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Wrenched & Ridden bike reviews: ESI’s grippy silicone mountain bike grips

100-percent silicone grips are surprisingly grippy and wear-in to your hands’ shape

By Zack Vestal

ESI mountain bike grips: Other colors include red, black, and a bright blue (not shown).

ESI mountain bike grips: Other colors include red, black, and a bright blue (not shown).

Photo: Don Karle

Editor’s Note: VeloNews’ new technical editor, Zack Vestal, comes from the Trek-VW mountain bike team, where he was the mechanic for three years and, most recently, the manager for two years. Prior to working for the team, he spent more than 10 years in the cycling industry, both behind a desk (briefly) and in front of a workstand (extensively). Look for more tech coverage online from Zack and the rest of the VeloNews tech crew, including Matt Pacocha and Lennard Zinn.

ESI Mountain Bike grips
( “Chunky” version)

Retail price: $18.99
The Scoop: 100% silicone mountain bike grips, smooth surface texture, two thicknesses and four colors available.
Pro: Exceptionally grippy and comfortable, easy to install, no-slip adhesion to bar
Con: Relatively rapid wear, leaves color marks on gloves
Web site: www.esigrips.com

The handlebar grip is a simple yet critical component that dramatically affects a rider’s experience. Among an abundance of options, the 10-year old California company Extreme Steering has taken a unique approach by creating a grip with a simple tubular shape and no surface texture.

This ultra-simple, no-frills style by ESI stands out in a crowd that typically emphasizes shape and pattern. The grip is made from 100 percent silicone, which is said to conform to the hand, eliminating the need for any taper or texture. Two versions are offered: the “Racer’s Edge” with a claimed weight of 60 grams (Retail: $16.99), and the “Chunky” which are 1mm thicker and claim to weigh 71 grams per pair (Retail: $18.99). Both versions are slightly thicker on one side, to offer more padding toward the palm, and thinner on the opposite side, for better finger wrap. The material and smooth inner surface are said to provide exceptional adherence to any handlebar. Four color options are available: black, red, blue, and a bright lime green.

The wrenching

ESI specifies that the grips should be installed with rubbing alcohol, window cleaner, or compressed air. I have installed several pairs using either Windex or an air compressor with a needle blower. Both methods are effective and provide a no-slip installation. The grips are soft and easy to cut to size with a razor blade for shorter handlebars, grip shifters, or the like. The thicker portion that is meant to face toward the palm is somewhat hard to discern visually.

The riding

At first glance, the lack of visual interest or surface texture gives the impression of a low-quality product. This impression vanishes completely with the first ride. These grips offer exceptional comfort and vibration damping. Furthermore, for a grip with a smooth surface, these are amazingly grippy and I never felt like my hands wanted to slip, even in mud or rain. The grips showed no tendency to rotate on my carbon handlebar, despite several wet rides. I found this impressive, given the hard, smooth surface of clear coated carbon.

ESI mountain bike grips: One side of the grip is 1-2mm thicker than the other, but it can be hard to discern visually.”

Photo: Don Karle

I have larger hands and prefer the “Chunky” version, which at 32mm installed diameter are not prohibitively thick for those with smaller hands, and provide better cushion. The available colors are bright, and are a fun, inexpensive way to jazz up any bike. The lime green color attracted many positive comments.

The only downside is that they tend to wear more rapidly than most grips. The softer material which gives so much tack and cushion wore noticeably after 1-2 months of frequent use. A corollary is that the color winds up on the palms of your gloves. I have gloves with white palms, and they showed the red color after a few rides.

My overall impression is very positive, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for lightweight, super comfortable, grips for racing or trail riding.

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