Last winter, I bought a pair on Swix natural cork grips to replace old grips on a pair of classic Exel poles. I also bought a pair of the less expensive "synthetic" cork racing grips for some old Exel skating poles. After 8 months of skiing and rollerskiing, the synthetic grips are still going strong, but the natural cork grips started splitting down the seam (see first picture).
The pole on the right is the worst off: the cork is actually sliding down the pole grip - not very comfortable when out skiing. Pieces of the cork have actually broken off, although the picture does not make it obvious. The left pole is just starting to split - notice the gap starting toward the bottom of the grip. I had heard - after I bought the grips - that the natural cork was much less durable.
These are pretty expensive grips - I didn't really want to replace them!
Repairing the Grip
I decided I'd try to repair the grip. My first attempt was to use a hot glue gun. I tried to lay down a layer of glue on the gray plastic under the cork, then pull the work around and over the glue. It didn't work: the glue cooled too fast and didn't stick to the plastic.
Attempt number two was to use epoxy. I mixed to the two parts of the epoxy together with a small nail, then used the mail to push the epoxy under the cork wherever I could. I put epoxy up toward the top of the grip and toward the bottom, along the sides - anywhere I could push the nail under the cork.
The next step was to figure out a way to hold the cork tight against the epoxy and the plastic part of the pole. I thought about rubber bands, but decided I might damage the cork will trying to roll the rubber bands over it. I also would have had to remove the strap.
Instead, I used black electrical tape. I tightly wrapped the pole from the bottom of the grip toward the center so the top layer would always cover the lower layer. I figured this would make it less likely that the tape would roll down during skiing. A little epoxy came up from the cracks, which I wiped away with a paper towel.
I let the poles sit for 24 hours, then headed out rollerskiing.
I've now completed numerous rollerski sessions, including some long doublepole workouts and the repair has held.
Would I buy the natural cord grips again? No. I'd stay with the synthetic grips. They're equally comfortable and much more durable. And they're much less expensive!