You complete a mountain bike ride and your hands are so sore.
What gives? You can’t figure out what you did wrong, and you might think it’s your riding style when in actual fact it could be that your grips are not good enough.
Why are mountain bike grips so important?
These grips provide padding and absorb vibration so that your hands can be comfortable but remain supported to give you the best riding experience.
While you might think a large grip is better, this isn’t always the case as it can cause your hands to slip off them. With that in mind, let’s look at five of the best MTB grips on the market, with their special features to keep you comfortable during short or long bike rides.
Best MTB Grips – Reviews for 2021
Best overall: Bontrager XR Endurance Elite Grip Set
These MTB grips make the number-one spot on our list. Here’s what makes them worth purchasing.
- These MTB grips have a dual-density lock-on grip that offers enhanced support for your hands. Lock-on grips are beneficial because they have a locking collar system that ensures the grips remain secured until they become completely worn out. This prevents issues such as slipping and discomfort.
- They’re designed to be ergonomic so you’ll feel comfortable when using them for extended periods of time.
- They have a tread pattern on them for better comfort and to ensure that your fingers get locked in so you don’t lose your grip when you need it the most, such as when riding over rough terrain or during wet weather.
- Linked to how these grips are ergonomic, they also provide padding for your palms for increased comfort.
- You know how grips can become sweaty, and you know how frustrating that can be, but these grips prevent that from happening because of how they contain continuous channels in their design. This serves to effectively push sweat away from your hands.
- They’ve been designed with a core-lock clamp. This also prevents slipping from happening, so, again, if you’re sweating a lot because it’s hot outside you don’t have to feel unconfident when going on a bike ride.
- They have a 3mm M4 bolt. This enhances your hold and helps you to feel more secure.
- This best MTB grip has an inForm BioDynamic shape that has a narrow in-board diameter. The result of this is that it makes it easier for you to wrap your fingers around it. It’s this attention to detail that makes these grips so worth it, and they’re sure to last you a long time.
- Some people who have bought these MTB grips have reported that they’re a little heavier than other grips, but that’s a small price to pay for all their excellent features and benefits.
Runner Up: Bontrager XR Trail Pro MTB Grip Set
These MTB grips are not just about the support they offer, but they’re good for the planet as well as your hands. Here’s what you should know about them.
- These mountain bike grips contain a dual lock-on grip. They offer better support and comfort thanks to how they’ve been designed with a finned texture. This also contributes to better control when handling your mountain bike.
- These best MTB bar grips have a rubber compound and tread design, both of which also contribute to increased comfort and control of your bike.
- Their grip core has been manufactured out of recycled ocean plastic, so purchasing this grip set allows you to do a good deed for the environment and prevent waste.
- They come with a 3mm M4 bolt to enhance your hold and prevent stripping.
- These MTB grips could do with some extra padding on them so that they would be even more comfortable for longer bike rides over rocky terrain.
Alternative 1: PNW Loam Grips
These brightly colored MTB grips will make a bold statement when you take them out on your bike, as they come in nine gorgeous colors to keep you visible. Here’s what you need to know about them.
- These best MTB bike grips have been designed with an ultra tacky compound as well as an ergonomic pattern. The combination of these features helps to keep your palms supported while relieving fatigue during long hours on your bike.
- They have a finned design. This design, which is located on the outer area of the grip, helps to absorb vibrations while wicking away moisture. So, if it’s hot outside and you’re sweating a lot or you’re caught in a rainstorm, you won’t have to worry about the moisture reducing your performance.
- When looking at the grips, you’ll notice that they have a contrasting pattern. These are not just visually striking but they have ergonomic benefits. The thin strips that run horizontally across the surface of the grips increases your traction and the thicker patterns support your hands.
- Although these offer great grip and are sticky, they do not leave a residue on your hands and they won’t ruin your gloves.
- If you have smaller hands, these are the best MTB grips for small hands. But, some people who have purchased these MTB grips have reported that they’re not very comfortable for very large hands. If you have larger hands, you’ll have to purchase a different set of grips from our list (hint: it’s alternative 3!).
Alternative 2: Grips RadRunner
If you’re looking for less tread and pattern on your grips, then this set of MTB grips is worth considering. Let’s explore its features in greater detail.
- These grips have holes along their surface, which helps to increase their grip, but they’re not aggressively patterned.
- They’re curved on the sides for better grip and control.
- They’re made of leather, so they’re going to be durable and strong, capable of lasting a long time.
- Since they’re made of leather, these grips also perform well when it comes to giving you greater comfort because they’re padded.
- They don’t contain much in the form of patterning or texture, but this can be a good thing. If you wear gloves when riding, you will want smoother surfaces to hold.
- Not much information is available for these grips online.
- They are currently out of stock from the Rad Power Bikes website.
Alternative 3: Wolf Tooth Mega Fat Paw Grip Set
If you’re looking for a smooth and soft grip, these are the grips to get. They also have some extra features to make them user-friendly, such as being comfortable for larger hands. Here’s what you should know about them.
- These MTB grips have thick foam so they’re comfortable to hold.
- They are made of 100-percent proprietary dual-density silicone. This allows vibration absorption while it also ensures that the grips can conform to the shape of your hand.
- These are highly versatile. They can be used on all types of mountain bike handlebars.
- Although they’re smooth, they have a tacky texture. This allows for better grip even if you’re not wearing gloves.
- They come with bar end plugs included with your purchase to keep you safe. Bar end plugs basically close the open ends of your handlebars and they are essential to prevent you from being injured in a crash or accident. If your handlebars are open-ended, these can cause serious and potentially deadly injuries to you, such as in the form of abdomen punctures.
- If you like having bike grips that enable you to enjoy a larger diameter, you’ll love these. They have 11.5mm grip thickness, which isn’t just comfortable but prevents your fingers from becoming numb and your hands from getting tired. This will ensure that they remain comfortable and supportive, whether you’re using gloves or not, which makes these grips the best MTB grips for big hands.
- These best MTB grips for numbness have many benefits, but they can be a bit tricky to install on your bike, which is why you should consult the directions included.
- Some people have said that they had to trim the end caps so that they could fit inside their bike’s handlebars. So, you might have to do a bit of DIY to get these installed on your bike, but it’s worth remembering that they are versatile and are said to be compatible with all MTB handlebars.
Bike MTB grips FAQ
If you’re in the market for some new MTB grips, you’ll want to ensure that you know some of the most important things about them, such as when it comes to their sizes and how to choose the best MTB handlebar grips.
So, before you rush out and buy a set of MTB grips that you liked from our list of reviews, read our FAQs.
Are all MTB grips the same size?
While you might think that MTB grips will all come in the same size, this is not the case. There are some grips that will be compatible with all types of mountain bikes, such as the Wolf Tooth MTB grips that we featured in our reviews, but often other grips that are available on the market will be of different sizes.
If you’re wondering how that can be the case, it’s important to differentiate between the internal diameter and outer diameter of handlebar grips. Basically, the internal diameter dimension will come standard to fit all mountain bike handlebars, but the grips can have a large variety of lengths and outer diameters.
These allow you to achieve a custom fit that’s aligned with your preferences and comfort. For example, if you have larger hands, you won’t feel comfortable using small grips. A product, such as the Wolf Tooth grips that we reviewed, will be better for you because they have a 11.5mm thickness to make your experience of using them much more comfortable while preventing issues such as hand numbness.
As we’ve seen in our reviews, you can find a wide range of different types of MTB grips for your handlebars. They vary when it comes to various elements: to mention just a few, the materials that are used in their manufacturing can vary, how ergonomic they are can be quite different from one set of grips to another, and they can be aggressively patterned or not patterned at all, so you’ll have to choose between a textured or smooth grip.
Both have their benefits. For example, while a textured and tacky grip will make it easier to grip the handlebars when it’s raining outside, a smoother grip will be useful if you always wear gloves when riding your bike. This is something to consider when choosing the right size of MTB grips to ensure that they are perfect for you.
How do I choose a mountain bike grip?
Before you purchase a set of mountain bike grips, you should consider various features so that you choose the best grips according to your preferences. Here are some important decisions you’ll have to make based on the MTB grip features to look for.
Lock-on or slip-on grips
Lock-on grips have a hard plastic center with rubber grip around it. These grips make use of clamping rings to keep them in place, so they remain secure and resist slippage. If you have dual-lock ring grips, these offer even more security. These are not only easy to install on your handlebars but they’re usually chosen for how they reduce slipping even more.
By comparison, slip-on grips are made of rubber and work well to dampen the vibrations that are caused during rough mountain bike rides. These are also more comfortable to hold – you’ll feel that they produce a cushion-like effect for your hands. Some of their biggest advantages is that they reduce slipping, just like lock-on grips, but they are usually cheaper than lock-ons and are compatible with a variety of handlebar materials.
Tread patterns vs. smooth surfaces
Grips that have aggressive patterning on them will prevent moisture from water and sweat, and can be more forgiving for your hands if you’re riding your bike without wearing gloves.
Smoother surfaces, on the other hand, are great if you’re wearing gloves because they will give you enough grip. You can also find patterning that is finned. This is beneficial because of how it ensures greater comfort and control when riding your bike.
You will need to consider the right size for your hands. This can be difficult, especially if you’re buying MTB grips for the first time. Generally, though, you’ll find that if you have smaller hands you will be better off with smaller grips.
Similarly, larger hands will need larger grips. If you’re regularly experiencing sore hands or you’re battling with controlling your brakes, then you know that your MTB grips are probably of the wrong size. Start with grips that are 31mm and see how they feel, then take it from there so you can find the best size for your hands. This is important to allow you to have more control of your bike and feel comfortable, without hurting your hands after long rides.
Linked to choosing the right MTB grip size for increased comfort is looking for grips that have ergonomic features in place. These can include features such as padding for your palms for more comfort, as we’ve seen in the Bontrager grips that made the number one spot in our reviews; and ultra-tacky compound that’s found in the PNW loam grips which we also featured – this helps you to secure your grip no matter what the elements or terrain throws at you!
How long do MTB grips last?
It’s been said that you can expect your MTB grips to last between two to three years. Although this might not seem like a long time, it makes sense if you think of how hard they have to work during that time!
They will suffer wear and tear, probably sooner than other bike components because of how much you’ll be handling them. If you use your mountain bike very regularly, then this will shorten their lifespan.
So, the next question is, how do you know when you should replace your MTB grips? You can tell that your MTB grips need to be replaced if they start sliding around more when you ride your bike. If you experience achy, numb, or otherwise painful hands after a bike ride, these are also red flags that your MTB grips need to be replaced for better, more cushiony, ones.
Why are MTB handlebars so wide?
If you’ve ever wondered why MTB handlebars have a wide design, here’s what you should know:
- They improve your balance. When you go mountain biking, you require accuracy and precision. You need to be able to handle your bike well and balance with it, so your handlebars need to be wide in order to allow this, especially when you’re on potentially dangerous terrain.
- They need to transfer input. The wider your grip on your MTB handlebars, the easier it will be to transfer energy from your hands to the bike’s wheels. It will also take less effort for you to do this.
- They accommodate various riding positions. Sometimes when riding a mountain bike you’ll need to paddle very aggressively and you might even have times when you don’t make contact with the saddle. This is why wider handlebars are beneficial: they give you better control of the bike and keep it straight.
- They’re great for uphill climbs. When you have to ride uphill, this can really take a strain on your body. Wider handlebars can help you out to make it a bit more comfortable because of how they keep your arms further apart from each other so that you can open up your chest for enhanced breathing. A wider handlebar grip will also help you maintain better stability. It’s sort of like keeping your arms wide when trying to balance on a wall. The extra width will help you much more to balance than if you have a narrower stance.
- They help you when you go downhill. You can also make the most of wider handlebars when travelling downhill with your MTB. This is because you need to keep your handlebars down when you move downhill. Wide handlebars will allow you to push down harder as compared to narrow ones. This also helps you to feel more stable when your speed picks up.
- They can prevent muscle strain and injuries. Using a wider riding position makes your body use larger muscles of your chest and shoulders, which in turn makes it easier to navigate risky terrain with your bike. This can help to decrease your risk of getting injured as the wider handlebars will transfer the vibrations and energy from the terrain across your body much more evenly than narrow handlebars, putting less stress and strain on your body.
Your MTB grips should be supportive and comfortable. There are a variety of grips on the market, which can make finding the best ones a little tricky.
After reading our reviews of the best MTB grips you’ll be well on your way to achieving pain-free hands and avoiding that dreaded numbness that can happen after a long ride.