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How To Replace Your Handlebar Grips


Considering that the handlebar grips have this way of helping a rider become one with the dirt bike as they truly are the rider's direct connection to keep the motorcycle under them and not out in front of them, It's easy to see the importance associated with keeping fresh grips on the bars and If you can see the handlebars, or a throttle tube where you should see rubber, you really should keep reading and consider replacing before anyone else or your riding buddies see that.

There are quite a few selections of handlebar grips available, many of which are very popular brands including Renthal, Pro-Taper and Tag among others, so we're going to stay out of it for which is best, and you're on your own there, but below we'll go into getting the old grips off, things to know about the throttle tube, as well as some tips on reinstalling the new handlebar grips including how to safety wire the grips so they don't twist and move all around the bars.

How to Get The Old Handlebar Grips Off

Picture of a worn out handlebar grip

Obviously, to replace the grips it's going to be necessary to get the old ones off but there are also a few tips that may make removal of the old grips easier so we'll go over this first.

  • If the handlebar grips are safety wired, use diagonal cutters"Dike's" and remove the safety wire before continuing.
  • With the safety wire gone, starting on the left side, if the grip is still fairly well bonded to the handlebar, you can just cut it off with a razor blade by carefully slicing straight down the length then peeling it off.

For those who like a more high tech, or safer approach to grip removal than something like that of using a razor blade to cut a handlebar grip off try this...

  • Alternatively, using compressed air with a blow nozzle that has a long narrow nozzle, place the tip of the air nozzle under the grip at the most inner part (nearest your thumb) and force compressed air under the grip, then work the handlebar grip off by hand. (The grip should come off easily using this method provided that it's not torn anywhere, nor has the end cut off for use with handguards)
On the Throttle Side...
If you're working on a dirt bike with stock or OEM grips that has an OEM stock plastic throttle tube, the handlebar grip may be vulcanized to the throttle tube. In this case, removal is very difficult, if not impossible without damaging or destroying the throttle tube. A replacement throttle tube should be the only option here.

If the dirt bike does have the original plastic / nylon throttle tube still in place, It's recommended that you don't even bother trying to get the grip off, whether it is vulcanized or not. Just replace the entire throttle tube with an aftermarket throttle tube that will provide a much better feel, along with better throttle response (mainly when letting off the gas).

In addition to being all around "Trick", aftermarket, aluminum throttle tubes are much more durable than the stock plastic / nylon throttle tube and will not easily distort when you crash on the right side, causing a sticking, or less than optimum feeling throttle.
You do crash don't you?

While The Grips Are Off, Consider This About Throttle Tubes...

If you're throttle doesn't snap shut like it should when you let off the gas,
You may want to read this article on
Ensuring The Throttle Returns to Closed Properly
  • Do you ride Motocross, Arenacross or Supercross?
    Get a throttle tube with a bearing in the end and you may be suddenly amazed at the all around crispiness of how your throttle feels after installing one of these, especially when you let off the gas.
  • Do You Ride Off-Road Types Of Disciplines?
    Get an open ended aluminum throttle tube or one without the bearing in the end and drill the end or cut it off, then you can install a set of hand guards and still have the benefit of a more durable throttle tube that will slam shut in a way that is much better than that of the stock plastic / nylon throttle tube.

Moving To the Other Side of the Bars

Picture of a Boyesen Shokout on a Dirt Bike

Although rather hard to find...
Whatever discipline or type of conditions you ride, you may want to consider a "Boyesen Shokout" on the left side of the handlebars.

The "Boyesen Shokout" is a customizable grip assembly with interchangeable dampers built in, and allows adjustment of the unit through the implementation of different elastomers, which results in a left side grip that has a slight give to it, and is designed to lessen the impact on your body, as well as reducing arm pump from hard landings, G-outs and all around rough terrain.

When considering a "Boyesen Shokout" system, be aware that the "Shokout" system comes with a set of scott grips from Boyesen. If you're wanting a different type or compound of grip, or wish to replace the Scott grips at a later time, it will then be necessary to purchase 2 sets of handle bar grips at this time due to the fact that when using the "Shokout" system, 2 throttle side grips are required due to the added size of the "Shokout" tube.

How to Install New Handlebar Grips on a Dirt Bike

Before getting into actually installing a new set of Handlebar Grips, It's important to let those of you who already have your new handlebar grips know that before you tear the package open and start jamming the grips onto the ends of the handlebars, there are a few things you might like to know, as these tips will help keep everything tight and not rotating around the handlebars, or worse... Coming Off!!

Picture of Cleaning the Handlebars on a Dirt Bike

As mentioned above, Now is the time to ensure your throttle works properly, then grab a can of brake clean or similar contact style cleaner and a clean rag, then ensure that the handlebar, shokout tube or throttle tube is clean and dry without any glue, dirt or other funk remaining before you continue.

Once the handlebar, "Shokout" tube or throttle tube is clean and free of any old glue, or other things that shouldn't be there, (and the throttle works like it supposed to), apply a liberal amount of Grip Glue that is specifically designed for handlebar grip use and apply it to the top part of the handlebar, shokout tube, or throttle tube before installing the grip.
The glue goes on the top of the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube outer area, NOT inside the grip.

The reason it's better to install the glue on the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube is so that when you're installing the grip, the glue will work it's way down the inner length of the handlebar grip where you want it, and Not inside the end of the handlebars, between the throttle tube and handlebars (which can cause a sticking throttle), nor do you want the glue between the shokout tube all of which will happen if the grip glue is placed inside the grip 1st vs on the handlebars, throttle tube or "Shokout" tube

With the grip glue on the handlebar, shokout tube or throttle tube, take the grip you're going to install and and taking note of any arrows pointing forward, begin placing it on the end of the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube and begin to slide the grip on.

  • Once the handlebar grip is started onto the handlebar, shokout tube or throttle tube you will need to grab the flange where your thumb rests against and lift on this area directly above where the glue is applied while sliding the grip on so as to prevent the glue from being pushed along the length of the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube, and not down the inner length of the handlebar grip where you want it.
If you have the grips on, but they're loose because the glue is still wet and you're jonesin' to ride, Check out the following tip on drying the glue and getting the handlebar grips orientated just the way you want them.

Note: This also works well for both open ended grips
(The kind you cut the ends off of for handguards included)
and those that are closed at the end, although it does take a little practice to be able to do this "just right"
  • With the grips installed, wipe away any excess glue that may have been pushed along the handlebars, then grab an air blow nozzle with a long narrow tip and carefully insert the tip under the flange where your thumb rests against, now gently force compressed air between the grip and handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube (depending on what side you're on) while holding onto the grip with your other hand to prevent it from shooting off the end of the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube, but continue reading before you run out and do this.
  • While forcing air in between the grip and handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube, relax your hand on the grip while forcing the air in. While doing this, the grip should swell up slightly in a way similar to a balloon, when it does this use your other hand and slightly twist the grip back and forth while keeping it from shooting off the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube, as doing this will spread and dry the glue simultaneously.
  • After a few seconds of air being forced under the grip, turn the handlebar grip so that the orientation of the handlebar grip is correct (there may be an arrow on the end that points forward) then quickly pull the air nozzle out once the grip is orientated properly.
  • After doing this properly the grip should be exactly where you want it and seem somewhat bonded to the handlebar, "Shokout" tube, or throttle tube but be sure to see the section below on safety wiring the grips to give the grips the added benefit of keeping water out and being more resistant slipping.

How To Safety Wire Handlebar Grips

Picture of a Safety Wired Handlebar Grip on a Dirt Bike

Once you have the handle bar grips installed and the glue is "fairly dry" it's a good idea to safety wire them as this makes them "stay" even stronger, as well as makes the grips more resistant to allowing water to find it's way underneath causing breaking of the glue bond resulting in slippage.

Wondering Why There's Grooves in the Grips??

Handlebar grips are commonly molded with grooves for safety wire, So that's what the grooves you were wondering why they were there are for.

More Importantly... Even though not all handlebar grips have grooves for safety wire, it does NOT mean that you cannot install safety wire on them and have a tight feeling grip without anything rubbing your hand, or being uncomfortable.
Picture of safety wiring the handlebar grip on a dirt bike
  • To do this properly, you're going to need the proper stainless steel safety wire and locking pliers to be able to twist the safety wire tight, as well as be able to cut the wire and tuck the end under in a way that the end does not protrude and wear a hole in your glove or hand.
  • Although most only place about 3 wraps of safety wire on their grips, there is plenty of room available for 4 wraps starting closest to the flange, so it IS recommended to use all the space available and apply 4 wraps, as this will ensure a tight handlebar grip that is less prone to slippage or water entry.
  • Begin with cutting a piece of safety wire from the roll about 10-14 inches in length with the integral cutters that can be found on the safety wire pliers.
  • Next, starting next to the thumb flange, wrap a piece of safety wire around the grip with the ends of the wire positioned parrallel to each other, and of somewhat equal lengths, then clamp the pliers onto the wire by squeezing tightly then sliding the locking bar on the pliers downward.
Closeup picture of safety wire twisted tight on the handlebar grip of a dirt bike
  • Once the safety wire pliers are locked onto the safety wire, pull the knob at the end of the pliers outward to make the pliers twist, then continue doing this until the safety wire is twisted tightly against the handlebar grip with the ends pointing downward.
  • While working outward from the thumb flange, continue to place a wrap of safety wire approximately every inch, twisting each wire tight as you go until you have about 4 equally spaced places that the wire is wrapped around the handlebars with the ends pointing down, all being equal in length and parallel to each other.
  • Once the grips are safety wired tightly with the ends pointing downward, use the cutters that are built into the pliers and cut the tails off
    with about 1/16 inch of the twisted wire remaining.
  • Lastly, take the same safety wire pliers, and with a closed plier use the nose of the pliers and push the nub that is remaining on the end of the wire sideways, and upwards into the bottom of the handlebar grip's rubber, concealing the end of the twisted safety wire so it does not snag on anything such as someone's glove or hand.
After Replacing the Handlebar Grips, Check out our:
Dirt Bike Maintenance Tips and Articles



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