March 29, 2012
More new products from SRAM, this time it’s…
All-new SRAM Grip Shift.
XX Grip Shift Set 2X10
- Ride-OnSealed Low Friction Cable System
- Carbon Cover
- Ball Bearing Movement
- Lock-On Stationary Grips
X0 Grip Shift Set 2X10 or 3X10
- Aluminum Cover
- Ball Bearing Movement
- Lock-On Stationary Grips
- Weight for X0 Grip Shift with clamps, cables, lock on grips with clamps: 287g
Technology and Features
1. Speed Metal Shift Indexing.
- Full metal indexing
- First 10-speed Grip Shift – Crisp and precise shifting
2. Rolling Thunder Ball Bearing Technology.
- Zero friction or play
- Less force needed to shift
- Three rows of ball bearings, 120 ball bearings
- Long-term performance under all weather conditions
- Lock-On Grip Technology
- Super secure
- Shifter and grip connect into single unit – Easily assembled and removed
- Grips included with shifters
- Converts to work with any grip
According to SRAM this iteration of Grip Shift is all-new, carrying over nothing more than the philosophy behind it. Whilst this may be true it’s probably fair to say that for a long time now SRAM hasn’t been a full believer in the philosophy. Whilst they never stopped making Grip Shift they never actively promoted it and even dropped the name, preferring instead to call them ‘Twister Shifters’ and the design has remained pretty much unchanged until now. The question is; why change it at all?
SRAM say there has always been a loyal Grip Shift user base who have kept the faith all these years, but I was slightly sceptical of this claim. Did people reallyprefer the ergonomics of Grip Shift compared to SRAM’s own perfectly proportioned trigger shifters? A poll in the office says no, but when riding in Santa Cruz’s Demo Forest the answer seemed to be yes. Stood round the rather conspicuous SRAM truck a rider who’d just finished riding the trails came over curious as to what a load of Euros and a SRAM truck were doing parked next to his trails. “Oh man, is that new Grip Shift? I love Grip Shift!” Now, it could be that either Tyler or Julian from SRAM had gone over and offered the guy $20 to say that or it could be that there is demand out there, it’s just generally unspoken.
And here again is the main thrust of SRAM’s new products; choice. SRAM aren’t discontinuing their triggers or saying you have to use Grip Shift with the rest of their new products they are just saying that if you prefer to run Grip Shift then these are a better offering than the previous models. This should hopefully kill any internet hating, you’re not being forced by might or stealth to use these, other options are available but if you want some great twister shifters then here you go.
Now, whether you’re a Grip Shift lover or hater is up to you, and in fact there’s probably a large number of riders who have never even tried Grip Shift, but chances are that the new Grip Shift won’t necessarily change that opinion. At the end of the day the way you change gear hasn’t changed, you still turn a raised grip to release or take up a cable.
As befits a top of the range product the XX shifter has a few little tweaks over the X0 version. A carbon rather than aluminium cover is the most obvious external difference while on the inside the XX uses a Gore Ride-On sealed cable to help keep things smoother for longer.
Metal innards and three rows of ball bearings further re-enforce the smoother for longer mantra. If this all seems a bit paranoid it’s for good reason. Grip Shift of yore was slick and smooth when cables were clean but if dirt made its way into the shifter things got stiff and awkward. Thankfully they were easy to clean out with spray lube but it’s a job SRAM would rather you just never had to do at all.
Plenty of grip here, a tacky compound coupled with aggressive pattern means that even when wet you should still be able to get a decent purchase. I didn’t get a chance to test this claim in sunny California. Sorry.
Gripped and sorted. Let’s off-road!*
Back in 1996 I had a Kona Koa, it was my first proper mountain bike after a series of BSOs. It was rigid, had tyres that lacked grip, brakes that lacked power and a rider that lacked skill. It also came with Grip Shift. I thought it was the dogs doo-dahs. This was until I tried my friends XT shifters. The ability to change gear without moving my hands was a revelation, I saved up and got some triggers, and that was the last time I used Grip Shift.
16 years later (16 years?! Where’s that gone then?) and I’m on a dusty Californian trail and back on Grip Shift. Like most of the journos present I’ve got my reservations about it, I don’t think I’m the only one who’s not touched a twist shifter of any description for quite some time. The first ride is mostly spent trying to remember which way to twist to get the gear I want, this obviously leads to some spinning out on descents and some stalling on hills as I get things wrong. It takes some getting used to re-learning which way to turn to get the desired result. Two main points emerge from the first ride. The first is that the ability to dump a lot of gears at once is very useful, with a single twist I can drop about five gears instantly. Useful for when you get round a corner and find a short but steep climb facing you. You just need to make sure you twist the right way… The second point is that having to move my hands from the natural position at the end of the bars inwards to change gear is not ideal, this is exacerbated by the fact that I have quite small hands so need to move them a fair distance. I could probably have done with shorter grips to make things easier. This is something I’ll be looking at trying when samples arrive here at Singletrack HQ.
* Gratuitous Fast Show reference.