Over the last few years we have seen some very interesting new mountain bike products come out. From leaf-sprung forks to suspension stems, it seems like there is a “solution” to pretty much every possible problem. Many of these products have turned out to be gimmicks, but there are a select few that shine above the rest and actually deliver what they promise.
Revolution Suspension is a small company based in Southern California with a pedigree in motor sports suspension. I was interested in seeing if they had reinvented the wheel, or were simply selling snake oil.
Revgrips are a patented “Shock Absorbing Grip System.” They claim to reduce arm pump, hand and arm fatigue, as well as lower back pain. They do this by actually suspending the inside of the grip from the bar entirely. The grip has an inner plastic sleeve that has a larger inside diameter than the bar diameter. Lock-on clamps with a series of shock absorbing inserts and tuning washers suspend the grip from the bar itself. The grips are made in the US, are completely rebuildable, and cost $89.95.
Prior to receiving my test grips, I had heard about Revgrips’ suspension grips. I was skeptical of their claims, but after my recent surprise with a suspension stem, I figured what the heck! I ordered a set of the large Pro series grips in neon orange with purple clamps. Upon opening the box I realized this was going to be much more involved than installing regular grips.
Inside the box is a pair of grip sleeves, aluminum clamps, shock absorbing inserts, aluminum bar plugs, tuning washers, clamp screws, a 2.5mm hex wrench, and a 3mm hex wrench. Needless to say, there is a lot going on. The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone using these grips, is that you MUST read the manual!
Reading the manual gave me a solid grasp on how everything goes together. To begin assembly, you place the four shock-absorbing inserts into each of the aluminum clamps. Then, based on which of the five firmness levels you’re after, you place the appropriate tuning washers on each side. From there, tighten down the clamps, insert the bar plug, and you’re good to go. Basically, the more tuning washers used, the softer the grips will feel.
When I say “soft” I am referring to the movement of the grip. Because the grip is suspended from the bar itself, it has a small amount of lateral movement along the bar, but the real noticeable movement is felt twisting fore and aft. When the grip is set to firm it has very little fore and aft movement, but maintains the same amount of lateral movement as it does set to soft. I was immediately concerned about the movement of the grip, but as I started focusing on my hands when riding with traditional grips, I noticed that my hands move a lot as I ride anyway. I set mine to medium-soft and was ready to rip.
For my first ride with the Revgrips, I went to a fast and rocky trail that I have ridden countless times. I always finish the day feeling pretty beat up, so I was eager to see how they held up. Once I got on the trail, the grips disappeared entirely. I couldn’t tell the difference between these and any other grip at all. Where I could tell the difference was in the parking lot at the end of the ride. I wouldn’t say it was a huge difference, but I definitely felt more fresh than usual. At this point, I was eager to mess with the settings and take the Revgrips on a few more rides.
For the next ride, I set the grips to the soft setting. On the stand, it seriously looks like you are revving a motorcycle when you twist the grips. I was nervous about getting on the trail with my grips flopping around. Once again, I got on the trail and the grips disappeared entirely. This time, I took my bik on an intown ride with some pretty steep and technical trails. On the soft setting I could actually feel the grip rotating when taking drops, or anytime I went down a quick sudden descent. It was never an unpleasant sensation, and actually felt like I could “lean into” drops a little more confidently. For the rest of my testing, I never changed from the soft setting.
After testing the grips for a few weeks, I went on a trip where I was riding a rented bike with standard grips for a few days. As soon as I started riding I felt like my suspension was set up incorrectly. I messed with my fork and shock, and verified everything was correct. Still, the handling just didn’t feel right.
After riding for a few days my muscle memory returned and I felt more comfortable with traditional grips, but I had much worse fatigue after riding. I realized that the Revgrips didn’t just reduce fatigue, but actually changed the way that I handled a bike.
The biggest issue that I have with these grips is the price. At $89.95, they are not cheap at all. The nice thing however, is that they are fully rebuildable for around $30. They are also available in four different sizes (as well as a grip shift model), and with different color grips and clamps. The grips look pretty amazing, and can be customized to be simple and elegant, or wild and crazy.
The included bar plugs may be the nicest bar plugs that I have ever used. If the price is a deterrent, they also offer their Race series for $59.95. These only come in black, are preset to medium-soft, and don’t include any of the tuning washers. You can easily upgrade the Race series to have the same tuning features later on for $35. If the initial investment for either series is tough to justify, they do offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
Revgrips are certainly an interesting product. Having spent a good amount of time riding with them, I don’t feel like they are a product that I can’t live without. That being said, if I have the option to use them, I will always go for a set. The isolation from the bar not only helped to ease big hits, but it also encouraged me to stop white knuckling when the trail gets rough.
The initial investment is steep, but considering that they are completely rebuildable, this is simply another bike part that can be serviced without replacement. It also doesn’t hurt that they look pretty dang awesome! I plan to keep the Revgrips on my bike for the foreseeable future, no matter how many random people at the trailhead tell me my grips are loose.