Your grips are a small part of your bike, but they’re a big part of how you interface with it; new grips can cut bar vibration, reduce hand and wrist fatigue, and give your bike a fresh new look. Check out how to install a whole new set here!
So you want a new look for your bike and you realized that installing new grips is one of the easiest and cheapest ways. Or maybe you dropped your bike and when your friends ask you what’s up with the new grips, you’re just going to tell them that you wanted a new look. Either way, if it’s time for a new set of grips and you would much rather replace them on your own than have them changed out at a dealer, there are a few different ways to attack it. Luckily, this can be fairly simple once you decide on how you would like to change them.
When you’re looking for simple, inexpensive, high bang-for-the-buck mods you can do for your bike, a set of new grips is going to be somewhere near the top of your list. A set of grips can run you as little as about $15 for a basic pair to around $100 for a top-of-the-line set of show grips, so no matter what you choose, it’s a mod that won’t break the bank.
But a new set of grips doesn’t just look cool – they also have a number of benefits too, like giving you more positive control of your bike, absorbing vibration from the bars that causes fatigue, and allowing you a simple way to transform your bike’s overall look. All these benefits to a mod that costs under $100 and is incredible easy to install yourself!
But hold your horses there partner – while they’re easy to install, there are a few tricks to doing it that you need to know first, otherwise you’re almost guaranteed to either pull your hair out trying to jam them on, or end up damaging them. To prevent that from happening, we put together a few tips to help you do the job quickly and easily!
Step One: Removing the Old Grips
When it comes to removing your old grips, you have three options.
Option One is used if the old grips are worn out, and you have no plans to keep them. Here’s what to do: first, if your grips have bar ends, remove them with the appropriate tool, such as a screwdriver or allen wrench, and set them aside.
To remove the grips, simply take a razor blade and make a cut down the length of the grip. Be sure to avoid where any wires may be under the grip, and try not to scratch or cut into the surface beneath if you have chrome handle bars. Once you’ve cut the grip, peel it off of the handlebar. This may take a little tugging if someone got a little crazy with the glue when the last set of grips were put on. Simple as that!
Option Two is used if the grips you’re removing are still in good shape, and you do plan to reuse them. In this case, you’ll have to “work” them off.While doing this, there are two forces you’ll need to overcome – the adhesive bonding the grip to the bar or throttle tube, and the physical tension holding the grip tightly to the surface.
To remove the grip, start by breaking down the adhesive bond using a solvent. WD-40 works great for this. To get it under the grip, take a long flat-head screwdriver and pry the ends up, working around the entire grip. Then, blast some WD-40 inside there – this will both break down the adhesive bond, and lubricate the grip to help slide it off. You’ll need to work it a little, but repeat these steps until the grip is removed. Do both sides, and set the undamaged grips aside for future use.
Working off grips like this will preserve them so they can be reinstalled later.
Option Three works amazingly well, but is limited to those who have access a more expensive tool – an air compressor. Using this method, you’ll break the adhesive bond with a long flathead screwdriver as before, but to remove the grip itself, you’ll be sticking the nozzle of the air gun in between the lip of the grip and the surface, and “injecting” a blast of air into the gap. The air pressure will create a gap between the grip and the surface, allowing you to slide the grip off fairly easily.
Now, we’ll move on to installing the new pair!
Step Two: Installing New Motorcycle Grips
After you have peeled off the old grip, clean any remaining residue or dirt from the handlebar with the alcohol based cleaner, like acetone or some brake cleaner. Having a clean handlebar will give you better contact with the new grips. Take the throttle tube off of the handlebar to clean it because the alcohol in the cleaner can break down any grease needed to lubricate it.
Now, before installing either of the grips, check their sizes. The grip that is supposed to go on the throttle side will be bigger than the other, and if you install the smaller one onto it instead (which will NOT be easy), the grip for the other handle will be too big, and won’t seat properly.
When you have the handlebar clean, take some grip glue (like this Grip-It Glue) or cement and apply a ring of it to the inside of the new grip at its opening. This glue will lubricate the grip enough to slide it onto the throttle and bar, then stick it into place when the advesive part dries.
Quickly slide the new grip onto the handlebar before the glue begins to dry and squeeze it tightly to set the glue. When you’re putting the new grip onto the throttle side of your motorcycle, twist in the opposite direction of the throttle and pull. Allow the glue at least twelve hours to dry before trying to ride and remember to put back on any bar ends.
There’s also a common household trick that you can use if you don’t want to buy specific grip glue that you will probably rarely use anyway – and that’s using hairspray. That’s right, good old hair spray has a bunch of “life hack” uses, one of which is putting motorcycle grips on, because it has just enough lubricity when wet to help slide the grips on, and also just enough tackiness to keep the grips in place when it dries.
Check out this video for a step-by-step demonstration on how to use the air compressor method to install your new grips!
Note: if you are racing, be sure to safety wire the grips to the throttle tube and bar, whether you used any kind of adhesive or lube or not. This is a safety procedure – the last thing you want during a race while cranking on that throttle is for the grip to slide around!
Special Cases: Metal Grips
We wouldn’t recommend the razor blade method if you have chrome grips. It’s highly doubtful that a razor blade will cut through chrome so the process will of course be slightly different.
If you have metal grips like these, you’ll need to be a lot more patient and careful in installing them to make sure you don’t mar them.
Instead, unscrew the bolt at the end of the grip, ignore the razor blade step all together and slide the grip right off. You’ll also use a lubricant to help you slide the new metal grips onto the handlebar instead of using a glue or cement. It’s usually best to do this according to the grip manufacturer’s specifications, as each may vary.