The right pair of grips might be the only thing between you and the ground while riding an ATV. The wrong bump or turn could lead to the rider losing grip and damaging the ATV, or worse, injuring someone.
I’m always confused why people ride around with old cracked or broken grips. Not only are they cheap, but they are relatively easy to install (we recently replaced a paid in less than 10 minutes).
The only difficult part of getting new grips is finding which ones will work best for your riding style. Most grips can be installed regardless of the four wheeler type, but there are advantages of each style grip that could make them better or worse for your quad.
Back in the 80’s and early 90’s most ATVs purchased from the showroom floor came with the same grips. Over time, aftermarket manufacturers found that different materials and designs could increase the amount of grip a rider had, and over the last 20 years these manufacturers have fine tuned grips to overcome obstacles like sweat, dirt, mud and just general off-road use.
Below we cover the different style grips and our favorites for each driving style.
What are the Different Grip Styles?
Grips can be classified primarily by two things – their design and their affixation to the handlebars. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages which impact installation, comfort and grip.
Design plays a large role in the comfort and grip of your handlebars. The design of the high and low points of the grip effects how your hand will wrap around the handlebar. The simplest way to understand why this is important is to curl your fingers like you are holding onto the grip. You will notice that your fingers don’t make a perfect circle. The creases of your fingers create hard angles and form more of an oval than a circle. ATV Grip manufacturers utilize the irregularities of the human grip to create interlocking between the hand and the handlebars.
One of the most common style grips on the market today is the waffle grip. It utilizes a simple design which is meant to do one thing – grip. The waffle pattern creates multiple peaks and valleys which allows the creases of your hand to hold firm to the grips. They have little compression and tend to be smaller in diameter which makes them ideal for younger riders and utility style four wheelers. They are also on the cheaper side when it comes to price (anywhere between $7-$20) but can stand up to the wear and tear of high brush and sand.
Pillow Top Pattern
The pillow top drip pattern is popular amongst sport and race quad owners. The name refers to the shape of the pads on the grip which are shaped like small pillows. These “pillows” provide cushion and create more surface area for your hand to grip. They have more compression and use soft rubber compounds, which allow you to squeeze the grips quite easily which is ideal for heavy riding like racing or jumps. The cost is just a bit higher than the waffle grips, averaging about $15-$30 depending on the size and color.
Padded Top Pattern
The padded top grip pattern combines the Waffle and Pillow Top styling to create grip and comfort. The “Pads” are larger pillow tops which create good cushion when combined with a medium rubber compound. The spaces between the pads act like the waffle pattern, creating high and low areas for your hand to grip. The combined features make them ideal for both racing and utility riding. The price is comparable to the waffle pattern, averaging about $10-$20.
Slip on grips do exactly what the name implies, they affix to the handle bars by slipping on and using friction to keep from moving. This is the most common style used from the factory. The install and replacement process is a bit more difficult with these grips, but the simplicity and cost is great.
Lock On grips also use friction to affix to the handlebars however the friction is only applied at the outer bands of the grip. They are much easier to install as no pressure is needed to slide the grip over the handlebar. Two Allen screws, one in each metal band on the end of the grips, tighten against the handlebar to hold firm.
The Best ATV Grips for each Style
ATV, like grips, are made for different functions. A Sport or Race ATV is built for speed, acceleration and handling. A Utility ATV is built for comfort and ability. You can see how each of these styles would require a different set of grips.
We like to break down the decision of what new ATV grip to purchase by first focusing on the style in which you ride your ATV. If you ride fast and furious, you want a larger and more padded grip. If you use your ATV for work around the farm, you want something smaller, easily cleanable and cheap.
If your ATV is primarily used for road or race use, you want a larger grip with moderate cushion. Most riders opt for a waffle pattern in this set up because of the amount friction is creates in your hand, but fail to understand the stress that this can cause over long ride durations or distance. A cushion grip will help with finger and arm fatigue when holding onto the handlebars while navigating jumps and rough terrain.
Pro Taper Pillow Top Grips
Another variant of the slip on grip, these Pro Taper Grips are perfect for sport ATVs because they are large, cushioned, and provide impressive amounts of grip. The Pillow Tops measure at an impressive 1.2 inches in diameter around the center of the grip, which is 3mm of cushion around the entire handlebar. The pillow design creates more surface area for your hand to grip, fitting between the creases in your hand and fingers. Lastly, Pro Taper uses a mild compound rubber in this model which allows for easy compression which can absorb impacts and reduce fatigue.
Pro Taper produces this style in multiple colors and styles. Color combinations include black, white, red, green, blue and red. Styles include twist throttle, flange and no flange models. Prices can vary between about $12 and $20, depending on who you buy from.
ODI Lock On Grips
ODI Rogue are our preferred lock on grips whenever making recommendation to customers that want comfort and ease. As we went over above, lock on grips make the installation process VERY easy. With just an allen wrench and 30 seconds you can switch out a grip and keep riding. So if you’re know to break a lot of grips, these are a must. They make both 120mm and 130mm width grips, which makes them versatile with either a twist throttle (120mm) or a thumb throttle (130mm). They also give you the option of whether you want a thumb flange, or not. We also recommend a thumb flange as it can save you if you hand slides inward while going around a tight turn. The no flange grips are more popular in motorcycle and some utility ATV applications. We’ve seen them in 6 colors but their webpage only shows 4 colors currently in the catalog, but older model colors are still available.
The ODI Rogue use a padded grip pattern, which creates increased grip and comfort through soft rubber compound which compresses easily. The price ($20-25) is a bit higher than other models but the hassle you save with the quick removal and installation is worth every penny!
If your ATV is primarily used for off-road and utility use, you want something that isn’t going to break the bank if you damage it, provides moderate comfort and will ensure your hands stay put even when muddy or wet. This style is our bread and butter. Of our last ATVs, over 75% were utility (Bruin, Grizzly, and King Quad) and we replaced the grips on all of them with one of the sets below.
Scott Sports Grips
Scott Sports has been around for about 10 years making ATV, Dirt Bike, and Can-Am Defender accessories. One of their most popular grips is the Radial Full Waffle, which is the most recent grip we installed on the Yamaha Bruin. They have a full waffle pattern around the grip, allowing them to be installed without worrying about the orientation (unless you are a bit OCD like us). Scott’s used single density rubber in the construction which is typically soft but the thin design makes these grips a bit firm which is ideal for off-road use. The hard compound also allows the grips to drain water easily and keeps them from backing with mud.
The Scott Sports Grips are definitely the cheapest grips we’ve used, but that is preferred when these grips are going to see a lot of wear and tear. You don’t want to break the bank every time you accidently brush against a tree and rip the grips. At under $10, you won’t worry so much. As a note, these grips are ONLY for 7/8″ handlebars so they will not work with a twist throttle.
Heat Demon Grips
If you live or ride in an area that gets cold weather, a good set of heated grips are crucial to riding for extended periods in the winter. Here in Georgia, deer season runs October to January, and the average temperature at 4am is about 40-50 degrees. At 20 miles per hour, that cold bites right through any gloves you are wearing. Heat Demon Grips hold that cold back and keep your hands nice is warm. They hook up to the battery on your ATV and use an external thermostat that you can turn on and off the heating elements, as well as set the temperature.
The Heat Demon grips are firmer than other grips because they have to stand up to the heat produced. The grips themselves are easy to install, using the same affixation method as the ODI Lock On Grips. The wiring is a bit more involved with wiring to the battery, control unit, and then each grip (and thumb control). The price is high if you aren’t going to use them often, at about $50-$150 a pair.