You are currently viewing How to Remove Motorcycle Handlebar Grips (and Reinstalling)
Image Credit: Kássia Melo/Pexels

How to Remove Motorcycle Handlebar Grips (and Reinstalling)

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We may get a commission when you purchase through our links, at no extra cost to you.

You know what really grinds our gears? Worn out grips that slip and slide all over the place. It’s no joke trying to handle when you got zero grip control. Makes for some white-knuckle rides, that’s for sure.

So, we’ll share our top tips and tricks about how to remove motorcycle handlebar grips. From heat guns to harebrained hacks, we’ve tried it all to bust past the bond. And let me tell you, these methods work like a charm every time.


  • Learn different techniques for removing stubborn motorcycle grips, from common hand tools to specialized heat methods.
  • Tips for safely loosening adhesive bonds using knives, screwdrivers or targeted heat application.
  • Hacks like lubricants, compressed air or alternative tools that work when you don’t have a heat gun.
  • Proper cleaning of handlebars is key for new grip adhesion long-term.
  • Instructions for reinstalling replacement grips smoothly, whether glued or dry-fitting types.

How to Remove Motorcycle Handlebar Grips

Let’s explore different methods of removing the old handlebar grips and how to install a new one.

Removing Grips with Common Tools

The first method we’ll discuss is using everyday tools you probably already have around the garage.

One of the most common ways to get those old grips off is with a utility knife. You’ll want to break the seal where the grip meets the handlebar. Just slide the knife blade between the two and run it along the edge. This should pop the grip loose enough to start prying up.

That’s where a flathead screwdriver comes in handy. We like to use one with a good wide head for leverage. Simply wedge the tip under the grip edge you just cut open. Apply firm, steady pressure to pop that sucker loose bit by bit as you work your way around. Go slow so you don’t rip the grip, especially if it’s really adhered on there good.

If a spot is giving you trouble, try inserting the knife blade again just under the edge of the grip. A little slice can help “persuade” it to let go of the handlebar. Just be careful not to nick the bar itself.

Go section by section and stay patient; those grips will surrender their grip eventually with a flathead and a utility knife.

Once one side is off, the other usually pops right off after that. Simple as that – no need for expensive specialty tools or chemicals. Just a knife and screwdriver do the trick for basic grip removal most times.

Using Heat to Remove Stubborn Grips

Sometimes those grips just don’t want to budge no matter what you try. When the everyday tools fail us, it’s time to break out the big guns – er, heat guns, that is.

We’ve found these little guys really do the trick on handlebar grips that have been glued on for years. The heat breaks down the bond between the rubber and the bar so it peels right off with no fuss.

Just be sure not to crank the heat too high or you risk melting or warping the plastic. We like to start it on a low setting and do short bursts of air, moving it around to slowly loosen the entire grip surface.

It doesn’t take long before you start to see the grip edge separating where you’re blowing hot air underneath. When it starts to peel up on its own, gently peel it back little by little. Go slow and careful so you don’t rip it, especially if the glue is still kind of tacky. Watch your fingers also, because those heat gun barrels get hot!

PRO TIP: Blow some of the heat down the sides and ends of the grip too if it’s a real bear to remove. The whole thing will start to flex and soften up for easy removal. Just mind your fingers, and your handlebars too, obviously, because you don’t want any melted plastic parts!

Some Outside-the-Box Grip Removal Methods

If you don’t have a heat gun or air compressor, don’t sweat it – there are still options! We’ve had good results using compressed air or even just plain old lubricant.

For the compressed air trick, you take one of those tiny straw attachments and insert it under the grip edge. Then give it a blast and watch the grip inflate like a tiny balloon. It should slide right off while inflated. Be quick though, before the air deflates!

As for lubes, we like WD-40 or CLP. Spray some down inside the edge and rotate the grip to work it in. This loosens the bond so it slides off smoothly. Goof Off or similar solvents can work too if it’s a heavy duty glue. We’ve even used chopsticks before in a pinch – just wiggle the edge until it lifts up to pry underneath.

Oh and those canned air used for cleaning keyboards? Yup, those work in place of an air compressor. Just aim the straw and blast away. The vibration of the liquid may help it slide off too.

How to Install Motorcycle Handlebar Grips

We hope that you’ve successfully remove the grips by following our methods. Now, it’s time to install a new pair:

Preparing for New Grips

Once those old grips are finally off, it’s time to prep for the new ones.

First thing is cleaning the handlebars. We like to use isopropyl or rubbing alcohol – the high percentage stuff. It does a great job cutting through any oils or residues leftover from the old grips.

Just grab a rag, pour some alcohol on, and give the bars a good scrubbing. Get into all the nooks and crannies. You want a bare, clean surface for the new grips to stick to well. No sense putting them on if they’ll just slide around!

PRO TIP: If you want to transfer a design from your old grips, lay them out on a table first before removal. Sometimes the ends can break off in the process. Then clean the bars, lay out the old grip pieces as a guide, and place the new grip material on top to trace the pattern.

We’ve had luck holding the new grip material in place with masking or painter’s tape as well. Then you can really take your time to get the transferred design just right without slipping around. Cool little customization if the old grips had some distinctive stripes or colors.

But either way – clean bars are key.

Installing New Grips – Like a Pro

Now for the fun part – getting those new grips installed! First thing is grip adhesive. Some come pre-glued, while others you’ll want to apply a thin coating inside yourself.

We like rubber grips best with a dab of adhesive. Gives a nice sturdy bond without being permanent. Just a light smearing along the inside ridges does the trick. Go even so they don’t shift sideways over time.

For grips like gel or foam, sometimes leaving them dry works fine since they form-fit to the bar. Experiment and see what works best for your style.

Once prepped, it’s slide time! Ease that puppy on, rotating as you go to prevent air bubbles. Squeeze it into all the nooks. With foam grips we kind of smash them on for full contact. Check for lumps.

If end caps are included, screw them on last to seal it up. Couple hours to dry and you’re good to twist that throttle!

FAQs About How to Remove Motorcycle Handlebar Grips

Can I reuse the same grips if I’m just taking them off to paint the bars?

Yes, you can reuse your existing grips if carefully removing them just for painting. Be gentle so as not to damage the grips. Clean them thoroughly after removal so no paint gets on them.

What’s the best way to remove grips made of a softer material like gel or foam?

Softer grips may require gentle heating with a blow dryer instead of a heat gun to avoid melting. You can also try loosening the adhesive seam with a plastic tool before peeling off. Go slowly to prevent tearing.

The ends of my grips broke off in removal. Now what?

If grip ends break, carefully pry out remaining pieces and clean the area well. For reinstallation, cut new grips slightly short and ease them on without pushing into broken ends. Consider upgrading to reinforced grips.

Can I reuse adhesive or should I apply new stuff?

It’s best to remove all old adhesive residue when cleaning. Apply a small amount of fresh adhesive for a strong bonding surface with new grips. Make sure to spread it evenly inside.

What’s the safest way to remove really old, brittle grips?

For grips that may crack instead of peel, gently cut into sections with a sharp knife while stabilizing the grip portion still attached to bars. Take your time, bracing the grip edges along the way to minimize breakage.

Leave a Reply