Original Grip Buddies Smartskin Lite Comfort Grips | Gear Review

Original Grip Buddies
Smartskins Lite Technology is thinner than original Smartskins (3.2mm vs. 4.7mm).

Original Grip Buddies neoprene motorcycle comfort grips with Smartskin Technology add cushion to hard rubber OEM grips and provide a grippy, tactile feel through gloved hands. Because they fit over OEM grips, they add slightly to grip circumference. Many riders like that added grip thickness, but for riders who don’t, there’s now a thinner alternative.

Original Grip Buddies has added a Lite version to its Smartskin Comfort Grip product line for riders with smaller hands or anyone who wants the comfort and grip benefits with less bulk. Smartskin Lite comfort grips are made from the same rubber-rich neoprene as the originals, they’re just thinner: 3.2mm for Lite vs. 4.7mm for the original.

Smartskin grips are different from the foam tubes that slide over OEM grips. Made by hand in upstate New York in sizes to fit specific bike models, these rectangles of textured neoprene wrap around the bike’s handgrip. Installation is quick and easy. Just clean the grip with alcohol wipes (included in the kit), stick the adhesive strip along the length of the bike’s grip, then wrap the Smartskin grip around it. The sewn-in strip of hook-and-loop fastener holds it securely in place, and with a little fine-tuning you’ll have it all lined up. There is a seam, but align it where the crotch of your thumb is positioned on the handgrip and you won’t notice it.

If you want that same cushion, grip and appearance of Smartskin grips to extend all the way down onto your bar ends, Original Grip Buddies offers Bar End Buddies. Depending on the shape and width of your bike’s bar ends, both straight and tapered versions are available.

Original Grip Buddies
Smartskins Lite grips installed on the author’s Kawasaki Versys.

I’ve used Smartskin grips for years on my Honda ST1300, BMW R 1200 RT and Kawasaki Versys, and I like the improvement in hand comfort and control they provide compared to hard rubber OEM grips, especially over long distances. I put a set of the new Lite version on the Versys. The texture and tactile feel is the same as the originals and I found I prefer the less bulky version. I also noticed that the aftermarket grip heaters on my Versys heat up noticeably faster with the thinner Smartskin Lites compared to the originals I had before.

So why did I replace the originals? I’ve come to appreciate that what makes Smartskin grips work so well also makes them a wear item. Just as rubber tires interact with the road surface and gradually get used up, Smartskin grips interact with your gloved hands and over time they gradually get used up. Fortunately, at $24.95 it’s not expensive to wrap on a fresh set (in my case after three seasons). Just like a fresh set of tires, a fresh set of Smartskin grips feels great. 

For more information, call (518) 461-3003 or visit originalgripbuddies.com.


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