This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Dirt Rider.
I’m too young to remember plastic dirt bike levers, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how that could be a horrible idea. And when “composite” levers came back on the market, that’s what a lot of people thought they were. But I can say that these are definitely a whole different thing from cheapo plastic levers.
Next Components’ Smart Levers aren’t the first of the new generation composite levers on the market—that honor goes to the ARC Memlon levers. But, rather than pivots and springs to allow a lever to move, not break, in the event of a crash, these Smart Levers are made from a stiff but flexible composite material that bends, rather than breaks. Next calls it LCP-10 Liquid Crystal Poly, and it has a slightly matte finish that is grippier than glossy metal.
First off, I’m a huge fan of the Memlon levers—not just because of their non-breaking qualities, but I love the wide vertical surface they have. They are just comfortable on my fingers and nice to pull. In that regard, the Next Components levers seem a little slimmer but still wider than typical levers. One complaint some riders had of the Memlon is that there was a small amount of flex when pulling in the lever, yet I didn’t have any flex with the Smart Levers. They are definitely stiffer, and riders didn’t even notice that these levers weren’t aluminum when they hopped on the bike. We didn’t have any slams while testing the levers, but just bending the levers with our hands, they are much harder to bend, and they snap back to their original shape on their own, rather than having to be bent back.
I do wish the clutch lever was adjustable but, overall, these levers have a very sleek look and a cool design that doesn’t use any hinges or springs and shouldn’t leave you with a DNF because of a broken lever.