We’ve often questioned the performance of soft versus hard grips, especially on longer or more demanding rides. We can now find out for ourselves, thanks to Bike Ribbon who kindly sent us some to test and review.
From their home in the beautiful Brianza region north of Milano, the Alberti family dedicates their experience, knowledge and passion to providing some of the most innovative road and MTB cycling products on the market today.
But more than simply creating high-end bike equipment, the Albertis commit themselves to understanding you the cyclist, whether you race for a living, train for fitness or are involved in a cycling-related business. This translates to products that constantly push the envelope of design, weight reduction and above all, safety.
Bike Ribbon kindly sent us a few grips for us to try out. We choose two pairs from their MTB range.
- SIO2 RACE GRIPS, which we are testing here.
- B-SIDE, a more traditional locking type grip. Which we’ll review in the future.
Bike Ribbon offer a smorgasbord of colours in their soft grip range, so choosing something that matches your bike or kit (if you’re into that) is not a problem. Of course, I had to choose red.
I currently run the Ergon GE1 slimline grips and have been quite enjoying them. So going from a fairly technical style of grip to these very basic soft grips was going to be interesting.
With a couple of quick turns on the allen key, my Ergons were off. Now, the soft grips do not come with a locking system due to its design and the nature of this style of grip. The soft grip relies solely on it’s grip on the bar to stay in place, thus, they are a little tight to get on.
On the packaging it has a little diagram of a spray bottle being applied to the bar. I wasn’t sure what that spray was. Water? Lube? I tried a small bit of lube on one bar and just water on the other to see which worked the best. Bear in mind you don’t want to add too much lube or the grip could twist when riding.
To be fair, both grips were as hard to get on as each other. A lot of twisting, and grunting went on. A few minutes later and arm pump to the max, they were on! Maybe there are better techniques out there, if so, please send them in.
They come with bar end plugs, but for the life of me I couldn’t get them to sit flush, see the pic below. I don’t think it’s a functional problem, just more of a cosmetic issue for me. I like things to be perfect.
I haven’t used soft grips for decades. The last time would have been on my BMX bike when I was a kid and this is, I think, why I liked them so much. They made me feel like I was riding my BMX again. Ah BMX Bandits flashbacks.
Out on the trails the material is thin enough to provide reasonably good bar feedback. The soft, but firm material provides some cushioning and surprisingly, plenty of grip. I didn’t experience any bar slipping or twisting during the test rides, so using lube or water during the installation didn’t seem to effect them.
I wanted to see what they felt like with and without gloves, as I know not all riders wear gloves.
I liked the feel of them straight away. They don’t have any grip pattern, so the feel is smooth and even along the palm and under the fingers. This translates well when pulling on the bars for any length of time. No harshness on the skin or chance of blistering. Your hands do however become dirty quite quickly. This must be due to the dust on the trails mixing with the sweat on your palms.
I opted for a thin pair of gloves, my Troy Lee Design, Ace model. The combination of a thin glove and the soft grip felt perfect. I have a feeling a thicker glove could become too much for these grips but don’t quote me on that. Although I really liked the feel of the grips without gloves, I value the skin on my fingers to much to carry on riding without them. In the end, the combination of the grip texture and a thinner pair of gloves felt just right for me.
Hard to tell as it’s early days but I’ll report back after a few more months of riding. The bar end plug I mentioned earlier, not sitting flush. Well, this has half ripped off. Must have been when I laid the bike down or caught it on a tree. If this had sat flush in the bar then it probably wouldn’t of happened. A very minor issue but again, something I would like Bike Ribbon to look into.
Overall, a surprisingly good bar grip. The feel is firm yet soft and after a few rides, it starts to mold into your palm a little more. This type of grip is not for everyone but I was surprised how well I got on with them as I’ve never thought about using a soft grip before.
If you’re a fan of these types of grips then you should check them out. Bike Ribbon offer a range of soft grips to suit many types of riding, 9 colors in 3 models Race, Soft and Extralite with an array of colours to choose from.
- Construction: 100% Silicone
- Inner Mold Structure: No
- Internal Diameter: 14.5mm
- External Diameter: 25.5mm
- Once Installed: I.D. 22mm – E.D. 30mm
- Length: 130mm
- Weight: 50 grams each complete set
- Inside each package
- 2 grips, 2 silicone plugs with reflective top.
- Price: Around 20 Euros.
The shop on the Bike Ribbon website is coming soon. So in the meantime they can be purchased at:
Author: Jason Lorch
Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).
I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.
So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.
Chief editor at Tyres and Soles.