Lock-on waffle and ridge grip from legendary US brand Lizard Skins
As one of the first to sell mountain biking lock-ons, Lizard Skins has some serious pedigree – a quick website visit shows you the brand’s knowhow extends to making handles and grips across a wide gamut of activities. So does this experience help the Machine grip stand out from dozens of seemingly similar options and rank it one of the best mountain bike grips?
Design and specifications
Presumably Lizard Skins knows a fair bit about rubber blends, this USA-made Machine grip certainly has a reasonably soft compound, mixed tread pattern and 31mm diameter. In terms of width, 31mm is about ‘standard’ and compares with two popular choices by feeling similar in the hand to a Burgtec Bartender and a little thicker than a DMR Deathgrip.
The Machine tread pattern is side specific, with small knurled rectangles and a raised ridged portion underneath to help your fingers connect and stay put when, err, gripping. The rubber is reasonably supportive and while Lizard Skins doesn’t state the durometer (hardness), using the same comparisons as above, I’d say it’s a little firmer than a squidgy Bartender Pro (claimed 25a durometer) and about the same as a Deathgrip.
The internal plastic sleeve that slides over the handlebar is continuous, so there are no cut-outs to allow the rubber to connect directly to the handlebar under the palm, which some rivals claim adds extra damping and comfort. And the grip locks in place with a single skinny inner alloy clamp using a 3mm allen bolt that doesn’t eat into valuable bar real estate too much.
Lizard Skins’ continuously textured pattern has good resistance against slipping and the knurled rubber design doesn’t sit too proud of the base material, so there isn’t any of the minor twisting sensation you get with taller fins or ridges.
Others are less likely to act as a cookie cutter and pierce the rubber from the inside out
The Machine’s rubber isn’t quite as sticky in bare hands as some ultra-tacky grips (like the Nukeproof Sam Hill Race or Burgtec Bartender), but when you’re wearing gloves there’s more than enough traction. It’s obviously a trade-off using super soft compounds that wear out quicker, but my experience is you’re as likely to damage the end of the grips before you wear out the tread in the ‘hold zone’; especially true on my preferred single clamp lock-ons (like this Machine) without an annoying outer clamp digging in the heel of your hand. As one of the key contact points though, I’d personally prefer friction and comfort at the expense of longevity, seeing as a grip is a relatively inexpensive component.
And talking about damaging the ends, with not much rubber covering the outer bar end on the Machine, the piece protecting the end of the grip was punctured prematurely by the inner capped plastic sleeve. This happened on both sides. I’ve found other grips with more rubber at the end or a plastic tube inside that don’t extend so far towards the edge (Ergon for example) are less likely to act as a cookie cutter and pierce the rubber from the inside out.
Possibly due to this continuous plastic sleeve inside, damping and comfort isn’t the best here either. The rubber part of the grip feels more firm than squishy, but my suspicion is it’s more likely due to this not being quite as sticky, soft or as good at absorbing impacts and vibrations as some rivals causing this effect, rather than the internal sleeve.
The Machine is a well sorted grip with effective mechanical grip and friction that feeds back plenty information about exactly what your bike’s doing, but it’s not quite as isolating, well damped, comfortable or durable as some rivals.