White, they say, is for winners. And what could be more winning on a black & white XC race bike than a nice, fresh pair of white True Grip 6 grips from Ritchey. Granted, it is silly to trust your comfort and control to a decision made solely on the basis of aesthetics, but as Ritchey’s True Grip V is my all-time favorite grip, I figured that the latest version would be a safe bet. Click ‘more‘ to find out if the TG6s’ beauty is more than superficial…Let’s get one thing out in the open: I don’t like clamp-on grips. While the idea isn’t a bad one (who hasn’t had a few heart-in-the-mouth moments courtesy of a spinny grip on a rainy day?), replacing a good deal of a grip’s rubber padding with a hard plastic sleeve rarely makes them more comfortable (grips’ main function, really). Besides, using an air compressor to install grips or first wrapping the bar with a band or two of masking tape goes a long way towards keeping them in place. Riding buddies, especially those who enjoy longer rides, who have come back from clamp-ons have been unanimously enthusiastic about good old cheap rubber grips. If it’s been a while, they really are worth trying again.
Part of the Ritchey True Grip Vs’ appeal is their inverted hourglass shape. The subtle bulge seems to fill the palm in a way that supports it well and helps to reduce discomfort and fatigue. The True Grip 6 have taken that shape as a starting point and created a denser grip with a slightly squared-off cross section. The outer (white, though a black-on-gray is available) rubber is comfortable without being tacky, while the harder black rubber holds the bar well and peeks through in the form of Ritchey logos. The TG6s are also fairly long, though that hourglass shape doesn’t really encourage changing hand positions. Like all rubber grips, though, they can easily be cut down as needed.
Though they’re far from uncomfortable, my hands have trouble finding a home for the ridges and flats created by the squared-off cross section. Though I’ve rotated the grips to try any number of positions, it’s been difficult to figure out where they sit best. If my palms are comfortably positioned on a flat bit, the ridges sit unnaturally under my fingers. If rotated to sit nicely under my knuckles, the ridges feel weird under the palms. It’s not so bad that I’ve felt the need to pull them off of my bike, but I don’t see myself buying another pair.
So, seeing as this won’t be an endorsement, let’s focus on what Ritchey might carry on into a True Grip 7. After about 6 months, the True Grip VIs are wearing very well- better than TGVs usually do. Their somewhat dense rubber isn’t squishy, but seems to hold gloves well and has the potential to be very comfortable. At $7, they’re also very reasonably priced. If Ritchey were to take the cross section back to round for the next revision while changing very little else, they could have a winner. And winners prefer white.