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Looking for a break from the traditional rubber grip that's been around forever? How about something a bit larger while also providing a lot of comfort? ESI offers their Silicone grip in an Extra Chunky size and our friend, Raymond, has some tips and a review for you!
To start, I will say I might be a little biased in terms of my preferred MTB grip, the ESI 34mm Extra Chunky Silicone Grip. I have been running them for a few years now, basically since I started mountain biking a few summers ago. This review will get into the positives from these grips, some extra tips for installation/removal since they are not a lock-on grip and finally my small complaints with them.
ESI Extra Chunky Silicone grips are a silicone foam grip, which means they are not a conventional lock-on grip that can feel very planted and have no give to it on your bar. I have tried the regular and chunky grips and vastly prefer the chunky grips, which are a larger 34mm OD. I am 6’3’’ and ride an XL frame, so some normal components such as saddles, grips or pedals are sometimes not adequate to fit me. These grips have solved that issue for me. Besides being lighter than normal lock-ons, they also are the most comfortable grips I have ever tried. Hand/wrist pain has been nonexistent for me when using these from everything to a rigid SS to my enduro bike.
Another positive is that they stay super grippy all the time, even in wet weather, with or without using gloves.
Other grips I have used get super slippery when wet. They also allow for a little bit of give or twisting in action since they aren’t technically locked on like most groups, further adding to the comfort. With that being said, I haven't ever had them shift on me, save for a few millimeters of movement after about a year of use, which is not at all an issue since they are a constant diameter so torsional movement will not impact anything.
Moving onto some install tips, I would say you only need 1 thing - rubbing alcohol. There are install videos but the gist is that you need to plug one end of the grip with a finger then pour some rubbing alcohol in the grip and swish it around. Then, dump the excess onto your previously clean bar and then just twist them on. A towel for grip over the grip can help. Do this quickly since it can be exponentially harder to pull on if you wait more than a few seconds. To remove them, use compressed air or simply pull back an edge and squirt some rubbing alcohol into the grip and then it's fairly easy to pull off with the help of a towel over the grip again. Another tip is that if you have any little rips or issues with the side of the grip that gets set down, you can flip the grip 180 degrees and get a lot more use out of the grip.
Lastly, there are a few minor complaints I have with the grips. They just aren't as durable as a normal grip. This isn't much of an issue for me though, as a new contact point is always welcomed and replaced before it probably needs to be anyway. I normally get a season or so out of a pair of grips before I replace them anyway so it's really not a big deal since the grip is fairly cheap in the first place. Although the removal process when trying to reuse them only takes a few minutes, if your shifter, dropper remote or brake lever doesn't have a split clamp, it can be a little annoying to swap/install components, but again, not that big of a deal.
Even with my complaints, with the low cost and overall amazing comfort and feel, I will continue to recommend and use ESI Extra chunky Silicone grips in my builds, it's just still worth it. If something isn't broke, why fix it? These grips will be a super cheap way to improve one of the most important contact points on your bike and you'll get to feel like a kid waiting for Santa to come visit while you ponder the emails from WWC with your tracking number with a brand new set of ESIs on the way.