Find the right rubber to keep your ride planted
The best mountain bike grips can be hard to find so we’ve gathered all our favourites here for you to peruse at your leisure. Gripped and sorted.
When was the last time you properly thought about your 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. Get these contact points right on the other hand and you can increase confidence and control, decrease arm pump.
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.
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ODI Elite Pro grips
mbr review: “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.”
Ergon GE1 grips
mbr review: “The GE1 grip differs from most by being specially shaped to fit the hand. So rather than a fixed, round diameter, the GE1 uses a slightly thinner zone under the thumb/first finger and a wider, more cushioned outer palm area.Ergon has sweated every little detail, from using two different rubber compounds, fixed bar plugs and an inner 3mm clamp system that’s totally unobtrusive.”
DMR Deathgrip grips
mbr review: “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.”
Chromag Basis grips
mbr review: “Chromag’s Basis lock-on grip is made using a specially formulated compound that combines a soft 25a durometer rubber and a proprietary additive, resulting in a grip that is tacky but durable.Chromag has also nailed the details — the Split-Teardrop collars are left and right-specific and cover the end of the bars while still providing secure clamping.”
Race Face Half Nelson grips
mbr review: “The Race Face Half Nelson is an award-winning grip, tested twice previously in the magazine, and each time getting 10 out of 10. It is a slim grip at only 28mm diameter, and is well-padded with an incredible amount of feel.”
Chromag Palmskin grips
mbr review: “The Chromag Palmskin is designed for riders that do not use gloves. It has a ribbed mushroom surface that deforms when grabbed, and the ridges are orientated laterally to help channel moisture away from the main contact area.If you’re a rider for whom gloves are an alien concept. Or use the thinnest gloves you can find. Then the Palmskin is possibly the best option we’ve tested. Chromag has developed it to provide a soft and supple hand feel.”
Renthal Ultra Tacky grips
mbr review: “Superglue-like hold from Renthal’s stickiest lock-on. Renthal produce 5 differing compounds to give a range of grips suited for all conditions and all riding styles. The Ultra Tacky, as the name suggests, offers limpet like grip in all conditions. Surprisingly, for a narrower, 31mm diameter grip they also offer a good level of shock absorption and cushioning.”
Nukeproof Sam Hill Series grips
mbr review: “Sticky grips from the Aussie superstar’s signature range. 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. Great design and properly soft rubber makes them work for any terrain or weather condition.”
Best mountain bike grips 2019: conclusion
Even though handlebar grips are fundamentally one of the simplest (and cheapest) components on a bike they can have a profound impact on your riding experience. The best will inspire confidence and enhance handling; the worst will be like strapping a live eel to your bars.
Although the results of this grouptest seem to suggest that most grips are relatively proficient in completing their sole task, there are still a lot of differences.
In the end is was clear that three grip sstood out amongst all the other offerings.
Best all-round grip: DMR Deathgrip.
Best thinner grip: Chromag Basis.
Best fatter grip: ODI Elite Pro.