Project 24 Review: Crank Brothers Cobalt grips

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Why on earth would Crank Brothers decide to make a grip alongside their other components?  After all, there are already hundreds of grips on the market, and most long-time riders have found something that works well for them.  Because they’re pretty awesome grips, that’s why.

Until now, I had never found a clamp-on grip that I liked.  Because I prefer a slimmer grip and the clamp-ons that I’d tried in the past gave up too much comfort in the name of security, I was actually dreading long days training and 24-hour racing on the Cobalts.  Hit ‘more‘ to find out how the Cobalts earned a special place in my heart hand…

OK, so it didn’t take much:  Crank Brother somehow made the closed-cell foam grips comfortable.  Despite an underlying nylon structure, the high-density foam provides plenty of cushion without being any larger in diameter than most mid-profile grips.  The grips are clamped in place by two tiny Torx T10 bolts apiece- something I thought would be a hassle until I noticed that the size was coincidentally included on my Crank Brothers Multi-19 tool.

It did take a while for me to find a position where the clamps wouldn’t interfere with my shifters or their relatively sharp edges didn’t catch on my thumbs or pinkies.  Ultimately, I settled on pointing the slots forward, parallel to the ground, where they’ve never been a problem.  The 3Nm torque requirement wasn’t quite enough to secure the Cobalt grips on my Cobalt 3 (aluminum) or Iodine 11 (carbon) handlebars- so I tightened them a bit more.

Amazingly (for those who weigh grips), the Cobalts’ 65g weight is less than that of most non-clamp grips (WTB Trail Grip: 84g; ESI Chunky: 66g; Oury Mountain: 99g) and about half the weight of ODI’s Rogue Lock-On (132g).  At $25, the Cobalts are on par with most Lock-On grips’ prices.  The included bar plugs are awful, though- both the large (for aluminum bars) and small (for carbon bars) sets were extremely brittle and exploded when I tried to tap them in to handlebars.

Personally, I find the Cobalts comfortable for 6 hours at a go.  That’s pretty awesome for a lock-on grip and about 5 hours longer than any others I’ve tried.  I experienced some hand pain during my 12 hours’ riding at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo- though there aren’t many grips that would prevent that.  The Cobalts have never become waterlogged and the foam seems to be molded through the underlying nylon in places, which should help keep them in one piece.  The clamps’ added security is a bonus for technical riding and the bands are available in blue, gold, and silver.  I really didn’t expect to be recommending this, but I would suggest checking them out when the time comes.

marc

crankbrothers.com

Comments

bc - 04/26/11 - 8:05am

the camera angle in the second photo make them look wide (not circular). black or silver would have been a nice option. i do wonder how “grippy” they really are..

Warren - 04/26/11 - 9:24am

I was actually excited to see the Sea Otter coverage of the new CrankBrothers line since the pictures showed them in red.

http://www.bikerumor.com/2011/04/19/crank-brothers-post-1-new-colors-grips-bags-mini-tools-saddles-posts-and-handlebars/

But not finding them anywhere now, just blue, silver, and gold.

alloycowboy - 04/26/11 - 12:58pm

Crank Brothers says the new grips come in at 65 grams. That is a 40 gram weight penalty because the rider is to lazy to glue ordinary grips on with rubber cement. That is fory grams that could go into a much more comfortable seat.

Luke - 04/26/11 - 2:08pm

I’m afraid I couldn’t agree with this review less. My experience of the Cobalt is that they are the worst grip I’ve ever used. I simply cannot find a single thing to like about them.

The bar end plugs are, like the review states, very brittle and don’t seem to fit many bars.

The collars are very fat, and are not flush with the grip. The section holding the bolt extends down like a teardrop shape. This conflicts with my Shimano XT shifter release lever and means the collars rub on the outside of my hand.

The grip itself isn’t particularly grippy but isn’t too bad.

The bolts are tiny Torx bits that most riders simply won’t have, and they need a lot of force to clamp onto a carbon bar. Unless you have a very comprehensive tool kit you won’t have this part, and it’s certainly not something you’d carry on the trail.

The grip section isn’t tough- being foam it’s very week and is easy to tear.

I’ve had mine for a year and they’re the most unlikeable bit on any of my bikes and I really regret buying them. I can’t warn you all off them enough.

Veda - 04/27/11 - 12:31pm

I’ve had this for months but haven’t installed it yet, why? Because it can’t beat the 32gr Scott AT3 Foam grip that’s nonlocking but totally secure to the bar and far more comfortable. The Scott is also a fraction of the CB’s price. Which makes me tempted to sell the CB’s off…

ELG - 04/27/11 - 4:17pm

I have these and they are absolutely terrible. Very uncomfortable, the foam is too soft and my hands hurt after a short ride. The collars also interfere with my shifters.

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