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 rear shifter paddle forward for the harder gear, and backward for easier ones (the front shifter is the opposite).
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, 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.