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Your bicycle grips are some of the most important parts of your bicycle, as they’re one of the three things that connect your body to your bike, aside from the saddle and the pedals, so you can act as one entity on the road or trail.
This constant contact is also what makes the grips wear out fast. At a certain point, you’ll have no choice but to replace them with new grips that will serve you better. (Or, you could just do it anytime you want if you’re feeling an upgrade).
Either way, the market is saturated with plenty of MTB grips to choose from, and while that can feel a bit overwhelming, you’re sure to find the best mountain bike grips that work for your cycling needs. That said, it can still be difficult to know where to even start, and that’s why we’re here to help with this complete review and buying guide of 2021 best bike grips.
Why You Need Mountain Bike Grips
Many cyclists tend to overlook bicycle grips when caring for their ride. This is wrong. In case it’s not clear, you absolutely need bike grips as a mountain bike rider (or any kind of cyclist, really). For one, your grips can influence various aspects of your ride, from your control over the bike, your endurance and comfort during your ride, and your overall ride quality.
Moreover, as we mentioned earlier, the bike grips are an important point of contact between you and the bicycle, and if that contact is compromised, that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
As such, using good quality, well-made MTB grips can spell the difference between a fun ride and a painful one. If your mountain bike currently has standard grips that offer little to no value, it’ll just demonstrate a starker contrast once you upgrade them with better ones. You just need to be careful in choosing your new grips and base your decision on certain factors.
Top 10 Mountain Bike Grips
To make your life easier, we did the daunting task of evaluating and comparing bike grips on the market in order to give you this list of the best mountain bike handlebar grips. Ready? Let’s check them out!
Odi Ruffian Lock-on Grips + Clamps
Our top pick is none other than the Odi Ruffian lock-on grips with clamps that let you tightly secure the grips onto your mountain bike handles. There are just so many things we love about this one, and we’ll share each of them with you.
First of all, the Ruffian is somewhat thinner than most of the modern style MTB handle grips that you see today. As such, it’s ideal for those who don’t really like the feel of fat grips, especially riders with small hands who want to be able to wrap their fingers entirely around the handlebars.
Another amazing feature is that the Ruffian is so easy to install since you won’t need to use any lubrication and whatnot, unlike some other grips out there. Since they easily fit on the handlebars, installing these is as easy as sliding them on.
- Easy, secure installation with lock-on
- Suitable for riders who want thinner grips
- Aluminum end clamp included
- Available in 5 colors
RaceFace Half Nelson Locking Grips
The first runner up is the RaceFace Half Nelson locking grips, which solemnly promises not to get worn out as fast as your bike’s standard handlebar grips or those cheap quality replacement grips online.
This brand boasts of giving you grips that come with a thin, tacky feel right out of the box. These grips are lightweight too, so basically, they offer everything you could possibly want from good quality bike grips.
And to stay true to their promise, these grips last for a really long time. You could be using them for years and they’ll still feel like new. They can also be tightened with clamps either on the inside or outside of your handlebars- whichever you prefer.
- Lightweight, slim, and low profile design
- Superior stickiness with no loosening issues
- Adequate softness without feeling gushy
- Durable and tacky with additional grip security compound
- Available in multiple colors
OUTERDO New Handlebar Grips
Taking the third spot is the Outerdo New handlebars grip, a best-seller with thousands of happy customers to date, thanks to their simplicity, functionality, and durability. These grips are super comfortable even for bare-gloved riders with sweaty palms.
These are made with the highest quality TPR rubber to give you a comfortable and safe hold even during the most challenging of rides. They are also designed in such a way that minimizes shock and vibration from the rough terrain, so your hands and wrists don’t feel strained.
To top it all off, these grips are also affordable, so you don’t need to spend a fortune just to buy capable grips that you can really count on. They even fit most mountain bike style handlebars and can slip into place without the need for any special tools or equipment.
- Simple design but highly effective
- With shock and vibration reduction capabilities
- Affordable, great value for money
- Available in multiple colors
Vktech Non Slip Soft Rubber MTB Bike Handle Grips
In fourth place is the Vktech non-slip soft rubber MTB bike handle grips, which are designed to fit standard bicycle handlebars. They’re also flexible enough to wiggle into place on bigger handlebars with just a bit of soap, and can also be super-glued onto small handles.
These soft rubber grips come as single-piece grips with no end caps so you can either use them as-is or can modify them to your liking, such as by adding aluminum ends. The rubber material is just the right side of the plush while still remaining durable.
The rubber has also been treated with antibacterial and wear-resistant properties and features a customized anatomic raised surface to give you maximum control and better traction. These grips are non-slip and are easy to install and take off as well.
- Excellent durability and wearability
- Suitable for all kinds of riding
- Comfortable Flexie soft rubber construction
- Available in multiple colors
TOPCABIN Bicycle Grips
Ranking fifth is the TopCabin bicycle grips, which is another great value for money option for those who are looking for great bicycle handlebar grips on a budget. These grips come as a complete kit with everything you’ll need to install your new upgrade.
Like the options above, these also fit the majority of standard handlebars. They are a perfect combination of visual prestige and manufacturing quality that you typically get from top-of-the-line grips, but without the expense part.
Among its many features are the textured surface that’s meticulously engineered for optimized traction whether or not you’re riding with your mountain bike gloves on. This also makes the bike grips perform well under any weather and riding condition.
- Comfortable and safe even on rough trails
- Fits most handlebars of various bike types
- Affordable yet high-quality option
- Lock-on system with the included wrench
- 12-month manufacturer’s warranty
GPMTER Bike Handlebar Grips
Another premium quality pair of MTB handlebar grips that come at a sweet, affordable price is the GPMTER bike handlebar grips, which are designed for all types of bicycles, including hybrid bikes and BMX bikes, and are precision engineered for reduced vibration and wrist fatigue.
These comfortable grips also offer plenty of purchase when riding on challenging trail rides and adverse weather conditions. That’s probably because they’re made with advanced, high-quality materials such as non-slip rubber.
Furthermore, they feature a single lock-on system made of aluminum alloy to securely and firmly hold the grips in place even during the toughest of rides. There’s also an extra layer of gel for maximum comfort and outstanding protection.
- Economical design with lock-on system
- All-weather and all-terrain performance
- Widely compatible and easy to install
- Extensive warranty
MARQUE Grapple Mountain Bike Handlebar Grips
One more top contender for the best MTB bike handle grips is the Marque Grapple mountain bike handlebar grips, which is a pair of eye-catching and attractive grips that are not only showstoppers but will also give you the best value for your money.
There’s actually quite a lot to digest here. First, these grips are designed to be exceptionally comfortable with their slim and low profile aesthetics that are practical as well. There are even precision microcavities that help maximize grip.
To add to that, these grips come with aluminum lock rings that can take on the heaviest punishment. They’re also really comfortable, not to mention easy to install. All in all, these are definitely great and well worth your money.
- High quality textured anti-slip rubber
- Low profile surface with all-weather grip
- Available in multiple colors and designs
- Durable, practical, and long-lasting
- Extensive warranty
Weanas New Generation Bike Handlebar Grip
Also worth checking out is the Weanas new generation bike handlebar grip, which is engineered in such a way that the entire thing delivers utmost durability and comfort during long rides both on and off the road.
It’s clear that the brand’s priority lies in ergonomics, as you can see that the grip’s design and unique shape that makes it great for everyday commutes and smooth trails. It even conforms to your hand’s natural contours to maximize comfort and minimize slippage.
The grip’s construction is also commendable, as it’s made with durable rubber and an advanced aluminum alloy for the clamp bolts. And, it can fit on any standard sized handlebar as well. To sum it up, this bike grip is comfortable, safe, and secure.
- Pleasant and comfortable feel
- Unique ergonomics with non-slip grip
- Made for everyday rides and commutes
- 30-day replacement guarantee and 12-month warranty
Oury MTN Grip
You might also want to try the Oury MTN grip, which is a highly popular option with an extensive following both in casual and professional cycling circles due to its superior make, quality, and overall performance.
The thing is, it may not seem like much at first glance due to its bare bones grip appearance, but you’ll be surprised at how comfortable and practical it is in the way that it performs during a thrilling and challenging ride.
What we really like best, though, is the way that’s crafted with clear attention to detail in order to deliver consistent quality, and all that care and quality control becomes evident with how amazing and reliable this bike grip is.
- High-performance option at an affordable price
- Basic design for maximum practicality
- Fits most standard size handlebars
- Extensive warranty
Lizard Skins Northshore Lock-On Grip
Last but not least are the Lizard Skins Northshore lock-on grips, which are, in some ways, the most premium option on this list. That’s because, one, these are designed to be as chunky and thick as possible.
This means you get to enjoy better comfort and protection as compared to its low profile alternatives, and you’ll be happy to have this extra support and total control when you’re riding at a competition.
We also like the way that the grips are designed with their oversized contours, which really make them ideal for challenging rides. They also offer all-weather reliability thanks to the robust materials and superior construction.
- Lock-on system for a lasting secure hold
- Designed for minimized strain and maximized comfort
- Perfect for competition level rides and trails
- Available in multiple colors
Key Factors To Consider When Buying MTB Grips
As you’ve seen from our reviews above, there are vast options for MTB handlebar grips, and plenty of different types and designs too. What that really means is that you need to be careful when choosing a pair of suitable grips and that you shouldn’t rely on style alone.
Instead, you need to account for certain factors in order to determine the grips’ performance and viability. These key factors include grip type, profile design, material construction and quality, comfort and grip, and ergonomics, among others. We’ll talk about each of these factors below.
Type of Mountain Bike Grips
Your mountain bike grips are an essential part of your bicycle as they influence your endurance, control, and comfort while you’re riding your bike. How much of each of these things you get is highly dependent on the type, construction, design, and attachment style of the bike grips.
This is why you need to have some knowledge about bicycle grips so you can better understand what works best for your riding style, morphology, and riding conditions. Below are the common classifications of bike grips based on their installation/ locking mechanism:
Lock on Grip
Lock-on grips like the Odi Ruffian, RaceFace Half Nelson, and Lizard Skins Northshore are popular for a reason. This type of grip is preferred by most mountain bikers since they offer a more secure and reliable hold during difficult rides.
That’s because aside from the central rubber part, the grip also comes with a (usually metal) grip fastener at either one or both ends, with the use of a hex key to secure the grip in place. This design not only locks the grip firmly in place so it doesn’t slip or shift, but it also offers exceptional comfort and, well, grip.
Many lock-on grips also come with hard plastic cores underneath the soft rubber to make them easy to install and take off, since the core just slides over the handlebars once the grip fastener is loosened.
Push on Grip
On the other hand, push on grips are a more standard option. These are just your basic rubber with the addition of an end rubber grip to push onto the bar and stick the grip into place. It sort of acts as a substitute for the missing locking end/s.
That said, push on grips often make use of liquid adhesives for a better and more secure installation, as the adhesive not only helps the grips smoothly slide into place, but it also keeps the grips fixed in position throughout your ride. Now, unlike the mostly one-size-fits-all lock-on grips, push on grips come in a variety of sizes (and shapes) for different handlebars.
Bicycle grips also come in many different patterns and shapes, and this profile design is what makes a certain grip more ideal than another in certain situations. For example, bigger grips are more comfortable, while thinner grips offer a better grasp. There are even waffle designs that guarantee a firm grasp even when wet.
When it comes to length, you want handlebar grips that are just the right size to offer a comfortable spot for your palms without overtaking a huge part of the bars that the too-wide grips start to push the brake levers and gear shifters further towards the center, making them more difficult to reach.
That said, getting the right size grips is a fairly easy and straightforward task. You really just need to base your decision on the size of your hands and where on the handlebars you typically rest your hands during the ride. For instance, if you have small fingers, shorter grips are a better option since you can have the controls closer to your hands.
Aside from the length/ width, the thickness of the bike grips is also important as this determines your comfort level and grasp on the handlebars. Unfortunately, these two things don’t really go together, and that’s why bike grips come in various sizes- to accommodate different size rider hands and different riders’ needs.
To put it simply, thin grips let those with short fingers fully grasp the bars, but they don’t offer as much comfort, and can even make you squeeze the bike grips too hard. Meanwhile, thick and large grips are difficult to grasp but offer all that cushioning so your hands and wrists don’t feel as strained, especially after long and challenging rides.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that when buying medium to hard compound bike grips, you need to make sure that they fit your hands well upon purchase since they’re not really flexible or pliant. Soft grips, on the other hand, offer more versatility in that you can wear them to better suit your preferences.
There are bicycle grips called plain gauge grips, which feature a uniform thickness from one end to another. These are great if you’re prone to shifting your hands along with the handlebars during your ride.
There are also contoured grips with either a middle palm bulge or inter-finger bulges so your hand rests better on the bars while also keeping them in place.
And then there are ergonomic grips that offer an even better anatomical fit and enhanced hand comfort. These are the best when it comes to minimizing pain and discomfort, but are not as suitable when it comes to technical terrain riding.
Many MTB bike grips also feature open ends on both sides of the grips, which allows you to slide the grip to the placement that you prefer in terms of comfort. There are many other unique features offered by various mountain bike grip brands, with each promising better comfort and durability.
Regardless of which design you choose to go with, always make sure to use closed-end bar plugs with your bicycle grips as this helps prevent the handlebar from stabbing you in the event of a crash or if you somehow fall onto the end of the handlebar. Plus, these things are great in helping protect the bars from damage and wear.
Material Construction and Quality
Handlebar grips are made with various materials with varying degrees of quality and durability. The cheaper bike grips, for example, are constructed from low-end materials that tend to easily crack, wear, split, and generally become uncomfortable to use after a while.
On the other hand, better quality and somewhat more expensive mountain bike grips use hard wearing and durable materials that make for superior, robust grips with a better and longer-lasting performance.
Bicycle grips with deeper grooves and more pronounced tread patterns are more suited to riding barehanded or without gloves. They are also great at maintaining grip when wet as they clear away moisture from water, sweat, and mud.
Meanwhile, low profile tread patterns along with half waffles and knurled diamonds are often more preferred by riders who choose to ride with their gloves on, since the extra grip is redundant, and their gloves offer better moisture-wicking anyway.
Aside from the tread pattern, rubber compound also matters when it comes to traction. Tacky and ultra tacky grips offer better traction than their standard counterparts but are not as long-lasting since the extra tack also makes the grips wear out faster.
There are also silicone foam grips which offer superior vibration damping capabilities, and even better conform to the shape of your palm. These foam grips typically come in a somewhat ovalized shape and in pretty much any color you can think of.
Going back to rubber compound grips, some bike grips make use of two different rubber compounds, with one being a hard layer serving as the grip’s foundation, and another, softer layer on the surface.
What this does is the firm inner sleeve on the grip securely holds onto the handlebars in order to prevent slippage while also maintaining the bike grip’s form, while the soft outer sleeve offers better comfort. It works great too, for the most part, except you get thicker bike grips, which can be a pain for those who prefer thinner grips. And, dual compound grips typically cost more.
Comfort and Grip
We’ve been talking about comfort and grip again and again because they’re just so important. After all, these two factors are the raison d’etre of mountain bike grips. Hence, we just want to reiterate that the level of comfort you get from the bike grips and how well you can grasp them are highly dependent on the grip’s shape, design, and tread pattern.
What you want to think about here is what type of riding you usually do, and what riding style you prefer. For example, do you like to challenge yourself on difficult terrains, use your bike for daily commutes, or simply enjoy a leisurely weekend ride? Do you prefer wearing gloves, or going without?
Answering these questions will help you better identify how to choose the most ideal profile design, shape, and tread pattern of the bike grips.
Speaking of shape, we’re really referring to the grip’s ergonomics here. That said, bike grips come in many different shapes and sizes. There are grips that are perfectly cylindrical and smooth to the touch, while others come with wings, bumps, and other design features.
If you’re particular about the grips’ ergonomics, you need to choose bike grips that offer plenty of palm support as this will make for better riding comfort. However, keep in mind that it also means you won’t enjoy as much grasp, therefore making the grips unsuitable for challenging rides and competition level trails where you’ll need firmer grips.
The most important part that defines the grips’ comfort level is how it relieves pressure on your hands and wrists. A good pair of bike grips will relieve this pressure dramatically as compared to standard bike grips.
This means you can go on longer and more demanding rides without having to worry about hand fatigue since the mountain bike grips effectively spread pressure across a larger area.
At first, it may seem like shopping for the best mountain bike grips is difficult, but if you know what to look for, the process can actually be simple and straightforward. You just need to base your decision on your personal riding requirements and preferences, along with your budget, so you can buy the best set of grips that your money can buy.
Fortunately, most bicycle grips available on the market are, for the most part, affordable, even the premium, top-of-the-line, competition standard mountain bike grips are likely within your spending budget.
Here’s one last tip before you go: If you’re buying bike grips online, make sure to read the customers’ reviews, and check the seller’s return policy along with the manufacturer’s warranty.
Need to complete your cycling get up? Check out this list of the best mountain bike shorts.