Fitting Motorcycle Grips

Your motorcycle grips have to be replaced every now and again. Either they get damaged in an accident or they wear out. Maybe you want to change the colour to suit your new graphics. Whatever, this is how you do it.

Note that this is only one way of doing it, and there are as many ways of fitting grips as there are riders. Note also that you shouldn’t use the bike for 24 hours after installing new grips, so plan to do this job well before the weekend. Here we go.

Equipment needed

As well as your normal hand tools, you will need an epoxy adhesive. Andy (my wonder mechanic friend) uses Pratleys Wonderfix. He has found that the commercial grip glues work well about 80% of the time. Pratleys works every time when fitting new motorcycle grips. You will also need a set of wire cutters.

The rest of the stuff depends on your budget. The high budget way is to buy a 500g roll of 0.032 inch (about 0.8mm) diameter wire. Then you will need some Lockwire pliers. These grip the wire and twist it neatly when you pull the knob at the bottom. Low budget specialists can get away with 0.9mm galvanized wire and a pair of vise grips. The disadvantage with using the galvanized wire is that it will break every now and again while you are tightening it, which can be infuriating.

Preparing the handlebars

Remove your handguards, then clip the existing grip wire off with wire cutters. Either pull the old grip off the handlebar, or, if it won’t come, cut it off with a sharp knife in a spiral pattern. With thinners on a cloth, clean all grease, dirt and old glue from the bars. Clean the inside of the new grips with thinners, and then work out which one goes where. The one with a bigger internal diameter will fit over the throttle tube. Do not cut the ends of the grips off yet. It is easier to do this when the grips are installed.

Gluing the motorcycle grips

Mix up some epoxy well on a piece of card, and then, without wasting time, smear some on each handlebar end and push and twist the grips on. You will find that the glue lubricates the grip and makes it easier to slide on. If you feel that the grip is going to stick half way on, don’t panic. Take the grip off, clean the half-cured glue off everything, re-think the process and start again.

Be sure not to get glue between the throttle tube and the handlebar. This is why you put the glue onto the handlebars rather than into the inside of the grip. Make sure the grips are on straight. If you are using a half-waffle design, the waffles are usually at the bottom of the bar. If in doubt, the manufacturers name on the end of the grip should be horizontal.

Wiring the motorcycle grips

Identify where you are going to wire the grips. You should use three ties, one at each end and one in the centre. Most grips have clearly defined areas where the wire can go.

From your roll of wire, cut a one foot (300mm) length. Wrap it loosely twice around the grip with the loose ends protruding from at the bottom of the bars. Grab both ends with the lockwire pliers and slide the locking catch into place. Put some light tension on the pliers and ensure that the wire is straight on the grip and the two strands are close together. Now, pull away from the bars with the knob on the bottom of the pliers and the pliers will rotate to twist the wire. When the twist has arrived at the grip, go carefully until you feel you have the right tension. If the wire is too tight you can cut through the new grip, or break the wire. Too loose and the grip is going to move. It’s a matter of feel and you may have to do it a couple of times before you get it right.

If you are using vise grips, grab both ends of the wire with the jaws, lock the vise grips and then twist the whole thing by hand until you get to the same tension as above.

When you are happy, clip the twisted wire off about 6mm from the grips. Now, with some small nose pliers, push the sharp end of the wire deep into the grip at an angle of about 45 degrees to the centerline of the grip. Make sure there are no sharp edges to catch on your gloves.

Finishing off

I assume that you will be running handguards. The end of the motorcycle grip should now be neatly cut off with a very sharp knife. Install your handguards and ensure that the new grip does not interfere with the handguard and prevent your throttle from snapping back. If your throttle grip is rubbing, loosen the throttle housing and slide it inboard a couple of millimeters.

Happy spannering!


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