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Best MTB grips: Stay in control with the best MTB grips

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Best MTB grips
(Image credit: Ergon)

Grips are one of three contact points a rider has with a mountain bike. The best MTB grips help you hang on for dear life on white-knuckle descents and sprints, and use them to guide your bike through winding singletrack and over rocks and jumps.

Just like the best mountain bike saddles and shoes, everybody has their preference when it comes to the best MTB grips, and what suits someone who wears a children's size glove isn't going to be comfortable for another person who can palm a watermelon. 

Scroll down for a round-up of the best MTB grips or skip to the bottom to find out what you should consider before buying new MTB grips.

Best MTB grips

Gusset S2 review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Gusset S2 Extra Soft Compound grip

Soft compound eco-friendly MTB grip

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Knurling | Price: $26.99 / £17.99

Zoned control features
Super sticky compound
Very good price
Five color options
Likely to wear fast
Limited cushioning

If you looking for a soft compound grip the Gusset S2 Extra Soft is an excellent option that uses a very tacky VEXK3 compound for great performance in the wet and cold as well as other riding conditions. An eccentric design puts more rubber under your palm for cushioning and the diamond ‘tread’ pattern is also bigger here to add some more damping. Ribs and a smaller file pattern enhances fingertip grip when pulling on the bars.

While we rate the Extra Soft version but Gusset also offers a Standard S2 version which has a harder wearing rubber but all the same features.

Want more detail? Check out our Gusset S2 Extra Soft Compound grip review.

ODI Djorn grips review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

ODI Bjorn grips

Soft compound eco-friendly MTB grip

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Knobs | Price: $29.99 / £26.99

Super tacky
Shock damping
Eco-friendly
Soft rubber ends wear quickly
Some slip

Grip powerhouses ODI has joined with Bjorn Bikes to produce an eco-friendly grip that uses 100 percent recycled offcuts in ODI’s United States factory, giving a super soft, tacky and damped grip feel with less impact on the environment. The blocked profile and extra material depth adds extra grip and reduce vibrations from traveling into the palms whilst leaving the thinner sections under the fingers to provide more precise feedback.

The good level of trail damping does come at a little sacrifice in weight and the larger 31mm grip diameter might be too big for those with smaller hands.

We've got tested the ODI Bjorn grips review if you want to read more.

ODI Ruffian grips

(Image credit: ODI)

ODI Ruffian

Copied by many, matched by none

Lock on: Dual | Texture: Knurling and waffle | Price: $29.95 / ‎£24.99

Soft version eliminates break-in period and offers out of the box comfort 
Outer lockring limits how far out you can comfortably grab the grip

Easily one of the most popular grips on the market the ODI Ruffian is a lock-on grip you will find on many a gravity rider's bars. The slim profile suits a wide range of hands, and once they're bolted on will remain play-free for many moons. The rubber sees light knurling and waffling on the underside for added traction. 

ODI offers the Ruffian in soft- and hard-rubber compounds. Although the soft compound doesn't last quite as long as its firm cousin, it’s still hard-wearing and doesn't have the breaking-in period that can leave you with sore palms.

Ergon GE1 Evo grips

(Image credit: Ergon)

Ergon GE1 Evo

German engineering at its finest

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Grooved | Price: $34.95 / £34.99

Ergo shape can reduce arm pump
Hard wearing grip material
Tough to get the angle just right
Bar ends are susceptible to crash damage

A noticeably less radical design than the Ergon's GP1, the GE1 grips have an ergonomic design to take some of the stress off the muscles used for grip to reduce arm pump. With several compounds through a cut-out skeleton and a unique shape, create a wide contact area for your hand. 

Ergon also says angling the outer portion of the grip helps to gently remind you to ride with your elbows out; we're a little bit dubious of this claim. It can take a few rides to get the tilt just right but, when you do, the grips will leave you with happy, pain-free palms.

ESI Chunky grips

(Image credit: ESI)

ESI Chunky

Grips for the gram counters that don't leave you with sore hands

Lock on: N/A | Texture: Smooth | Price: $18.99 / £16

Simple design
Light 
Comfortable
Good price
Install and removal can be expletive inducing

Arizona-based ESI was the first brand to make silicone foam grips and has inspired copycat versions from most other grip makers. Basically, the ESI is a silicone tube that's lightweight, offers plenty of vibration dampening, durability, and heaps of purchase even when wet.

ESI makes them in a range of shapes, though we tend to prefer the Chunky version. With a slightly ovalized form, the 32mm of padding seems to offer the right balance between, dampening, comfort and bar control.

Lizard Skins Oury Lock-on grips

(Image credit: Oury)

Lizard Skins Oury Lock-on

Best for those with big hands

Lock on: Dual | Texture: Knobs | Price: $31.99 / £30

The grippy compound absorbs plenty of trail buzz
Custom options
Diameter likely too big for those with small hands

With big, deep soft rubber lugs, the Ouray Lock-on grips eat trail buzz like seagulls eat chips, and the knobby blocks stick to your hand like velcro. The compound is soft, but not so squishy it twists or causes hand fatigue. 

With a reasonably thick diameter, they suit bigger mitts. Lizard Skins even offer customization options, allowing you to choose the bar end style, collar color and even engrave a message into the colors. Better still, the old-school aesthetic suits everything from a rigid single-speed to a long-travel charger.

Race Face Half Nelson grips

(Image credit: Race Face)

Race Face Half Nelson

Best for pint-sized hands

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Grooved | Price: $26.99 / £19.99

Small diameter matches small hands
Super tacky compound
Not much vibration dampening

At 28mm in diameter, the Half Nelson grips are pretty small and ideal for those with miniature mitts. Race Face doesn't use any ergo shaping and the exterior sees minimal channeling or knurling, save for the logo.

The grips feel firm, due in part to minimal rubber around the inner sleeve, but the compound is tacky, even when wet. Make sure you check the torque on the lock-ring bolts because they can move if you don't crank them down. 

Lizard Skins Moab grips

(Image credit: Lizard Skins)

Lizard Skins Moab

Like Slickrock for your hands

Lock on: Dual | Texture: Arch pattern | Price: $32 / £21.95

Ultra grippy
Low profile
 Minimal dampening

The pattern on the Lizard Skins Moab is actually a print of Utah's Delicate Arch, paying homage to the mountain bike heaven after which they are named. These grips provide pretty good grip too, even in the soaking rain without gloves.

With lock-rings on either end, they stay firm despite your best efforts to spin them, the only downside comes in the form of the minimal vibration dampening.

Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky grips

(Image credit: Renthal)

Renthal Traction Ultra Tacky

Grip in the right direction

Lock on: Dual | Texture: Ridges | Price: $34.95 / £23.99

Ridges make a noticeable difference in grip
Outer collar can cause discomfort
Requires some attention to setup

Available in a range of compounds, Renthal's Traction grips utilize ridges that are spaced into zones to accommodate your fingers. The back of each ridge has a square edge, to increase grip when wrenching back on the bars, while the front edge lays flat so as not to dig into your palm. Renthal says it's Ultra Tacky' compound continually produces and renews a sticky-surface coating.

With the directional nature of the ridges, they are left and right specific, and getting the angle just right to match your hands in the attack position can take a bit of time.

DMR Deathgrip grips

(Image credit: DMR)

DMR Deathgrip

The party mix of MTB grips

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Waffle, kurrnel, rib | Price: $28.99 / £21

Varying patterns are matched to your hand's anatomy 
Finding the right angle can be fiddly

With a mixture of ribs, knurling and waffling, the DMR Deathgrip is a single-clamp lock-on grip that combines all your favorite patterns in one. The ribs around the forefinger and thumb provide a comfortable platform on the inside while waffling down below adds some grip for your fingertips – knurling supports the heel of your hand. 

For the BMX Bandits among us, they are also available with a flanged version. Be aware, the Deathgrips have a tapered core, so you'll need to tap the end with a rubber mallet to get them full onto your bars

Deity Knuckleduster grips

(Image credit: Deity)

Deity Knuckleduster

Comfort and plenty of damping

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Ribs, waffle | Price: $30 / £19.99

Bright colors
Tapered ergo design 
Outside of grip gets chewed up

Made using the Deity TRC rubber compound, the Knuckledusters offer support and grip for both your palm and fingers. If you ride with your hands out on the end of the grip, you'll appreciate the rubber extending over the end. 

Measuring about 32mm in diameter, they are on the larger end of the spectrum and come in enough colors to match any bike. 

Fabric Magic Grips

(Image credit: Fabric)

Fabric Magic Grip

Best for those who like ergo-shaped grips

Lock on: Inside | Texture: Ribs | Price: $20 / £16.99

Soft compound hourglass profile adds more cushioning on big impacts 
Well priced 
Not everyone will like the centre bulge or mushroom movement

Developed in collaboration with the 50to01 crew, the Magic Grip is an ergo grip with a ribbed ‘mushroom’ texture throughout. Measuring 32mm in diameter at the widest point, the ribs are supportive enough that they don't immediately deform when you give them a squeeze – offering impressive comfort, too.

The claim is unique in that the sleeve interfaces with the lock-ring using two prongs to eliminate any play, and the single lock-on eliminates the pressure point on the outside of the hand.

How to choose the best MTB grip

What MTB grips should I get? Lock-on vs slid-on grips

Lock-on grips have hard plastic with a rubber grip moulded around it. As the name suggests they slide on to your bars with ease and are held in place by clapping lock rings — some only have one, others have two. Because you bolt them on, they offer a high level of security, and it takes a hell of a lot of force to make them slip. Even with the rubber coating around the inner sleeve, lock-on grips aren't as forgiving as their slip-on cousins.

Push on grips are made entirely of a rubber or silicone foam and usually offer a more plush feel and vibration dampening because they are in direct contact with the bar. To actually get them on your bars, you'll need hairspray, rubbing alcohol or an air compressor — make sure there are no children present when doing so as there will likely be an expletive or two uttered with gusto.

Are all MTB grips the same size?

Grips vary in shape from perfectly round tubes to ovalized cylinders, and some even have supportive wings. Round grips seem to be more responsive, while broad flat surfaces help to spread pressure over a wider surface area and are more comfortable for some.

Some grips are totally smooth such as ESI's silicone grips, while others have deep grooves, some even verging on tread-like the Oury Lock-Ons. Channels cut into the grip help to move moisture mud and sweat away from your hands, though riders who regularly wear gloves tend to prefer smaller, less aggressive 'tread patterns.'

Just like tires, the rubber compound plays a role in grip and durability. When brands use words such as 'sticky' or 'ultra tacky' to describe their grips, they will offer good purchase but these compounds tend not to be very hard-wearing. 

Colin Levitch

Born and bred in Colorado, and now based in Australia, Colin comes from a ski racing background and started riding as a way to stay fit through the summer months. His father, a former European pro, convinced him to join the Colorado State University collegiate cycling team, and he hasn't stopped since. It's not often he pins on a number nowadays, and you'll likely find him in search of flowy singletrack, gravel roads and hairpin corners. Colin has worked at BikeRadar.com and is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike and Cyclist magazines. 

Rides: BMC Team Machine SLR01 Trek Top Fuel 9 Ibis Ripley