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"Everywhere but the Strip"
Gel Grips: Installed and Reviewed


First test victim is a KLR650. The KLR has shorter grips; I went with the Progrip RVGS Gel Grip 796 . There is a bit of guesswork involved in grip sizing-- more on that later.

The aftermarket grip in the pic looks a bit narrower, but it's designed with a thicker wall than stock. There's a "blob" of gel material, making the grip asymmetrical, and each grip is marked on the end with an arrow labeled -down-

KLR Progrip 796 gel grip sizing
Heinous mess after Goo-Gone and a shave

I started peeling off the old grips, but that became futile after they were about a third of the way off. Then it occurred to me that even if they came off intact, they were likely too stretched to be useable again... time for the razor blade.

The throttle side split easily and came off with minimal coaxing. The left grip was an entirely different matter. It seems Kawasaki determined that the left grip is the one part of the bike that won't ever break loose due to vibration, impact, or Act of God. Even after slitting the length of the stock grip it refused to yield.

Adding Goo-Gone to the mix created a near disaster, melting the stock grip and making it impossible to remove in one piece. I ended up shaving the entire thing off with a razor blade, then using sandpaper to remove the last of the glue and rubber. NOT a good solution.

<-- pic showing the heinous mess after Goo-Gone and a shave.

Once I had the left grip properly cleaned (and a bit scarred from the sandpaper) the new grips were ready to go on.

I read on a newsgroup somewhere that the grips are best applied with hairspray, with a bit applied to the bars and some inside the grips too. Yeah, they sell specialized glue for this, but I didn't have any on hand and I wanted to get the things on so they could dry overnight before the AM test ride.

Good news: the hairspray works great, acts as a lubricant when you put the grips on and sets rock solid. I used the cheapest industrial aerosol crap I could find in the house, the stuff you used to pick as a kid to play flamethrower with.

Nicely installed grips
Grips on the XR400R

Note that I chose to install the KLR grips with the throttle grip rotated forward about 80°. I want the gel pad to be aligned when I am at highway speed, throttle on, when vibration is worse.

Next up is Mike's XR400R. The grips on this bike are longer, like those on street motorcycles. We used Progrip Dual Density Road Grips 724 . They are made for street bikes, but they fit just fine and are thicker walled than stock.

Removing the stock grips on the XR400R was quite easy compared to the KLR. We used a pair of tin snips and they came off relatively clean. Mike has the Baja Designs street legal kit installed, but that doesn't seem to affect the grip length.

Okay, we forgot the before pics on the XR400R, but it was getting late. The new grips definitely look and feel better. Mike used plain water to slide his grips on, and they feel just as solid as the hairspray enhanced ones on my KLR after a full night to dry.

So what's the verdict on the gel grips vs stock? Did we just blow a bunch of time and a little money or are we rolling along on knobby-equipped Cadillacs? Read on for part 2 of this article.


Are the new grips all they say they are?
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004 10:05 AM
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