SRAM 10-speed Grip Shift Review


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.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • ginsu says:

    These are ridiculously over-engineered! The whole reason why Gripshifts worked in the first place is because they were CHEAP and LIGHTWEIGHT! Now, they are neither. Well if you just have to shift by accident, then you’ll love it all over again!

    And trying to compare it with triggers and LOCK-ON grips to sell it to weight-weenies. PLEASE, no self-respecting WW would run lock-ons!

    • jiw71 says:

      really! You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I’ve been using grip shifts since 2008 – first on a 3×9 drivetrain and now on a 2×10. Advantages for me are: they ARE light, crisp shifting. I can dump multiple gears with a simple twist of the wrist (while maintaining my ‘full grip’), nothing “sticking out” around the shift area – I do crash occasionally, and most important for me is that 4 fingers (1 on the brake lever) are gripped around the handlebar at all times………..and PLEASE, no self-respecting WW would shift by accident. :)

    • Jeremy S says:

      People who worry about saving 30 grams on grips are misguided.

  • solak says:

    Grip shift, I tried them and they don’t work for me, particularly the front derailleur piece. Went back to triggers.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      solak: The front was my fave, it only took a simple short quick snap to change gears, none of the long hard throw required on a trigger.

      ginsu: I updated the article for clarification => “The entire package minus the housing, weighs 280 grams (XX weighs a few grams less), while the grip themselves comes in at 75 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.”

  • dave says:

    The review omits the fact that the new front shifter doesn’t allow trimming, which to me is the best thing about grip shifts.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      dave – I’ll update the article on that subject. I didn’t find it an issue at all, as I never had any cross rubbing on the front.

    • JJ says:

      No trimming? That’s the whole reason I loved the 3×9 twist. That would be a dealbreaker for me aside from the price.

  • esch says:

    I’d like a better explanation of what ‘speed metal’ is. From what I could see, it’s just a metal ring of detents.

    Aside from marketing, what exactly makes it ‘speed metal’? I work with a lot of engineering and CNC metalwork and I’ve never heard of this ‘speed metal’. I am only imagining the ‘speed holes’ that Homer Simpson once tried to make popular.

    And “rolling thunder” for a set of cartridge bearings? Aren’t we getting a little carried away then?

  • Joules says:

    The original grip shifts had a total of 7 pieces, and the mounting bolt was the only one that was metal. They were crazy light, and you could beat them with a hammer and they wouldn’t break.
    As the models went on they got heavier, more complicated, less reliable, and more expensive. These… are it. There is officially no reason to use grip shift anymore – front trim was a big reason and they got rid of that (why? Only reason I can figure is they wanted these things to suck).
    a 75g weight savings for the ww crowd that don’t actually ride is not a reason.

    Honestly, Sram, you could have had an intern spend 2 hours designing a new index plate for the 9s models and come up with something vastly superior to this.

  • Tim says:

    May not be a reason for replacing triggers but what about a totally new setup. Triggers or GS?

    I have been riding GS since 1997 on my GF Paragon. Last Nov I bought a new GF Hifi Deluxe with triggers and I hated them. Too easy for my big thumbs to accidentally hit the up-shift. Been waiting for the 3×10 GS but in the mean time I adjusted the location of the triggers and they work better now as I have gotten used to them. Still might go GS. I did love the trimming for the front but my current setup needs no trimming.

  • DJ says:

    I would agree with basic comments from jiw71. I have the 2004 XO grip shifters (with XO rear der, and XT front…) on my old ’04 Titus Switchblade. And its been nothing but bliss and full reliability. I love how I have virtually no unintended shifts…can hold to the bar much easier and can drop gears like crazy whenever needed. Its been very solid for me, and the bike has definitely crashed several times a year and the gripshifts just keep going. I will probably take a chance with the new ones when I get around to a new bike this year. Happy Trails to all…. -DJ, Ridgway CO 81432.

  • Nick says:

    Any chance we’ll see a price drop on 2×10 gripshifts any time soon? All this new tech is so expensive these days. I have love GS for years, (using them since 94 I believe) but can no longer afford them on by budget. :-( I have x9 triggers on my bike now b\c it came with them. They work very well but I really miss the ease of the GS!

  • Alex says:

    I just installed these (actually only one since I’m running 1×10) last night. Here’s the lowdown:
    Agree about the cable cover. It does not snap in but relies on the adjacent lock ring to hold it in. If you’re careful to put inward pressure on the lock ring when you’re tightening it, that should eliminate any movement of the cable cover.

    I was disappointed that the whole shifter (without grip) is actually a little wider that the old one! I was sure they’d make it narrower if anything.

    The grip seems like total garbage. The rubber is not soft at all, and also the grip is longer than necessary. No worries though, because I’m using ODI Rogue shorties anyway! By the way these grips are the best and they last forever!

    To the guy who said the “blind” piece (I call it the blank-off ring) didn’t fit, it’s because you didn’t remove the existing metal piece from the inside first. The instructions were TERRIBLE and I also took a little while to figure it out.

    I’ve only ridden around the block so far, but here’s my observation about the feel. The action is much lighter than before and quieter too. Of course the detents are closer together now with 10 speeds. I think after a little getting used to, the light action and closer detents will be a nice change. The familiar SRAM clunk is totally gone! I also installed an X9 Type 2 derailleur, so it’s all ghostly quiet now!

    Really my only significant complaint is the width. Even 9 speed GS forced you to mount your brake too far in. Now it’s even worse! The old cabling system was fine for me, and by using that system they would not have needed to use the space-consuming inner lock ring.

  • Alex says:

    I’ve put in two real rides now, and I’m glad to say it’s super smooth and so quiet now with the new GS and Type 2 derailleur. I didn’t need to readjust anything on the trail either. And for today’s ride I totally removed my MRP 1.X chainguide. No chain drops at all thanks to the Type 2. Here’s my setup:

    2010 Anthem X
    2008 RaceFace Deus XC cranks (triple w/ middle ring only – Blackburn Mono Veloce 32T)
    Grip Shift X.0 10 speed
    Shimano XT M771 11-36 cassette
    SRAM X.9 Type 2 Derailleur
    KMC X10L chain

  • Irideon says:

    I have ridden about 500 miles now with the SRAM X0 grip shifters. I have to be up front and say I am not an advanced rider but I ride usually four days a week in Annedale State park in California. I am an older guy and tend to be a cruiser on my bike. At this point, I made two changes to my biking in the last year that I will never change back from. The shifters are one of the changes. The shifters operate exactly as advertized. Lowest to highest gear in a fraction of the time of lever shifters without changing my grip on the handlebars… I don’t really think about shifting anymore, I just do it. To me it is a more natural movement to twist rather than change my grip and reach for a lever. The only problems I ran into were having to change the front deraileur from a sram x9 to an xo to get the shifter to work. The hand grips also were too thin, long and tapered too much which put my thumb joint into a position that caused it to ache after 30 minutes of riding. I put shorter, thicker grips on that are as thick as the twist part of the shifters. Also the lining on the rear shifter cable was causing the rear shifting to hang-up… We changed it to a regular cable and the problem went away. I love the shifters and as I said will never go back. The other change I made was upgrading to a 29″ bike.

  • Slowman says:

    I have been a grip shift user (X0 and X9 3 x 9 systems) for years. I recently went 2×10 on a new Pivot 429C which came with X0 triggers. I bought the 2×10 X0 grip shifters and the rear shifter jammed after installation and I was testing the shifting. I opened it up and there was a metal leaf spring that had fallen out of place. It was held in place by some plastic mouldings. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to re-seat properly.

    Very disappointing to say the least. So I put the triggers back on. I bought these second hand from someone who took them off their bike after little use. They seemed fine but maybe there was a latent issue? Though I have seen in the user reviews it has happened to others too. I am about to give it another try, wish me luck!

    It appears now that SRAM are also making shorter integrated stationary grips at 85mm as well as 100mm they used originally, this will help reduce the unnecessary pushing of the brakes inboard – or I suppose I could use other grips. Overall how comfortable are these grips?

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