Your bike’s handlebar grips provide you with control, endurance, and comfort while riding your bike. Ride with the wrong grips, and you get fatigued, hand numbness, cramping, and blistering. So you want to make sure that your grips are the right fit.
But are all handlebar grips the same size?
The majority of grips for bike’s with flat handlebars have a standard internal diameter of 22.2 mm, meaning that most handlebar grips are the right diameter to fit over standard-sized bike handlebars. However, grips do come in different lengths, external diameters, and they have different attachment mechanisms.
So, you’ll need to make sure that your handlebar grips are compatible with your handlebars on each of these areas. AND you’ll also want to make sure that the grips you choose will work well for your hands, and the type of riding you do.
Let’s dig deeper!
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How to Get the Right Fit for Your Bike Grips
There are several characteristics you need to consider when selecting a bike grip.
It’s worthwhile to test different grips to have some idea of what you prefer. Take note of how the grip feels in your hand. Are they too small, too big, too wide? Do they have enough cushion?
Think about your riding style and your usual riding conditions as well. For example, do you spend hours on your bike? Do you do a lot of free-riding or downhill rides?
And of course, you’ll want to check the specifications of the grips:
The vast majority of “flat” bike handlebars have the standard inside diameter of 22.2 mm. As a result, as long as you have a bike with standard-size handlebars, most bike grips should work with your bike.
The main exception to this standard, are the “drop” handlebars often used on road bikes, which are typically a bit larger in diameter.
The external diameter on bike grips ranges from 34 to 39 mm. If your hands are smaller, go for the smaller diameter grip to be more comfortable holding onto the bike. Those with larger hands should go with the larger diameter grip. Otherwise, you’ll end up squeezing the grip too hard.
You can also start with the general rule of thumb when it comes to the size of the bike grips: when holding the grip, the tip of your index finger should reach the crease in the middle of your thumb.
There is a theory that a wider grip diameter will give you more arm support. As a result, you won’t have to grip so tightly, and you’ll get less energy pulsating back to your arms when riding on rough roads.
Those who prefer softer grips should buy a larger diameter grip and break them in.
When checking the diameter, your hands should maintain a good hold on the grip, but your hands are still relaxed. Get a feel of the grip’s diameter by going to a bike shop and seeing if they already have one you like that is mounted on a bike.
The length of a mountain bike grip usually ranges between 90 to 150 mm. The rule of thumb here is where you place your hands on the grips will determine what length grips you should get.
Also, think again about your riding style and what you’re comfortable with. For example, some riders prefer to have a little bit of handlebar sticking out from the grip to protect their hands from trees or rocks that may hit your bike, so a shorter grip would be ideal.
On the other hand, other riders like to slide their hands in and out on their handlebars when changing positions while riding and prefer a more extended grip.
If your bike has grip shifters, go for the shorter 90 mm grip. Those with shorter fingers should choose shorter grips so that their controls are easier to reach.
If your bike has short grips and you want to change to longer ones, bear in mind that if you do so, you will need to slide your shifters and brakes inward, making them more challenging to reach.
Lock-on or Slide-on
There are two styles of grips to choose from – lock-on or slide-on. Lock-on grips have a single or dual lock ring that tightens around your handlebars, preventing your grips from rotating.
Dual lock rings feel more secure because you can tighten them to both sides of your handlebars. Single lock rings may be more comfortable for those who ride with their hands on the outer edge of their grips. However, while single lock rings are also secure, you may experience some movement on the side with no lock.
Slide-on grips use friction to stay in place. They are lightweight and budget-friendly compared to lock-on grips. They’re suitable for riding during dry seasons but may come off when it gets wet. You can use adhesive tape, wire, or glue to help keep the grip in place.
How They Fit YOU
I cannot stress enough how important it is to test out the grips before purchasing them, to make sure they are the right fit for YOUR hands. Everyone has slightly different hands, and selecting the right grips can improve your control and comfort while riding.
Consider which shape you are comfortable with. Round grips let you grip the handlebars at any place with the same comfort level. Plus, they tend to be more responsive.
Ergonomic grips have a flatter section on the grip that mimics the contours to your palms. These spread out the pressure from your hands, adding to comfort and security while you ride.
Grips also may or may not have some texture to them. If you tend to ride in wet conditions or your hands get sweaty, opt for grips that have open channels on them to wick away the liquid.
If you’re looking for more cushioning in your grips and do not need the traction from the tracks to hold on properly to your handlebars, you can opt for smoother grips.
There are grips available on the market with more advanced features than the traditional slip-on or lock-on grips. Some have a suspension design, such as the RevGrips Pro Series, which has a gap between the bar and the grip itself, absorbing the vibration and lessening arm pump and fatigue while you ride.
The DMR Deathgrip, on the other hand, has different grip patterns, and each one has a specific purpose. For example, there is a waffle pattern for your fingers to rest on and grip, while the rest of the grip has a diamond pattern. At the inboard, there is a ribbed portion for your thumb and forefinger’s comfort.
However, these grips are more expensive than the ones we mentioned above and can be more challenging to install.
How to Replace Bike Handlebar Grips
Once you’ve selected and purchased the perfect grip, it’s time to install it onto your bike. Here are the basic steps on how to do this:
- Cut off or slide the old grip. You can spray WD-40 between the handlebar and the grip if you want to save the old grip. You can easily twist and pull off the grip after.
- Clean the handlebar with soap and water, then dry with a towel.
- Spray hairspray inside the grip so it will stay on the handlebar once you’ve got it in place.
- For slide-on grips: Using plastic ties, insert them in the grip and slide the grip onto the handlebar.
- For lock-on grips: Using an Allen wrench, loosen the bolt, slide the grip on the handlebar, then tighten the bolt.
You can also watch the video below to help you get a clearer idea for how to replace your handlebar grips: