold on a lever during rough terrain and riding. These levers are also often found as aftermarket options, but can be incorporated into an OEM set-up.
Heel-to-toe levers allow a rider to use a foot-operated lever without having to pull up on a lever with the toe. In traditional foot-operated shift levers, riders must step down or pull up on a lever with their toes to shift. With a heel-to-toe lever, a rider simply rests a foot on the lever, and then either presses down with the heel to downshift or down with the toe to shift into a higher gear.
Materials and Colours Used in Motorcycle Levers
Levers can come in several different materials and colours, even within OEM parts. Just as a consumer may select a certain trim level on a car, motorcycle OEM parts can involve certain aesthetic decisions. Levers, in particular, are prime components for introducing colour variation into a bike. An OEM clutch lever for a motorcycle, as an example, may come in a chrome colour or it may come in blue.
Levers can also be found in various materials including aluminium, carbon fibre, and alloy blends. Materials used in levers typically focus on delivering strength and resiliency since levers are used over and over again and are also one of the first components of a motorcycle put at risk in the event of an accident or fall.
Buying Techniques for Finding OEM Motorcycle Levers
Consumers looking to purchase an OEM motorcycle lever may not know how to go about looking for that specific replacement part. There are a few techniques that consumers can use to narrow in on the correct part.
Using Manuals and Parts Catalogues
One method is to reference owner's manuals that came with the motorbike at purchase. If an owner has lost an owner's manual, these books and other parts catalogues can be purchased online. An owner's manual can provide a lot of guidance not only in the selection of a correct lever, but also in its installation and maintenance.
Using Motorcycle Models and Model Years
Another approach to take is to use the motorcycle's model number when performing a search. Many sellers advertise a replacement lever with the appropriate motorbike and model included. Consumers should make sure to also look out for the release year of their motorcycles when searching out OEM parts; a lever for a 2005 Yamaha may work for a 2006 as well, but may not work for a 2007 bike of the same model.
Communicating With Sellers
Sellers of OEM parts are typically very experienced with particular motorcycle models and their replacement parts. A qualified seller can provide a consumer with a good deal of guidance and feedback when it comes to sourcing and purchasing OEM levers. When shopping online, consumers should communicate proactively with a seller, asking as many questions as they need of a seller to determine whether or not they are on track to finding the right replacement part.
Buying OEM Motorcycle Levers on eBay
Consumers looking for an easy and fast shopping experience can leverage sites, such as eBay, in their search for OEM levers. This retail site functions as an aggregator, bringing together countless vendors to create a very large catalogue of options. When you first visit eBay, you can begin your purchasing process by entering a search term in the search interface found on every page on the site. Use your motorcycle's model and model year to refine your search. For example, you could run a search for "Yamaha R1 clutch lever 2005" to find a lever for that model and year. You can also run a more general search using a term such as "Yamaha OEM levers" to get an overview of the marketplace.
Getting to Know the Sellers on eBay
eBay is a great parts resource for consumers because it provides a communication interface with sellers. Visit a seller's page from any listing by clicking on the seller's highlighted name. On the seller's page, you can access a message interface that you can use to communicate with a seller and ask all of the questions you need answered. Also, take time to read through a seller's feedback to get an idea of their experience with certain models and OEM parts.
Understanding how to find and purchase the right OEM lever for a motorcycle is not an overly complicated process. Consumers who are new to the experience of parts shopping can first make sure that they have an understanding of the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts. As a next step, they can ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the different levers used on a bike and their functions. Consumers then need only use either an owner's manual or a motorcycle's model and model year to begin narrowing in on the right OEM lever. The search interface on eBay can be a great tool during this part of the process, providing a fast and easy way to search through a large catalogue for the right OEM lever. By then, also taking a moment to communicate with a seller and evaluate his or her experience with OEM parts, consumers can wrap up their shopping experience and get their hands on the ideal replacement lever for their motorbikes.