Handlebar grips are an important part of mountain biking because it is the only thing that you hold on to when riding.
This is why they are also one of the first components to go through wear and tear. Either their surface texture becomes rougher, or they shed rubber faster. Whichever the case is, it’s important that you know when to replace them so you avoid injuries or falling out from your bike.
So, how long do these handlebar grips usually last? And what are the signs you need to replace them?
These are the questions we’ll answer in this article. We’ll also talk about the different factors and riding styles that affect the lifespan of your handlebar grips.
Average Handlebar Grip Lifespan
There is no definite answer as to how long grips last. But the usual lifespan or timeframe they work well is around 6 months to 1 year.
This depends on a lot of factors, though, such as riding style, how sweaty your hands are, and the kind of riding and mountain bike discipline you’re doing. Even the place you ride and the climate and weather of your place are big factors that can affect how long your grips will last.
Silicone grips are one of the most common kinds of bike grips out there because they are much more affordable than rubber grips. However, they also don’t last that long compared to its counterpart.
In fact, silicone grips can easily get torn or damaged if you fall on them and the grips hit something. It’s not as durable as the rubber grips. But despite this, they’re still reliable because they provide a firm grip on your hands.
You also have an easier time cleaning it off because it has a soft surface, unlike rubber ones which have a lot of texture. They usually last 5 months to 1 year, but can still go beyond that if you don’t use them often or if you don’t have sweaty hands.
Then there are the rubber grips which are usually of higher quality compared to the silicone ones. They also last longer because they have a harder material which is more difficult to damage.
But still, they can have a short lifespan if you have sweaty hands or if you use them ruggedly in aggressive trails.
They’ll also wear faster if it’s always raining or if you don’t clean them regularly. Their average lifespan is 7 months to 1 year or even more depending on several factors.
Factors Leading to Grips Deterioration
How often it is used
The biggest factor that affects the lifespan of your grips is their frequency of use. The more you use the grips, the faster it wears out.
If you ride daily and you have premium grips like Renthal lock-on grips, then expect it to last for around 1 year to 2 years at most. But still, that can go down to as little as 4 months or even 3 months if you ride hard daily on downhill trails.
Grips won’t also last longer if you have sweaty hands because sweat is acidic. And that acidic liquid can seep into the rubber or silicone material of the grips and make the texture softer.
This can then increase the chances of the grips to shed whenever your hands rub on it. You can, however, avoid this by always wearing gloves whenever you ride.
Riding discipline also plays a huge role in your riding. There are three main types of riding disciplines. These are cross-country, enduro, and downhill. Expect to have a longer grips lifespan if you always ride cross-country because this is the lightest type of mountain biking.
You are less likely to go through very rough trails. This then means fewer vibrations on your end, which makes the ride more stable. This then lowers friction levels between your hand and the grips and thereby makes your ergonomic grips last longer.
Meanwhile, enduro and downhill riders can expect a short lifespan for their grips because they are more prone to scratches and in-trail damages.
These riders go fast on dangerous trails that characterize steep downhills. So, it’s safe to say that mountain bike grips installed on bars that are ridden on aggressive trails are expected to not last that long.
What are the signs you need to replace handlebar grips?
Flaking is when the rubber or silicone material from your mountain bike grips starts to shed. You can notice this if you dip your hand in the water and then go on a bike ride. Spend about 15 to 20 minutes riding your bike, and then look at your hands.
You’ll then see that there are small sediments of material from your soft grips sticking on your hands. This is a clear sign that your lock-on grips are now flaking and it’s about time that you change your grips if you want to make the most out of them.
You can also notice that your mountain bike grips are becoming thinner by the way you hold them. You can easily notice this if you don’t wear any gloves when riding.
This is very common if you always ride when it’s raining or if you don’t wear gloves and you’ve got sweaty hands. You can also try putting grip glue underneath the foam grips or stock grips to avoid grips slip which are very common on aluminum locking rings.
Another sign that it’s time to change your grips is if there is no more texture on the surface. The surface can also be significantly smoother because there is less material on it, knowing that it had been shed from the constant use.
This is why you need to choose the best mountain bike grips. Although the best mountain bike grips are more expensive, it’s totally worth it because mountain bikers can use them for a longer time, just like dirt bike grips and leather grips.
With this being said, you can clearly see that mountain bike grips are disposable. They don’t last that long, but that still depends on a variety of factors such as frequency of use, riding style, hand sweating, and many more.
But this also doesn’t mean that you can just take them for granted. In fact, you need to get the best available grips out there so you can have the best riding experience possible.