Tank grips and tank protectors are an often overlooked accessory that can benefit many riders. Tank grips can make you much more confident on the road, and seriously improve comfort in some cases. Tank protectors, on the other hand, can help keep your tank looking new and scratch-free. They seem like an extremely minor addition to your ride, but these small mods can make a huge difference in your riding comfort and prowess.
The Sins of a Young Gixxer Squid
Years ago, I, like many new riders, got into motorcycles knowing next to nothing about them. I went out and bought what I thought was a perfectly reasonable bike to start on, a 2004 GSXR 600 (sin #1). It’s a lower number than most bikes, so it has to be the one to start on, right? (Wrong. Absolutely do not start on a supersport 600, but that’s a whole different article.)
Being a new rider, I had no real clue how to ride a supersport with its aggressive ergonomics. So I did what most new riders do on a supersport, and tried to hold myself up with my wrists (sin #2). After a couple of months, I started to realize that maybe I was doing something wrong, as there was no reason why my wrists should hurt this bad after riding for an hour. After some research, I learned that you should actually be using your core muscles and legs, not your wrists, to hold yourself up on a supersport motorcycle. I soon realized that my cotton jeans (sin #3) had trouble gripping the slippery tank of the motorcycle. It was then that I discovered tank grips, and how they can help you become a better rider. After I installed a pair of them, I discovered that riding a supersport didn’t have to be like a pain tolerance test. They made everything from aggressive cornering to simply being comfortable much easier, all while costing me a whopping $40 in total.
Purpose and Function
Tank grips work by putting a pad of high-grip material on the sides of the tank where your legs rest. This enables you to grip the tank with your inner leg, which, in turn, makes it easier to hold your upper body up using your core and leg muscles, relieving the pressure on your wrists. They also help when cornering by instilling confidence in your ability to stay on the motorcycle, since your outside leg has a better grip on the bike. Tank pads give you more control over your motorcycle, as well as more confidence.
Tank protectors also contribute to your grip on the bike but in a much smaller way. They go right where your inseam contacts the gas tank. While they do help with holding onto the motorcycle in a similar way as tank grips do, they are mainly there to protect your bike’s tank from being scratched by your pants, belt, or jacket zipper.
Types and Installation
Tank grips and tank protectors generally cost between $30 and $100. They are very easy to apply. They have a sticky surface on the back of them, so you simply clean the tank thoroughly to prepare the intended surface they will stick to, then firmly press them against the side of the tank. A heat gun can be used to help rearrange them after installation, or to get rid of air bubbles. Use the low heat setting to avoid damaging any plastics or paint.
Tank grips come in many different patterns and thicknesses. Thicker ones tend to provide better comfort, but are less grippy. Thinner ones, like Stompgrips, are less comfortable but have an extremely grippy pattern. Which ones are right for you will entirely depend on your use case. If you intend to use these on the track and aggressive canyon runs, thinner, more grippy tank grips would likely be your best option. If you plan to use the bike for long trips and general street riding, the thicker, more plush tank grips will be more than adequate.
Simply Worth It
Overall, tank grips and protectors are one of the cheapest options to thoroughly improve your ride. They provide a considerable boost in comfort and control that is well worth the cost and time spent on the simple installation process. They will, by no means, make you Valentino Rossi overnight, but honestly, nothing will.