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Welcome back to the Bikerumor Ask A Stupid Question series. This week, we’re getting to grips with all things… grips. A reader sent in a number of questions relating to grip length, shape, and how grips are designed to deal with pressure points and bar strikes. We got in touch with the experts at SQLabs, Burgtec and Wolf Tooth Components to get their take. Contributing this week are:
- Sarah Seckler, Head of Marketing at SQLabs
- Dan Critchlow, Head Honcho and Potions Master at Burgtec
- Mike Pfeiffer, President of Wolf Tooth Components
Isn’t it about time that pressure on the outboard edge of the palm and unnecessary handlebar strikes get remedied by a thoughtful design?
SQLabs: Absolutely, that’s what our grips do. Especially, the 7OX and the 711 have a specific shape to reduce pressure and strikes on the outboard edge. That’s the most important feature. We increased the outside surface area using every trick in the book, making it as comfortable as a wing grip despite not being one.
We also made them as round as necessary and as flat as possible; With the 711 and 7OX grip, the outer contact surface is pressed flat, thus reducing the pressure peaks many times over.
The grip security is supported by the SQLab Ergobar design. This results in a flat, slightly angular grip bottom and offers a perfect form fit. This allows the grip to be guided loosely while still always keeping the bike under control.
Burgtec: You’re probably asking for the impossible there. If you’re riding and not clipping a tree every once in a while you’re probably not trying hard enough. If you are striking your handlebars a lot you need to consider trimming your bars a little.
Why aren’t shaped grips a thing (bulbous, pistol grip, etc.)?
SQLabs: Well, while there are some areas on the grip you want to have more support or more damping material from to add a little more comfort, it does not make sense for technical trail riding.
Burgtec: I’m not sure why this isn’t a thing. It’s just never been picked up by riders when companies have tried it. A completely round design does let you wrap your fingers underneath which is an important way of keeping a solid hold on the grip. Generally, grips wear into each rider’s hand shape during use, this is why quite often riders are reluctant to change grips once they have bedded a set in.
Wolf Tooth Components: A few companies make various ergonomic grips and these work well for some riders. However, in our extensive ride testing, we have found that anything other than subtle changes from round can interfere with effectively wrapping your two smallest fingers around the grip.
The wrap of these fingers is critical for control and comfort in rough terrain. Based on this, we feel that round or near-round grips are ideal for off-road riding. Wolf Tooth does make a round grip with faceted lower edges (our CAM grip). This CAM shape can actually improve finger wrap on thicker grips by reducing the circumference of the grip and providing an edge to hold while still providing maximum padding and comfort to the palm.
As another option, an alternative to ergonomic grips, we make our silicone softer than most other grips on the market, which makes them more comfortable on rougher terrain, on longer rides. And, they contour to the shape of your hands over time.
Why are MTB grips so long? Does anyone actually use the entire area? Is being economical with bar space overly neglected?
SQLabs: Actually, they aren’t that long, and yes, some people use the entire area. That is why we made a grip 5mm longer than normal. There are riders out there who have a loose grip to control the handlebar. It is these guys who like the slightly longer version.
Other riders are of the “white knuckles” kind. They don’t need the extra length so much because they just hold on to one specific area. That said, even if the grip is a little longer than they need, there is no disadvantage to this. We don’t think the additional 5mm on our grips causes trouble for bar space.
Burgtec: Grips aren’t that long, really. Our Bartender Pro Grips that we made with Greg Minnaar are 134mm which is considered about the average.
Generally, BMX grips are a bit longer because riders take their hands on and off the bars landing tricks. Because grips aren’t sized like shoes, for example, they have to be designed to fit the biggest hands. Brake lever and shifter position then fine tune the hand size element.
And, yes. I think riders do use the full length of the grip. Riders move around a little bit and it’s good to have a bit of breathing space either side of their hand. Some people hang their hands over and some don’t so this is probably why that extra space exists.
Wolf Tooth Components: Grips need to accommodate the largest hands as well as the variation in how riders position their hands. A common grip length is about 130mm and a person with large hands covers most of this length. Some folks prefer to ride with their hands at the very ends of the bars and some prefer to have their hands inward a bit.
So yes, some riders do use the entire length of common size grips. Also note that silicone foam grips (like our Razer, Karv, Fat Paw, and Mega Fat Paw grips) can be trimmed to any desired length with the quick application of a box cutter. There are some longer grips available as well (up to about 150 mm) but by no means is it the only choice in length.
We have found that when brake levers are positioned correctly for one-finger braking, the levers are somewhat inboard from the inside edge of the grips already, so shorter grips would not provide any more usable bar space.
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