The contact points of your bike are highly based on personal preference when building up your bike. Everyone has their favorite saddle, pedals, and grips. Over the years I’ve sampled quite a few different grips to find a set that I liked the most. Grips come in a myriad of colors, textures, and thicknesses. I thought it would be a good idea to share my opinion on the best grips that I have found that work well for mountain biking.
Made In The USA – It also just so happens that almost all of my favorite grips and those chosen by many riders on the forums and top racers are made by companies that manufacture their grips in the United States.
What is the difference between a Lock-On grip and a non-Lock-On grip?
- A Lock-On grip usually has an inner plastic liner that the rubber grip is mounted to at the factory. This liner is attached to metal lock rings that have set-screws that tighten against the handlebar to keep it in place. To remove the grip you just loosen the screws and take the grip off. Due to the lock ring hardware Lock-On grips are heavier than their non-Lock-On counterparts. They also tend to cost a bit more.
- A non-Lock-On grip sometimes called a slip-on or push-on grip has to be pushed onto the handlebar. There are a myriad of ways to performs this action, which usually involves some kind of lubricant (hairspray, saliva, etc) to get the rubber grip to slide onto the handlebar. Another method is using an air compressor to blow air under the grip and allow you slide the grip on the bar.
Which is better Lock-On vs. Non-Lock-On?
In my mind this is an easy question to answer. Lock-On’s are superior to slip-on/push-on grips. Once installed properly a Lock-On grip will stay in place and not rotate or twist. Slip-on grips are prone to slippage (because they are only relying on the tackiness of the rubber grip against the bar) when used on mountain bikes and can become a hazard when loose or even can come off during riding. This is especially something to worry about when riding in wet conditions. Lock-On grips are also more easy to install and remove to use on another bike.
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The Best Mountain Bike Grips
ESI grips are some of the most lightweight grips you can buy. They don’t have any grip pattern to them but the silicone material they are made out of has grip. They have a lot of cushion in the Chunky version and not as much in the Racer version.
One of the most winning downhill mountain bikers of all time got his own signature grip a while back. The Peaty grip is a very thin grip but works well. The lines throughout the grip pattern hook up well on gloves. Like Ruffians these gloves do not have any cushion to them.
- Custom Lizard Skins Grips – Lizards Skins offers a pretty nifty custom grip creator on their website. You can pick the inside and outside lock-ring colors, end cap color, and have them custom etched with up to 14 characters.
The Cross Trainer grip design is one that I tried on a whim. Initially I thought I wouldn’t like these grips but I ended up enjoying the swishy ribbed grip feel. They are an inbetween grip diameter, not thick and not too thin.
The ODI Rogue is my personal favorite grip. They are thicker and offer more padding than a lot of grips out there. I find the blocks that make up the grip pattern give good traction.
The ODI Ruffian is a classic grip. The raised diamond texture and thin grip diameter are its hallmarks. The tiny little diamonds grip gloves like sandpaper offering just the right amount of grip. These grips are for those that want a thin feel and not much padding.
This is a relatively new grip design. They are on the thinner side of the spectrum in grip diameter. What I like most about the TLD grips is the small flanges on the ends. They give you that old school BMX style grip feel without being intrusive to shift and brake controls.
The Oury grip is an iconic grip design used by bicyclists and offroad motorsports riders. The grip design is thick and chunky but provides lots of grip. I’ve also found that the Lock-On version seems to be a bit more softer than the slip-on version.
The Best Ergonomic Mountain Bike Grips
Sometimes a standard grip design doesn’t work for you. A lot of riders have wrist issues that can be aided by the use of ergonomic grips. These grips have a more contoured shape to fit hands and support your wrist differently. When installing these grips make sure you try several angles to find the best fit for your riding style and bio-mechanics. These are the ergonomics grips that I have found work the best for me and my riding buddies.
You can see in these illustrations from Ergon how an ergonomic grip may alleviate pain for you.
The GP1 is a pretty large ergonomic grip but I feel that it offers the most wrist support. The grip textured sections offer good traction but the weight is a little high.
The GS1 is more racey than the GP1. I have used it much longer. It isn’t as large as the GP1 but still offers good wrist support. These grips can make long rides a lot more comfortable if you have wrist pain with traditional grips.
I also really like the XC Contour grips from Specialized. They have tacky rubber and diamond grip pattern that offer a lot of traction. The flanges are also not very large on these grips and feel more sporty and less clunky compared to larger ergonomic grips.
I hope this selection of grips has given you some new options to try if you’re unhappy with your current grips. What grips are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.