Grip It and Rip It
It’s been nearly 10 years since a new GripShift model has been released. Now the “twist shift” system that gave SRAM their start as a company has been re-engineered from the ground up. For 2013, SRAM is offering two new 10-speed GripShift models, XX and X0. At 10 ounces, there is no weight difference between the two, so the extra $70 gets you a carbon shifter cover and Gore RideOn cables with the XX model.
While the new GripShift doesn’t look profoundly different, the internal differences are plentiful. The shifter now twists on three rows of ball bearings and features full-metal indexed shifting as well as a metal return spring. The shifter is designed to be sealed against the elements, and SRAM claims that it shouldn’t need to be pulled apart for service over the life of the product.
The shifter locks into a proprietary grip via SRAM’s “Jaws” teeth. Once interlocked, the system has a bar clamp on each end to keep the whole shifter/grip combo securely together and in place on the bar. You can use your own grip with the shifter, but we’re sure the guys at SRAM would prefer you use their system as a whole.
SRAM’s XX and X0 GripShift retail for $295 and $225, respectively.
Field test results:
We got a taste of the new GripShift earlier this year at SRAM’s Trail House event, but it wasn’t until a few months later that we got our own sets to throw on our personal bikes. After a couple months of riding the new shifters, it’s safe to say that our initial positive impression has not changed.
While many will look at GripShift as something reserved for cross-country racers and other weight-conscious riders, that is not necessarily the case. While switching to GripShift will save you a few grams, the difference is not huge, and alone it won’t send racers everywhere running to their local shop.
Instead, what is more noteworthy is the performance and speed of the GripShift system, something that racers and trail riders alike can dig. The shifts are crisp, announced with an audible click that echoes the solid feel of the system. The motion of the shift itself is very minimal on the rider’s end, which translates into gear changes that make the fastest triggers seem slow.
The ability to shift through as many gears as you need in one motion is also welcomed. At first we thought of shifting through three or four gears at once as a sort of bike- stand parlor trick, but after riding and racing with the shifters, we have experienced multiple instances where grabbing a few gears at once has been beneficial. Transitions from steep descents or to steep climbs, as well as cresting over the top of a climb, are smoother and faster.
If there is one area we feel needs improvement, it would be the variety of GripShift-specific grips available. There is only one at this point. The stock grip worked well enough for us, but the nature of the fixed length means that it is not going to work perfectly for everyone. Riders with small hands may have trouble reaching the brake lever from the outer edge of the grip.
Additionally, the lock ring on the end of the grip is a larger diameter than the grip. While it tapers smoothly to the larger diameter, riders who grip the edge of the bar will have to deal with feeling the lock ring more than they might like. Hopefully SRAM, as well as other aftermarket companies, will introduce new grip options using SRAM’s “Jaws” locking method to allow riders to fine-tune their configuration.
Finally, and we understand this is blasphemy, why look at GripShift as an integrated, for-SRAM-only component? It didn’t start out that way. While this observation does not take any stars off our rating, wouldn’t it shake things up a bit if SRAM introduced a GripShift to work with derailleurs from other component companies?
The new GripShift is a welcome evolution of the product that put SRAM on the map. And for a few of the wrecking crew, the new shifters have become a staple on their personal bikes.