High tech hand interface
Perhaps the most important link between you and your motorcycle is the handgrips. These two hunks of rubber are what you hang on to, where you feel what the front tire and suspension are telling you and in the case of the throttle grip, how you ask the engine to speed up or slow down. It's ironic then that when you walk around the pits at a typical trackday, you find that half the machines present are wearing their stock grips. Of those grips which have been changed, perhaps half have obviously been done for cosmetic reasons. Is this an area of motorcycle improvement which the majority of us have either overlooked or misunderstood?
Spider Grips http://spidergrips.com/spiderg/ is very serious about those two places where your hands meet the bike; so serious that they sponsor a racing team in order to get real world research and development. Their team machines are Ducati Multistradas and their competition venue is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. When you consider it, this is a very grueling test of handgrips. Temperatures may be hot at the starting line but by the time you reach the 14,114 foot summit, it's not inconceivable to see snow on the ground. A pulsing, thundering, 1200cc V-twin is a power plant that can generate some seriously hand-numbing vibrations. Would we be overstating the obvious to mention that the possibility of launching oneself off of an unprotected corner's edge and into a thousand-foot dropoff might cause a rider to grip the bars with above average intensity?
Spider claims to make the worlds best handgrips and are capable of backing that statement up with scientific facts. The company's engineers have focused their development on two areas: rubber compound and vibration damping. They have an entire page of information about the technology which has gone into their grips, which you can read at http://spidergrips.com/spiderg/quote-request/. The short version is that Spider uses two layers of rubber in their product. The inner layer deflects vibration away from the rider's hands, while the outer layer is a carefully crafted compound which Spyder calls "Traction Gel." The inner and outer layers are bonded at the molecular level, so you don't need to worry about them separating.
If your powersports toy has handlebars, Spider has you covered with their extensive line of products. For racetrack riding there are two choices, the Peak and the SLR. Peak grips were developed by and for Spider's racing team, then named for the race and place where they've proven their worth. These are of standard thickness and come in all black, black with red or black with grey. Aside from the Traction Gel that makes them so easy to grip, there are tread grooves molded into the surface which dissipate water just like a racing rain tire. SLR grips are engineered using the same Spider technology but are intended for a smaller hand. As can be seen in the picture, the SLR offers a wide array of color combinations.
This being January, we haven't had the opportunity to test Spider's two offerings at the track. We'll get to that as soon as the weather warms up. At this point though, we've talked to a number of other racetrack riders who use and swear by these grips. With the Peak selling for $17.95 per pair and the SLR for $16.95, they're most certainly worth consideration if you're changing out grips as part of your winter rebuild. We'll be trying them ourselves the next time we put puck to pavement!