The best mountain bike grips don't need to cost the earth. There are hundreds of grips on the market - a bewildering choice! Here's a shortlist of the best.
The very best mountain bike grips get the contact points right so that you can increase confidence and control, decrease arm pump. Fundamentally mountain bike grips are lengths of rubber fastened to your handlebars that you hold on to. The most common design is the lock-on design that stays in place with one or two end clamps.
We’ll admit, there’s no glamour associated with these components. They aren’t as sexy as a set of carbon wheels or the latest 160mm suspension fork but without them your ride won’t go very far. Along with your pedals, your handlebar grips represent one of the only points of contact your body ever really has with your bike (your saddle being the other one).
They are your first line of control and your first line of comfort. You can happily compromise on most parts and still mainly enjoy a ride but get your choice of grip wrong and your enjoyment can go out of the window.
Best mountain bike grips
- DMR Deathgrip – BEST ALL ROUNDER
- Giant Swage – BEST TAPERED
- ODI Elite Pro – BEST THICK
- Sensus Lite – BEST THIN
- Fabric FunGuy
- Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky
- Ergon GE1 EVO
How we tested the best mountain bike grips
Testing contact points like grips can often be as subjective as it gets. Everyone has a unique hand shape and general physiology. Hence, when it comes to grips, one’s person’s meat can be another person’s poison. For this test we continuously swapped grips between a variety of different bikes for several months. From lightweight XC race bikes to long-travel enduro bike beasts, each set of grips was moved about to assess the suitability and compatibility of the components. Keeping things fair from a contact point perspective, we stuck to the same gloves (no no-gloves for some testers who opt to ride bareback).
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Pretty much perfect
Price: £16.99 | Diameter: 32mm or 30.5mm | Length: 133mm | Weight: 117g
Pros: Good value. Great traction in all weather.
Cons: Not a lot wrong here. Firm ones are very harsh.
Unlike Brendan Fairclough, we like to keep a couple of fingers resting on the brake levers at all times. But where we share a common ground is that we both prefer to wrap our remaining digits around his signature Deathgrip. What looks at first sight like an unlikely quilt of different patterns actually turns out to be an inspired design where each section does a different job, yet somehow manages to feel completely cohesive to the touch. Our favourite is the thick version with a 32mm diameter but there’s also a 30.5mm option along with both flanged and non-flanged designs a rainbow of colour options and even a super soft Race compound. A brilliant grip, simple as that.
Ergon GE1 EVO
Stickier version of modern classic grip
Price: £34.99 | Weight: 105g
Pros: Improves control. Improves comfort.
Cons: Slightly less cushy than the original GE1. Expensive.
These Ergon GE1 Evo Factory grips are a clever way of tuning your riding position. Because the padding is offset to the central sleeve that slides over the bar, you can actually change your hand position in relation to the handlebar – perfect if you want to angle your wrists and elbows for a more attacking position without, say, rolling your handlebars forward. And while they’re another weapon in the arsenal when it comes to setting up your bike perfectly, they’re also exceptionally comfortable, boast plenty of grip in this special soft compound version and do a great job of absorbing shock.
Cheaper than its rivals
Price: £19.99 | Diameter: 31mm tapering to 29mm | Length: 145mm | Weight: 103g
Pros: Excellent tapered shape for control. Half the price of rival grips.
Cons: The outer ends twist a bit. Hard to find.
These Swage grips are designed for downhill and enduro but we can’t see why Giant place such a restricted remit on them. They’re great for all types of mountain biking. At just over 100g they’re even XC weight weenie friendly.
Impressive comfort with secure grip
Price: £16.99 | Diameter: 31mm | Length: 135mm | Weight: 114g
Pros: Simple but effective. Good value.
Cons: No flange option. We’d be nitpicking really!
The top three-quarters of the FunGuy grip uses a mushroom pattern, and this provides just the right amount of cushioning for your palm, without feeling too fat and clumsy. Underneath, there’s a honeycomb design with two rows of raised hexagonal dimples that give your fingers and thumb something to latch onto. The result is decent comfort and isolation from bumps, but a firm, secure grip.
ODI Elite Pro grips
Best fatter grip we’ve ridden
Price: £22.99 | Diameter: 32mm | Length: 130mm | Weight: 102g
Pros: The grip that started the new style revolution. Plenty of colours.
Cons: Arguably not as good as tapered rivals. Could do with a price drop.
They have an eccentric core that puts more rubber in the palm of your hand and less on the underside of the grip where the fingertips rest. So you get all of the benefits of fatter grips without the bulk. The ODI Elite Pro is the best fat grip we’ve ridden to date. It’s a great grip for anyone with an open mind or sore hands.
Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky
Stickiest on the market
Price: £21.99 | Diameter: 32mm | Length: 120mm | Weight: 119g
Pros: Super sticky in all weathers. Ideal for glove-less riders.
Cons: Not everyone ikes double-collar designs. Rubbers wears fast.
So sticky they’re like riding with your hands glued to the bars. These Renthal Traction grips won our group test in the summer issue, with testers commenting “the sticky security is off the charts… with or without gloves”. Don’t expect them to last forever, but that’s the price you pay for such soft rubber. You wouldn’t buy tyres or shoes made from hard rubber, so why are grips any different?
Best skinny lock-on
Price: £29.99 | Diameter: 29mm | Length: 148mm | Weight: 92g
Pros: The perfect skinny lock-on grip.
Normally if you want skinny (sub 30mm diameter) grips that are comfy you have to abandon the lock-on design and go for some push-on grips. And push-on s are all well and good until the wet weather comes and they start to slowly spin around the handlebars. Not ideal! For most of us in the real world, lock-on grips are a must-have. And the Sensus Lite grips are thin (29mm diameter) lock-ons that are still comfy with plenty of feel.
How to find the best mountain bike grips
Along with your saddle, grips have to be one of the most personal components on your bike, just because you’ve got hold of them most of the time when you’re riding. Every rider has a grip they prefer so to match all of our taste, there are hundreds of different shapes and sizes, compounds and colours available. The seven are also different but they have one thing in common – they lock on. This means you can fit them easily, take them off again to access other handlebar hardware and they won’t come loose, no matter hard to twist or how bad the conditions get.
To get started go for the softest grips you can find — yes they’ll wear out quicker but they’re easier on your hands that way. DMR does a “race day” compound and ODI makes a supertacky version too. Avoid old-school grips with collars on the outside of the bar that could hurt your hand, new designs are fixed on perfectly well with an inside collar and clever tapered bores.
Grip patterns are incredibly varied, with knurled patterns for your fingertips, waffle pattern for your palm, and in the case of the DMR Deathgrip a raised mushroom profile for thumb cushioning. Whatever you opt for, make sure there is a decent amount of rubber under your palm, and not a thin skim of rubber over the hard nylon core.
Choose a width and length for your hands. Fatter is better, but of course if you’ve got small hands you might prefer a thinner grip. Some like the NS Holdfast offer a longer grip section, perfect for big hands. Just check the grip section measurement, most brands measurements tend to include the lockrings as well. If in doubt go and finger some at your local bike shop to get an idea.