Riders have been searching for the ultimate grip since the invention of the mountain bike. It’s probably the most important contact point between you and your bike. Lock-on-style grips are largely considered the standard, but they’re not without their drawbacks. While they stay in place 99.9 percent of the time, there is still a chance they could slip, and when they do, it will probably be in the worst possible situation—when you’re putting the most force on them while landing a jump or cornering hard.
Moreover, lock-on grips also cause an uncomfortable point on the outside of the bar where the collar is. We can’t count how many sets of gloves we’ve worn through from this inherent design flaw. WTB has designed what they claim is the grip that will put an end to both those issues—the PadLoc. The PadLoc grip uses a wedge-shaped design on the end of the handlebar to not only hold the grip in place, but also give the designers a little extra room to integrate a comfortable pad where the heel of your hand contacts. The only trouble with this system is that it requires you to cut your bars at an angle to install them. Thankfully, the procedure is relatively easy, and we go through it step by step in this month’s “Garage Files.”
The PadLoc is a little more involved than your average grips when it comes to the installation. You’ll need a handsaw, vise, and the angled cutting guide that Park Tool designed for the installation.
1. Check the position of the bars and make sure that the rotation is set in a comfortable spot.
2. After checking the bar tilt, remove your existing grips, shifters and brake levers.
3. Once the bar is removed of all components and accessories, take a level and mark the highest point of the outer end of the bar.
4. Make a second mark on the highest point near where the lockring will be. Do this for both sides of the handlebar.
5. Take a ruler and draw a line 80 millimeters in length connecting the two marks that were made in steps 3 and 4. We recommend double-checking the length and that this is highest point of the bar. The line must be at least 80 millimeters long so you can see the line when it’s inserted into the cutting jig.
6. After marking an 80-millimeter-long line, go ahead and remove the handlebar from the stem to prepare it to be cut. Repeat this for both sides of the handlebar.
7. Leave the stem on the bike after removing the handlebar. No sense in having extra parts floating around the garage.
8. Take the handlebar and insert it into the Park Tool SGI-7 to be cut at the proper angle. Push the bar all the way in and make sure that it bottoms out properly.
9. After inserting the handlebar into the jig, take the whole assembly and secure it properly into a vise so that there is no play when cutting. Make sure that the line drawn in step 5 lines up with the line cut built into the guide.
10. Begin cutting into the handlebar. Start slowly and cut a small groove into the bar.
11. This step is optional, but we definitely recommend taking the guide out of the vise after making your cut to make sure that the blade is going into the bar properly and that everything is lined up. Professional Model-Clayton “WANG” Wangbichler and WTB’s P.R. Guru
12. Once you’ve cut both sides, take the bar out of the guide and file down the edges to smooth out the bar. If you are cutting into a carbon handlebar, use a fine-grit sandpaper instead of a file.
13. Reinstall your handlebars back onto the stem and adjust the tilt back to a comfortable position. Slide your brakes and shifters back on as well. Leave the brake and shifter clamps loose, as you will want to adjust their position once the grips are on.
14. After setting the brakes and shifters up, go ahead and slide the PadLoc grips onto the end of the bar. If done properly, the grips should slide right on for a snug fit.
15. Finish the grip installation by tightening the lockring down to the specified torque. Be careful not to over-tighten and strip the clamp.
16. Sit on the bike and make sure the brakes, shifters and other levers are in a good position in relation to the grips. Tighten everything down once you have finalized their positions.
17. You’ve now successfully installed some PadLoc grips, and now it’s time to go ride and see how well they actually work.
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