Review: DMR Muta and ZipGrip Grips
June 18th, 2012
By Olly Forster
Those bits of rubber and plastic that hang off the end of your bars are the second point of contact you have with your bike and not something to hold back on. They are also a component that many of us spend far less time experimenting with and deliberating over than say the more expensive and elaborate parts that make up our bikes. We don’t do complacency here at Factory Jackson (I hope?) so we spent the last few months rattling through various grips from different manufacturers and here’s our first looking at these two rubber beauties from iconic UK brand, DMR Bikes.
Words: Olly Forster
Photos: Olly Forster and Jim Newby
The Muta grip is a hybrid of sorts, blending both the security and hassle free nature of a lock-on design, whilst offering the feel and styling of a push-on grip. Both represent distinct advantages and disadvantages, but have DMR got the blend spot on with the Muta?
Rather than having two aluminium collars at either end, the Muta’s have just one collar, with the other lock-on unit being built into the flange. These also differ from what you’ve seen before as they aren’t designed to be re-used after the rubber has worn and the grip body has done it’s job – how many of us replace just the inner part of our lock-on grips and re-use the collars anyway? The other thing that truly separates the Muta from regular lock-on grips is that the grip itself isn’t bonded to a solid plastic tube – a downside to regular lock-on’s, making them characteristically larger in diameter and reducing feel and increasing arm pump. The Muta’s are only half bonded and to a much thinner inner sleeve making them super narrow for a lock-on design. The downside, is that there is a degree of movement in the rubber between the collars, which you can pinch with your fingers, but they do represent a lock-on grip with the feel and contact with the bars that’s normally only found on traditional push-on style grips.
With a price tag of £15.99 and the styling and quality we’ve become accustomed to from DMR, the Muta’s are a bloody bargain! Laser etched end caps finish them off, but be careful leaning these against your car…
End to end, you’re looking at just over 130mm and from the inside of the collar to the inside of the flange, they’re about 110mm. All in all, the Muta’s are a pretty compact grip and one for those without huge spade like hands. The lock-on ends clamp to the bars via two 3mm grub screws on either side – simple yet effective. The grip pattern is nothing revolutionary, utilising the DMR logo in conical pattern from one side to the other other and it looks pretty good. The pattern and compound lends itself to a glove wearer over the Sam Blenkinsop’s out there.
I’m very fond of the old ‘flange’ design that’s pretty much standard on MX and BMX grips and the Muta didn’t disappoint in terms of feel and dexterity, but where they did feel different was in the rigidity of the flange and to the point of blisters after a long day on the big bike. To remedy this I moved my brake levers further in towards the grip and hey presto, not an issue. I know you shouldn’t have to mess with your cockpit to accommodate a new grip, but if you play with it you never know what you’ll discover? We are talking about grips here…
The ZipGrip is exactly that, a grip designed to be held on with zips, well zip ties to be more specific. Push-on grips are making a comeback in mountain biking and I love them. With increased feel through the bars and a smaller circumference, they offer a certain connectivity to the bike that I think is a little lost on most lock-on grips due to their girth. The other cool thing about this style of grip is the price, with these coming in at £8.49! Without going into a pros and cons debate, all I’ll say is that even though MTB has sold it self to the lock-on design, BMX and Moto still doing it the old fashioned way and they’ve been here a lot, lot, longer. Are we suckers to marketing? How many times do you remove your grips? I could talk about this for a while, so back to the review.
So, ‘push-on’ grips? How do you fit them? Well, everyone’s got their own method, but I use GT85 and locking wire. The supplied zip ties were crap and I snapped ‘em, so out came the pliers and on went the wire. Job done and rain or shine, no movement. I’ve used the Renthal glue a lot in the past, but with an 8 hour drying time and a lack of patience, GT85 seems to work a treat allowing them to slide on and then quickly evaporating to leave them stuck fast. I’ll be doing a step by step fitting article on push-on grip fitting real soon – I’ve seen far too many fitted incorrectly recently, so stay tuned for that.
The ZipGrip follow a traditional and ‘borrowed from MX’ half waffle, half diamond design. Made popular for increased grip in adverse conditions without sacrificing feel, but I wouldn’t recommend them for the gloveless brigade. Notice the grooves at either end for the zip ties to sit in. I’m sure they’d have been fine, but after the second one snapped, I just wired ‘em like any other push-on grip that comes in for review.
Diamond on top and waffle on the bottom delivering a solid and functional design and great for when things get wild and muddy. Measuring at 147mm tip to tip, these are pretty long grips and definitely sway towards the freestyle market where a larger platform is pretty important. On the DH bike, I did find them a tad long, especially on rougher, longer courses where my hands would occasionally move around, leading to me grabbing wrong parts of the brake lever and losing my sweet spot.
Unlike the Muta’s, the ZipGrip’s feature plastic end caps making them relatively safe to lean against your vehicle, should the need arise. Going back to the issue of excessive length, the beauty of push-on grips is that you can just cut them down with a knife and wire ‘em at the end. Get creative and get customizing!
Conclusion – Muta vs ZipGrip?
The Muta was a real grower and any issues I had with them from the off were quickly dashed the more I used them and adapted my set up to suit them. I would go as far to say that these would be ideally suited for a DH application and even with the movement in the rubber present between the clamps, in practice and on the bike I didn’t even notice it.
The ZipGrip’s let me down from the off when the supplied zip ties snapped, but even if they snapped due to excessive force, I still think that DMR may be underestimating the market when they designed these and good old fashioned wire and pliers is hardly brain surgery. I do however see where they’re coming from and commend them for it. We, as mountain bikers have become so used to lock-on grips that those in the know (DMR) have also known what we’ve been missing out on and what many an MTBer may consider as ‘old fashioned’ and too much like hard work, really isn’t. Push-on grips feel and look amazing and DMR have delivered just that, a push on grip for the lock-on generation. Just go easy on the zip ties!
Grumbling about zip ties aside, the ZipGrips themselves were faultless and with a variety of colours to choose from, plus a flanged option (which I’d have gone for in hindsight) you really can pick the right ones for you and your bike. I did feel they were a little long for my tastes, but the pattern and compound were great for wet and muddy days on the hill – no surprise being like an MX gri aye?
Muta versus ZipGrip? No contest really as they’re both great, but if I had to choose one off the shelf, I’d take the Muta, but with a knife, some wire, pliers and creativity, it wouldn’t take much to make the ZipGrip into one awesome ‘moto’ inspired grip for your push bike. Both grips are available in red, purple, green, black, blue and white. Go check them out and give them a go – you might find that special thing missing from your bike. Happy trails!
For more on these grips and DMR’s bitchin range of off-road bicycles and parts, hit the logo below!