For obvious reasons, grips are important. They're kind of the offensive lineman of bicycle components: When performing fine they go relatively unnoticed, but once worn out or beaten up, performance begins to slip, and it's time to bring a fresh replacement into the game.
There are dozens of brands of quality lock-on grips in our sport. Over the years, I've honed in on a few key attributes of personal preference: a pronounced grip pattern for improved traction in rainy or muddy conditions; a full-length, tacky rubber compound that runs to the end of the grip without a metal lockring at the distal end, and of course, reasonable longevity.
Specialized’s SIP Locking Grips–which retail for $25–have a 30-millimeter diameter and feature a knurled rubber pattern on top where the palm of the hand meets the handlebar. The underside sports a partial waffle pattern where one's fingers wrap around the grip. The lockring is positioned on the inboard side toward the shifter and brake levers, rather than at both ends of the grip. Mutants–I mean large riders with big paws–will appreciate the 32-millimeter-diameter XL version.
The SIP Grip has become my go-to on all personal bikes. They're comfortable, relatively long-lasting, and without a lockring at the outer end of the grip, riders like me who position their hands at the ends of the handlebar will appreciate not having the meaty part of their outer palm mashed against a slippery piece of metal.
The absence of the lockring and protective end cap can shorten the grip's life, yet in my experience, by the time the end of the grip becomes really buggered up through normal wear, the entire thing is likely ready to be replaced. The rubber compound does a fine job of vibration damping, while the waffle pattern on the underside provides additional traction for pulling up on the front end. The SIP Grip combines simple sleekness with lock-on reliability, making it a worthy choice for everything from a trail bike to a downhill machine.