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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Best mountain bike grips 2019
ODI Elite Pro grips
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
The unique selling point of the Ergon GE1 grips is that they aren’t uniform in diameter; they’re narrower at the inner end than the outer end. In other words, they flare out. You do have to be careful with orientation (there are helpful markings on the collars for this) and it may take a few attempts to fine tune but once you’ve dialled them these are exceptional grips.
DMR Deathgrip grips
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.
Chromag Basis grips
For all you hardcore rubber sniffers out there this grip is made from a special mixture 25a durometer compound that ensures a tacky feel but without the overly fast wear rate often experienced with sticky grips. At sub-30mm diameter it’s not a fat grip and as such will be appreciated by skinny-grip fans who want good adherence to their cockpit control.
Race Face Half Nelson grips
One of the slimmest grips in this test at 28mm diameter and very much of an old skool vibe too. There’s no funny eccentric shaping or super sticky rubbers here. This is just a no-nonsense semi-plain grip with fingertip grip section (the Race Face logo panel). Much comfier than going for the obvious ODI Ruffian-style diamond-knurled option.
Chromag Palmskin grips
As the name hints at, the Palmskin grips are specifically designed for use without gloves on. Bare-handed biking isn’t something you see all that often in the UK but if you’re a convert to glove-less way of life, but don’t want the icky sticky feel of Renthals (see below) then these are currently the best lock-ons available.
Renthal Ultra Tacky grips
The Ultra Tacky provides as much bar grip as you could ever need and despite the narrower diameter is surprisingly comfortable to use day-long. The accelerated wear is something you’ll have to put up with for the high-level performance.
Nukeproof Sam Hill Series grips
It’s obvious Sam Hill knows what works when you look at these grips. 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.