Some riders view grips as an afterthought, a non-essential part of a bike. For others they can make or break a perfect day in the saddle. For me, touch points are the most critical part of my bike setup. If my grips are rotated the wrong way, I have to fix them immediately or it will send me into a tailspin of crazy. For cross country riders who feel the same way, grips must be comfortable and light. It's a bonus if they soak up bumps along the way. Mtbr has gathered the latest offerings from ESI, Lizard Skin, and ODI to see what's new this season.
Lizard Skins Charger EVO
The new Lizard Skins Charger EVO grip is the company's most technically advanced offering to date. Those familiar with Lizard Skins popular Danny MacAskill lock-on will be very excited, as the Charger EVO shares many of its key features. The Charger EVO is a single sided lock on grip (Lock Jaw-Clamp) and measures 136mm long, 31mm in diameter, and weighs 89 grams. The large diameter of critical areas dampens vibrations and cushions trail chatter. The rider can also dial in the grip by rotating slightly per personal preference, whether they would like more or less of those features.
A sculpted diamond shape pattern gives the Charger EVO a soft feel and good grip, especially with gloves on. After nearly 500 miles of testing, the Lizard Skins Charger EVO's cut-outs and color are intact, as well as the cushioning features. My hands loved the Charger EVO's no matter weather or terrain, though, without gloves, sweaty palms do become slippery on the rubber.
I recommend this grip for trail riders and XC racers looking for comfort, but who still like to feel the terrain underneath them. With many color options, the Charger EVO can match just about any bike. MSRP: $26 | More info: lizardskins.com
ODI F-1 Vapor Grips
ODI's Vapor Grips are a mix of lightweight, fluffy feel and sturdy comfort. The Vapor is crafted from ODI's A.I.R.E. compound, which infuses air into the grip reducing weight by over 30% and providing a slower rebound/response for improved comfort. The Vapors are 31.5mm in diameter, 135 mm in length, and weight roughly 66 grams for the pair. They have a reinforced inner layer for added durability and a dimpled surface pattern for improved grip, allowing the Vapor to transcend a "race only" classification.
One of my favorite features is the ergonomic finger cutouts, allowing for white-knuckle downhilling without hand numbness.
ODI's Vapor grips are an excellent option for riders suffering from hand numbness or slight tingling on long rides. The A.I.R.E. compound is very forgiving and performs the vibration dampening of a much larger, bulkier grip.
The A.I.R.E. compound is very forgiving and performs the vibration dampening of a much larger, bulkier grip.
Installation was simple, only requiring isopropyl and a towel, no compressor needed. After my time on them, I expect the Vapor's to gain serious popularity in the cross country race scene. They are lightweight, comfortable, and easy to install. Available in Black, Blue, Green and Red. Made in the USA. MSRP: $19 | More info: odigrips.com
ESI Fit SG Grips
ESI are known as the pioneers of silicone grip technology, their products having been raced by World Champions, Olympians, and just about everyone in between. Now ESI is looking to add to their super lightweight line of FIT grips, introducing the FIT SG. The FIT SG is a mix of ESI's popular Chunky and Racers Edge grip. Weighing a scant 57 grams, the FIT SG's are lighter than most race day designs. The FIT SG's taper towards the thumb with a step down ledge starting at (installed) 32mm and ending around 30mm, giving them a unique ride feel. ESI designed its ergonomic FIT for a completely natural hand position on the rider's handlebar.
I liked the feel of the FIT SG when I was engaged on the trail, really driving the bike in and out of turns. I thought the tapper would put unwanted pressure on my outer palm, but it yielded a nice secure feeling. Though these grips can be hard for some to install, if you follow the directions they go on very easy with isopropyl and a dry cloth.
I recommend these for any racer looking to change their grip set up or looking for the maximum World Cup look. The FIT SG comes in six different colorways and you can add in matching color bar plugs for an extra $2. Made in the USA. MSRP: $33 | More info: www.esigrips.com