I-MTB

Handle Bar Grip – Group Test

For the last year we have had a number of handle bar grips on test to try and see what which one suited us best, but also to see how well they lasted and felt after riding them hard.

Grips are a personal thing so our opinion is not going to be the answer for all people but it will give a good clue to basic grips that we tried and what we thought.

Crank Bros Iodine

These were our first grips, and were easy to install an included two types of end caps, one for carbon and one for aluminium bars. On first installation it took a while to understand the best positioning for the grips. Once the position was set up, actual riding with or without gloves was very good, only issue we had was that after a while the grip started to noticeably wear in a few places, however this did not seem to affect performance and the grips lasted well but not as long as we would have preferred. Overall we enjoyed using them but durability is low.

Lizard Skin Peaty Grips

These are legendary grips and for us were easy to install no confusion, great in gloves or bare hands and tough. They are very soft have a fairly small diameter compared to the other grips. Many say they don’t last that well, but we didn’t find that to be true, they lasted longer than the Iodine grips and didn’t break down in just one place, they seemed to spread the wear more evenly on the grip. Only negative side of this grip was as they got older they became very sticky and the rubber went a bit strange and stuck to everything especially if it was warm.

Specialized Rocca Locking Grips

These grips were our biggest surprise of the group, at first only having green available wasn’t my thing- others are available on Specialized website (i’m a more traditional black colour rider), however the color matched perfectly to the rest of the bike, which is also green. The diameter of these grips is larger than the Peaty grips and this was actually more comfortable in our case and it made the hand on the bar feel more positive and secure. The installation was easy with the grips packaging even including the correct hex key for installation and end plugs, and all with only one bolt. Really easy, plus it was also possible to use the pinch bolt as a seat post control mounting point which was great, with compatible Specialized seat post controls. The rubber was fairly soft but not so much so that it wore quickly and became sticky, in fact these grips lasted the best of all of the grips we tested and became our favourite grips, simply the right size and softness and lasted well with easy installation.

Renthal Lock-on Grips Medium Compound

These grips come in various compounds and we tested the medium compound which after a while in use on rough trails were too hard and uncomfortable on the hands. The diameter feeling on the bar was nice and the end caps on the bar were great as well really nicely finished, until we tried to take the grips off.

Using a normal hex key which was in perfect condition and a clean bolt head, we were trying to undo the pinch bolts and two of the four would not come undone. The pinch bolts hex key heads were too shallow where you insert the key into the bolt. For the amount of force needed, concentrated into a shallow bolt, caused us to round one of the bolts off. The grip was stuck on the bar. The only way to get it off was using a hammer, which obviously broke the grip.  A disappointing choice of bolt caused us a great deal of annoyance. Despite always cleaning and lubricating threads before installation and using a correct torque, we did not experience this type of problem with the other grips, this made these grips for us a big no. We don’t want to worry about grip bolts when dismantling bars. All the grips we used have been used in same conditions for same length of time and tightened the same.

Conclusion

Grips are a personal thing and there are hundreds of different types out there, the four we tried are fairly common and all about the same price.

The Renthal looked the best but performed the worst. The Iodine from Crank Brothers looked good, but wore out too quickly and in a strange pattern and cost the most. The Peaty grips were great performance wise, but got sticky towards the end of their life and this is really annoying, it means they have to be replaced more frequently, but they lasted longer than the Iodine grips.

This leaves us with the Specialized, although not our favourite colour (others are available) they were the most comfortable, by a slim margin they were the largest diameter. They gave a feeling of being in better control, absorbed trail vibrations well, lasted well, plus had the easiest installation time and even included a hex key. Overall during the last year they were the best grips we used and we were surprised by this result, originally we were expecting the more widely found Peaty Grips to be better, although excellent and not lacking in performance in anyway they were edged in to second position for us, as the Specialized Rocca were more comfortable and gave us a slightly better feeling of control.

I-MTB is an online MTB magazine and trail areas operator based in Tuscany, Italy

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