ESI Chunky Grips
First off, let's get one thing straight -- ESI Chunky grips are not made of foam. All of those scoffing at the old school 'Grab On' style digs on our Ventana test bike take warning! The ESI Chunky and Racer's Edge are constructed of Silicone. ESI chose Silicone because it is much denser and less porous than foam, yet softer and more compliant than rubber. Silicone is somewhat a miracle material in the modern age, and most likely has the better of a million uses but this is the first we could think of that applied to a bicycle.
Out of the package and onto the scale, we confirmed the claimed weight by ESI in the 60 gram range. Our old faithful and lightweight favorite WTB DC Trail Grip that was pulled from the El Padrino test rig tipped our scale just shy of 90g. So the ESI Chunky will easily save 20-40g over most popular rubber grip systems. While this may not seem like much, we can cite hundreds of examples of far more extravagant and expensive products designed to save fewer grams.
The ESI Chunky grips are shaped conically. The thicker side should be oriented on the bar to provide more padding to the palm. The grips boasts a hair over 5-1/8" of usable width. We found this to be plenty of room for our average sized hands, and the grips could be easily resized with scissors, utility knife, etc. The Chunky is recommended over the Racer’s Edge if you use SRAM twist shifters as the 32mm diameter of Chunky makes a smoother transition to the twist shifter.
We followed the installation instructions on the ESI website and installed the left grip with a little rubbing alcohol. We decided to install the right grip in our more traditional fashion with compressed air to see how we fared. The grips fit snugly but were manageable to install with both methods. They felt surprisingly secure and really resisted all the twisting force we could muster up. ESI provided a nice set of rubber bar end caps that popped snugly into the ends of our o-so-thin-and-o-so-light MaXm Isogrid bar. We were pleasantly surprised at the unique feel the Chunky grips provided. It’s somewhat compliant and forms to your hand but dense enough to still provide firm grip and support. Also, the bold red coloring stood out, providing a nice accent color against the gloss white Ventana. The grips are also available in blue, black and a very bright green that makes us miss the 80’s! ESI promises the color will not fade over time and is easily cleaned.
Ten minutes after grabbing a water bottle and checking tire pressure we were off to our nearby singletrack testing ground, Allsop Park. After floating through a few miles of Allsop’s nestled rocks and roots, our hands confirmed the superior vibration absorption of the Chunky grips over our previous rubber set. Being a sultry, humid 95 degree July afternoon in the Natural State, our gloves and bike were saturated with sweat, but the grips felt tacky and non-slippery while we let it hang wide open on a couple of our favorite technical descents. We noticed no turning of either the left or right grip on the trail. In the weeks that followed, we've been just as impressed.
Before testing we opted for the Chunky because of the additional diameter it offered. But after testing we feel confident that we would have been plenty comfortable on the slightly thinner and lighter Racer’s Edge Grip. The Chunky is well suited for riders that like the more substantial feel of 'Oury-like' grips. Thinner to average diameter grip fans should not fear the ESI Racer's Edge.
Overall, we were extremely pleased with all aspect of the grips -- ease of installation, comfort, weight, price and adherence to the bars. Two thumbs up from our end, and we'd highly recommend the ESI Chunky grips for those who want to shave grams wherever possible, but don’t want to sacrifice hand comfort in the process.