How to remove ATV or motorcycle grips without cutting
When handlebar grips wear out or become loose, you might as well cut them off as they are not worth keeping. But from time to time, it can be necessary to remove the grips without destroying them.
This post will cover three methods that may help you take off the grips on one piece. Most of them require tools and supplies you would typically find in most homes.
How are the grips held in place on the handlebar?
By knowing how the grips stick to the handlebar, you’ll better understand how to remove them.
- The grips are made from sticky rubber or silicone that increases friction against the bars.
- The grips are made in a slightly smaller diameter than the handlebars. This ensures that the grips squeeze against the bars when installed, additionally increasing the friction.
- Some grips are installed using an adhesive, such as grip glue. Aftermarket grips may be installed using other types of adhesives, such as spray paint, spray glue, super glue, hairspray, or anything that sticks.
- On some ATVs, especially racing quads, it’s common to use safety wire to tighten the grips in place even better. Old safety wire has to be removed before removing the grips.
Three ways of removing handlebar grips without cutting them
Removing handlebar grips without removing them is not always easy, and you may need to try several methods before you hopefully succeed.
The first method works great with dry-fitted grips, while you may need to use one of the latter methods if the old grips were installed using an adhesive of any kind.
How to remove the grips using compressed air
To use this method, you will need an air compressor with a hose and air blower nozzle. This is how you do it:
1. Peel back the grip slightly
You need a small gap to get the nozzle of the air blower in between the handlebar and the grip.
- Use a small screwdriver to create a small initial gap.
2. Remove the grip by blowing air from the back of the grip
- Hold the grip with one hand while you blow air inside with the other. The compressed air will make the grip expand a little, creating a cushion of air that keeps the grip lifted from the bar.
3. Remove the grip by blowing air through a hole in the grips end
You can also try poking a small hole at the end of each grip. Some grips come stock with holes for easy installation and removal.
- Cover one hole with ducttape as you blow air into the other. This will have the same effect as the method above.
- Rotate the grip and pull outwards as you keep applying air. If the grip is not completely stuck, you should be able to wiggle it outwards quite easily until it comes loose.
This method works with most grips, at least the ones that are not glued in place.
However, if you don’t have access to compressed air or are struggling with a stubborn adhesive keeping the grip in place, the next method may be just what you need.
How to remove handlebar grips using a screwdriver and a solvent
When the grips are held in place with an adhesive like any glue, spray paint, or even hairspray, you need to break the bond before the grip moves.
Your best bet is using a solvent as this will not only dissolve the adhesive it also acts as a lubricant, making it easier to slide the grip off the handle.
Another benefit of using a solvent is that it will evaporate without leaving any residue, and when you are done, there is no need for cleaning.
If you don’t have access to a solvent, there are some less effective options you can try:
- Contact cleaner, isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or any other alcohol-based solvent.
- WD-40 (downside: require cleaning)
- Vegetable oil (downside: require cleaning)
- Soapy water, Windex.
You will also need a flat object to pry between the handlebar and the grip. Here are a few options:
- A small flathead screwdriver
- A spring rod grip remover for golf clubs
- A metal bbq skewer
Step 1: Place the bike in a leaning position.
Lean the motorcycle against a wall, or park the ATV sideways on a slope. This will make it easier to pour solvent to flow along with the handlebar and inside the grip.
Step 2: Insert a screwdriver or flat object between the handlebar and grip
Wedge the screwdriver or whatever flat object you have at hand between the grip and handlebar to create a small gap. There is no need to push the screwdriver too far at this point. You need only a small gap to allow the solvent to start entering behind the grip.
Tip: Depending on what glue was used to glue the grips in place, try heating it using a hairdryer as this may make the glue less adhesive. Do this before you add a flammable solvent.
Step 3: Pour solvent in the gap between the grip and handlebar.
- Squirt, spray or pour the solvent or whichever of the listed fluids above you decide to use into the gap you’ve just created.
Step 4: Work the screwdriver towards the end of the grip as you add more solvent.
- Now it’s a matter of working the screwdriver further underneath the grips as you continue adding more solvent.
If you use an alcohol-based solvent or water, feel free to use as much fluid as you need as the leftovers will evaporate when you are done.
However, if you use WD-40 or vegetable oil, keep in mind that everything needs to be cleaned thoroughly before installing new grips.
Step 5: Rotate the grip as you work the screwdriver around the handlebar
- Twist the grip to both sides repeatedly to work the fluid well underneath the grip until it eventually comes loose.
- As you feel the grip begins to break free, start pulling it to the end of the handlebar in a twist-pull movement. Eventually, the grip will come undone, and you’re able to slide it off.
How to remove handlebar grips using a kitchen syringe and solvent
Sometimes when the grips are glued solid to the handlebar, you may not be able to pour solvent in between the grip and the handlebar.
As a last resort, you can try using a basting syringe/marinade injector to inject the solvent.
These types of syringes are sold at any kitchen supply store. Similar syringes are used in golfing to remove rubber grips from golf clubs.
- Fill the syringe with solvent or whichever fluid you choose.
- Poke the needle through the end of the grip, in between the grip and the handlebar.
- Squirt a generous amount of solvent inside the grip.
- Remove the syringe and start working the grip in a twist-pull motion.
- You may need to apply solvent several places before the grip eventually comes loose.
How do you get a stuck handlebar grip off?
If neither blowing compressed air or using a solvent like a contact-cleaner won’t make the grip come loose, you may need to cut it. Use a razor blade or a box opener and gently along the grip’s entire length from top to bottom.
Make sure to not cut through the rubber as it may damage the plastic inner layer or heating elements if your bike has them.
What size are ATV grips?
Most ATV grips are ⅞ inches in diameter on both sides. Unlike motorcycles, ATV grips are the same diameter on each since they use a thumb throttle instead of a wrist throttle.