Many riders are familiar with the mountain bike “claw,” when your hands are so beaten and fatigued from rough trails that you literally need to pry them off the grips. Even if you’ve never pushed your hands into “claw” territory, you probably have experienced some sort of hand pain or numbness during a ride.
If you’re searching for hand relief, grips are the first part to address (assuming your bike fit and tire pressures are correct). I picked out some of my favorite mountain bike grips. Hopefully, they can help you discover blissful, pain-free riding.
If your hands feel beat up from vibrations and impacts, try switching to a grip with more padding. The classic choice is the old-school waffle-pattern Oury grip. The thick rubber squares provide a lot of cushion, though it may be too much for smaller hands. I prefer the ODI Elite Pro, which aren’t too thick, but have a section of extra rubber padding on top, right where you need it. Though I’m not a big fan of push-on silicone grips, the extra-thick Wolf Tooth Fat Paw has the most vibration- and impact-absorption of any grip I’ve tried. Another interesting option that I haven’t tested (yet) are RevGrips, which use shock absorbing elastomers, but cost $60 or more for a set.
If you experience pressure points or numbness in your hands, you might need an ergonomically shaped grip. The classic ergo grip is the Ergon GP1, which has a large wing to give the outer edge of your palm extra support. GP1s are comfortable, but some riders consider them a fashion faux pas. If that's a concern, Ergon's GA3 is a subtler, more modern ergo grip that provides similar levels of support. The Ergon GE1 is even lower profile than the GA3, and because the wing is much smaller, it’s a great option for gravity riding. For the weight weenies, the ESI Fit XC is a feathery push-on silicone grip that provides an ergonomic tapered shape.
If you struggle with arm pump and hand fatigue, a tacky grip can help. Softer rubber compounds keep your hands glued to the handlebars so you don’t have to over-grip. This slows the onset of arm pump and fatigue, which can be the root cause of pain and numbness. Race Face grips use a proprietary rubber formula that’s impressively tacky and comfortable. The Half Nelson is a slim grip that’s great for small hands while the thicker Getta Grip provides a bit more cushion. Renthal’s Ultra Tacky grips are the stickiest I’ve used and my favorite for downhill bike parks, but because they’re so soft, they tend to wear out quickly.
Like saddles and shoes, different grips work for different people. It might take some experimentation before you find the perfect grip. Fortunately, grips are affordable and easy to swap.
There are a lot more options out there. What grips am I missing? What mountain bike grips do you like the best? Let me know in the comments!