For being one of just three contact points we have with our bike, and arguably one of the most important of those three, grips don't get the attention they deserve. A lot of us seem pretty ambivalent about what we're holding onto, but you know who isn't? Some guy Aaron Gwin. ODI worked with the American downhiller to come up with the AG-1 grip back in 2014, and now the pairing has a second, updated version called, you guessed it, the AG-2.
The $35 USD AG-2 features a bunch of modifications that Gwin wanted, enough that the new offering should really be thought of as an entirely fresh design, but they do retain the single, inboard lock-on collar that the AG-1 employed. One AG-2 grip weighs 53-grams
(with hardware), which is 9-grams heavier
than its predecessor.
• Single, inboard lock-on clamp
• Aluminum reinforced outboard end w/ plastic cover
• 30.5mm diameter (AG-1 was 28mm)
• 135mm length
• New, softer compound
• Coarser knurl pattern
• Six color options
• Manufactured in the USA
• Weight: 53-grams per grip (w/ hardware)
• MSRP: $35 USD
If you're going to have a grip named after you, it better be exactly what you want to use. And it turns out that what Gwin wants to use is a grip with a slightly larger diameter - and softer material - than the AG-1. Instead of having an ultra-thin 28mm cross-section, ODI has bumped that number up to 30.5mm at the behest of Gwin. This, along with the more compliant rubber compound, should make it more forgiving on the hands than the harsh feeling AG-1.
On the left is the original AG-1, with a 28mm diameter and four fins. On the right is the new AG-2, with a 30.5mm diameter and only two fins. One is a whole lot better than the other.
Also new is a much coarser knurled surface; the AG-1 had a very small, tight texture to it, whereas the AG-2's pattern is larger and more open. ODI says that all of the above should provide the rider with more traction and better damping vibration abilities. Or, in other words, more comfort.
The AG-1's defining feature was its four evenly spaced fins that ran about three-quarters of its length and were meant to line up with the articulation points on a rider's hands to supply extra traction. ODI has nixed two of those fins on the AG-2, however, which is probably a good thing as I found them to feel quite pronounced under my palms.
At the outboard end, you'll find a ramped section that's said to provide extra comfort and to help keep your hands from being exposed when hanging off the end of the grip. And, finally, the inboard end has an eagle molded into its raised section to increase patriotism and comfort.
I had ODI send me a set of both the AG-1 and AG-2 grips in order to find out if newer equals better, and instead of swapping the grips back and forth, I ran an AG-1 on the left side and an AG-2 on the right. Besides looking like an idiot for awhile, this gave me an easy and instant way to compare the two. As it turns out, 2.5mm can make a world of difference... when it comes to grips, I mean.
Eagles for your drivetrain and now eagles for your grips?
I've always searched out the thinnest grips that I could find, which is why I assumed that I'd prefer the older, 28mm diameter AG-1s over their new, thicker replacement. But compared to the AG-2, the older grip had me feeling like my left hand was wrapped around the bare handlebar, and not in a good way. When Mike Kazimer reviewed the AG-1s back in 2014
, his main issue was that they had a ''harsher feel than expected, not providing very much cushion or vibration damping,'' and I'd have to agree with him on that point.
In contrast, the slightly larger diameter of the AG-2s just felt just right to my one hand holding onto it, and more forgiving to boot. I can't tell you if that's down to the different knurled pattern, the different compound, or the extra 2.5mm, but there's certainly a pronounced difference.
The ramped inboard and outboard edges are there to provide some extra cushioning.
The four raised fins on the old AG-1 grip seem odd to me; I understand why they're they're there, but they feel far too pronounced. ODI dropped two of those fins from the AG-2, and while the four fins gave me a 'rock in my shoe' kinda sensation, the two fins on the AG-2 grip were mostly invisible. Now, I can't say that I've ever had issues with any grips being too slippery, but the fins surely help. Moving to the ends of the AG-2, the ramped sections of rubber on the inside and outside edges weren't noticeable, at least by my hands. Then again, I sometimes get sore spots on the outer edges of my palms from the hard outer ends of a grip, and I never had that issue with the AG-2s, so maybe there's something to it. Pinkbike's Take: