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I've been using WD40 for installing grips for as long as I can remember.

Don't know where I got the idea, but this just works for all MTB-style grips I tried: spray WD40 inside, which makes it easy to slide them on. Then wait a couple of minutes. For some reason the WD40 seems to dissolve and/or react with the rubber compound.

Anyone know what exactly goes on?

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  • I suspect the stuff serves as a lube until it evaporates. Doesn't have to be WD-40, I use ethanol to install/remove MTB grips.
    – Klaster_1
    Dec 24 '20 at 19:54
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    (Not an answer, but good to have non-WD40 options here for people who see the question): Hairspray (starts liquid, dries sticky) is a canonical grip-installation lubricant. If you have an air compressor, running air into the space between the grip and the bar works amazingly, with no mess, and uninstalls cleanly.
    – RLH
    Dec 25 '20 at 0:53
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Any liquiid-fluid works for grip installation. The liquid temporarily decreases the surface friction between the grip and the bar, and then departs.

Personally I use soapy water which evaporates over time, leaving the slightly tacky soap behind to discourage twist in the grip.

WD40 has some mild petroleum products in it which may damage some rubber compounds. I've never seen that myself, but I don't spray WD40 on grips either. This might subtly texture the underside of the grip at a microscopic level (this is a guess)

WD40's lighter components would flash off over some hours, leaving behind the waxier protectant layer which acts as a weak glue, same as the soap I use.


My other tool for removing grips is a very long thin flathead screwdriver. Poking it in at the end between bar and grip allows a channel for the fluid to move along the length of the grip, where it dissolves the residue from installation. and some sharp twists makes the grip loose all the way around.

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  • 1
    The standard stuff to slip on motorcycle grips was plain very hot water although care was required for obvious reasons. Hot water softens the rubber.
    – Carel
    Dec 24 '20 at 21:21
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    The bit about petroleum is interesting. I don't know what grips are made of though, but things like this do hint it's possible: customadvanced.com/…
    – stijn
    Dec 26 '20 at 12:49
  • @stijn I've had grips that have gone gummy and tacky with age, and assumed it was UV damage. However it could also have come from oil/solvent contamination. One temporary hack is to put a ~12cm length of heatshrink over the grip and apply hot air. I have one bike whose hard grips are complete mush now, but under the cheap heatshink so they act like comfy gel grips.
    – Criggie
    Dec 26 '20 at 13:12
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    Heh, I've got one pair of grips like that as well. And a Nalgene bottle. And a floor pump. All super sticky and impossible to clean anymore. For all of those I blame UV but just because cannot recall all of those came in contact with some kinf of solvent. Plenty of UV light though.
    – stijn
    Dec 26 '20 at 16:21

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