Why the Munster Finger Throttle Can Help Regular Schmucks Like You and Me
Sure, you can order the latest, greatest mountain sled on the market and it will certainly help. But even a top-of-the-line powder pony won’t deliver you to where you want to go without the right input. Likewise, dropping a few thousand on a big-boost turbocharger will get you up a wide-open hill faster, but it probably won’t do much for you wiggling through some technical tree lines unless you have the skill to harness the extra power.
But there are some ways to make your sled easier to control—and therefore more capable—in all conditions. High quality shocks are one example. Another is the Munster Finger Throttle, which replaces the stock thumb throttle lever. I tried one of these contraptions out last winter, and here’s what I think!
Munster Finger Throttle Review
Everyone I talked to said the same two things about the Finger Throttle:
- It takes two days to get used to it.
- You will never go back.
Those are the sort of bold statements we sledders like to make, but I wouldn’t say it’s quite so cut and dry as that. Let me explain.
Supposition #1: It Takes Two Days to Get Used To It
It did and it didn’t take two days to get used to the finger throttle. That’s contradictory, so let clarify what I mean by that.
It Didn’t Take Two Days to Get Used To It
Yes, loading my sled for the first time after installing the finger throttle, I felt a little like a new-born deer trying to stand up for the first time. It’s weird at first. But if you’re at all accustomed to using your fingers to operate a control lever on a bike or a motorcycle for example, you’re halfway there. You just have to remember that the lever makes it go faster, not slower. It’s not rocket science. Which is good, because rocket scientists are too busy working for Elon Musk to go riding anyway.
Early in the first day of using my index finger to operate the throttle lever rather than my thumb, it already felt pretty natural and I’d say that by sometime shortly after noon I was riding with just as much confidence as I’d ever had before. I was expecting that to take longer, and wasn’t quite sure what all the “two day” talk had been about.
It Did Take Two Days to Get Used To
It became clear a few hours later. It wasn’t my brain or the muscle memory in my hand that required training, it was the muscles themselves! By the end of a full day of riding, my index finger and the back of my hand were pretty tired. I somewhat sheepishly used my middle finger to help operate the throttle on the long, bumpy trail out.
The finger fatigue on the way out reminded me of the days of yore when sleds used to exhibit a heavier throttle action. Back then, we’d all sometimes get a sore thumb the end of the first day of riding each winter—a phenomenon known amongst our group of riding pals as, “throttle thumb”. After the first day though, the problem would resolve itself as the muscles remembered, oh yeah, we do snowmobiling each winter. And it turns out the same is true for the finger throttle. So in the end, it did take two days to get used to, but not for the reason I’d imagined it might.
There are plenty of top-level athletes out there extolling the virtues of the Munster Finger Throttle. But for most of us, it’s hard to relate to riders who are dropping huge cliffs, launching gaps and sniping tight tree lines at full throttle. Surely they can benefit from the finger throttle, but what about the rest of us mere mortals?
After quite a bit of use, my guess is that us “Joe Average” sledders can gain more from the finger throttle than even the top athletes.
The benefit comes from the grip. It’s just way more secure to have your thumb wrapped around the bar than it is to be dangling out in space on a lever. And superior grip leads to better control.
For example, how many times has your right hand slipped off the grip of the bars when you’re riding in difficult terrain? Usually it happens when you’re tired, and you hit some tricky snow or some hard object that causes the skis to deflect and the handlebar grip to twist out of your hand. The next thing you know, you’re flailing to grab the grip as the throttle snaps off and momentum tosses you over the bars—I mean, that’s never happened to me personally, but I’ve seen it. *cough, cough*
This scenario just doesn’t play out when you’ve got a solid grip on the bars. It makes a huge difference, especially for those of us who are prone to late-day fatigue, occasional bouts of poor technique and “regular” levels of fitness. Better grip means better control. Better control results in more confidence. And high levels of confidence lead to more capability as a rider.
Supposition #2: You’ll Never Go Back
“I’ll never go back.” You hear this all the time from the finger throttle faithful. I get it. For riders who want to push their riding, or want to be as capable as possible out there, it makes sense. Isn’t that everyone? Well, maybe not. So for the sake of writing a balanced review that doesn’t sound like an advertisement for what is in my personal opinion a pretty cool product, I’ll mention a couple of specific cases in which you might actually go back.
#1 Family or Shared Sled
If your sled is used by a number of different people, say, a family sled or a shared work sled, it might be best to stick with the stock, traditional thumb lever. The sled will probably be set up in a way that is pretty generic, and not fine-tuned for any specific rider in the family. This way, everyone won’t have to get used to doing things differently, and just about anyone who has ever ridden a sled before should be able to hop on it and safely go for a rip.
#2 If You Ride More Than One Sled Regularly
Here’s the thing. If you get used to the benefits of a finger throttle, you’re probably going to want to ride with one all the time. But if you ride different sleds on a regular basis, the necessity—painless though it may be—of mentally going from a finger throttle back to a thumb and back again might make you want to keep things simple, stupid, and stick with one way of doing things. Say, if you’re a snowmobile guide, and you ride a different sled in the fleet every day.
Personally, as a magazine editor, I ride a variety of sleds throughout the winter, from my own to work sleds, demos, prototypes and so forth. I want to be able to hop on a demo unit or a prototype sled and be able to operate it capably for maybe half a day, without having to think too hard about what I’m doing.
#3 You Don’t Want to Spend Extra Dough Just to Get to the Cabin
If your sled’s primary purpose is to get you to the cabin, where you spend the rest of the day standing around smoking darts and hacking up a lung, then no, you don’t need one of these.
Beyond those very specific situations, I think anyone who is riding near their limits in challenging terrain can benefit from the extra control granted by the use of a finger throttle. It’s pretty clear that the Munster Finger Throttle is a big hit with elite level riders. But “average” riders are pushing their own limits to try to hang with better riders every day as well. For those sledders, the finger throttle can be a simple modification that can help them feel more capable and confident every time they ride.