Feb 22, 2007

Get a grip!

You've heard over and over again that power is nothing without control, right? No? You've never seen a Pirelli ad? Anyway. Power, they say, is nothing without control. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is to hand a the keys to a 600 bhp, turbocharged, supercharged, nitroused Hayabusa. You could beat him on your Yamaha RX100, if his control levels were poor enough, right?

But that's a fairly extreme example. I'll take a simpler one. Look at a sword (any fort's arms museum should bring up umpteen fully decorated examples). Forget the blade, length etc and look at the hilt. Notice the girth of the handle. That's the roughly cylindrical part you will grip to swing the sword. You'd be amazed to note that most handles are the same size. And this is true from the Rambo knife to the Katana. Are you getting the picture?

What I'm saying is that there appears to be a universal agreement that cutting instruments which require great control are best handled when the haft is a certain size. And if you notice the manufacturer supplied handlebar grips on your humble bike, you would also notice that they are a similar size. For a reason. So stop wasting money replacing perfectly good grips with those ugly multi-colour foam jobs. The thicker you make your throttle grip, the less finesse you are likely to be able to impart with it. That's why the size of the foam on the handlebar grip is usually a good indication of how squidly a rider is likely to be. I was searching for photos of the aforementioned fat-foam grips. But abroad, even the foam grips are slim...

Now, does that mean the it's a sin to replace manufacturer grips? Hell no. My favourite handlebar grips so far, standing head and shoulders above them all, are Superbike Grips from ProGrip (KRP Delhi, address here). I think they're about Rs 250 a pair. They're slim, just sticky enough for gloved work and feel very, very good. Try a pair, you won't ever go back. As to who should seriously consider these grips? All Pulsar owners. The stock grips are pretty close to being completely crap. They chafe bare hands (I'm told — never ridden that way) and are passable with the gloves on.


JulianPaul said...

ok, its about time someone wrote something like this.

people spend so much time tweaking their bikes to look good(?), sound good, and supposedly ride good. but how many people actually think about the person-bike interface?

when i first got my rd, first thing i changed were the shitty 'original' grips and those horrible 45° bent-downwards footrests. dunno how the previous owner rode the darn bike. changed them to cbz ones. they were perfect. someone actually had the nerve to say, "but these aren't original" !!!

fast forward 3 years to the present - friend's cbz's grips got all hard and shit. went to the HH parts shop to buy a replacement pair. was pleasantly surprised to find they cost Rs. 23 each. yes, twenty three rupees.

for comparision, the high-density foam grips on my boxer (bajaj, not bmw), which are pretty nice feeling too, cost 75 bucks a pair. i ended up popping the cbz grips on the little boxer too.

theyr'e pretty sticky, and provide loads of feel. good alternative to the foreign ones.

Dr Arnob said...

Umm, yes and no.

keypads all looked the same till the ergonomic ones came out.

Shut your eyes, extend your arm and let the hands hang loose. open your eyes and have a look at the shape of your palm.


Narrower towards the thumb and forefinger, wider thereafter. Now grip something like plasticine, and see the shape that comes out of your hand.

it won't look even one bit like your handlebar.

Those thick foam things deform and take the shape of your hands in a short time. And (without gloves that prevent the chafing) they are a lot more comfy than the stock grips.

You have to make an effort to grip the grips. much less effort required for the wider stuff. If your hands are more open, they are a lot less fatigued. Try making your grips shaped like narrow rugby balls, and see how they feel. So why do the manufacturers make them thin, round and universally sized?

Nothing to do with ergonomics.

Hrishikesh said...

I would have to disagree on this one. Have been riding around on a Pulsar for more than 5 years now, and sadly, am without kit for all of my commutes. (yes, i do kit out on long rides)

Have never felt the chafing or any other issue with the grips. While they could be harder than the ones in the pic which you have attached, the stock ones are pretty much non slippery in rain and mud... Am not saying that they are better than urs, but hey, they work !

rearset said...

I was purely talking from a control and feel perspective. So you're probably right on the foam bit.

However, there were two times I rode bikes with proper aftermarket foam grips. I noticed that neither were any thicker than the ProGrip Superbike grips on my bike. Which was my point really.

The ones in the pic aren't hard. They're about the same in feel as the best Natraj Eraser, but don't rub out in crumbs. Damn good. Really. Stock Pulsar grips? I'm only reporting what I've heard over and over again from daily no-glove typeses. So I could be wrong. Excused on account of hearsay? :-D

JulianPaul said...

@Dr Arnob

have to completely disagree with ya on this.

what we were discussing here was the thickness and diameter of grips, not the profile.

kinetic made a big mistake when they used 'fist shaped' grips on their nova. its ok when you first hold it, at idle, but twist it and everything goes to hell.

with a grip type throttle, round is the best shape.

with weapons like the almighty katana, its a different story. sure they spin and swing it around at times, but never roll it in the fist like a throttle grip.

JulianPaul said...

Ok i think i'm getting a bit anal here, but i had to add this.

My girlfriend's dad bought her a bajaj wave. and just like on his chetak, he popped on a pair of foam 'grip covers' as they're called. when the original grips are already high-density foam like the earlier mentioned boxer. Now she has small hands and was having a hard time controlling it. so i tore off those damn covers, and voila, MUCH improved control.

now if you think its because she has small hands, the cbz owner friend of mine has HUGE palms, but he cant handle large, thick grip covers either.

enough of the ranting, its just so annoying to see ppl covering up perfectly good grips with those shitty covers. and why ? usually because the dealer, or someone else said so.