How to Change Handlebar Grips on Harley-Davidsons

Written by diane hansen Google
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After spending months of daydreaming, days of research and hours in a dealership, you have finally selected the Harley-Davidson that is right for you. You own the Harley that best suits you as a person. Now as you look at it sitting there in your garage, the thought hits you: "I have to change it." For many owners, one of the first and easiest customisations is replacing the grips. With the right tools, this is an easy do-it-yourself project.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Torx or Allen wrench
  • Shop towels
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • String
  • Ruler or tape measure

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  1. 1

    Move your motorcycle to a level surface. With the motorcycle off, place the transmission in gear to prevent movement.

  2. 2

    Identify the type of bolt or screw used on your switch housing. This is the knobby structure just outside of your brake or clutch handle housing. For newer models, you will likely need a Torx wrench (looks like a star). For older models, you may need an Allen wrench (hexagonal) or screwdriver. There may be as few as one per side or as many as three.

  3. 3

    Using the wrench identified in step 2, remove the bolt(s) from the left-side (clutch) housing that wraps around the grip. Separate the two halves of the housing. Replace the bolt so you don't lose it, and wrap with shop towels to prevent damage to the parts and the motorcycle's finish.

  4. 4

    Remove the bolt(s) from the right-side (brake) housing, again using the wrench identified in step 2. At this point, you will notice two wires coming out of the housing that wrap around the grip. These are the throttle wires. Take notes or digital pictures of the placement of these wires to refer to for reattachment later. Then, using needle-nose pliers, unseat them from the grip sleeve. Wrap the housing with shop towels.

  5. 5

    Slide the grips off the handlebars. Depending on the handlebars, you may have to unscrew the left grip, but on stock models these usually slide off with a gentle back-and-forth motion. Once the grip is off, wrap the string around your handlebars and use a ruler to find the diameter of your handlebars. Stock handlebars are typically 1 inch, but may be as large as 2 inches if you have aftermarket handlebars.

  6. 6

    Purchase the grips that are correctly sized for your motorcycle. Replace the grip on the left side, replace the housing and then reinstall the bolt(s). Slide the right grip on. Reattach the throttle cables, being careful to attach the wires in the same position they were in before. Then replace the housing and reinstall the bolt(s).

Tips and warnings

  • These instructions are based on a 2008 Harley-Davidson Softail, but should carry over fairly well to other vehicles. Some motorcycle handlebars taper at the ends. As a result, measuring anywhere but at the ends of the handlebars may result in incorrect sizing.
  • Incorrectly attaching your grips may cause them to come off during riding. Ensure they are properly installed and secured before attempting to ride your motorcycle. Incorrectly reattaching your throttle control wires may cause the vehicle to run improperly and may even cause the engine to race uncontrollably.

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