The grips on bicycle handlebars are there for rider comfort, but they serve another vital purpose. Bike grips are essential for traction.
They live up to their name by helping to ensure the hands of the rider grip the bars where they should and stay in place for better control over the fork for steering. Are bike grips universal?
Bike grips are not universal because they are meant to fit bars of varying lengths and diameters. The inner diameter of the grips fits around the handlebar made from metal tubing. Meanwhile, the external diameter suits different hands, and the length of the grips ensures your hand will fit and covers enough of the bar for a secure hold.
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Are All Bike Grips The Same Size
Bike grips are not all the same size because the tubing that makes up your handlebars is not always the same size.
The chart below shows the standard millimeter measurements for handlebar tube grip areas.
You’ll see that there is some standardization, and there are only four different sizes among most manufactured bikes.
Handlebar Grip Area Size in Millimeters
|Handlebar Type||Grip Diameter|
|Easton standard Flat Bar MTB||22.2 mm|
|Modern Oversize Flat Bar||22.2 mm|
|Modern Oversize Drop Bar||23.8 mm|
|Kids Bikes||19 mm|
|Most Steel BMX and MTB||22.2 mm|
|Standard 20th Century Flat Bar||22.2 mm|
|Standard 20th Century Drop Bar||23.8 mm|
|Unofficial In-Between Size||23.8 mm|
|Cinelli Old/Modern||23.8/26 mm|
|Road Standard (Older Italian Drop Bar)||23.8 mm|
|Obsolete French Standard||23.5 mm|
|Obsolete British Drop Bar and 3-Speed||22.2 mm|
|Obsolete Titan Drop Bar||23.8 mm|
Types Of Bicycle Grips
There are 5 basic styles of bicycle grips. They are made from rubber, silicone, or high-density foam.
While there is a vast variety of shapes, lengths, and colors within each of these groups, they are all made from the same three basic materials with a little proprietary blending and stylistic differences.
- Silicone – Lightweight, durable, and ‘grippy’ with good weather-resistant qualities
- Ergonomic – This rubber grip style often has wings that function as rests for your wrists and is typically bulkier around the center for a wider hand position.
- Racing – Made for speed during professional events, these are usually tacky for better grip and help cut wind resistance with a thinner and sleeker profile.
- Foam – These were the pre-silicone top choice for MTBs. Lightweight and good grip in damp conditions.
- Rubber Kids Grips – These bright, textured grips are found on children’s bikes and come in various practical and decorative patterns and colors.
How Do I Know What Size Bike Grips To Buy
There are two easy ways to measure the distance around your handlebars if you need to know what size bike grips to buy. The first is simple.
A good quality set of digital calipers will give you an exact measurement of the outer diameter of your handlebars in a couple of seconds. Although analog versions are available, I don’t recommend them.
According to Bob Vila, “Digital calipers can take highly accurate measurements (to 0.0005 inches) of an object’s inside diameter, outside diameter, and depth. Digital calipers can automatically convert between standard and metric measurement systems, have an easy-to-read digital display, and offer a higher level of accuracy than analog sets.”
The second way to measure is with a flexible measuring tape. Rather than choosing metal or digital models, grab a fabric measuring tape.
These are typically made out of highly flexible plastic and will wrap around your handlebar easily.
Simply note the distance around, divide by 3.1415 to get the diameter, then select the corresponding size.
The ideal length for your grips is personal. Since you are the only one with your hands, you need grips to fit your hand around comfortably.
Additionally, your taste in added length is entirely based on what feels right to you. Some people want the ends of their grips barely more expansive than their hands.
Others want more space to slide their hands in toward the fork or out for comfort on longer rides.
Are Bicycle Handlebar Grips Universal
Bicycle handlebar grips are not universal because bicycle handlebars have various lengths and diameters.
Meanwhile, bicycle grips are different internal and external diameters and vary in length. The inner diameter is what fits on your handlebar.
A grip’s external texture and diameter are all about how they feel in your hands.
A cushier, more ergonomic grip is good for comfort, and a highly textured or sticky exterior provides more friction for rougher rides.
The grip length offers space for your hands and covers the handlebar more or less, depending on the size.
Are MTB Grips Universal
MTB grips are not universal. The inner diameter is often the same, but the outer diameter and length vary.
This is a good thing for riders who also differ in their preferences and the size of their hands.
A smaller inner dimension will give you a tighter fit on the bar, which is ideal if you have problems with your grips coming loose or shifting while you ride.
Alternatively, a larger outer diameter will provide more cushion for your hand. The texture and shape variation also affects how your hands feel while you ride.
The wider the outer diameter, the more open your hand will be while holding the handlebars, which can help reduce cramping.
The materials vary as well. MTB riders may use rubber grips, but foam has been the preferred material for many years because it provides a superior grip when it gets wet.
That additional traction is especially important when ascending or descending a slope, whether from rain or sweat.
Silicone is the current favorite for MTB riders, but I recommend trying all three before you settle.
MTB Grip Diameter
Mountain bikes have a fairly standard handlebar size. Your MTB probably has a 22.2 mm handlebar grip diameter.
However, it’s essential to check the size regardless, as some models may come with different handlebars.
Especially if you buy custom or pick up a secondhand bike, you need to double-check the grip size.
Helpful Tips To Know About Are Bike Grips Universal
While there is no single, perfect universal grip size for bicycles, it should be easy enough to find the correct fit for you.
Most companies offer a large variety of lengths and diameters to fit different bicycles.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about are bike grips universal.
- The distance between your grips is also not universal. The width of your handlebars should be about the same as that of your shoulders. The space helps prevent your arms from becoming cramped or overextended as you ride.
- If you are off by 2 to 3 millimeters on your measurement, you’ll either have a tighter fitting grip or one that could be too loose. A tighter fir is perfectly acceptable. Some riders prefer a tighter fit. So long as the material fits and isn’t tearing apart, you should be just fine. However, if your grips are loose, they can’t do the job they are designed for, and you need to downsize for a proper fit.
- When you are concerned about protecting your grips, invest in bar ends. Meanwhile, if you need to keep your hands safe, dry, and warm, consider silicone gel gloves that fit over your grips. Additionally, it would be best if you used an adhesive or safety wire to keep them in place.
Choosing the proper handlebar grips for your bike can be tricky. Bike grips are not universal because bike riders aren’t universal.
There are so many variables like the material, length, and texture to consider. I recommend shopping around and picking up several different shapes and styles to see what works best for you.
Fortunately, grips are not expensive. You can experiment easily. If your hands feel cramped, get a wider external diameter or choose ergonomic grips.
Likewise, you should get a tighter fit if it’s loose or shifts. When you find the perfect fit, you can attach them (semi) permanently with an adhesive or safety wire.