How to choose your grip wisely
The difficulty in choosing grips from the hundreds on the market is that what suits one person may not necessarily suit another. In many cases it is a matter of trying out a number of styles and models until you find the set that is ‘right’ for you.
At their most basic, grips are rubber tubes that slide onto the end of your bars. However there are a number of variations on this very simple theme.
• Plain-gauge grips are the same thickness for their entire length, while others have a palm bulge in the middle that some riders may find more comfortable, or inter-finger bulges. Meanwhile there is a separate breed of ergonomic grips that claim to provide vastly improved hand comfort by being a better anatomical fit. These have their fans, and are certainly worth trying if you are experiencing hand pain that seems to be made worse by ‘normal’ grips, but some say they impair handling in technical terrain.
• Grip thickness can vary – some riders with smaller hands can find a thinner grip more comfortable in the long-term, while riders with bigger paws and fans of the sports’ gravity-oriented disciplines – Downhill racing (DH), Enduro, Freeride (FR) and All-Mountain (AM) – may prefer the feel of a larger grip. Again it’s largely a matter of personal preference – some riders ‘get on’ with certain grip thicknesses, others don’t.
• Dual compound grips use two different types of rubber – a harder foundation layer overlaid with a softer-compound surface layer. The theory is that the firmer inner sleeve maintains the grip’s form and helps to provide a secure hold on the bars (to prevent slipping), while the softer outer layer feels more comfortable to hold. The theory seems to be a sound one but the dual compound tends to result in a thicker grip – so perhaps not suitable for riders who only find a thin grip comfortable – and they are more expensive.
• Some grips have BMX-style flanges on their inner ends. The idea is to prevent the hands accidentally slipping off the bars, but for many riders the choice is simply one of style.
• Grip patterns vary widely, from barely-there racers’ favourites to the pronounced ‘waffle’ pattern favoured by many DH and FR riders (many companies also manage to incorporate their logo into the pattern). Pattern choice is again essentially a matter of personal preference and you may need to try a few grips before you find a pattern that is not only comfortable but also maintains traction in the wet.