by Brian Mendenhall
Shortly after I started riding mountain bikes someone introduced me to foam grips. For me, the additional layer of dense foam soaked up small chatter on the trail and provided a better ergonomic fit to the shape of my hand. I noticed that when I was with a group of riders on a technical trail, I was usually the last one to suffer arm pump or other indicators of fatigue. Over the last 15 or so years of riding, foam grips have never done me wrong. As such, I ride them on my quiver of 8 bikes.
Installation/Removal: If you have ever installed or removed foam grips from a bike, you know what a nightmare it is. My personal technique is to put the bike on its side, put a foot on the head tube, and pull/twist the grip to get it off... Yikes. With the klampz grips, none of that is necessary. The foam grips attach to the bars via two small allens at each end of the grip, making installation and removal a cinch.
Durability: Every set of foam grips that I've ever owned died the same way: from the end either laying down the bike or from hitting trees/rocks. The lock rings on these grips ensure a much longer life than standard grips as a result. The downside here is that your beautiful lock rings will end up getting scratched and abused. If that’s a big pain point, I’d suggest going for the silver lock rings, which hide blemishes better than other colors. I have never personally had a lock ring fail. The only wear that I have seen comes from BMX where you twist the bars coming out of the gate. In that situation, Red Monkey sells the sleeves individually so you don’t have to buy a whole new set of grips!
Feel: As mentioned, I converted to foam grips years ago because of the feel. These grips cancel out a lot of the chatter from the trail, which allows me to adjust the high-speed compression/rebound on fork and shock differently. I find that I am able to ride through chunkier rock gardens faster and with more confidence. On my BMX race bike there is no suspension so these grips are the only thing taking the chatter out of the track. In both cases, I find that I am at a great disadvantage when going back to regular grips.
Conclusion: If foam grips are your thing, these are the next level.