If you want to experience sensory overload, check out the grip section of your favorite bike shop, or better yet, one of the large online retailers. We’re talking hundreds of grips in a staggering array of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. Despite all those options, RedMonkey Sports‘ founder Michael Nasco wasn’t satisfied with what the market had to offer, and the result is the company’s Sports Kärv family of MTB grips.
The US-made RedMonkey grips are constructed from a unique silicone formula that’s designed to deliver improved vibration damping and comfort, while still remaining durable. Knowing that one size rarely fits all, the company produces their grips in two versions: the 5mm Sports Kärv, and the 6.5mm Sports Kärv(xt). Both models measure 133mm in length, and are compatible with standard MTB-style handlebars (i.e. 22.2mm or 7/8″ OD).
For our testing, we chose the thicker Sports Kärv(xt) grips (MSRP $19.95). Installation was a snap thanks to a dab of clear hand sanitizer gel (a tip that we picked up from Jeff Jones). Once installed, our sample grips measured 34mm in diameter. The included end plugs (7g/pair) fit–and remained secure–in our test rigs’ steel and alloy handlebars. With an actual weight of 71g for the pair, the RedMonkey grips are on par with competitors’ products of similar shape and size.
Wrap your hands around the Sports Kärv(xt) grips for the first time, and you immediately notice their tacky feel. Whether riding with gloves or bare-handed, the RedMonkey grips’ smooth texture is surprisingly grippy. Unlike heavily textured or position-specific grips, repositioning your hands or adjusting your grip is quick and effortless. If the grips become dirty or greasy, cleanup is easy with a little liquid dish soap and water.
What impressed us most, however, was the Sports Kärv(xt)’s cushioning. Whether commuting over chip seal pavement, or navigating rocky singletrack, the RedMonkey grips provided a near-perfect blend of comfort and control. This is no accident, as the company utilizes a different silicone density and compression deflection ratio for the thicker (xt) grips. Despite this increased squish-factor, the grips didn’t require the death grip needed with thick, overly-soft grips.
RedMonkey Sports’ products are available at select retailers or directly from the company. A portion of each sale is donated to various cycling-related charities. In addition to grips, the company offers clothing and accessories that feature the RedMonkey Sports logo.
Disclosure: RedMonkey Sports provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.