While they may seem like an insignificant part of the bike, your choice of grips will have an impact on your gear shifting and braking control, as well as how you position your hands and arms. This in turn affects your comfort levels over the course of your ride, so it’s really important to get them right.
Quality grips will suit your physical dimensions, riding style and discipline, while staying comfortable will help you keep control of the bike. Poor quality grips, on the other hand, can lead to hand discomfort and potentially long-term pain.
Generally grips are a very personal thing, and what works for one person may not work for another. The best thing to do is try a bunch, until you find your perfect match. To help you along with this, we’ve provided some tips on how to choose the right grips for you, and then given you a breakdown of our top picks, so you at least have somewhere to start.
Which type of grip do you need?
There are three types of grips: traditional, ergonomic and lock-on.
Traditional grips are simple rubber sleeves that slot onto the end of your handlebars. They’re very cost-effective, though as a compromise you may find them slippery in the wet, and they can be very tricky to remove.
Ergonomic grips are shaped to offer more comfort on longer rides. They usually have a flat surface to rest the heel of your hand on, though you can usually adjust them to suit your personal preference. If traditional grips hurt your hands, try some of these instead.
Lock-on grips include a metallic ‘collar’ at each end, complete with a hex bolt to lock the grip into place. This means no slipping, and offers perfect control.
Grips can come in different materials. Most of them will use rubber, or a rubber-like material, while others may be made from foam, leather and even cork.
Dual compound grips will layer a soft compound rubber over a firmer inner sleeve, to provide a secure hold and maintain the grip’s form. Synthetic materials are generally better at moisture management, repelling it, while natural materials tend to absorb it. Some BMX-style grips will have flanges on their inner ends to prevent your hands from accidentally slipping off the bars.
These can vary widely, from subtle and ‘barely there’, to pronounced ‘waffle’ style patterns. They tend to come down largely to personal preference, and it’s worth trying a few to determine which you prefer. What you want is a grip pattern that’s comfortable, but also maintains good traction in wet weather.
Superior comfort from iconic American brand
If you’re looking to upgrade to supreme comfort, then look no further than these ergonomic grips from Schwinn. Constructed from Kraton compound, they’re durable and long lasting, while they feature an extra layer of gel for a comfortable grip that will prevent road chatter and keep you in the saddle for longer.
The large palm pad area gives you somewhere to rest the heel of your hand, while the textured grip pattern provides decent traction for all-weather riding. If you ever experience any discomfort in your hands from traditional-style grips, give these a try.
Long lasting superior traction
When designing the Half Nelsons, RaceFace asked the question, why is it that most grips perform best when they’re almost worn out? That’s the point where they’re thin and tacky, and offer the best amount of traction and control. So the Half Nelsons are designed to offer that super tacky and thin feel, straight out of the box.
A big name in mountain biking gear, RaceFace have come up with super comfortable grips here, with their super slim and low profile design, which is also lightweight and makes use of the brand’s own Vexy rubber compound. This is both soft and durable - a winning combination. They’re available in 9 color options and the grip pattern includes topographic moisture channels to help keep your palms dry and your grip firm.
Grip pattern allows confident handling in the wet
The TopCabin bicycle grips are lauded for their quality performance in wet weather, thanks to the grip pattern which consists of tiny convex anti-slip rubber particles. The thickness of the rubber hits that sweet spot between firm and soft, offering a comfortable grip that doesn’t feel flimsy or too solid.
These will fit any standard flat handlebars, and come in four color options, though the grips themselves stay black - perfect for longevity when riding in dirty conditions - and the lock rings themselves vary in color. It makes a very nice and sophisticated way to coordinate your grips with your bike.
Lock-on grips in 10 great colors
These lock-on grips from Marque have a unique multidirectional grip pattern, to help you keep full control and handle your bike confidently in all conditions. They’re firmly secured in place by aluminium alloy locking rings, and should fit most handlebars with an outer diameter of 20-23mm.
Tacky TPR rubber absorbs the shocks to help prevent arm fatigue, which means you can stay out for longer. The Grapples come in ten different color and pattern options, so you can find the perfect match for your bike.
Lots of colors to choose from
While these U-Joy handlebar grips can be used on either childrens’ or adults’ bikes, we’re highlighting them as great for kids because they come in a whopping 10 color options, all of which are bright and fun. It’s the perfect way to give your bike a fresh new look that matches your mood.
Otherwise they’re pretty basic, with a traditional style and deep-set tile grip pattern. They should offer enough cushioning to keep your comfortable for a decent amount of time in the saddle.
Biodegradable vintage style
These retro-style grips are the perfect match for any vintage-style bike or beach cruiser. Using natural cork, they’re environmentally friendly and biodegradable, so if you’re someone who cycles to help save the planet, then these are just the thing you need.
On top of their climate-friendly credentials, the Asti cork grips have an ergonomic design to help keep you as comfortable as possible as you ride. The cushioning reduces road chatter and helps to prevent arm fatigue, while the grip pattern prevents your hands from slipping.
A basic grip with outer flanges
These grips from Outerdo are pretty basic, and perfect if you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot. They’re made from a dual compound of soft TPR rubber on the exterior for good grip and comfort, while a durable and hard inner core helps keep them firmly in place. The grip pattern is a pronounced tile, while the 3.5mm thick walls should help damp vibrations.
BMX-style outer flanges are there to prevent your hands from accidentally slipping off the end of your handlebars, though mainly they’re a fashion statement. The grips are five inches long, offering a decent size surface for multiple hand placements, so it’s worth considering how much space you have to play with.
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