odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor

Review: The ODI F-1 Float & Vapor grips might just be the perfect option for British XC riders

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Ah, the modest grip. It’s probably one of the cheapest parts on your bike and likely one of the most overlooked. But given a pair are responsible for 40% of the contact points between you and your two-wheeled machine, they’re something that we could all do with paying a little more attention to.

Lock-on grips tend to be the modern mountain biker’s favourite option, as they’re easy to install and hold firmly in place – even when conditions are wet. They have their downsides though, namely extra weight due to the added grams from the lock rings and hardware. And because of the internal plastic sleeve, they also put less squishy material between your hands and the handlebar, which can reduce comfort.

For the riders who value both comfort and light weight, that leads us to silicone or foam slide-on grips.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor
The F-1 grips are the first of their kind from ODI.

Foam grips have been around for a good long while but aren’t that shock absorbent or particularly robust, even for XC or marathon riding. I had a set that lasted about five rides before they fell apart, given they were so uncomfortable I whole heartedly celebrated their early demise.

Silicone grips are also pretty light but with better shock absorbency and durability. But, as I quickly found with my last set of ESI grips, they do become pretty slippy when they get wet so aren’t the best in British conditions.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor
No locking collars means lower weight, and more squishy material between your hands and the bars.

Like Silicone Grips, But Not

The ODI F-1 Vapor and Float grips look similar to a silicone grip but are made from an elastomer ‘AIRE’ compound (nope, no idea what AIRE stands for). Just like in seat posts, frames and forks, elastomer is used in these grips to dampen vibrations to make for a more comfortable ride.

The elastomer is aerated to reduce the weight of the grip, with a pair coming in at 74-75g (including plastic end plugs) as weighed on my kitchen scales of truth.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor scales weight
The F-1 grips are lighter than a comparable lock-on grip.

Both the Vapor and Float have a reinforced inner layer to improve durability, as well as a slightly textured surface for grip. The Vapor has a textured grip to match your fingers, whereas the Float has a uniform profile. Both grips are 31.5mm diameter and are available in three colours (red, green and blue), as well as black.

Installation

Installing the F-1 grips is straightforward enough but only if you do it as ODI recommend by cleaning the bar and damping with isopropyl alcohol. I first tried a drop of water which works with other slide-on grips but it didn’t evaporate so the grip slid round. Meanwhile I found that hairspray wasn’t slippy enough to get it to slide on.

You need to pay a bit of attention to fitting the Vapors as the contours mean they only go one way round and there’s a right way up too, but the Floats don’t require any such thought.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor
There has been some mild slipping with our test grips, which I haven’t actually noticed.

Once on the bars, both sets of grips seemed to stay exactly where I’d put them although this can’t be entirely true as I could see from the contours on the Vapors that they had rotated slightly after a good number of rides out.

On The Bike

The F-1 grips are noticeably more comfortable a standard rubber, foam or silicone grip. They’re slightly squishy but without being so soft that you feel you can’t get a good hold. As someone who rides standard diameter grips these didn’t feel any different in size.

I confess to not being able to detect the difference between the feel of the Floats and Vapors though, with the contours on the Vapor neither aiding nor hindering my hold. Durability-wise these grips have held up well after six months use on my trail bike where they’ll have got much more of a hammering than on an XC bike for which they’re designed.

On longer rides the shock absorbency of the elastomer was evident by the absence of achy hands and forearms. It’s certainly something you’ll appreciate if you put in the miles and hours on chattery trails. Marathon racers and mile-hungry XC riders, take note.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor
ODI recommends using isopropyl alcohol to install the F-1 grips, and it makes the process a lot easier.

On the downside, on more technical terrain the squish of the grips makes you doubt your hold. It’s not that the grip doesn’t stay in place, it’s that the elastomer surface gives a bit and just isn’t as steadfast as a standard textured rubber grip. Personally, they’re not a grip I’d run on my bigger bike where I want that security and feedback.

In comparison to its foam and silicone peers the ODI F-1s performs tonnes better in the wet and doesn’t become slippy with sweaty hands or in the rain. I normally ride with gloves on because I find my grip suffers as my hands get sweaty, which means I end up holding on tighter, causing crampy hands. These however, are the first grips that I’ve been able to ride gloveless all day without cramp or slipping.

odi grips foam silicone f1 vapor
These are very comfortable grips.

Overall

The ODI F-1 Vapor and Float are an excellent choice for those who like to keep their grips light and comfortable. They’re comparable in weight to silicone and foam grips, but they provide loads more traction in wet weather or from sweaty hands, making them the ideal choice for XC and marathon racers.

Review Info

Brand: ODI
Product: F-1 Float & Vapour Grips
From: Ison Distribution, ison-distribution.com
Price: £17.99 each
Tested: by Rachel Sokal for 6 months
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Comments (3)

    Those lockrings are heavy.
    Don’t ever try to ride your bike with only one lockring grip attached. You’ll fall flat on your side and never be able to pick your bike up again. It’s only by having one on each side that it cancels out, leaving the bike upright.
    And that’s not even thinking about grips with two (yes, two!) lockrings *per grip*! 😮

    On a slightly more serious note (can it get more serious?), I’d be vaguely interested in an article showing how much weight you need to add to a bike before it becomes noticeable with a stopwatch and when the rider ‘notices’ a difference.

    I’ve just fitted my second pair of ESI Extra Chunky’s to my hardtail. They are my favourite grip to date, I find that when I inevitably deathgrip a challenging section of trail, my hands and forearms recover much faster than they would have using lock-ons. I think I will be very tempted to buy a set of these to compare. If they are noticeably more comfortable than silicon grips, they must be amazing!

    @uberpod – Grams make kilograms!

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