Your handlebar grips are one of the key contact points on a bike, and along with tyres, pedals and saddle, they are one of the most significant (an cheapest) upgrades you can make. However, start shopping for new grips and you'll find there is a wide market: there are lock-on grips and slide-on grips, chunky grips and thin grips, cheap grips and expensive grips. Which one do you choose?
I've been testing three sets of grips from Lizard Skins, and so this seemed like a good time to comment on the difference in feel and performance of each of the varieties.
Lizard Skin Slide-On DSP GripsLizard Skin DSP Bar Tape; it's a grippy and soft tread pattern, which provides great shock absorption and protection from road/trail buzz.
Slide-On grips have a number of advantages. One, they're usually cheaper than lock-on grips, as there are no metal collars to manufacture and supply. Two, they're lighter, because again there are no collars or internal plastic sheaves. Three, they can provide a "cleaner" look in some people's opinion, as you don't have the clutter of the collars on the bar. Fourth and finally, they can often be made of a softer and thinner material, which provides more "feedback" for the rider and better suits smaller hands.
The Lizard Skins DSP Grips come in two thicknesses of 30.3mm and 32.3mm; I opted for the smaller, but it still provides a great amount of cushioning, and the smaller diameter really means you can wrap your hands around the bars and give a firm grip.
A great product, especially for weight weenie XC riders, those with smaller hands and those wanting a great clean and colour co-ordinated look (they come in masses of colour options).
Lizard Skins Bear Claw Signature Series Grips
Lock-on grips have a number of advantages too. Firstly, you'll have a real job making them slip on the bars, even when you're riding in a downpour and water manages to get underneath the grip; this makes them ideal for all-weather riding. Second, because they use an internal plastic tube (that the two collars sit on), they hold their shape very well and aren't prone to distortion. Thirdly, removing and refitting lock-on grips is far easier than slide-on grips; this makes them ideal if you are often changing your cockpit set-up.
Lock-on grips are a good option if you are a rough handed rider, or if you like to keep riding in all weather. They're common place on All-Mountain and Downhill bikes, and increasingly they are found on XC bikes as well, as people enjoy the ease of fitting.
The Lizard Skins BearClaw grips are some of the best lock-on grips I've used: the micro-diamond pattern provides great grip in the dry and the wet, whilst the stepped design means that the diameter of the grip isn't so great that you lose trail feedback too much. A great option.
Lizard Skins Lock-On Logo Grip
The last option in the grip line-up is the large diameter lock-on: the super cushioned grip that is favoured by many downhill riders, as well as those looking for additional comfort.
The Lizard Skins Logo grip has a 31.5mm diameter, noticeably larger than the BearClaw with its 29.5mm size. The result is that you have a larger grip to wrap your hands around, and more rubber between you and the moving bike beneath you.
Thick lock-on grips have significant advantages for those that suffer from numb hands or tired wrists. They are also more suited to those with larger hands, as there is a wider object to put your palms in contact with.
The Logo grips are soft, rubbery and very comfortable. They would be my choice for longer arduous rides, or if you prefer to wear thinner gloves. They're well branded, but then with the underlying quality in the Lizard Skins products, that is certainly no bad thing.
Another great option that provides a comfortable contact point.
Hopefully the above has helped to outline the different tyres of grips available, and perhaps suggest which one might be right for you. Whether you're the weight weenie or minimalist XC rider, or you're the hardcore downhiller, you should be able to find an option that will keep you in comfort on the mountain bike whatever the conditions.