As their name suggests, lock-on grips clamp onto your handlebar and not only allow for easy installation and removal, but the design also ensures that they won't ever move while you're riding. Well, most lock-on grips, anyway. Revolution's $109.95 USD Suspension Grips employ a unique two-collar lock-on design that allows the grip barrel to float over your handlebar slightly, something that the California company claims allows ''the grip to move independently of handlebar chatter, significantly reducing shock and vibration in your hands and upper body.''
We're all an open-minded bunch around here that looks at new products in a liberal and receptive way, aren't we? Carry on, then.
Revolution Suspension Grip Details
• Grips isolated on rubber inserts • Tuneable firmness via spacer shims • Includes alloy handlebar plugs • Includes 2.5 and 3mm hex keys • Includes extra inserts, washers, screws • Diameter: 31mm (tested), 34mm • Length: 130mm • Weight: 44 grams (per grip, w/ hardware) • Made entirely in the United States • MSRP: $109.95 USD
Grip choice can be a very personal thing - many of us decided which ones we love years ago and that's that, but they're all based on pretty much the same principle: one or two lock-on collars and a plastic barrel with some rubber of some kind laid over it. Simple stuff that does the job, but what if our grips could do two jobs?
Revolution believes that since grips are arguably the most important contact point of the three that we have with our bike, it's worth looking at how to make them better. And by better, they mean how to make them absorb some of the chatter that gets passed up through to a rider's hands.
''A lot of grips have shock absorbing characteristics. The difference is that they are direct-mounted to the handlebar,'' Revolution explains, ''and every single shock and vibration is translated directly into your hands.'' Isn't that the job of our suspension forks? Yes, but I also know that just because we have some $1,000 fork on the front of our bike doesn't mean it's an entirely smooth ride. Revolution believes that their suspension grips, which sees the plastic grip barrels float on rubber inserts, can further help matters. ''There are many different grip shapes and sizes designed in an effort to achieve that perfect, ergonomic fit, with hopes of minimizing arm pump and hand fatigue,'' they say about what most of us would consider the norm. ''Unfortunately, every grip has the same problem: they are directly mounted to your handlebar and most with locking rings serving the sole purpose of eliminating ANY movement.''
I know what you're thinking: grips that move sounds kinda... sketchy. The Suspension Grips can't spin on the handlebar, however, and their omnidirectional movement only adds up to about 3 or 4mm of so-called travel.
The Revolution Suspension Grips float on four rubber inserts that are hidden inside of the lock-on collars.
At $109.95 USD, the Suspension Grips aren't inexpensive, although it is worth mentioning that absolutely every bit of them, both metal and rubber, is manufactured in the United States. ''You are looking at a completely tunable shock absorber for your hands, not a simple handgrip,'' says Revolution of the price that would probably be enough to purchase two or three years worth of grips for the average rider. They also offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee (so long as they're "like-new" and in the original packaging), so you can also send them back if you're not a fan.
The small box that they come in is home to two grip barrels, four nicely machined aluminum clamps, sixteen rubber inserts, eight tuning washers (more on that below), two expanding bar plugs, all the tiny screws that are required, some extra rubber inserts and washers, and the 2.5 and 3mm hex keys that you need to put everything together. Separate items like the grip barrels and rubber inserts, which are both wear items, are available on the company's website for $40 USD.
A single Revolution Suspension Grip weighs 44 grams, while a single ODI Ruffian lock-on weighs 53 grams.
How Do They Work?
A normal lock-on grip slides on and the inside face of the barrel is in complete contact with the handlebar, but with Revolution's design the inside diameter of the plastic barrel is about one-eighth of an inch larger than the handlebar. It doesn't sound like much, but this extra real estate provides the space needed to allow the grip to "float" over the handlebar.
This float allows the grip to rotate back and forth by 3 or 4mm, and also move vertically by a few millimeters.
They look just like normal grips once they're assembled, and no one would know any different unless they were to grab one and twist.
There are four small tongs that extend out from each side of the grip barrel, much like the two that we usually see on each end of a standard lock-on grip. These interface with the nicely machined aluminum lock-on clamps, but it's what goes in between the two that gives the Revolution grips their claimed powers: four rubber inserts are pushed into each clamp, with the tongs engaging with the inserts rather than the clamps themselves.
The rubber inserts allow the grip barrels to have near omnidirectional movement; they can move up or down, and even twist slightly. What they don't do, however, is move side-to-side, with the clamps preventing any unwanted lateral shifting. Once installed, the only parts of the Revolution system making contact with your handlebar are the aluminum clamps.
But that's not all; you can actually tune how active the grips are by installing or removing thin black shims that are included in the kit. These shims go on the end of the grip barrel, in between the barrel and the clamps (and the rubber inserts that are inside the clamps), and they determine how much engagement there is between the four tongs on the ends of each grip and the rubber inserts.
Less engagement (one thick washer at each end) means they can move more freely, whereas more engagement (no washers at each end) provides maximum engagement and a firmer feel.
The kit includes thin and thick washers, but no more than a single washer is to be employed at each end, making for five tuning settings in total: zero washers for the firmest feel; a single thin washer on one side for a medium/firm feel; thin washers on each side for a medium feel; a thick washer on one side and a thin on the other for a medium/soft feel; and thick washers on both sides for the softest feel.
Opening the box reveals a set of pre-assembled Revolution grips that have a thin washer installed on each side to provide a medium amount of forgiveness, but because I wanted to start off by using the softest, most forgiving setting before switching to the firmest, I took everything apart and started from scratch. Besides, it's fun to take things apart.
Thin washers allow riders to choose between firmer or softer settings.
The job isn't difficult, but there are a handful of small pieces involved. The rubber inserts are all of the same durometer (it's the shims that change the action, remember), so it's just a matter of squishing four of them into each collar, then sliding a shim over the grip's tongs (if you want to use any) before pushing the collars home.
The tongs do fit snug into the rubber inserts, so some wiggling is required to fully seat the collars, and you'll need to hold each collar onto the grip while sliding them onto the handlebar - they want to come off until you clamp down the set screws. The instructions say to snug down each screw to 10 in/lbs, although I doubt anyone is going to be using a torque wrench with a 2.5mm hex key. It took about ten minutes to put everything together and install the grips.
The collars look nice, and you'd never know what's going on under them unless someone showed you.
When I showed other riders the Suspension Grips, the consensus was that the last thing they wanted moving around was the connection between their hands and the bike. ''That's going to feel really vague and weird,'' I was told again and again. And that's kinda what I expected to feel, to be honest.
Go grab onto your grips right now, squeezing them as if you're holding on for dear life on the last run of the day down A-Line during the Sunday of Crankworx - there are holes that a small child would disappear into, and you feel like you've gone a few rounds with Conor McGregor after a long day in the bike park. But no matter how tightly you squeeze, those grips can still rotate back and forth in your hands slightly because the skin on your palms twists.
That direct connection between your mitts and your grips might be a lot less direct than you thought.
It's for this reason that the Revolution Grips don't feel odd in the slightest. You don't feel them moving - it's a subtle thing - and you most certainly don't feel like you've lost any sort of direct connection between you and your bike. Everything feels very normal.
I installed the grips onto a hardtail with a 120mm-travel fork, a bike that I'm often aboard while riding well over my head to keep up with people on their 150mm-travel all-mountain sleds, which probably makes it the ideal test platform for these things. With less suspension to take the edge off, any advantage that the Revolution grips present should be obvious. I also started with the grips in their softest setting (thick washers on both sides of each grip) to exaggerate their movement right out of the gate and then re-installed a standard ODI Ruffian lock-on grip back on only one side of the handlebar to compare before running both Revolution grips in the firmer settings.
Inserts and suspension aside, the rubber and pattern used makes the Revolution grips comfortable to hold onto.
And what did all that experimenting tell me? That yes, there is actually something to these grips. It doesn't feel like you have an extra inch of suspension travel, or even half an inch, but the Revolution Suspension Grips do take some of the edge out of impacts, especially high-speed chatter like square-edged braking bumps or roots across a fast section singletrack. I'd describe the feeling as being similar to how going from a 2.1'' tire on a narrow rim to a high-volume 2.35'' tire on a wide rim can make the trail seem smoother, and your suspension fork feel like it's performing better than ever - but it's just your tire and rim combo. Well, the same thing goes for these grips, but unlike a wider tire and rim, there's basically no weight penalty involved.
They do make a difference, but I still have a hard time thinking of these grips as a suspension product, even if you can use the supplied washers to effectively tune their spring rate - they're more like isolators in my mind. The firmer settings are also less beneficial, and I don't see myself ever using them in anything but the softest setup.
Rubber inserts and isolating aside, the 31mm diameter and forgiving pattern is much friendlier on the paws than some other more aggressive looking grips out there, which could make them ideal for those riders who somehow get by without wearing gloves. The rubber has some stickiness to it as well, which doesn't hurt matters.
The outer edge of the Revolution grip is abrupt and quite noticeable under your palm compared to a Ruffian.
One thing that I'm not a fan of is the ramped outer edges that border the aluminum lock-on collars. ODI lock-on grips, as well as most other options out there, have a similar sort of design, but theirs is far less prominent feeling under the outer edges of my hands. I ended up moving my brake levers and shifter inboard by about 10mm to force myself to keep my hands from resting on the outer edges of the Revolution grips, but those riders who tend to not use the full width of their handlebar likely won't need to do this.
The $109.95 USD pricetag will be hard for many to swallow, but the added forgiveness of the Revolution Suspension Grips, however slight, will be appreciated by those who enjoy riding a short-travel bike quickly. I could also see downhillers who spend all day in the bike park benefiting from the design. - Mike Levy