Get a grip. OK, but which one? Today, fans of lock-on grips face a dizzying array of colors, styles, and patterns all screaming for prime placement on your bar. As we were cruising through Sea Otter, we thought it would be cool to pick up a few of the newest lock on grips from a variety of manufacturers to see how they stacked up both with and without gloves.
Bolt one on after the break.
Before lock-ons, grips were either glued or safety wired to the bar – that or they slipped. Today, grips like ESI’s silicone grips stay in place on their own without locking collars, but for anyone who prizes the ability to remove their grips quickly and easily(removing a shifter, changing bars, etc), lock-ons are tops. But with that convenience comes design challenges. The locking mechanism usually requires some type of plastic core which takes up valuable space which could be squishy rubber. Because of that, lock-ons tend to be thicker, or slightly harder for the thinner varieties – this is where the design can make a huge difference.
A word about hardware: Why does hardware even matter? I’ve seen plenty of stripped out 2.5mm lock on bolts in my time at the shop, so why do they still use them? Well, with the larger 3mm bolts they are easier to clamp down which also means they are easier to over-tighten and potentially crack your carbon bar. They’re also slightly bigger and heavier.You should always be using a torque wrench when installing carbon parts, and if so 3mm bolts are probably preferred for the simple fact that they are a little more forgiving of worn allen wrenches. If you have a set of grips with 2.5mm hardware, just make sure to clean out any mud or dirt inside the head of the bolt with a pick before you go to unscrew it as this is one of the leading causes of stripped bolts. A little grease on the threads at installation is a good idea as well.
ODI x Vans Collaboration
Judging by how quickly ODI was selling through the new Vans grip just after it was introduced, it seems to already be a hit. Chances are good that if you’re into bikes and somewhere between the age of 20 and 40, you’ve owned a pair of Vans in your time. The iconic waffle tread is now on a grip – molded right here in USA by ODI. Sold in red, white, and black in addition to the gum sole color shown at Sea Otter, there are plenty of options to match your ride.
The Van’s ODI grip features a reinforced section on one side that you can place where you put the most pressure on your grip. Like other ODI lock-ons, the Vans grips use two 2.5mm allen screw clamps with plastic snap caps that snap into the lock collar. ODI’s Vans grip seemed to be equally good both with and without gloves, but it was without gloves that it was most surprising. Above all, these grips have the cool factor that would probably make these a hit, even if they weren’t as good as they are.
ODI Vans Grips are available in 4 colors for $29.99.
- Length: 135mm
- Thinnest point: 30.0mm
- Thickest point: 33.0mm
- Weight (set w/all hardware): 109g
- ODI Made in the US quality
- Tenacious grip
- Never lose a collar
- 2.5mm screws are prone to filling with mud, potentially causing them to strip if not completely cleaned out before removing
PRO Tharsis Grips
As the oldest grip in the line up, the PRO Tharsis grips are also the most unique. Not only do the Tharsis grips offer an ergonomic-but-but-still-mostly-round shape, but they also have their own locking system. In addition to the standard clamp nearest the shifter with a 3mm Ti allen screw, there is also a 3mm Ti allen in the very end of the grip which when tightened, squeezes a blue elastomer against the inside of the handlebar. This is a very carbon friendly design, but not one without problems – after having the grips installed for awhile, the elastomer got stuck inside the bar. This meant I had to take the whole system apart, take the opposite grip off as well, and punch the elastomer through to the other side. It hasn’t happened on all the handlebars, but it did happen.
As mentioned these were certainly the most ergonomic in the group, but not to the point where you feel you can’t really rotate your hands around the grip. I have to say I’m not a fan of the outside of the grip tapering to the inside, if anything, I would prefer the reverse.
PRO Tharsis grips are available in Black or White.
- Length: 137mm
- Thinnest point: 29.0mm
- Thickest point: 31.0mm
- Weight (set w/all hardware): 118g
- Ergo design without being cumbersome
- Carbon friendly
- Not as durable as the rest
- End clamp can be fiddly
Loaded AmXc NoSlip Grips
Certainly one of the most eye catching grips on test is Loaded’s AMXC NoSlip grip. With looks that cross between Rhino lining and grip tape, The AMXC grips offer a seemingly random pattern of ridges for grip. Built with their no slip rubber, and alloy lock rings and end caps, the AMXCs lock in place with dual 3mm allen screws.
Honestly, with the name and the design, I really expected these to be more grippy especially when wet. Due to our humidity around here, grips get wet pretty quickly just from sweat so these grips are probably better suited to drier climates. The comfort was there, but they seem to work better without gloves as well.
Loaded AMXC No Slip Grips are available in Red, Blue, Green, Gold, and Black for $29.99.
- Length: 135mm
- Thinnest point: 30.0mm
- Thickest point: 34.0mm
- Weight (set w/all hardware): 119g
- Locking clamp and end cap bling
- Unique look
- 3mm bolts
- Not as grippy as you may think
Teva PedalLINK Grips
Another shoe inspired grip? Yup. Inspired by Teva’s PedalLINK outsole of the Links and Pivot shoes, Teva had these grips at Sea Otter. No word on availability, but if our impressions are any indication they’re worth putting out. The PedalLINK is the thickest in our test at the grip (not the clamp), which means it’s also the softest – which is good, but super soft grips tend to wear out faster. With a single 3mm locking bolt and collar, the Teva grips still held in place without any twisting. I’m typically a fan of thinner grips, but the Teva could change my mind. Equally good with or without gloves.
Teva had the grips in black and Teva Blue, but no word on if they will be offered for sale.
- Length: 134.4mm
- Thinnest point: 31.4mm
- Thickest point: 33.8mm
- Weight (set w/all hardware): 112g
- Solid locking with only one collar
- Super soft
- 3mm bolt
- Not available yet
- May wear out faster than others
Easton Lock Ons
Easton’s new grips have admittedly already gotten a lot of press from us, as Marc and I unknowingly double posted them already. The slime green Easton grips have been in the rotation for awhile now, and are the slimmer 30mm grip design. The same grips are also available in 33mm diameters for a thicker grip. One of the biggest changes to the Easton grip is one you can’t see which is the use of elastomeric polyurethane instead of Kraton rubber. The claim is the same feel but drastically improved durability. The Easton grips have a thicker side to place under your palm, a side with raised smaller Easton logs for increased finger grip.
The other big difference is the use of flaps that cover both of the lock collars. The flaps are two fold – they give your some grip material instead of metal on the ends of the grips acting somewhat like moto grips with flanges, and they protect the 2.5mm allen screws from dirt and debris. Unlike the other grips that have a cap that snaps into the lock collar, the Easton’s end cap is one piece with a carbon friendly clamp. The only downside to the design, is it appears to be easier to knock off the bar. After smashing the end of my bar into a tree, the end cap went bouncing down the trail. To be fair I was rushing to get the grips installed in the parking lot, so make sure to check the torque when you install the grip.
Easton Lock On grips are offered in black, blue, red, orange, Neon green, and white for $25.00.
- Length: 138.2mm
- Thinnest point: 30.0mm
- Thickest point: 36.0mm
- Weight (set w/all hardware): 105g
- Awesome grip, wet or dry, gloves or bare hands
- Surprisingly soft for a thin grip
- Longest in the test, and also the lightest
- Great control
- Raised shoulders may not be for everyone
- Clamp may not be as secure as the rest
It’s hard to narrow down a perfect grip in a sea of options, but in this group of five the Easton was the grip that is still on my bike. Soft while keeping it thin, grippy in all conditions, solidly locking, the Eastons are well thought out all the way through. After all of the testing was finished, and then after a 4+ hour ride a simple wipe down of the grips left them looking like new. Some grips I like, start to wear after the first ride. I know there will be some that don’t like the raised ends, but the grip is longer than the rest offering plenty of room in between. They even get a nod from the retail point of view with a low price, and smart packaging so the customer can “feel” the grips. If you don’t mind the moto feel, these are up there with the best grips around.