Finding the best mountain bike grips for you doesn't need to cost the earth. Many grips on the market equals a bewildering choice. Here's our shortlist.
The very besy 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
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Pretty much the perfect grip
Pro: Good value
Pro: Great traction in all weather
Con: Not a lot wrong here
Con: 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 grips
Stickier version of modern classic grip
Pro: Improves control
Pro: Improves comfort
Con: Slightly less cushy than the orignal GE1
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.
Giant Swage grip
Finally, something out there that is a bit cheaper than its rivals
Pro: Excellent tapered shape for control
Pro: Half the price of rival grips
Con: The outer ends twist a bit
Con: 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.
Fabric FunGuy grip
Impressive comfort and isolation from bumps with firm, secure grip
Pro: Simple but effective
Pro: Good value
Con: No flange option
Con: We’d be nitpicking relaly!
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
The best mid-fat grip we’ve ridden to date
Pro: The grip that started the new style revolution
Pro: Plenty of colours
Con: Arguably not as good as tapered rivals
Con: 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 grips
Sports the stickiest rubber on the market
Pro: Super sticky in all weathers
Pro: Ideal for glove-less riders
Con: Not everyone ikes double-collar designs
Con: 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?
Sensus Lite grips
Best skinny lock-on grip out there
Pro: 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.