This article is not for those riders who think everything worth buying comes from (and is installed by) a Harley Davidson dealership. This is directed at those old school cropper, choppers & bobbers like me who do whatever they want to their bikes, whenever and however they want to.
That being said... *ahem*
Today I'm venturing even further off of the path that we've beaten at Focalpoint Renovations (if that's even possible at this point).
On a one night get-away trek to Laconia, New Hampshire's Bike Week event this year, I picked up a pair of chrome slip-on grip covers. I later discovered that the installation requires a minute of attention that, surprisingly, I couldn't find readily available via search engines.
So...I decided to post one.
How To Install Slip-on Grips, Harley Davidson
FYI: There are two types of grip replacements... The more expensive requires you to open the throttle assembly and reconnect the throttle linkage into the new grips. Not particularly difficult but, what we're covering here is the more cost effective versions that in this case require you to cut the stock rubber grip away from the throttle for installation.
I found an aftermarket pair that closely resembles the Drag Specialites Razor grip (which run about $110.00) up here in Laconia for $25.00/pair but only if you’re willing to take a razor knife to your stock rubber grips. If reading that scares you, you should probably stick with what you have or pay a dealer to swap your grips.
First things first... KNOW YOUR HANDLEBAR WIDTH. Most stock Harleys tend to run either 1" or 1 1/4". Mine is a '93 XLH 1200 which has a set non-original set of 1" bars (Thank you Chop Shop!). You obviously want to buy a set of grips that will fit over your existing handlebar size. Also, there are two sides to a set of bars, one being the stagnant (non-operational) on the left side and the throttle (operational) grip on the right.
The left is the easiest.
Depending on the grip adhesive used, you can most likely twist off your existing grip with little effort. The factory adhesive isn't designed to weld the grip on, only hold it there securely. Using a steady force, it can be twisted off by working it back and forth while pulling outward. Installing the new grip requires little more brain power than doing the opposite. I cleaned my bars of residue and used a small amount of 100% clear silicone sealant to adhere the new grip. There are lots of grip adhesives so this is a bit of 'pick your poison'.
The throttle grip, on the other hand, is a little more of a pain-in-the-butt. Start by closing the petcock from your gas tank, twisting the throttle even when the bike is off can allow fuel into a carburetor. I have to admit that I should have taken more pictures during the removal process but all I did was to slice the original rubber grip 5 or 6 times lengthwise and pull it back towards the farthest point of the handlebar using vise grips. A utility knife helped cut away the rubber from the inner, harder plastic throttle core. Think of it like peeling the toughest banana you've ever encountered.
I removed the original rubber grip and then carefully scraped most of the excess with a sharp utility blade. Once I had most of the rubber grip off, it was pretty easy.
It will look like this:
Before you start scraping, another important note is that there are ridges along the length of the inner throttle that allow the grip to maintain adhesion when you twist on it (accelerate). Below is the same image with one of the ridges circled in red. If you use a blade to clean the throttle like I did, try not to scrape those ridges off so that the new grip has something to grab onto.
Does that picture still look a little yucky to you?
Same here, but I also tried not to let my O.C.D. kick in too much while removing the original excess rubber and glue because I figured those lumps would actually help hold the new grip in place (which it did).
I just wanted to make sure the new grip slid on securely so, I used a 50/50 mix of dish soap and water to lubricate the new grip and slid it on a few times along the way for a test fit.
That's fairly important as well. You don't want to adhere a new slip-on grip without making sure it fits the way you want it to. Once I had it where I wanted it... I cleaned and dried both surfaces of throttle and grip and applied a small amount of 100% silicone sealant along the surface of the throttle, slowly twisting the new grip up into position and carefully making sure that no extra oozed its way out.
I let it set up overnight without touching it and....viola.
So, there you have it. A cost effective alternative to some of the more expensive Harley Davidson grips on the market.
Feel free to add any of your own personal experiences in the comments section below and try to remember to keep the rubber side down!