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.
If you’re looking to give your hands a better deal, then you really should pop over to our best mountain bike gloves buyer’s guide too!
Best mountain bike grips
- DMR Deathgrip review – BEST ALL ROUNDER
- ODI Elite Pro review- BEST THICK
- Sensus Lite review – BEST THIN
- Fabric FunGuy review
- Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky review
- Ergon GE1 EVO review
- Giant Swage review
- SDG Thrice review
- Spank Spike 33 review
- Nukeproof Sam Hill Enduro Race Super Soft review
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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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 (just don’t get the firm versions; very harsh)
Although from first glance the Deathgrips look like inverse-tapered grips (fatter at the finger-thumb end), this is an optical illusion. The mushroom gill inner section actually squashes significantly narrower than the outer 3/4 waffle part of the grip.
The boxed rectangle section is designed to be the underneath part, where it gives fingertips something to purchase on to during rowdy rough ground, but we also know folk who run it with the rectangle boxed section facing upwards to act as more palm traction and padding. Whichever you prefer, it’s nice that the option is there for both attitudes.
Unlike Brendan Fairclough (who is known for not covering the brakes with his fingers whilst riding AKA ‘death gripping’), 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 and soft rubber but there’s also a 30.5mm option along with both short flanged (our preference) and non-flanged designs a rainbow of colour options and even a super soft Race compound. A brilliant grip, simple as that.
ODI Elite Pro
Best thick grip
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.
One of the original fatter grips and still a great option for a lot of riders. These aren’t a wholly thick grip. It’s the lightly domed cigar shaped pad panel that gives it its 32mm stated girth.
This means two things: firstly, you can set it up with the pad slap bang in the middle of your palm, or secondly, if you hold them slightly more inboard (ie. with finger and thumb butted right up against the collar) you can then use the slanted nature of the pad to effectively get the grip to act as a tapered-style grip.
The rubber isn’t overly soft, which is great for riders who don’t like the squidge of more modern thick grips. The more durable rubber also helps them last longer, as do the cleverly designed integrated end caps. The raised ‘cigar’ pad combined with the raised grid on the underside of the grip is the Elite Pro’s secret weapon; they are really, really grippy – especially with gloves.
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.
Best thin grip
Price: £29.99 | Diameter: 29mm | Length: 148mm | Weight: 92g
Pros: The perfect skinny lock-on grip.
Warning: these are very hard to come by. Sorry to set anyone off on some sort of hunt for a rubbery unicorn but if and when you find some of these grips, you’ll be glad you took the effort.
There is some sort of magic at play with these grips. They shouldn’t be as comfy as they are for such a skinny lock-on grip. They may only be 29mm in diameter but they out-cush grips with 3mm more girth.
Comfy grips are usually the result of using soft rubber. Usually soft rubber just doesn’t last. Even if you manage to avoid tearing or damaging the rubber whilst riding (crashing), it’s rare to get more than a single season out of soft grips before they’ve worn through the tread and sometime even down to the plastic sleeve underneath. Somehow the rubber that Sensus uses is also impressively tough and durable. These are far and away the lock-on grip of choice for glove-less riders.
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-ons 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. The 3mm Allen collar bolt and the integrated end caps are the icing on the sticky cake.
Good luck hunting some down!
Ergon GE1 EVO
Sticky and tapered
Price: £34.99 | Weight: 105g
Pros: Improves control. Improves comfort.
Cons: Slightly less cushy than the original GE1. Expensive.
Some tapered grips are more complex than others. Ergon’s tapered grips are different to most in that they effectively alter the sweep of your handlebars. It’s a bit hard to explain/understand but basically the tapering is not concentric to the handlebar. The grip is fatter at the outer edge of your palm. Therefore it is possible to alter the plane in which your hands are positioned whilst riding.
It’s a bit like being able to adjust your handlebars up- and back-sweep angles at the very ends of the bar. What’s good about that? It can really help promote and reward the correct attack stance for modern bike handling.
In this way, the 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 they’re another weapon in the arsenal when it comes to setting up your bike perfectly.
It doesn’t hurt that they’re also exceptionally comfortable, boast plenty of grip in this special soft compound version (significantly noticeable in wet weather) and they do a great job of absorbing shock.
No nonsense goodness
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 classic mushroom pattern has featured on some of the best BMX and mountain bike grips since the ‘80s, and Fabric’s FunGuy is the latest to join that list. Great value, colourful and with the perfect blend of thickness for cushioning and slimness for feel.
Don’t get this Fabric mushroom grip confused with their funny-shaped Magic (geddit?) grip which is ridiculously long and has a bulge in the wrong place. That’s our opinion anyway. Teh Magic may make sense for dirt jumpers or 50to01 jibbers out there.
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 resulting FunGuy grip offers decent comfort and isolation from bumps, but a firm, secure grip with none of the OTT bells and whistles of costly tapered or super-sticky compound rival grips.
Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky
Simply the stickiest
Price: £21.99 | Diameter: 32mm | Length: 120mm | Weight: 119g
Pros: Super sticky in all weathers. Ideal for glove-less riders.
Cons: Not everyone likes double-collar designs. Rubbers wears fast.
This grip is all about the rubber. Everything else about the grip is pretty mediocre to be honest. Two-collar design is outdated and rightly disliked by riders who ride with their hands slightly overhanging the ends of the handlebar. The tread pattern is not sophisticated nor pleasingly plain.
So why are we shortlisting these grips as some of the best grips out there? Answer: none more sticky.
So sticky they’re like riding with your hands glued to the bars. These Renthal Traction grips won our group test in a summer issue of mbr magazine, with testers commenting “the sticky security is off the charts… with or without gloves”. And it’s when riding without gloves where sticky Renthals make the most sense. There is almost no point to these grips if you’re wearing gloves. They demand pure skin contact.
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? With these grips you will finish each ride with palms covered in tiny bits of black rubber. And you will have enjoyed extreme connectivity with your bicycle.
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.
There are some riders who don’t get along with the grips and we would state that they do not suit riders who ride with the hands right at the end (or even overhanging) the ends of your handlebar. The Swage grips work best when you use you forefinger and thumg right up against the inner lock-on collar. Why? The very outer ends of the grips does rotate slightly on the bar. Which is completely unnoticeable if holding the grips where you’re supposed to ie. at the collars.
Anyway, with that caveat made clear, we love these grips. The rubber is soft, grippy and comfy and the tapered shape is really effective; significantly better than more expensive rival grips if you have sub-XL sized paws. If you like the idea of Ergon’s adjustable grips, but prefer a more subtle approach, Giant’s excellent Swage could be just the job.
The sleeve is cutaway under the palm, and there’s more padding in this area, while the overall grip diameter remains nice and slim. The web pattern combined with a nice sticky rubber gives impressive grip, and there’s a single, minimal clamp, so grip area is maximised.
Decent alternative to the Deathgrip
Price: £16.99 | Weight: 80g | Diameter: 31 or 33mm | Colours: Seven
Pros: Cheap, light, colourful, grippy, good
Cons: Firm raised ends may annoy
Who remembers when lock-on grips first appeared? Do you recall how one of the selling points was the supposed ability to replace the central grip section and keep hold of your collars? How many people have ever done that? Not many we’d wager. Anyway, this is a very 21st century lock-on in that it is single use.
The grip and the locking collar are a merged one-piece item. The merits in this design is that it means it doesn’t need so much of a thick inner core to the grip section and – combined with DG’s really nice soft gel compound – makes for a very comfy and adhesive grip. The dual tread design is reminiscent of the DMR Deathgrip and works similarly well. The raised hard-ish end of the grip is a bit uncomfortable for riders who hang off the ends of their handlebars, however.
Spank Spike 33
Great option if you smash end plugs
Price: £22.00 | Weight: 95g | Length: 125mm | Diameter: 28mm
Pros: Has the most protective end plugs in the business
Cons: Most riders won’t need this feature!
This is somethign of aniche recommendation admittedly but it’s one we’re going to stick with: these are a very good choice for riders (especially heavy e-bike riders) who keep wrecking the ends of their grips.
The grip itself is very good too. It’s not super soft rubber. Which, again, makes them much more durable than most. There is a core cutaway section immediately under the palm zone which significantly offsets the firmer rubber. Again, those oddball riders who ride with their hands hanging off the end of their handlebars won’t like these grip; the tapered end cap doesn’t really work with hanger-offers.
Nukeproof Sam Hill Enduro Race Super Soft
Ideal for gloveless riders
Price: £19.99 | Weight: 129g | Length: 120mm | Diameter: 32mm
Pros: 15A rubber feels amazing with bare hands
Cons: Durability is not their strong point!
The grip itself is rather underwhelming. Old fashioned in fact. Dual collar design combined with a basic knurled file pattern and waffle grid for fingertips. So far, so noughties. This grip is all about rubber compound. In a similar vein to the Renthal Ultra Tacky Traction grip listed above, Sam Hill’s Enduro Race Super Soft grip is all about squidge and adhesion.
These grips leave those tell-tale black droppings and dark stains on your hands after a hard ride. Which is something that you either love… or don’t. The lack of any meaningful tread means they possibly aren’t for filthy wet weather but for drier conditions these are amazing grips for the gloveless.
How to find the best mountain bike grips:
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.
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.