Gripping Stuff: The GripRings Review
I’ve been tearing around town with the GripRings for a couple of months now and think I’ve got a good feel for them (no pun intended). If you missed the Introduction post, GripRings are a handlebar grip you customize yourself by stacking together individual silicone rings to form a single grip. They’re available in 12 colours and you can be as subtle or loud as you want.
Six rings will get you a narrow grip, seven is the standard width or you can go for gold with eight or more on each side. While initially conceived for a city-bike or MTB bar they will work on the top section of a track-bike drop-bar (either side of the stem) and on the flat area behind the hooks. Because of the way the individual rings nest together they are not suitable for the curved parts of a handlebar.
You would think every kind of handgrip imaginable has been thought of in the last 127 years, but no, here’s something a little different. The appeal of GripRings for me was as much about their novel “stacked” construction as their colourful appearance. Normally you order standard grips online or wander down to the local bike shop for a pair. Standard designs offer some variety, some “lock-on” with little clamps so you don’t need glue, some have built-in bar-ends/ergonomic shapes/leather inserts/a splash of colour, but for the most part they are boring. B.O.R.I.N.G, boring!
GripRings are not boring, GripRings are fun. F.U.N, fun!!! They appealed to my sense of whimsy and I was prepared to cut them a little slack even if they weren’t perfect, we all need some fun in our lives after all. It turns out they work pretty well, and I’ve enjoyed my time with them.
Choosing a colour scheme with the online tool is fun (there’s that f-word again), then when the courier arrives with the goods opening the package is a tactile experience. You scoop up a handful, poke, prod, squeeze & stretch them between you fingertips.
As covered-off in First Impressions installation is “easy as” and because I’ve experimented with different patterns and swapped them between bikes I’ve got the technique down pat. I kind of walk them on, pulling at each side with my thumbs and index fingers.
The grips have a lovely squishy feel and a ribbed texture that feels great next to your skin – does that sound a little kinky? My mountainbike is a singlespeed so when things get steep I’m standing up and mashing at the pedals and bars hell for leather. The silicone compresses and sways slightly under your fingers as you do that which I initially found disconcerting. I soon got used to it however and when swapping back to my normal grips they felt too hard!
Around town, along the beach and off-roading through local parks they were really comfortable, on a par with the ergonomically-shaped Ergons I’m normally running. I ride to work daily and on the return leg home (late at night) wear two pairs of gloves to beat the cold, the grips were great for that too.
I only ran into problems when mountainbiking with friends at the Woodhill bike park. I can’t say if it’s the generous diameter of the GripRings or the plushness they offer but after two hours of hard-out shredding my hands were starting to ‘pump-up’ a little. They were fine riding the same trails with the family but when wearing gloves and really going for it I started to feel uncomfortable. Bear in mind I’m manhandling a 17kg fatbike with no gears – your results may vary!
I also managed to round-off an Allen-bolt when tightening the bar-plug that stops the rings sliding off the end of the bars. This was purely ‘operator-error’, the instructions said not to over-tighten but I was distracted at the time and applying gorilla-torque-settings. Learn by my mistakes!
What I liked:
- East to install, no glue, lotions or potions required.
- Very comfortable for all but extreme riding.
- Unlimited customization of colours and patterns.
- Fun, just plain fun.
- Rings move around a little (over time) if you’re the kind of rider who climbs all over the bike, i.e. Singlespeed, BMX. (You can easily straighten them up again)
- Could be a bit fat for small hands or when mountainbiking with gloves.
- Allen bolt in the bar-plug is a bit small, take it easy when tightening.
Overall I think the GripRing concept is really cool. People love personalising their rides with accessories for comfort or style and with GripRings you do both at the same time, well worth a look.
Review samples kindly provided by purveyor of urban bike accessories: Bells & Whistles.