The best mountain bike grips don't need to cost the earth. There are hundreds of grips on the market - a bewildering choice - but we've tested many to bring you our pick of the best, plus what you need to look for.
The very best mountain bike grips provide the perfect hand to bike contact point, increasing rider confidence and control, and decreasing arm pump. With hundreds on the market, we’ve tested as many as we can get our hands on to bring you our cream of the crop, to suit every rider type and budget.
Best grip and comfort all in one
Diameter: 32mm or 30.5mm | Length: 133mm | Weight: 117g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Good value. Great traction in all weathers.
Reasons to avoid: Firm version is very harsh. Needs hammering on (don’t actually use a hammer!)
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.
Best for adjustability
Weight: 105g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Improves control. Improves comfort. Rotate to get the perfect wrist angle.
Reasons to avoid: 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-sweep and back-sweep angles at the very ends of the bar. What’s good about that? It can really help you alter your body position and weight balance, which can help you go faster in more control.
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.
Best for shock absorption
Diameter: 33.5mm or 34.5mm | Length: 135mm | Weight: 108g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: High level of comfort and vibration absorption. Premium quality construction
Reasons to avoid: Possibly too large for some hand sizes
The Reflex grip is made in two sizes: the regular model with a 33.5mm diameter, which I’ve tested here and a larger 34.5mm XL version. There’s a range of colour choices, but no super-soft compound option or flanged model.
At first glance the Reflex looks like a mash up of various grip designs, taking cues from the ever-popular DMR Deathgrip as well as the Deity Knuckleduster. Don’t let the looks – or the size – put you off though, this is a design that hasn’t been rushed to market. ODI has studied the shape your hand makes when holding the grips and how your placement changes in different riding situations.
So there’s plenty going on with the Reflex grip, but it’s all well considered and it won’t take much trail time to appreciate the cushioning. Comfort on longer riders is especially impressive, and although the price is on the high side, we reckon it’s worth the premium.
Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature grip
Best blend of comfort and security
Diameter: 31.5mm | Length: 136mm | Weight: 116g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Uses smaller 2.5mm hardwear
Reasons to avoid: Possibly too large for some hand sizes
Let’s get to nitty gritty, these are properly grippy grips. A diamond knurl pattern forms the main part of the grip and is backed up with a half-waffle section on the underside, for improved grip in really crappy weather. This gives your fingers something to really curl around and the raised sections almost lock your fingers in place. Combine this with a super soft rubber compound and it can often feel like the grip wants to rip your skin off, such is the holding ability.
The really good news is compared to some of the really tacky grips on the market; durability of the Sam Hill grip has been excellent so far. They are starting to show a little wear (after three months) but nothing that could compromise the performance.
Best modern take on a classic design
Diameter: 31mm | Length: N/A | Weight: 114g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Great damping and comfort. A modern take on a classic design. Well priced
Reasons to avoid: Only one diameter available
Why mushroom? Well, both grips use thin, collapsible ribs, resembling mushroom gills, running around the circumference to provide a level of cushioning. Originally found on BMXs during the ‘80s, it enjoyed a resurgence a decade later when the great John Tomac brought out his signature ODI Tomac Attack grip.
Unlike the Fabric Magic grip, which was removed after my first ride, the FunGuy has remained on my bike since fitting them a few months ago, and I don’t have plans to take them off anytime soon. Which says it all, really.
Best thin grip
Diameter: 29mm | Length: 148mm | Weight: 92g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: The perfect skinny lock-on grip.
Reasons to avoid: Expensive.
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 here. 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. 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. The 3mm Allen collar bolt and the integrated end caps are the icing on the sticky cake. Good luck hunting some down!
Best for comfort and durability
Diameter: 31.5mm | Weight: 103g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Durable and hardwearing. 3mm bolts less likely to round out
Reasons to avoid: Slightly firmer rubber compound. Collars fall off when you remove the grip
The Bartender Pro is single collar lock-on and has a micro-ribbed surface. It’s 31.5mm in diameter and there’s a bevelled transition between the grip and collar. The 7075 aluminium collars feature 3mm fasteners, which are less likely to round out compared to 2.5mm bolts. The amount of traction is off the charts and they seem to withstand abuse – such as dropping your bike – more than most.
Best sticky grip out there
Diameter: 32mm | Length: 120mm | Weight: 119g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Super sticky in all weathers. Ideal for glove-less riders.
Reasons to avoid: 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: there are none more sticky. So sticky they’re like riding with your hands glued to the bars.
It’s when riding without gloves where the sticky Renthals make the most sense. Don’t expect them to last forever, but that’s the price you pay for such soft rubber.
Best value soft compound grip
Diameter: 32mm | Length: 131mm | Weight: 75g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Multiple colour options. Well designed surface textures. Keenly priced for a quality grip
Reasons to avoid: Not the most cushioned grip
Gusset’s new S2 Extra Soft is one of these new tech-heavy grips with multiple textures to optimise traction and comfort in different riding conditions.
It features a different-size diamond knurling top and bottom, a ribbed underside with thin flanges for finger grip, and a dedicated slatted finger/thumb grip area close to the collar, which is very reminiscent of DMR’s DeathGrip.
The Gusset S2 Extra Soft isn’t perfect as it could do with a touch more padding. However for a grip with this much design and detail, multiple colour options and a soft compound, it’s an absolute bargain at £19.
Best durable thick grip
Diameter: 32mm | Length: 132mm | Weight: 100g | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Kevlar-impregnated rubber is long lasting. Slightly thicker than most at 32mm. Secure, single clamp fixing
Reasons to avoid: Ridged pattern might also be a bit squirmy for those that value maximum precision
Deity’s Knuckleduster blends three patterns in one. Offset chevron ridges comfort the outer palm, fine ribs damp the thumb and forefinger, and a deeper waffle-pattern underneath adds extra finger hold. Slightly thicker than most at 32mm, the grips compress a little when riding and feel cushioned and comfy even on long Alpine runs.
These are sorted grips at a fair price, but others I use offer more damping and lock down my hands better.
Decent alternative to the Deathgrip
Diameter: 31 or 33mm | Length: 136mm | Weight: 80g | Colours: Seven | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Cheap, light, colourful, grippy, good
Reasons to avoid: 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.
Best for durable end plugs
Diameter: 28mm | Length: 125mm | Weight: 95g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Has the most protective end plugs in the business
Reasons to avoid: Most riders won’t need this feature!
This is something of a niche 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.
Best grips for riding gloveless
Length: 133mm | Weight: 102g | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Soft and sticky compound, great damping
Reasons to avoid: A lot of movement, thicker than other grips
The Truvativ Descendant grips have a single inner clamp with 3mm hex fastener and rubber that extends all the way to the outside of the handlebar and over the in-built plastic bar plug. They use a deformable chevron design to cushion the palm and a ribbed pattern underneath to press fingers into.
The compound is very soft and sticky with great damping thanks to the multiple rubber spines flexing and twisting as you ride. This slight movement and deflection might not be to everyone’s taste though, and if you prefer a skinnier grip, it’s worth noting that the Truvativ Descendant Grips are also a tad thicker than most regular sized rivals.
Best value premium quality grip
Diameter: 30 or 33mm | Colours: 10 | Weight: 96g | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Reinforced end, durable and stable, good value, plenty of colour choice
Reasons to avoid: Open end can flex when wrenching hard
The Getta Grip grip lock-on is available in both a slimline 30mm as well as a much chubbier 33mm option. Like all the best lock-ons it has a left and right-specific collar, which means you can mount the grips with the fixing bolts both facing back, so they’re easier to access.
The grip has a slight ergonomic shape reminiscent of the Ergon GE1, but I’ve fitted it both ways and not noticed any difference. Unlike the company’s Half Nelson and Love Handle grips, the Getta Grip also has a closed end, so you’re not going to plug bar with dirt in a crash, and it also conforms to most race rules.
There’s very little cushioning and we’ve noticed a lot more harshness on rough trails compared to the Burgtec Bartender grip that was on my bike previously.
The 30mm feels precise, but if you ride gloveless or want a bit more cushioning, I’d recommend the 33mm. Either way you’re getting a well-made lock-on grip that’s good value and also available in a ton of colours.
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 (or no-gloves for some testers who opt to ride bareback).
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.
This type of grip has a collar that can be tightened around the handlebar, usually with a small bolt. 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.