Guide to Choosing the Right Grips

How to Find the Right Grips


Grips contribute to the way a bike performs, so purchasing grips based on looks alone can hinder your bike’s performance. You should put as much thought into buying grips as you do picking out a set of tires, because, similar to tires, grips are made in many different compounds. They can be soft, hard, tacky, smooth or a combination of these characteristics. The variety of grips from Renthal showcases the different compounds riders desire. Renthal’s new Traction grips are available in four different compounds, including Ultra Tacky, Soft, Medium and Kevlar. The Ultra Tacky and Soft grips are designed to give riders the best connection with their grips. Both of these grips are great options for riders who prefer thin gloves or none at all, because they have a sticky feel and reduce trail vibrations. They do, however, wear out faster than a grip with a harder compound. Medium grips from Renthal are made from a harder compound that is designed to offer the best control and durability. Its Kevlar grips offer a mix of qualities and are a favorite among many World Cup downhiller racers. The trade-off is that the Kevlar grips are expensive. Choosing from among these compounds can be challenging. Riders looking for relief for their hands should go with softer grips; riders in search of a more reactive feel from their bikes should go with harder grips. Tacky grips work best with thin, tight-fitting gloves or for gloveless riders. Smoother, hard-compound grips work best for riders who prefer to wear gloves that are thicker or even padded.


Grips not only vary in thickness but in width too. Finding grips that are the right width is a pretty straightforward process; however, problems can occur when you purchase grips that are wider than the ones you had before. If the grips are longer, you’ll need to slide your brakes and shifters inward, which may make them harder to reach. Shorter grips are great for riders with small fingers, since they allow them to run their controls closer to their hands. A rider’s hand placement on the grips will also determine the width he or she should use.


Grips are sold in many different thicknesses for the same reason bike frames come in different sizes. Riders have different-size hands, so find a pair of grips that feel comfortable to you. Thin grips can cause riders to squeeze the grips too hard. Larger grips, on the other hand, maybe more difficult for a rider to grasp. Some riders who prefer soft grips will buy them in a larger size and wear them in. Medium and hard-compound grips should fit well in your hand when purchased. A grip’s thickness is best determined when mounted to a handlebar, so if you’re buying a pair from a bike shop, look around and see if they have already installed those grips on a bike on the showroom floor.


Slide-on: Slide-on grips are used on a wide variety of bikes—from entry-level bikes to ones that are fully tricked out. Companies such as Lizard Skins, Ritchey, Oury and ODI all make excellent slide-on grips. Lizard Skin’s DPS grips and Ritchey’s WCS grips have soft foam compounds perfect for damping vibrations from the trails. They are also lighter than other styles of grips, which appeal to gram-counting cross-country riders. Oury grips are world-famous. ODI mostly focuses on designing high-performance lock-on grips, but they’ve kept a few classic slide-on grips in the mix for the diehards. One of the major concerns with slide-on grips is that they usually rely on friction to stay in place. Lizard Skins’ DPS grips use an adhesive tape between the grip and the handlebar. Other ways to keep slide-on grips in place include using glue or wire. Some slide-on grips have trouble staying in place in wet weather, but they can be very comfortable during dry seasons.

Lock-on: Lock-on grips either have a single lock ring or a dual lock ring. Riders who like to use the outer edge of their grips may find single lock-ring grips more comfortable. Riders who place their hands more towards the middle can go with either style. Dual lock-ring grips feel the most secure since they can be tightened to the handlebars. Single lock-ring grips are also very secure; however, they can sometimes develop movement on the non-lock-ring side. Both styles can vary in their compound, thickness and width, so the majority of riders should be able to find a lock-on-style grip that fits their needs.

Grip science: There’s more to it than you may think, and it will affect your ride in a big way.


Companies such as ESI and RedMonkey have designed silicone grips that offer a high level of shock absorption with very minimal weight. These grips are available in different diameters, colors and styles. ESI grips can be purchased in almost every neon color under the sun, and ESI offers a new tapered grip with a more natural fit. Riders with bigger hands can purchase ESI’s extra-chunky grips, and riders with smaller hands will enjoy the thinner Racer’s Edge grips. RedMonkey sells both slide-on and lock-on grips. RedMonkey’s silicone lock-ons give riders vibration damping with added security against rotation.


Ergon is a leading innovator of ergonomic grips. The company is best known for its grips that feature added palm support, which provides riders with more comfort. These grips can sometimes hinder performance, but riders who really need them accept the trade-off. Ergon also designs some more traditional-style mountain bike grips, such as the GE1. In fact, Ritchey Rude raced and won the 2016 Enduro World Series with Ergon’s GE1 grips.

Story Created June 2017


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