Grips haven’t changed much over the past few years. Essentially, they’re still plastic cylinders with a layer of rubber that are attached to your handlebars with a screw or two. But ESI Grips have now shattered this idyllic state.

Lighter, more grippy, greater comfort and cheaper too! Compared to classic grips, these are the advantages that ESI Grips proclaim to offer. We’ve tested them to see what the deal is.

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Instead of a rubber-layered cylinder, ESI Grips have opted for tube-shaped silicone foam, which can be fixed to your handlebars without any screws. These particular grips are available in various thicknesses and colours, and can even be created to match your own taste. We went for the 34mm-thick Extra Chunky on a 29” trail bike and the slightly thinner 32mm Chunky grips for our enduro bike. Notably lighter than conventional rubber grips, they weigh in at 60g (Chunky) and 80g (Extra Chunky) according to the manufacturer. The only lighter grips around are made of pure foam, which offer significantly less grip, less durability and minimal comfort.

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Once riding on the trail the soft grips steal our hearts. Small, unpleasant vibrations are almost completely soaked up by the silicone foam and this results in far less arm pump than you’d get with regular grips. Despite that strong damping, the grips still delivered decent feedback from the ground – with the 32 mm grips allowing for more feel as well as great cushioning too.

The fear that the grips would twist during extreme conditions proved unfounded even in the harshest of conditions. They even remained tight after being subjected to the ultimate mud fests and wintery downpours.

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ESI Grips offer incredible performance, as they’re lighter, more grippy and more dampening, not to mention that fact that they’re affordable too. Personal preference will dictate what thickness you choose – our tester preferred the thinner and more direct grip.

Words: Sebastian Gierulski | Pictures: Christoph Bayer

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