Review: Odi Sensus, Longneck & Ruffian Grips – The Non-Lock-On Review
September 24th, 2012
By Olly Forster
Lock-on grips are brilliant aren’t they? Just a few seconds with an allen key and your old grips are off and the new ones are on. Job’s a good ‘un as they say, at least until they need replacing and it’s time to get some new ones on there, but who cares, what’s a few seconds of your life over a year? Not much, but then what’s half an hour and spending half the amount of money and having more grips to choose from?
Remember grips before lock-ons? I do and thanks to a certain British handlebar brand that launched some old-school style BMX grips onto the MTB market last year, and to great success, I’ve since been spending more and more time away from the grip that brainwashed a generation and exploring grips that don’t need allen keys to be installed. In this review I picked three push-on grips from grip supremo Odi to see how they fared out on the trails…
Sensus Single Ply.
Designed by a certain Cam Zink, the Odi Sensus grip is the only grip tested here designed with MTB in mind and has even got cut lines on the flange, should you need to make some alterations for your shifter. The Sensus is designed around a similar pattern to the classic mushroom design, but set out in a ripple pattern rather than being straight or conical. The grip itself is extremely narrow, tacky to touch and it’s no surprise that most of the world’s top freeride guys run these grips. With an RRP of £11.99, these are pretty cheap, especially when the average lock-on grip set up is in excess of twice this price.
Dimensions are 123mm of actual grip surface and 143mm total length from tip to tip. Width is 27.4mm and 25.1mm when compressed under load, which also makes these grips the narrowest on test.
If you’ve got small hands or like a little extra real estate for your hands, these could be right up your street. Available in black, red and purple and coming with the awesome Odi push-in plugs, although the stock colour is black.
Longneck Single Ply Grips.
The Longneck is a classic mushroom style BMX grip with a collapsible rib pattern (like under a mushroom) that conforms to your hands under load and under excessive ‘gripping’. Probably the most popular grip in the world of 20″ bikes (and scooters), the Longneck’s popularity has spotted in action on bikes belonging to Mitch Ropelato, Danny Hart’s and Duncan Riffle. This has also been the grip of choice on my trail bike this year and I must say, I really like them!
Constructed from Odi’s proprietary grip compound for comfort and durability and available in a whopping 9 colours, from Lime Green to Cyan and all the way back to black – so if your looking for a certain grip colour to finish your bike off, then there’s a good chance Odi have a Longneck to suit.
The name Longneck is a bit of a giveaway as these are pretty long – not massive, but longer than your average 130mm-ish MTB grip. So in the spirit of testing, I spent a some time chopping grips down and assigning them to different bikes to see what worked best. The reason for doing this, is that being 10mm longer than what your used to on a mountain bike and due to the terrain we ride, our hands can move along grips, which in turn can screw up where they are with relation to your controls; brakes and gears. But these grips look and feel awesome, so we tested and with a pocket money price of £9.99, you can afford to experiment…
Full length is 143mm tip to tip with 120mm of actual gripping surface between the flange and the first raised section of grip. What I did, was to remove a section at a time. The first section removed on the white grips is 6mm and the last section on the flo-yellow grips is another 9mm off the total length – that’s a total of 15mm from the full length green one on the right.
Which length worked best? I had to move my controls in a touch, but the middle option with the first 6mm step removed felt spot on with ample room for my hands and the flanged design with raised end constantly let my hands know where exactly where they needed to be. As far as width is concerned, your looking at 29.5 and 26mm when collapsed.
Ruffian Dual Ply.
These are the very same grip Danny Hart ran on his bike during that historic race run at Champery in 2011, where he took the rainbow stripes by the biggest margin in world champs history. These are an out and out performance grip with the very same iconic micro-diamondized pattern found on all of Odi’s Ruffian grips. The Dual Ply name refers to a softer inner core which adheres to your bars and harder outer layer which provides longevity and a more precises grip. Coming in at £12.99, the Ruffian is the most expensive of the three tested here, but still as cheap as chips compared to it’s lock-on brother.
All of the grips tested here have a raised section at the end of the grip which provides a great step for your hand to feel where the end of your bars are and likewise with the flange at the other end – although both of these serves a purpose in letting your hands know exactly where they are, this design might not be for everyone, but I recommend you give them a try.
The Ruffian’s offer a very positive and firm grip that’s pretty awesome when you add mud into the equation and would definitely be my choice for a DH race bike over the other two tested. Due to the hard compound, which can be a little tough on your hands over long rides, I wouldn’t recommend putting these on your trail bike. Designed with 30 second BMX races in mind and ample for a 3-5 minute descent, hours and hours of saddle time might not be that good for your hands as these are callous monsters…
Now these are really just a bit of flair in my opinion and come from the world of Moto-X where they are used to help prevent blisters from forming on the inside of your hand. These are Odi’s very own and are starting to pop up on quite a few famous MTBers rides, including Danny Hart and Cedric Gracia, who have been spotted running them, but will they take off in MTB? In all honesty, they don’t offer a great deal more to your set up, but if you like that little bit of extra moto on your MTB, why not? At £3.99 they’re not going to break the bank and are certainly worth having a play with.
Odi’s donuts, although designed for bicycle grips, are exactly the same diameter as their MX counterparts, so come up a little large. Not a problem for bikes without gear shifters…. CG’s mechanic cuts them to fit around his grips with a section removed for his thumb to access the shifter paddle. It’s all about getting crafty and experimenting!
The Odi soft plastic ‘Push-In’ plugs come with all of the grips tested here and simply push into the ends of your bars and add a little something for when your bars hit the dirt and certainly come into their own if you ever lean your bike against your vehicle. Stock plugs are always black, but the colour option’s are there should you want it and with a price of £4.50 per pair, why not?
Cutting, Wiring and Modding…
Seeing as these are all primarily BMX grips, there are of course some things you will need to do to make them a bit more MTB specific and what I really mean is, getting them ready for coping with the elements and the various controls mountain bikes have that BMX’s don’t.
The flange design incorporated throughout all of these grips was not designed with gear shifters and Reverb buttons in mind, but this is when you get a little creative and start to get custom with your set-up. With a full rubber construction, you can very easily cut, shop and alter your grips to suit your individual requirements.
The Sensus grips being designed by an MTB rider, actually have a cut line to help you out when making alterations for clearance for your shifter.
Wiring Grips is the best way to prevent them from spinning under load and preventing water from getting in between the rubber and the bar if it’s raining – once this happens, your in a world of spinning grips, which isn’t much fun at all. For everything you need to know about installing non-lock-on grips, hit our ‘how to’ article here! It’s a pretty quick job providing you gave the tools and materials, but in all honesty, is quite good fun too.
Lets get one thing sorted, I’m not an anti lock-on grip guy, on the contrary, if I’m testing bars or riding a short term test bike, I always pop on my favourite lock-ons (Odi S&M’s) and off I go. But there is something rather unique and rustic about fitting what is nothing more than a single piece of moulded rubber onto a highly advanced bicycle, which I think is part of the charm… That and being able to get my hands on grips that feel like grips and not bits of plastic.
So, are there any advantages to be had from running these? I have had the “do they help prevent arm pump?” question thrown at me a few times and in a word, maybe? They are narrower which is supposedly an area where you can help prevent arm pump, but I also believe the finding the right grip for you is key. Of all the grips tested, I found the Sensus the comfiest and nicest to touch and worked great on short descents and typical UK style DH tracks. Out in the Alps, I think they were just too narrow and I went to the Ruffian’s, which although are quite aggressive with their stiff rubber compound, provided excellent grip and noticeably less arm pump.
The Longnecks are probably the ones I like the most. Although an out and out BMX grip, the old school ribbed mushroom pattern has been around a long time for good reason – although the tech here is pretty low key, they work great and are still on my trail bike today. Sure, I spent a bit of time cutting them down, wiring them and altering them to work with my current set up, but I quite enjoy doing this kind of stuff and it makes my bike unique, which is just how I like it.
Old-school push-on style grips are making a small come back in mountain biking, but a come back that won’t do much the to the colossal lock-on market. Renthal got the ball rolling and after Eurobike, it was interesting to see Lizard Skins and Race Face both offering MTB specific push-on grips too. Mountain bikers will always choose the route well traveled, but for some of us, the idea of experimenting with our rides is always there and after all, how many BMX and MXers run lock-on’s? Not many and for good reason. With prices half of what a lock-on set will set you back while having a bit of fun and experimenting with a new set up that might surprise you – pocket money products that could really change the way you look at grips forever.
Odi grips are exclusively distributed in the UK by Ison Distribution. For everything Odi, hit the logo below and get experimenting!