A bad pair of grips can quickly result in a case of arm pump, while a good set will just fade into the background. With an item as personal as grips, many riders just stick with what they know, and with good reason. If you’re looking to try something new, though, one of these five might be worth a go.
WTB THINLINE PADLOC | $35
When I first saw WTB’s anti-rotating grip interface, which relies on a diagonal cut at the end of the bar, I couldn’t help but think that this was a shining example of a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. I haven’t had a grip slip on me since switching to lock-ons 10 years ago. But WTB’s Padloc system isn’t just about preventing rotation–it’s also meant to increase comfort and reduce palm bruising and numbness that can result from hanging onto the metal end of a dual-sided lock-on.
I know what you’re thinking: Single-clamp grips have been around for years. True, but most flex or throttle a bit. The angled interface of the Padloc system makes this impossible and eliminates the outer clamp. If you’re still wondering what’s so special, it’s this: That cutout where there used to be solid handlebar can be filled in with soft, vibration-absorbing rubber. It allows for greater comfort without increasing the outer diameter of the grip. So if you love thin grips but want extra comfort and control, get chopping. To do that, Park Tool sells a tool that fits in its oversized saw guide. Truvativ also offers the pre-cut bar you see here for $190 or an aluminum BooBar for $110. –Ryan Palmer
SENSUS DISISDABOSS | $31
I love the ride quality of a thin, soft grip, so it’s no surprise that I’ve always agreed with what Sensus brings to the table. Its original Swayze grip claims to be one of the softest on the market. Continuing that tradition of comfort and performance, the Disisdaboss, Andreu Lacondeguy’s signature grip, offers a slim and soft, ribbed crisscross pattern in a dual lock-on package.
I love the supple texture of the ribbed design, and at 143 millimeters in length, there’s room to roam on the handlebar without being locked into one position. Riding without gloves, it still offers tremendous grip, and even under the hot Southern California sun your hands don’t feel like they’re going to slide or squirm. With a variety of colors to complement your ride, and an extra-soft gum-rubber compound, the Disisdaboss could be your ticket to style and comfort. –Anthony Smith
ODI ELITE PRO | $29
This is the Cadillac of ODI’s new generation of grips. Unlike most highly padded grips, though, it isn’t annoyingly large. And while it might appear overdesigned, the Elite Pro is proficient in reducing arm fatigue on long descents. Knurling reminiscent of ODI’s Ruffian pattern makes up the base of the grip, but in this case it feels as if it’s just come off an hour-long session at the business end of a meat tenderizer. The waffle pattern on the grip’s underside provides traction, while the squares on top cushion the palm. The tall, thin ridges in those squares might feel a bit vague to riders used to more minimal designs, but the grip itself isn’t going anywhere.
The Elite Pro is secured by an intrepid inboard clamp with a 3-millimeter screw, while the outboard flange forms a comfortable spot for the outer hand and allows for use of the handlebar’s entire span. It’s common for single-clamp grips to throttle slightly on the non-clamp side, but for the most part this one handles as if it were fastened on both ends. –Jon Weber
CHROMAG SQUAREWAVE | $32
Over the years, I’ve run just about every make and model of grips on the market, and the Chromag Squarewave grips are among the most comfortable. Designed to blend performance with comfort on all-day rides (something the Chromag crew does every Friday during the riding season), these grips sport a waffle pattern with a subtle bulge that fits snugly in the cup of the hand–providing both traction and support.
The Squarewave is made of a soft (25a durometer) rubber compound with an additive formulated for a combination of tackiness and durability. This compound gives an exceptionally secure grip–even when riding without gloves–yet it doesn’t wear nearly as quickly as many other grips I’ve run in the past. The Squarewave features Chromag’s unique “split-teardrop” end cap, which covers the bar end while still using a pinch clamp to keep it firmly fastened to the handlebar. –Brice Minnigh
RACE FACE HALF NELSON | $24
When I first picked the Half Nelson as my grip of choice two seasons ago, it was for the exact wrong reason: It perfectly matched the graphics on my new bike. But I kept riding it for all the right reasons: comfort, tackiness and durability. The single lock-on Half Nelson is minimalistic, so if you prefer extra bulk when you grab the handlebar, look elsewhere. For its slim profile, the 29-millimeter-diameter grip feels plenty cushioned and it’s held up well. After a full season of riding, there was noticeable deterioration on my first pair, but neither grip had worn through.
In keeping with its simple design, the Half Nelson weighs just 92.5 grams, making it the lightest in RaceFace’s lock-on line. The topographic lines serve as a moisture channel, while RaceFace’s moto-style half-waffle pattern adds extra compound. At $24 a pair, the price offers one of the best values out there, and the Half Nelson comes in nine colors–one to match pretty much any frame graphic. –Nicole Formosa