Tank grips provide a lot of benefits that would help a MotoGP rider. However, the sport is known for trying to minimize the number of assists available to riders, to produce “purer” racing. New fans are often unsure whether MotoGP riders are permitted to use tank grips.
MotoGP riders use tank grips for added friction. Riders grip them with their knees while leaning the bike around corners and use them to prevent them from sliding forward during hard braking. Riders are constantly shifting their bodies and need every aid available to hold their position on the bike.
Tank grips also offer benefits for the motorcycle itself, as well as helping the rider, making them a popular accessory for any bike. Keep reading as we take a closer look at the various advantages that tank grips provide in the paragraphs below.
Why Would MotoGP Riders Use Tank Grips?
Motorcycle tank grips are pieces of rubber or synthetic silicone that are fitted on either side of the tank towards the seat so that the rider can grip the tank with their legs. They are also known as gas tank pads, tank protectors, anti-slip side knee pads, knee grip pads, and tank traction pads. Some motorcycle brands fit them at the factory.
Because of the potential extra grip, many motorcyclists use them, but it’s also understandable to wonder if motorcycle racers, such as those taking part in MotoGP, would use them as well. In high-pressure racing scenarios, keeping control over the bike is key, and tank grips may help riders do this.
What Tank Grips Are Made Of
Tank grips are made from anti-skid rubber or nylon mixed with rubber compounds to give it some extra grip. The best tank grips have embossed dots on the surface or raised horizontal and diagonal lines that allow the rider to get a better grip. If your motorcycle came from the factory without tank grips, there are plenty of grips available at low cost that can be fitted at home.
Commercial tank grips that are widely available are shaped for specific bikes and have 3M adhesive at the back so that you can fit them yourself. If the fitting goes crooked, you can always remove and reposition them to your liking. The length of a tank grip is normally half of the tank length and must be long enough so that your knee does not touch the metal of the tank.
How Do MotoGP Riders Stay On Their Bikes?
MotoGP riders stay on their bikes by using 4 areas to hold on to: The handlebars, the tank grips, the footpegs, and the seat. While the seat isn’t used as much in cornering when the rider is moving around a lot, the footpegs, handlebars and tank grips are key for controlling the bike.
On the racetrack, MotoGP riders are often hanging off the bike, especially in the corners when their knees and elbows are often extremely close to the ground. In this precarious position at high speed, the rider is often clinging on to the bike using their knees to grip the tank and stay in position, as the handlebars can’t give them enough support on their own.
When riding any motorcycle normally, the handlebars (and the seat) will provide enough grip for the rider to stay on the bike. But when you go fast enough, or when you slow down fast enough, these are no longer sufficient, and the tank grips become key for staying on the bike as the rider can press firmly against them with their knees to stay in place, even when cornering at high speeds.
MotoGP riders wear racing suits with special padding to help them better grip these areas of the bike. The insides of the suit’s knees have rubber pieces that rub against the tank grips to provide extra friction and therefore offer better control of the bike. When they’re racing, MotoGP riders need to make use of every part of the bike to maintain control.
KEY POINTS• MotoGP riders do use tank grips to give them better control over their bikes
• They provide extra grip for the rider’s legs, helping them stay on the bike at high speeds
• MotoGP riders will also use their handlebars, footpegs, and the seat to maintain control of the bike
Do Tank Grips Make A Difference?
Tank grips do make a difference for MotoGP riders. For motorcycle racers, tank grips are an indispensable part of the bike that help them maintain their body position on the bike, especially under hard braking. The weekend and commuter rider will probably never notice the need for them.
It is very difficult to explain how tank grips help until you actually experience a time of extreme deceleration from high speed. It’s only after getting the feeling that you’re going to fly over the handlebars that you know exactly what those tank grips are worth! At city speeds and country speed limits, you’re (hopefully) never going to find out. But in racing, they’re vital.
How MotoGP Riders Use Tank Grips
While MotoGP riders, like all motorcycle riders, make use of the handlebars, foot pegs and seat to remain on the bike, they are constantly moving around on the bike to manipulate lean angles into corners and slow down quickly in the braking zones. This means they also make use of tank grips to hold their position when they’re hanging off the bike in various ways.
When they’re cornering, the rider will often hang off the side of the bike, leaning very close to the ground at angles exceeding 40 degrees. Their other leg is pressing firmly into the side of the bike, gripping the tank grip in the process. But throughout the cornering process – from the braking zone into the corner through to the acceleration out of it – the rider can make use of the tank grips.
Riders can experience anywhere from 1.1-1.4 G’s when braking for a corner, which naturally means they’re always ‘fighting’ for control of the bike. Having the tank grips to add some friction between their legs and the bike makes it much easier to control. They’ll also have some silicone material on the inside leg sections of their racing suits to provide even more friction for added grip.
MotoGP riders can also make use of their tank grips when accelerating, as the 1000cc engine sends up to 290 horsepower to the rear wheel. The rotational torque at the rear wheel tries to lift the front wheel off the ground, and MotoGP riders can counter this by gripping the tank grips with their legs while leaning forward (and therefore shifting their weight forward) to keep the front wheel down.
Are Tank Grips Worth It?
While tank grips are definitely worth it for MotoGP riders, they may also be worth it for the average motorcycle rider. Tank grips offer more grip on the bike, allowing you to rely less on the handlebars and footpegs alone. They can also help protect your fuel tank from scratches.
Even if you don’t ride at high speed, keeping your knees pressed against the tank grips will eliminate any body sliding too. They do not damage cloth or leather pants and do not put any marks on them. A pair of tank grips typically weigh less than 2 lbs (1 kg) and ensure that the tank does not have any marks on it, from things like zips or buttons on your trouser pockets.
More Riding Confidence
Tank grips can also give the rider the confidence of being able to brake hard while keeping control of the bike. While you’re unlikely to be in this situation very often, it may be the ideal confidence booster for some riders, while also being fairly inexpensive.
Before buying tank grips, feel the surface and make sure they are not slippery. Ideally, you need a rough texture made from rubber or silicone compound. During the rain when the tank gets wet, it becomes very slippery, and it is at these times that the grips are even more useful as they provide their hold. You want to be sure you buy tank grips that alleviate this issue, not make it worse!
KEY POINTS• Tank grips are key for MotoGP riders
• MotoGP riders experience G-forces and high lean angles in the corners
• This makes controlling the bike difficult without the extra friction tank grips provide
• Tank grips may be useful on your own motorcycle too, but they’re not essential
MotoGP riders do use tank grips, as they are essential for providing enough friction between them and the bike to allow them to control the motorcycle in the corners and under heavy braking. Tank grips allow MotoGP riders to better hold their positions as they move around on the bike.