Tips to Choose Mountain Bike Grips For Large Hands
Contrary to popular belief, the shape of your bike size is not the only thing that affects your comfort while riding. The handlebar and grips can make mountain biking enjoyable or a painful experience. Bike grips must be proportional to your body size or hands in particular. In this article we’ll discuss how to choose mountain bike grips for large hands.
People with large hands often experience discomfort and numbness from regular bike grips. Ideal mountain bike grips for large hands should be ergonomic, provide cushioning, and prevent numbness on longer rides to maximize the level of comfort and control while riding.
Reasons You Might Need New Grips When You Have Large Hands
If you haven't considered investing in new bike grips, you probably haven’t faced any problems on your rides. But if you keep on losing control due to vibration from rough terrain, experience tingling sensations, and have blistered or tired palms, then you need to take a closer look at the bike grips you’re using.
New bike grips may be necessary to alleviate discomfort due to numbness and grip fatigue which are the main indicators that the bike grips being used are the wrong size.
Hand numbness is a common problem among bike riders. Experts indicate that over 50% of riders face this problem some time in their life. Unsuitable bike grips cause compression on specific nerve pathways and restrict circulation. There are 2 types of hand numbness.
The first type is carpal tunnel syndrome as explained in this article from The American Journal of Sports Medicine. It's common in people between 30 and 60 years old whose median nerve is exposed to constant pressure. The median nerve is located in the carpal tunnel and branches out into the fingers.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness and a tingling sensation in your palm and fingers. Prolonged compression on the nerve leads to semi-permanent damage, which means you'll experience the symptoms even when you're not riding. After a while, you’ll need surgical intervention to regain normal functioning of your hand.
The second type of numbness you can experience is thoracic outlet syndrome which can cause ulnar nerve neuropathy as described in this article from the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. This syndrome causes you to experience numbness in your whole arm, sometimes affecting your neck. Stretching your arm to reach the handlebar puts pressure on the radial nerve located behind your elbow.
Remember the pain you experience when you bump your elbow? Well, that's because of the radial nerve. It stretches out to your fingers and upward to your shoulder and neck. The pressure leads to numbness in your hand and pain in the neck.
Now that we know the reasons behind the numbness, we can identify the type of grips that can minimize this horrible feeling - bike grips with wrist support made from soft rubber or foam that provide comfort and prevent nerve pressure.
Even though your mountain bike’s tires absorb the impact while you ride, your hands still feel the constant vibration caused by the surface of the road or trail. This requires you to use extra force to maintain control of the handlebar. After a while of holding unsuitable grips, your hands lose strength, and you feel grip fatigue, as described in this article from the International Journal of Mechanical and Production Engineering Research and Development. When you can't rely on your bike grips, you put constant pressure on your hands by squeezing.
Ergonomic foam or silicone bike grips with a larger diameter will absorb some of the vibrations and suit your large hands better to prevent grip fatigue. Remember that grip fatigue is dangerous and may cause you to lose control of your bike!
You might also be interested in learning how to choose mountain bike gloves with grip. Be sure to read our related article for more information.
Factors That Affect Mountain Bike Grip Comfort For Big Hands
Larger bike grips are not always the answer to greater comfort. To make sure that your hands are comfortable, install grips that are the right size for your hands. Also bear in mind that the material, ergonomics, and setup can make or break a grip.
Factors that affect mountain bike grip comfort for large hands are the grip's diameter, thickness, ease of installation, and softness.
They should also be made of the right material to stop your hands from sweating excessively. Sweaty sliding hands are no better than numb and tired hands as explained in our article that provides tips on how to choose a grip for sweaty hands.
There are internal and external grip diameters. The inner diameter of the bike grip is the handlebar's size and is essential when buying new grips. What we're interested in is the external or outer diameter as explained in our guide to mountain bike grip sizes.
The outer diameter needs to be oversized to fit a larger hand. The correct bike grip must provide a relaxed hold, not like you're struggling to grasp it but not too small either.
You're bound to use more force when riding with regular bike grips that don't fit your hands. As a result, control and maneuvering are more challenging, and your comfort and safety are compromised.
Have you ever seen riders with fabric wrapped around their grips? They're trying to add extra cushioning that only a large-diameter grip provides. The average bike grip has a diameter of 31.6mm, while large bike grips start with a 33mm diameter.
Mountain Bike Grip Thickness
As a rule of thumb, the thicker the bike grip, the greater the comfort for people with large hands. Fat bike grips are better at helping to absorb vibration due to road surfaces, feel more comfortable, help with navigating the handlebar, and don't require as much arm strength.
There's a common misconception that stock or thin bike grips provide better control. This is true only for people with regular-sized hands. Conversely, if a biker with regular-sized hands uses a thick bike grip, they won't be able to press the brake or maneuver the bike optimally.
The bike grip's thickness should be proportional to the rider's hand size. People with large hands and long fingers need thicker bike grips since the regular ones cause discomfort. A thin grip causes the rider's fingers to overlap in an attempt to grasp the grip, decreasing the control and putting additional strain on their arms.
You might also find interest in learning about the different mountain bike grip taping techniques too. Be sure to check out our related article for more details.
Ease of Installation
You can install bike grips by sliding or gluing. Sliding the bike grip onto the handle like a glove might require more effort but allows you to reuse the grips. If you would like to know more check out our step-by-step guide to mountain bike grip installation.
If you own a few bikes, like most passionate bikers do, installing and removing the bike grips needs to be done carefully. If you're going to invest in new bike grips, you want to be able to use them on more than one bike. However, this is often not possible with bike grips for larger hands as they have to be fixed to the handlebar using glue, which means the only way to remove them is by cutting them off. But when purchasing new bike grips, you can't be sure of their performance. Permanently gluing the grips means you either adapt to them or cut them off and suffer the financial loss.
In spite of being glued to the handlebar, it does happen from time to time that a mountain bike grip becomes loose while you are riding, so you may find our article that explains how to fix a mountain bike grip that has fallen off or our step-by-step guide on how to remove mountain bike grips useful.
Soft bike grips absorb the pressure and prevent wrist pain and numbness. On the other hand, thin and hard bike grips cause blisters and soreness, while grips that are too soft can cause grip fatigue.
The ideal grips should have medium softness. These bike grips are incredibly comfortable for long rides and promote a better grip. In addition, they eliminate the need for padded gloves, which is helpful if you want your hands to be free.
Here is a summary of the various mountain bike grips available on the market:
|Grip Type||Diameter||Thickness||Easy to Install?||Softness|
|Ergon MTB Grips||31.8mm||2.36 inches||Yes, lock-on with a grip clamp.||Medium with ergonomic fit.|
|Corki Mountain Bike Grips||20-22 mm||1.65 inches||Yes, double lock-on grips.||Soft thermoplastic rubber.|
|ESI Extra-Chunky||32mm||2 inches||No, sliding method without a lock.||Very soft silicone.|
|Ouri Single Compound V2||33mm||1 inch||Relatively easy installation - they slide on with compressed air or rubbing alcohol.||Extremely soft rubber.|
|Wolf Tooth Silicone Mega Fat Paw||40mm||1 inch||Easy, slide and lock with bar end plugs.||Very soft foam.|
On the opposite side of things, you might have smaller hands to contend with. If that's the case, be sure to check out our complete guide to mountain bike grips for small hands. Additionally, you may have wondered what the benefits of clipless pedals on a mountain bike might be. Be sure to take a look at our related article to find out more!
Handlebar Factors That Affect Your Comfort
Handlebars could also be responsible for your achy wrists and numb fingers. If you don't notice any difference in comfort even after trying out some of the best-selling bike grips, it's time to switch the handlebar.
Handlebar factors that affect your level of comfort include handlebar sweep, width, and rise. Choose a handlebar with these factors in mind to ensure a more comfortable ride and avoid pain and tension.
Handlebar sweep is the degree to which the handlebar bends. A handlebar has an upsweep and back sweep. For the longest time, cyclists thought that the handlebar sweep was a personal preference but it is actually all about ergonomics.
There's no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to the handlebar sweep type that suits you - it depends on your body size and build. Shoulder pain is one clear indicator that your sweep is not doing you justice. The back sweep can range from 5° to 16°, while upsweeps are around 4° to 5° with minimal variation between models.
If you're experiencing joint pain, try different handlebars, or you could end up with an injury. You may be experiencing other discomfort relating to the position of your body in which case our article that explains where to hold mountain bike grips to maintain proper posture may be helpful.
Handlebar widths range from 600mm to 820mm, with 760mm being the average for mountain bikers. In the early days of mountain biking, narrow handlebars were the only option as they were believed to provide better control.
Narrower handlebars are better for beginners, as they're closer in size to road bikes and have better aerodynamics so they have less air resistance and allow you to ride faster. Unfortunately, narrow handlebars are not comfortable for taller people.
Today, cyclists pick handlebar width according to the terrain that they ride on. For example, wider handlebars provide more stability when riding downhill. The physiological demands of downhill mountain biking is explained in greater detail in this article from the Journal of Sports Sciences.
Handlebar rise is closely connected to weight distribution. A low-rise handlebar directs your weight towards the front wheel, putting your body in an uncomfortable position, leading to neck and shoulder pain. Also, when your body weight is more to the front of the bike, you need to use more strength to pedal and move forward.
A high-rise handlebar provides a more comfortable body position, better control, and allows for clear vision down the track. However, there's no recommended or universal rise as this depends on your height, bike type, and overall feeling after a ride. Constant grip fatigue and joint pain could mean that you need to up the rise of your handlebar.
This video tutorial has some great tips for fitting your mountain bike’s handlebar correctly.
|BW Riser Handlebar||10° backsweep||620mm||Available in 20,40,60 or 100mm.|
|Teyssor Flat Handlebar||3° backsweep||Available in 720mm and 780mm||30mm|
|Upanbike Mountain Bike Road Bike Handlebar||6° backsweep||600mm||30mm|
|RaceFace Atlas Mountain Bike Handlebar||8° backsweep||785mm||1.25 inches|
|corki Mountain Bike Riser Handlebars||3° backsweep||Available in 720mm and 780mm||30mm|