Review: ESI Road Grips
The following review is by Scott Mares and originally published on his site Cross Bike Review: crossbikereview.com.
So one day I was talking to a buddy of mine that works at a major bicycle part distributor and he said that they just got in these really cool silicon grips and that they would be perfect for cyclocross. I said really? How so? He gave me the 411 on ESI and so I looked them up and gave them a call. The people there were really helpful and the customer service was spot on with all of my questions. So I got a hold of a couple of sets to try out. I can say after 6 months of using these things that I can say they are awesome. So why are they so awesome?
Grip and lots of it. The ESI grips are made out of Silicon and that means lots and lots of grip with no slip. Sure there are lots of handlebar tape out there that offers good grip. But hold on! What happens to that grip when it get wet & muddy? 99% of the time when its muddy and rain is coming down its not so good at best. With the ESI Silicon grips this problem is just the opposite or I should say GONE. The ESI Silicon compound is Hyper-Hydrophobic (hates water) and this is a very good thing. The ESI grips shed water faster than Jeremy Powers can say Ka-Pow! That means you will feel like you have the grip of an Amazon tree frog with Velcro fingertips. Only your tires will slip and slide in the mud not your hands. Another benefit to having GI Joe Kung-Fu grip is that you don't have to hold on to the bars so hard, that means less energy expended! This will translate to less mistakes in controlling your bike in muddy conditions.
If your like me you take great pride in your cyclocrossbike and that means keping it clean. A lean bike is a happy bike. Our bikes really only get a short period to look their best and that is usually in the starting grid. A really big advantage that these have over other white tape is the ESI Silicon grips clean up fast and look new even after a mud bath. Yep just take a rag and a little bit of soap and they look like new.
We Didn't Like
IF you read the directions and TRUST ME you need to read them. They will tell you that its a TWO (2) person job. Check your ego at the door and don't underestimate the effort this requires. So before you get everything apart and try to do it yourself lure a buddy to come over (with beer) for a few minutes to help. We decided to leave this to the professionals and took it over to our local shop. Our Mechanic was alone in the shop and made the mistake to try this by himself. He could not get them on. So he called me up and I rolled over there to help. The directions do need to be updated a bit though. The pictures that they show in the directions are of STI levers with only one internal cable so the pictures are dated. Now SRAM, Campy and Shimano all have 2 internal cables. This will make it a little more challenging to get them on.
The trick for putting them on is when you start to put them on the handle bars use the cable housing like a lever to get them initially on the bars. Make sure you apply plenty of hand sanitizer gel (and when you think you used enough put some more on) and they will slide on with some effort.
The Final Say
You know its always cool to have white handle bar tape on your bike it just looks so Euro and Pro. But keeping it clean is a problem and requires a lot of upkeep. So white is high maintenance. Well it looks like the folks at ESI has a solution for that problem and in the process there are other benefits to their road grips. Because they are made out of silicon they don't hold water at all and are gripy all of the time even in the wet. Now, this a HUGE advantage in cyclocross and I believe that these are The best grips for cyclocross. The ESI grips are sticky and clean up to like new. Now there is always a trade off with this stuff. They are a little pricey and they are difficult to get on and off. Its a two Person job so grab your buddy and some Belgian beer and invite them over. If you have your mechanic do it find out their favorite beer or food and drop it off with the bike. This way he or she is OBLIGATED to get those grips on..... I race and train in rainy Portland OR and I can tell you that these grips will be on my cross bike this year.