Words by: Liam Woods
Grips might be one of the most important contact points on your bike, and for once, they happen to also be one of the least expensive parts to change on your bike! Your hands are always resting or holding onto the grips, so having a grip that you are comfortable using, and doesn’t cause you any pain is very important. Nowadays, there are brands like Ergon focusing on the hand’s shape and ergonomically forming the grips to increase comfort and blood flow. Then there are brands like ODI and PNW that make grips that give the best grip over the roughest conditions. There is an overwhelming number of options to choose from. We are going to go over some of our top selling grips that also include our personal favorites.
What do you need to look for in a grip? Well, that is all personal and each hand and riding style is different. Personally, I have two features I like to look for in a grip. The first is a waffle pattern on the underside of the grip. This helps my fingers get some ridges to hold onto when there is a bit of sweat and the terrain gets chunky. The other feature that I like is a raised rubber end cap, like what you see on the ODI Elite Pro grips. This raised rubber end cap not only helps keep the edge of your hand on the grip while leaning the bike over, but you also know where the end of your handlebars are to make those tight squeezes between trees and bushes.
Another feature you might want to look into is thickness. Some grips come in two different thickness options like the DMR Death Grip or the Ergon GA2, while others are either made to be thinner like the PNW or thicker like the Deity Knuckleduster. I'd say one of the last features to note, which is much more common now, is the lock-on mechanism on a single clamp design or a dual-clamp design. It used to be that grips were only a dual-clamp design and had a metal lock-on clamp on either side of the grip. In the last few years that has gone away and you see much more single-sided clamp style grips with the clamp on the inside of the grip and the rubber going all the way out to the end cap. This gives the edge of your hand a smooth rubber grip from end to end.
The Ergon GE1 Evo Factory grips are one of Ergon’s most popular grips and it recently received some improvements on both design and color options. The GE1 was created for aggressive trail riding and enduro riding. It’s designed to support your hand during the roughest, longest rides you can do. By rotating the grip angle towards the front axle, it allows the elbows to be raised outwards, creating a better riding position for aggressive downhill attacking. Sporting similar shapes to the classic GA2 grip, the GE1 Evo features more grooves in the raised pads to help improve grip and avoid any slipping from happening. As you notice, most Ergon grips will have a single clamp design so the rubber of the grip goes all the way out to the end cap. Ergon also makes that even more of a feature by having the rubber go over the end cap, which helps contour it to the natural shape of your palm when wrapped around the grip. The GE1 Evo Factory grip is available in four different colors with two of those having the oil slick clamp to match all your rainbow SRAM Eagle AXS parts.
The Ergon GA3 still, after a few years, is always one of our top 10 selling grips. While the small wing might be a deal-breaker for some, it’s definitely a great feature. It helps many riders and that is why it constantly sells at the top of our list. This is a grip Ergon designed to help keep the pressure on your hand/palm spread out so you have a more even contact patch between arm, hand and grip. The GA3 is offered in seven different colors to choose from, as well as two different diameters. Small comes in at 29.3mm and Large at 30.8mm in diameter. If you have hand pain at the end of medium to long rides and you feel like you could use more support, I would try using the Ergon GA3. I put these on my city bike and have been loving the small wing. The palm support it has makes it a very comfortable grip for many different types of terrain.
The Ergon GA2 Fat grip is, well, you guessed it, the fat version of the very popular GA2 grips. The GA2 Fat has a diameter of 33mm and comes with raised pads to create comfort on your palm. Thick or fat grips are certainly a personal preference and may not be for you. If you do have large hands, or have been thinking that your grips are too thin, then you might give these a try. Like other Ergon grips, the rubber goes all the way out to the end cap of the grip and you get all the comfort without any drawbacks.
The Ergon GD1 Evo Factory grip is Ergon’s newest update in their grip lineup, and while not totally our top seller, we are putting this one in here as a prediction. The previous GD1 has been a top seller and now the Evo version got a little bit of refinement along with a softer rubber compound and new colors. The GD1 is made for those gravity oriented rides, the big days on the enduro bike or downhill bike and for when you’re looking for both comfort and security all in one grip. The GD1 Evo is also available in a standard size or a slim size, to really get that perfect feel. You can also choose from four colors in the standard diameter as well as three colors in the slim version.
The Loam Grip from PNW happens to be PNW’s first crack at making a grip and it looks like they did their research because we are selling a metric ton of these rubbers. It has raised ridges making up the pattern, the inside has a thinner ridge to be softer and have more comfort, and towards the end of the grip the ridges get thicker to provide more support. With a single clamp design, the Loam Grip gets you the ultra-soft rubber all the way out to the end of the grip. All comfort, no hand pain. One of the last features is the Loam Grip actually has a tapered diameter, meaning that the end of the grip measures 31mm while the inside measures 29.5mm, so the end of your hand has a bit more diameter while the inside gets a bit thinner for more thumb wrap. The Loam grip comes in five different colors and has a low price of $19!
The DMR Deathgrip might be one of our most popular grips as it has so many options and variations. You have two different diameters, two different rubber compounds, and what seems like 50 different colors to choose from. The DMR Deathgrip has a simple yet effective pattern to it, with a small knurl pattern on the top, a waffle pattern on the bottom, and near the clamp you get some raised ridges that mimic a BMX style grip. The single clamp design allows the rubber to reach the bar end so there is no inconsistency on comfort, and a unique feature is the internal core of the grip is very snug. This is so you can be sure the grip will not rotate under any load and will be solid on your bike. I personally like the thin version with the soft Race edition compound rubber. The soft rubber on the race edition feels very good and provides tons of grip and dampening from the trail to your hands.
The ODI Elite Pro might be the quiet killer of all these grips. While it doesn’t get as much media praise, they are often some of the most popular selling grips and the favorite pick of many of our staff. The simple, yet very effective design of the Elite Pro checks many of the boxes for riders. With a waffle pattern on the bottom, some raised rubber squares in the middle of the grip to help fill in the palm, and a raised rubber end cap to help your hands stay in position, the Elite Pro just simply works. A single clamp design allows for all the rubber and comfort of the grip to be felt. Only coming in one diameter and rubber compound, ODI knows they make a killer grip and lets the pattern do the talking. There are four colors to choose from, and even a Yeti turquoise version to match that good looking Yeti you own. As mentioned, the ODI Elite Pro is often a staff favorite, so check them out!
While not typical, but still very popular, the SRAM Locking Foam Grips combine the comfort of a foam grip with the ease of installation and security of a lock-on grip. Foam grips offer both amazing comfort and also deal with sweat and wet conditions very well. While these might not be for everyone, the riders who do like them swear by them!
Last, but certainly not least, the Deity Knuckleduster grips became one of our top sellers very quickly. With an alternating pattern of raised ridges, and a waffle cone bottom, the Deity Knuckleduster combines the comfort of a BMX style grip with the waffle cone grip on the bottom to be used in all trail conditions. A single clamp design allows the rubber to reach all the way to the end of the grip so there is no discomfort. With eight colors to choose from, the Deity Knuckleduster can be a great option to balance comfort and all out grip.
As you can see from the options, there is a mind-blowing number of grips to choose from, some thick, some thin, some soft, some foam, and some can be both thick or thin and soft or standard. If you are looking to get rid of some hand pain, maybe look into some Ergon options like the GA3 or the GE1 Evo. If you are looking for a no-nonsense grip that feels good all the time, the ODI Elite Pro or the Deity Kickleduster grips should be the next ones you check out. The best part about grips is they are one of the cheapest parts to change and swap out on your bike, so you can try a few options on your bike without breaking the bank.
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.