SRAM Grip Shift Review

by Brian Mullin on August 10, 2012

The
new 10-speed Grip Shift was introduced at Sea Otter this year, after
extensive block box testing and some race appearances, including
Jaroslav Kulhavy’s 2011 XC World Championship win. The new system was
reengineered from the inside out, with some excellent technology, such
as their speed metal shift indexing, roller thunder ball bearings and
jaws lock-on grips.

 

Grip Shift xx and X.0
The Grip Shift is currently available in the XX and X.0 groups, in 2×10
and 3×10 versions, and they come as a kit, which includes a shifter,
grip, cable and housing. The XX model has a carbon fiber cable cover and
Gore Ride-On housing and cables, and only comes in 2×10. The X.0 has an
aluminum cover and standard housing and cables, and comes in 2×10 and
3×10. Otherwise, the rest of the shifter is exactly the same. The entire
package minus the housing, weighs 280 grams (XX weighs a few grams
less), while the grip themselves comes in at 80 grams/pair. In
comparison, a trigger shifter system with the same sort of lock-on grips
would weigh at least 100 grams or more. The weight weenie crowd can
rejoice on a lighter total setup, as the rough difference (no grip) between the triggers and Grip Shift is around 75 grams. The XX retails for $295, and the X.0
is $225, the latter coming in silver or red colors.

Tested system: Ibis Mojo HD with SRAM X.0 2×10, with 24-38-bashguard front and 11-36 rear.

Measured Specs (X.0):

  • Grip Shift w/ cables & grips – 281 grams
  • JAWS lock-on grips – 76 grams
  • Grip Shift w/cables – 205 grams
  • X.0 triggers w/ cables – 279 grams

Technology/Features 


Speed Metal Shift Indexing
The Grip Shift uses all metal index shifting, and is comprised of a
metal indent spring and ring, along with a coil spring, all of which
work in synergy for precise, quick and snappy shifting. The front has
two or three indents, depending on the version, while the rear has ten.
The rear’s up shifting is kept in control by the derailer’s spring
tension, while the shifter’s coil spring counteracts downshifting, and
both mechanisms prevent unwanted shifts and over rotation.

Facts

  • Full metal indexing
  • First 10-speed Grip Shift
  • Crisp and precise shifting
  • 7075 aluminum indexing surface for the indent spring to click against

Rolling Thunder Ball Bearing
The shifters rotate on three rows of 120 bearings, which offer smooth
and low friction movement, and require minimal force to operate.
Although it’s non-serviceable, the design and distributed pressure, will
give long-term durability and performance.

Facts

  • Zero friction or play
  • Less force needed to shift
  • Three rows of ball bearings, 120 ball bearings
  • Long-term performance under all weather conditions

JAWS Lock-On Grips
They come with the JAWS lock-on grips, which snap into the shifter with
a keyed interface (a.k.a. jaws), and an outer lock ring, to keep them
from slipping and rotating. The grips smoothly transition to the shift
paddles, and acts as a secure single unit when tied together. Since they
splice into the shifter, they don’t place any pressure on internal
mechanisms, including the bearings and moving parts. The design also
helps prevents unwanted contaminants from entering the shifter, whether
it’s dirt of water, which would degrade performance and cause additional
wear.

Facts

  • Super secure
  • Shifter and grip connect into single unit
  • Easily assembled and removed
  • Grips included with shifters
  • Converts to work with any grip

Impressions
I have been using the new Grip Shift since their Sea Otter release, and
I must say they are pretty amazing shifters. I used the original grip
shift for many years, and found them light, rugged and trustworthy,
though perhaps not the smoothest shifters, and they tended to get sloppy
with wear, and needed occasional lubing for optimal usage. The new Grip
Shift is light and has a silky smoothly operation, with quick and easy
rolls through the gears. Some outstanding highlights are the short throw
on the front shifter, which only takes a quick snap of the wrist to
move the front derailer, for near effortless gear changes. The rear
shifting is also pretty nice, requiring around 90º of total rotation,
and it’s simple to roll up and down through multiple gears at once,
though I must say that dropping down one gear is easier on trigger
shifters, which only require a slight flick of your finger. It was great
to be able to roll through the cassette, making precise gear
selections, and snapping up or down massive or minimal gear changes with
ease. Just like the original Grip Shifts, you rotate the paddle forward
for the harder gear, and backward for easier ones.

Installation
was pretty simple, just slide the proper shifter on either side of the
handlebar, and before passing the bar end, press the JAWS grip key’s
into the shifter’s interface. Continuing sliding the shifter inward
until it’s braced against the brake, and clamp down both the inner
shifter and grip lock-on rings.

One annoying thing was that the
alloy cable cover on the inner edge of the X.0 shifter sits loosely in
position, and it likes to bounce around on the trail, giving a tinkly
metallic noise. If your brakes allow it, the noise can be stopped by
pressing the reservoir’s body onto the cover, keeping it in place, and
preventing the unwanted movement.

Cable
changes were much easier than its predecessor and normal trigger
shifters, including SRAMs. You loosen the inner lock ring, slide it
over, and then do the same to the large alloy or carbon fiber cable
cover, which exposes the cable hole. Rotate the shifter paddle and the
cable head pops out, and you can also add a  dollop of lube for the
indent parts to keep things smoothly clicking. I used the Gore-Ride On
housing with my X.0 shifters, and they provided a greater degree of
smoothness compared to the standard housing.

The
JAWS system for the integrated grips worked nicely, and made
installation easy and secure, although I wish they offered a softer
padding, since I found them tough on the hands during long rides. The
grips interlocked tightly into the shifters, preventing any contaminants
from creeping into the internal mechanism. To use a non system grip,
they come with a special end cap that plugs into the shifter to seal
them off. I assume some third party grip manufacturers will release
something shortly for the system? I did switch out the grips with some
squishier ESI Chunky, which worked fine when cut to length, though it
did make swap outs more difficult. When the JAWS are tied together with
the shifter, it created a solid one unit entity, and the grip smoothly
transitioned to the shifter paddle.

The overall spacing of the
combined grip and shifters are slightly wider than their predecessor (5mm+), so
the brake lever sits farther inward, meaning you have more of a reach
to grab the brake lever. The reach and wider box for your hands take
some getting used to, and although it occasionally felt awkward, the
multiple hand placements have its benefits, including less fatigue,
optional positioning and leveraging. Being able to use non system grips
can help alter the default ergonomic setup, allowing one to change
things for personal preference.

The shifting is smooth as silk,
and has a nice quick tactile snap as you move through the indexing, with
a distinctive, positive and solid SRAM like engagement. The smoothness
is greatly aided by the three rows of 120 stainless steel bearings,
while the quick and snappy shifting is helped by the coil return spring
and the metal indexing/indention system. I never experienced any
miss-shifts during my test period, nor and did it pop out of gear during
extremely rough riding. Although the new Grip Shift doesn’t have the trimming
capabilities like its predecessor (one click vs. four), I never found it an
issue, and I didn’t experience any cross rubbing during usage on my 2×10 system
(24-38-bashguard and 11-36). The lack of the trimming feature also meant it
kept the throw extremely short, for ultra quick gear changes.

Bottom Line
The new Grip Shift is an excellent system, offering smooth, crisp,
distinct and solid shifting, without any miss-shifts or dropped gears.
The front gives a decisive and short throw that almost feels effortless
to move between the chainrings. The rear allows huge swaths of gears to
be rolled through on the cassette, or just one at a time, making for
precise and easy selections. The synergy of the three rows of thunder
ball bearings and the metal shift indexing makes for an excellent
tactile response, making for silky-smooth gear changes with distinctive
indention’s. The JAWS lock-on grip system worked well, and tied the grip
and shifter together as one solid unit, and prevented unwanted
contaminates from entering the internals, though I wish the grips were a
tad softer. Switching out cables was simple, and only required removing
the inner lock ring and cable cover. One minor gripe was that the cable
cover sits loosely, and can cause a metallic noise (at least on the
alloy version) unless it’s braced by the brake reservoir.

The new
Grip Shift is light-years ahead of its predecessor, and offers some
amazing technology and features, and everything works together for
precise shifting that operates in a smooth as silk manner.

Strengths

  • Light
  • Smooth, crisp and positive shifting
  • Front shift – short and effortless throw
  • Rear shift – easy to roll through massive or minimal gear changes
  • Synergy of 3 row ball bearing, and metallic indexing
  • JAWS lock-on grip

Weaknesses

  • Wide box – grip and shifter distance
  • Integrated grip needs to be softer (or have options for different hardness)
  • Cable cover can make noise (at least on alloy)

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

SRAM Grip Shift Specs:

  • Ten speed shifters
  • Shifter barrel rotates on three rows of stainless steel ball bearings
  • 7075 Alloy shift indexing
  • Coil return spring
  • Weight: 207 grams (shifters, clamps, cables), 287 grams (including interlocking grips)
  • MSRP: $225 USD (X0 Grip Shift), $295 USD (XX Grip Shift)
  • XX – carbon cable cover, Gore Ride-On cable/housing
  • X.0 – allow cable housing, standard cable/housing

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