- Handlebar Grip and Tape Guide
Handlebar Grip and Tape Guide
What are handlebar grips/tape?
One of the most important parts of connecting you to your bike, simply put. Without cycle grips/tape you would be holding onto a narrow metal or carbon handle bar, which isn't going to provide much grip! The cycle grip provides the comfort and safety required to properly ride your bike, without you would find yourself slipping off or loosing control altogether.
Mountain bike, hybrid or BMX? Which grip is right for me?
Depending on what, how and where you ride may call for a different cycle grip that suits you. The designs elements between these three are aimed at very different types of riding, you will need to make sure you pick grip to suit your riding. These are explained below...
As it says on the tin, these grips are designed for mountain biking. Off road riding, navigating varied terrain involving jumps, drops and rocky rough terrain. Mountain bike grips come in lots off different designs as well as diameters and even compounds. When it comes to the design of a mountain bike grip it can be down to personal preference, some grips are quite simple with a small subtle 'diamond' style pattern. Others quite bulky with 'waffle' patterns for more grip whilst really holding on tight. Diameter options is down to hand size, riders with smaller hands would benefit from a thin option and vice versa for riders bigger hands, would benefit from a thicker grip. Grip compound is also down to personal preference and not all brands offer it, Renthal for example offer their lock on grips in five different compounds. Soft compounds will wear the quickest but offer the softest most supple feel, firm compounds will last twice the length of a soft grip but are very rough and may cause some hand discomfort.
Hybrid/ergonomic grips are ideal for riders looking for more comfort than control, these generally have extended palm supports aimed at relieving pressure whilst cycling. These are for commuters, tourers and leisure riders, they work great for long or short distances where comfort is required. Some of these grips also include integrated bar ends which are great at providing another hand position whilst cycling, for increased pressure relief and comfort.
Grips for BMX are designed for more control and protection when doing stunts or tricks on the bike. They are much longer than a mountain bike grip, enabling a bigger surface area to grab when your hands leave the bars. Some models also feature flanges on the inside of the grip, for a similar reason to the length, if you a quickly returning your hands to the bars it offers a bit of protection from catching the brake lever clamp. Whereas grabbing a metal brake lever clamp at speed could be quite uncomfortable!
Lock on or push on grips?
There are two types of fitments when it comes to grips, either lock on or push on. Lock on grips are built around a plastic sleeve with pinch bolts fixed at either end, the end result is a super sturdy grip that won't move or twist whilst riding. They are also very easy to fit and remove. Push on grips are much simpler, they are made of moulded rubber that are great value for money. They are fitted by sliding onto the bars and using hair spray helps them slip on easier and then set so they won't move. The increase in popularity of the lock on grips is the ease of installation and removal, whereas the push on grips are a bit of a faff and can still move after fitting. An advantage to push on grips is for riders with smaller hands, the plastic sleeve of a lock on grip makes them a bit thicker, whereas a push on grip is much thinner.
Handlebar tape, which style?
Handlebar tape is used on road race and touring bikes, it comes in many different colours, styles and sizes. There are three main types of compounds of tape, cork, silicone and leather. Their differences are explained below. Thickness of a tape can vary to riding style, endurance riders spending many hours in the saddle will go for a thicker tape with possibly gel padding too, to help take out vibrations through the road. Aiding in hand comfort and decreasing numbness. Racers will go for a thinner tape for better grip and control, a thicker tape may reduce vibrations but it will make it tougher to hold for smaller hands.
Cork tape is popular for its comfort and moisture absorption, traditionally made with real cork but some modern designs feature a synthetic blend for increased durability.
Synthetic nylon, silicone, polyurethane or other material. can be single-layer or feature a construction with foam/gel core. Great for grip in wet conditions due to its plastic type feel with fantastic durability.
Made with perforated leather, loved by retro enthusiasts but not as popular due to heavy in weight and out performed in comfort/grip by modern tapes.