The question about dirt bike grip sizes has more substance than you may expect. The implications of getting the wrong size for your bike, more importantly, your riding style may surprise you!
Dirt bike grips are not all the same size. The size can vary depending on your bike model. Other aspects that affect size are the level of cushioning you are looking for, the style and design of the grip, and finally, the material the grips are made from!
Most dirt bike riders replace the factory fitted standard grips on their bikes for good reason. There are many choices available for custom alternative grips that could be more suitable for your off-road riding needs. These modern grips are purpose build to address certain challenges in keeping your bike under control over the rough ground!
Dirt Bike Grip Sizes
There are two aspects to consider when talking about dirt bike grip sizes. The first one is the diameter of your bike’s handlebars, and the second is the size of your hand.
The most common standard handlebar diameters are 1″ or 7/8″. This is the main measurement you need to establish when you are in the market for a new set of grips. You may find that your bike does not conform to the standards, particularly if you ride a custom-built bike. So rather make sure of this measurement before you make your purchase and then struggle to try and get the grips on, or they are too big to be functional!
The outer diameter of the grips is often determined by various aspects of the design and manufacture of the particular dirt bike grips! Additional padding, while making for a more comfortable grip, may increase the size of the grips to the point that they are not a good fit for your hand size. Not enough padding will offer a smaller grip size but will reduce the comfort factor.
One distinguishing note we need to make here is that if you are in the market for grips for a smaller dirt bike such as one made for kids, the grip sizes will be different from the ones already mentioned.
Outside Size Of The Grips
When talking about dirt bike grip sizes, most people only consider the inside diameter that is going to fit on the handle. But there is another size factor to consider. The outside size of the grip, or the “feel” size of the grip. After all, this is where your hands are going to make contact with the bike. A grip size that feels good in your hand will give you a more stable grip and afford you more control when the bike is being shaken up over rough terrain!
Riders often refer to this as the feel of the grip. Several factors contribute to the outside size or feel of the grip. The two main factors are the compound or construction of the grip material and the grip pattern that is incorporated into the grip.
There are three main compound construction types of dirt bike grips.
- Soft compound grips. This compound is great for grip, as it gives a good, tacky grip feel. The soft compound is very comfortable, but the downside is that it is not very durable and will rip or tear quite easily.
- Medium compound grips. The medium compound grip is pretty popular because it gives you the best of both worlds. It is still comfortable and “grippy”, but has the advantage of increased durability. If you are unsure which compound to try, a medium compound is a good place to start!
- Multi-density grips. This construction type has two varieties. Dual compound grips and triple compound grips. Dual compound grips have an inner core that is made from a harder compound rubber, and the outer part, where your hands’ grip is a softer compound. The softer compound makes for a softer feel, but the two compounds together make for a bulkier “feel” grip. Triple compound grips are the same as a dual compound but have an even harder, third compound at the end of the grip which makes it more durable in the event of a fall.
The most popular dirt bike grip patterns are as follows.
- Full-waffle Pattern. This pattern has a square waffle pattern that goes all the way around the grip. This type of grip pattern has a much bulkier feel and is the better choice for riders with larger hands. It also has good water and mud-shedding capability.
- Half-Waffle Pattern. This grip pattern has a square waffle pattern on the underside of the grip. The half-waffle pattern reduces vibration to the hands while providing an excellent grip for your fingers. This pattern style is the most common and is popular among riders.
- Third-Waffle Pattern. This pattern has the same waffle design, but only over one-third of the underside of the grip where your fingers will be. This grip pattern has the thinnest feel of all the waffle patterns and is great for riders with small to medium size hands.
- Non-Waffle Pattern. This pattern is sometimes referred to by riders as a smooth grip, but it is not smooth. They often have a raised diamond pattern that is uniform all the way around the grip. This pattern type gives the thinnest size feel of the different grip pattern types which is great for riders with smaller hand sizes. The disadvantage is that you do lose a little bit of grip in wet and muddy conditions with this type of pattern.
- Pillow-Top Pattern. The pillow-top pattern has little raised squares all the way around the grip that provide excellent vibration cushioning and are pretty much self-cleaning. This is great in wet and muddy conditions, as the mud and water come off easily so you do not have compromised control in these conditions.
If your current dirt bike grips are worn out and in need of replacement, we have several grips that we can recommend as potential prospects. The manufacturers are reputable and their products are popular and well supported in the dirt bike riding community.
- Tusk Half-waffle dual compound grips. These grips are great for vibration reduction, shedding mud and water, and provide a good grip for the fingers due to the half-waffle pattern.
- ProTaper pillow-top triple compound grips. These ProTaper grips come in two sizes. The regular model is great for larger size hands. The ProTaper Pillow-top Lite has a smaller diameter and is ideal for small to medium hand size riders. The ProTaper pillow-top dirt bike grips are very popular and have been top sellers for some years!
- ODI V2 Lockon Grips. These are of a soft compound construction which gives great tacky feel grip and excellent vibration reduction. They have reinforced end caps for durability. The innovative lock-on technology makes fitment and removal of these grips an absolute breeze. There is also no need for safety wire to hold the grips in place due to the unique lock-on mechanism.
- Renthal Kevlar Dirt Bike Grips. These are specialty grips that have Kevlar strands woven into the compound. As the compound wears, more of the Kevlar becomes exposed. This actually makes the grip factor of these dirt bike grips improve as the compound wears down.
The Importance Of Good Grips
It may not be immediately obvious, but something as seemingly simple as the grips can actually have a pretty significant impact on the quality of your ride. Just think about it, the grips are the contact point between you and your dirt bike, the main way you control your direction of travel! The whole point of their function is to give you the best grip possible, under the tough conditions posed by off-road riding!
As you start to give it some thought, you can see that there could be several factors that could make a set of grips good, bad, or mediocre.
The external size of your dirt bike grips can have a direct bearing on your ride. A dirt bike grip that is too small for your hand size can be dangerous. It may cause your hand to slip off the handlebars when you least expect it. Likewise, if the grips are too large for your hands, you will not be able to grasp the handlebars securely. The amount of vibration and kicking around of the bike on a typical off-road track can quite easily cause you to lose control of the bike if your grip is not secure.
The level of comfort that the grip provides is not the only element to consider for your dirt bike grip. Cushioning is an important factor when it comes to time spent on a rough track!
The uneven nature of the ground in this sport makes for bumpy conditions that get transmitted to your body through multiple contact points on the bike, the handlebars being one of those points. The jarring effect can take a significant toll on hands, wrists, and elbows, causing fatigue, or even injury.
The ability of the grip to shed water and mud will greatly enhance the grip capability in these conditions. This should be a factor of the grip pattern and design that you consider if you are going to be doing much riding in these conditions.
When to Replace Grips
Stock grips that come standard on your dirt bike are not usually particularly well made. You will find with many riders that the first thing they do when they get a new bike is to replace the grips.
Companies that specialize in making grips put a lot of time, money, and effort to produce quality purpose-built grips that will not only last longer but provide a much more comfortable and safe ride on your dirt bike.
There are several indications that you need to replace your dirt bike grips. If the nubs on the grip have worn down to the point where your grip on the handlebars is compromised, it is time to replace them. Likewise, if they are cut or have chunks gouged out of them or the rubber is cut, it is time for a new set.
Another indication that it is time to get new grips is if your old grips twist on the handlebars, have bulges, or are obviously loose. This is an indication that the grips could fail, which could lead to a nasty spill when you are out on the track!
How To Remove Old Grips And Fit New Ones
Removal of your old grips and fitment of new dirt bike grips is a fairly simple process that requires only basic tools.
Removing the old grips can be as simple as cutting them off with a box-cutter. This will, however, ruin the grips and they will not be able to be re-fitted.
Another way to get the grips off is to push a slim screwdriver between the grip and the handlebar, while you twist the grip. This will loosen the grip and allow it to be pulled off the handlebar.
Fitting the new set of grips is almost as simple. You will need the following tools to do the job.
- A small screwdriver
- Pair of side-cutters or wire cutters
- Contact cleaner. Brake cleaner is a good alternative
- Grip glue, or a can of spray paint
- Safety wire
- A pair of pliers
- A new set of grips
Once the old grips have been removed, use the contact cleaner to clean the surface of the handlebars from the old adhesive. A point to note, the two grips in the set have different size openings. The throttle grip is slightly wider than the non-throttle side. Make sure you fit the right grip to the right side!
Next, and this is an optional step, use the screwdriver to poke a hole at the end of your grip. This is to allow air to flow out when you are pushing the grip onto the handlebar.
Coat the inside of the grip with grip glue. Spray paint also works and is much cleaner to apply and remove when it is time to change the grips again. Push the grip onto the handlebar and orient it correctly. Leave it to dry.
Most grips have 3 grooves for the fitment of safety wire as an added measure to keep the grips in securely in place. Tie the safety wire in place in as many of the available grooves as you prefer. Make sure you tuck the cut ends of the safety wire into the rubber of the grips. This will ensure they don’t stick into your hand while riding!
And that is it! The job is done!
As you can see, the answer to the question of whether all dirt bike grips are the same size is a rather loaded question that requires an in-depth investigation. Dirt bike riders are very particular concerning the grips on their bikes.
They often go through a process of trial and error, testing the various compounds and patterns out for themselves. Once they find a combination that works well for them and provides a good combination of grip and comfort, they will usually stick to that style!
This does, however, mean that you are probably going to have to go through the same process to find a set of dirt bike grips that will work for you.
The good news is that dirt bike grips are relatively inexpensive and not difficult to fit. A good idea may be to buy a few types that you think may suit your purposes, fit them to your bike, and give them a trial run!
Happy dirt biking!