How to Find the Best Mountain Bike Grips [MTB GRIPS GUIDE]
If you are a biking enthusiast, then you know that the contact points of your bike are key to a successful ride. The mountain bike grip is one of these contact points – an essential accessory that can spell the difference between an awesome mountain bike ride and a formidable one. Mountain terrain is hardly predictable. Having quality grips not only absorb gnarly vibrations but they enhance your overall biking experience.
Quality grips help to minimize fatigue, allowing you to bike for longer periods and cover vast mountain stretches. Therefore, it is ideal that you find the right pair of handlebar grips, as they are critical for comfort and ultimate control. But how should you decide on the best grips for your next ride?
With a wide variety of grips in today’s marketplace, choosing the best for your next ride can be a pretty tricky move. Hence, it is essential that you understand the key features that make an excellent bike grip.
Ideally, you should factor in essential elements such as your fitness levels, the nature of the terrain you are riding in, and your overall level of preparedness. While these factors vary from person to person, some parameters can help you decide on the best mountain bike grips for your control and comfort.
Key Considerations for MTB Grips
Lock-on or Slide-on
Mountain bike grips are fitted to your handlebars in two different ways. Lock-on grips have clamps used to lock the grip onto the handlebar. This gives lock-on grips a more secure hold. However, a plastic liner attached to metal lock rings runs inside the grip, between the handlebar and the rubber.
This will either decreases the amount of rubber (and vibration damping) or increases the diameter.
Slide-on or push-on grips are grips that are pushed onto the handlebar and held in place by friction, a lubricant, or may be wired on. The disadvantage here is that the slide-on grips will likely twist on the handlebars if dirt or rain gets under the grip.
This can be especially dangerous if the grip moves when a mountain bike rider lands from a drop. At the very least, slide-on grips can be frustrating when riding in the rain.
Every grip looks different regarding the shape and patterns they present. This profile design variety is ideal for different preferences. While some riders prefer larger grips, others will prefer thinner grips that are easier to grasp. A particularly strong pattern is the waffle design, as it ensures a firm grip even when it is wet.
Hard compound grip materials are more enduring, but they do not absorb vibration as much as soft compounds. While soft compounds absorb more vibration and typically offer more control, they quickly wear out over time.
Always ensure you make use of closed-end bar plugs as they help to prevent the bar from stabbing into you if there is a crash or you fall onto the handlebar’s end. Bar plugs are also crucial in protecting against damage to carbon bars.
While there are a wide variety of grip lengths in the marketplace, ensure you choose a short grip that allows your hands to fit perfectly. Long grips may move the gear and brake levers farther away from your reach.
Best Mountain Bike Grips Reviews
Following our evaluation of the several different styles of mountain bike grips. We decided to make the selection process stress-free with a top-10 review of what we believe to be the best grips available today.
Ergon GE1 Grips
A lot of time was invested into the research and shaping of the Ergon GE1 grips. It is no wonder Ergon prides their brand on the knowledge of the ideal body dimensions and shapes a grip needs to maximize control and comfort.
The ergonomic design of this grip is optimized to prevent hand numbness, encouraging a rider to push out the elbows to take a strong position on the bike.
The grip is made of CNC clamp and aluminum forged material. This makes for a smooth and textured feel on the grip and allows for better grip on the handle.
Whether you wish to ride on dirt roads, free trails, or even endurance races, the Ergon GE1 grip promises comfort and durability.
Most importantly, its ergonomic design – a trademark of Ergon grips – guarantees very little risk of hand fatigue. It also functions in a way that effectively distributes pressure throughout a large surface area. This ensures users can enjoy absolute comfort regardless of the bike they use.
Another exciting feature of the Ergon GE1 is the zero slippage locks. Its presence enhances the overall safety of the mountain bike grip.
It is also top-drawer regarding strength and durability – qualities that make this product a fair value for money. It is hardly surprising that the Ergon GE1 continues to be in high-demand despite several upgrades from the Ergon stable.
- Zero slippage locks ensure top-level security
- Great option if riding for long periods and endurance racing.
- Durable and comfortable
- Guaranteed superior quality
- Ergonomic design allows for a high level of comfort
- Durability is less that other Ergon mountain bike grips
Ergon GA2 Grips
The Ergon GA2 is similar to the GE1 but with a reduced shape. It is one of the most popular mountain bike grips – and for a good reason. It is very soft and has excellent stability due to the presence of a UV stable rubber that gives it an excellent tactile touch.
Whether you are riding through difficult terrain or a mellow track, the Ergon GA2 grip prioritizes your convenience and comfort. Its ergonomic design makes it a relaxed fit into a rider’s hand, and it feels secure despite your palm movement. This makes for less hand fatigue and superior riding experience.
Ergon GA2 grips are lightweight and have an excellent design. Its inward clamps enhance a rider’s ability to exert the desired pressure on the handle. It is not only snug, but carbon bar friendly – an ideal blend of comfort and durability. Reports from users with varying preferences have revealed that the Ergon GA2 grip provides superior value for money.
- Ergonomic design
- Fits snug and offers a minimum level of discomfort
- Little to no hand fatigue
- Sturdy and durable
- Uniform grip throughout the length of the grip’s handle
- Not ideal for commuter bikes
- Slightly more expensive than other mountain bike grips with similar features
Race Face Half Nelson Locking Grips
One of the all-time grip favorites, the Race Face Half Nelson Locking Grip is one of the best mountain bike grips available. Its quality is superior and it delivers excellent grip without sacrificing other essential qualities.
It features a tacky (but not extremely soft) compound, and it is sturdy enough to withstand pressure.
The Race Face Nelson Locking grip is especially suited for the biodiversity of the United Kingdom.
The internal side of the grip features a raised surface which allows for enhanced traction regardless of weather conditions. It also has strategically placed topographic moisture channels that ensures proper grip of the handlebar even in wet weather. This improves the grip’s functionality to a large extent.
The grip is available in a variety of appealing colors, so there is something for everyone. Its lock is also easy to install and maintains its place for extended periods of time. The ease of lock and installation enhances the convenience this bike grip provides.
These grips provide a ton of cushion and vibration absorption. The grip cushions jarring vibrations, providing a high degree of comfort when biking for extended periods of time.
- Lightweight and user-friendly
- Optimized for weather variations
- Cushions the effects of bumps effectively
- Super thin, allowing for more efficient grip
- Allows for superior handling even under very wet conditions
- Slightly expensive
Lizard Skins Moab Lock-on Grip
The Lizard Skins Moab grip was inspired by the Delicate Arches of the desert region of Moab. These grips are exceptional for their ability to function superbly under all riding conditions. Although Moab is a desert region, the medium thickness and soft dimples of this grip ensures it performs well under high moisture conditions – whether you have gloves on or not.
Moab grips are surprisingly durable. However, its vibration damping is not top notch, so extended ride times through rough mountain terrains may require some padding to allow you to have an optimal riding experience. The Moab Trails Alliance receives some of the proceeds from each sale, so purchasing the Moab grip provides support for a great riding community and helps maintain unique Moab trails.
The Moab grips also come along with end caps and have two lock rings with a diameter of 31mm and length of 130mm. It is unsurprisingly a favorite for many mountain bike riders.
- Good grip on the handlebar with or without gloves
- Sales support the maintenance of the great Moab trails
- Poor vibration damping.
ODI Rogue Lock-on Grips
The ODI Rogue Lock-on grip is one of the best due to the perfect fitting it offers. The grips are made of aluminum clamps and have a unique durability across a variety of riding conditions.
In many ways, the ODI Rogue Lock-on grip provides a balance between the very soft compounds and the super tough stability. Meaning that the grip is not too hard that it becomes uncomfortable for a rider and it isn’t too soft that it can easily yield to wear and tear under wear and tear.
The lock-on grip system functions correctly with the lock jaws. This combination makes for an enhanced necessary support that is enjoyed by the user. The tight nature of the grip makes it especially useful for those with large palms.
If adjusting to other grip products has posed a challenge to you before, the ODI Rogue Lock-on grip may be ideal for you, as it can help minimize palm fatigue to a considerable level over an extended period.
One of the exciting advantages of this grip is its durability. The long-lasting quality of the grip means it’s a great value for money over a long period of time is undeniable. Also, it also has a healing impact on the palm due to its ability to provide a cushion during bumps across gnarly terrain; of course, no one likes the blisters that erupt out of nowhere on the palm following long rides. There is also a perfect blend of control and comfort from the grip, making it the ultimate consumer convenience.
However, the ODI Rogue Lock-on grips are not lightweight by any parameters. They have a chunky feel and are similar to a motorcycle grip. Despite its size, the grip is incredibly soft and tacky. However, its easy setup and user convenience make the product a winner across the board. It may not be the ideal grip for a newbie mountain bike rider, as its installation is not elaborate.
- Sturdy and durable
- Comes in a variety of appealing colors
- Great option for riders with large palms
- Easy to install and uninstall and provides excellent comfort.
- The packaging is a problem for some users
- The grip is not very versatile as it is designed for specific users
Ergon GS1 Grips
The Ergon GS1 grip is another top-rated mountain bike grip, and it is made of aircraft aluminum. This material makes the grip extra durable and super tactile. This particular Ergon grip variant is preferred for mountain biking and endurance racing – and rightfully so. It is not only sturdy, but withstands pressure effectively under different weather conditions, so there is no risk of wear and tear even during sustained biking adventures.
However, this grip is not as lightweight as the other two Ergon products. Its heavier nature is hardly a concern considering the relative comfort it provides during long rides. These grips effectively cushion against numbness of the hand during long rides and minimize risks of hand fatigue or issues relating to the exertion of additional pressure on the wrists.
The experience of the Ergon brand in developing ergonomically superior grips and their technological advancement over time is evident in the Ergon GS1 grip. Its level of support and flexibility is top notch, and the choice of material and performance level are awesome. The grip’s small size and tactile precision ensure it is a perfect fit for handling and user convenience. It is a particularly reliable option for riders who are used to biking long distances.
While most users have revealed that the grip is handy for uphill riding adventures, there is usually a near absence of control on the way down. This is a significant cause for concern especially if you’ll be riding through rough terrain.
- Easy to set up with simple control options
- Minimizes hand numbness and palm fatigue
- Ideal for uphill riding
- Provides great support
- There are a variety of available sizes, allowing each user to choose one that fits the palms – a superb feature especially for longer riding stretches.
- Relatively poor downhill riding performance
- Loss of control is a significant concern
- The tightened ends are not as great as other aspects of the product.
Chromag Palmskin Grips
Although it is ideal that a rider wears gloves while riding, some prefer the feel of the wind on their hands while bombing the mountain. An advantage of wearing gloves while riding is the absorption of the sweat on your palms, keeping you dry and better able to grip the handlebar.
Since riding gloveless can lead to slippery grips with unpleasant consequences, Chromag Palmskin grips were explicitly designed for those who prefer the gloveless feel.
Wavy ribs run through the length of the grips and squash down under your palm when you grab hold of them. There are also gaps between the ribs, acting as channels that drain off any sweat.
Although the grip functions just fine under moderate weather conditions, you may experience slippery grips when the temperature soars. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, as the Chromag Palmskin grip is the only winner when it comes to riding under high temperatures – it has no rival. The grip has a length of 140mm, is 30mm thick, an end cap, and two lock rings.
- Ideal gloveless grip
- Sweat under very high temperatures can still make for slippery grips.
ESI Chunky Grip
The ESI Chunky grip is by far the best vibration damping grip out there. Available in a wide range of colors and thicknesses, the lightweight silicone ESI grip ensures traction even under the wettest conditions, with the internal structure absorbing the vibrations. The grips feel thicker under the palms than the fingers, providing a special cushioning effect where it is needed.
However, as a soft compound, the ESI Chunky mountain bike grip will likely not come out of nasty crashes looking healthy. They are pretty vulnerable to damage.
The grip, however, has no lock rings, so it is essential that you clean your handlebars well and ensure they are glued in place. It is very imperative that you make sure the handlebars are adequately placed before you glue them. It is also ideal that you embark on a short ride with the ESI Chunky grip to determine the position that feels best; ensure you take note of the position before gluing the handlebars in place.
- Lightweight and offers good grip even when wet
- Easily prone to damage.
DMR Brendog Death Lock-on Grip
Seemingly unsatisfied with the quality of the grips in the marketplace, a downhill racer Brendan Fairclough partnered with DMR to develop the Death lock-on grips. The goal here was to blend three different patterns in this grip as Brendan was not satisfied with the available grips that only made use of a single pattern.
The Death grip features a waffle pattern under the ridges and palm designed to increase the grip under the fingers. There are tall ribs around the thumb area designed to prevent hand fatigue.
Recognizing the different preferences riders are bound to have; the Death grip is available in different combinations: hard/soft, flange/flangeless, and thin/thick compounds. There are also a variety of appealing colors, including camo for riders who prefer the natural look.
The Death grip is 130mm in length, and they are held in place with the aid of a single clamp. At its price, the Death mountain bike grip is a bargain.
- Different compounds, colors, and thicknesses are available.
- Very tacky, allowing for the ultimate bike riding grip feel.
Schwinn Tri-layer Gel Comfort
The Schwinn mountain bike grip is the only one in the market with additional gel layers that provide soft but firm grip with absolute comfort. Made of Kraton compound and with a textured pattern at the top, the grip ensures durability, ensures improved traction, and is even great to handle without gloves.
The Schwinn grip is also useful in preventing vibration dampening due to the presence of a large pad area. The pad area is also optimized to absorb sweat and moisture from your palm, giving you absolute control over the bike. Hence, you can depend on the grip to provide a top-notch cushion as you ride through the toughest terrains without the risk of blisters or sores on your palms afterward. Its installation is also super-easy and does not require any tools.
The grip also features a highly ergonomic and comfortable design with an easy-to-install large pad area. It ensures a soft feel which makes the grip ideal for long rides. However, the grip is not suitable for extreme mountain riding. It is great for a nice ride on flowy track.
- Large palm pad area provides protection
- Easy adjustment options
- Flexible traction pattern
- The layer gel ensures the best possible comfort
- Could make the hands feel raw
- The rubber margin feels unsatisfactory to some.
What Makes the Best Mountain Bike Grips?
From the reviews above, you’ll notice that there is a wide range of factors to consider when looking for your perfect mountain bike grips. To ensure the best quality, here are some key features you should have in mind:
This is the most critical factor you should consider. Your level of comfort while using a particular bike grip will determine how enjoyable your adventure is. There should be a great distribution of pressure on your hand and wrist. Also, a good mountain bike grip must be durable, and the installation process shouldn’t be like pulling teeth.
The best mountain bikes in the market are those that are built with the appropriate ergonomic standards. The functionality and overall design of the grip has to blend with the basic designs and features to ensure the palm can have an excellent grip on the handle. In addition, the grip should be easy and convenient to use.
Pressure on the Hands
The first thing that comes to mind when comfort is mentioned is the pressure on the hands and wrist. It is a given that this should feel comfortable. But asides this rule of thumb, a good bike grip will help to minimize the pressure on the wrist dramatically. This means it should be optimized to allow a rider to go for long ride stretches without the risk of hand fatigue. A proper mountain bike grip should effectively spread the pressure throughout a larger surface area.
The open end feature is a common presence in many mountain bike grips. When both sides are open, they can slide easily depending on the placement that feels most comfortable for you.
While individual brands may offer more features, these are the most crucial qualities you should seek out when buying your next pair of mountain bike grips. In addition to these factors, you may also want to consider the weather resistance of the grips, the popularity of the brand, and its durability.
Conclusion: The Best MTB Grips
The reviews and tips above offer a complete guide to our top-10 mountain bike grips. Although we do not have a particular favorite, all of these options are a solid bet. Use this list to make your next grip buying decision If you want your riding experiences to be top-notch and pain free.