Some OEM handgrips are too hard. Others feel too narrow. Many let too much vibration channel through to your hands. One solution is to replace your OEM grips with aftermarket ones, but if you have factory heated grips that’s not a workable option because the heating element is typically built into the grip.
There are alternatives. A buddy of mine swears by tennis racquet grip tape. I’ve used those slide-on foam rubber overgrips but never liked how they stay wet even after the rain has stopped. On a rider forum, I learned about Sharkskin neoprene comfort grips from Original Grip Buddies (also known in the BMW universe as Original Beemer Buddies). These aren’t tubes like the slide-on foam grips. Instead they are rectangles of textured neoprene that wrap around the handgrip.
I ordered a set of Sharkskin grips for my Honda ST1300 and two days later they were in my mailbox. They installed quickly: clean the grip with alcohol wipes (provided), stick the adhesive strip along the length of the bike’s grip, then wrap the Sharkskin grip up and around it. Hook-and-loop fastener holds it securely in place. There’s a seam, but align it with the crotch of your thumb and you won’t notice it.
Sharkskin grips added some cushion and gave a wonderful tactile feel through gloved hands. I try to keep a light grip on my bars so I particularly liked this quality. They dried faster after rain than the slide-on grips I used before. The OEM heated grips underneath still warmed my hands effectively—better even, as the neoprene made the heat delivery more uniform. What little vibration emanated from the ST’s smooth V4 is masked.
These Sharkskin grips had a downside, however: they wore out too quickly. I saw other riders posting on the forums were having the same experience. I also saw that Dave Reppert, founder of Original Grip Buddies, seemed to accept constructive criticism from his customers and set about to improve his product.
New Super Sharkskin grips were designed to provide the grip and comfort qualities of the originals but with better longevity. As Dave explained to a forum member, “The thickness is identical to the originals, but there is more pure rubber (from trees) in the formulation so it is denser, and more robust.”
The company’s website emphasizes, “Take care of the customer,” so I called and talked to Dave. I explained that my Sharkskin grips were worn after just a few months. Before I could say much more, he offered to send me a set of the new Super Sharkskin grips, gratis. Two thumbs up to Dave for walking the walk on customer service.
I installed the new Super Sharkskin grips on my ST and left on a 10-day trip. After 3,434 miles in temperatures ranging from low the 30s to upper 80s, in sun and rain, on mountain twisties, country two-lanes and super slab, I found that Super Sharkskin grips retain the qualities I liked in the originals and show next to nothing for wear. Two thumbs up.
Super Sharkskin grips are sized for specific motorcycle models. They’re available from select dealers, at motorcycle rallies and on the website ($24.95 delivered to all 50 states).
For more information, visit originalgripbuddies.com
(This Gear Lab Review was published in the July 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)