Chromag Wax Grips NSMB AndrewM.JPG
TWO-MINUTE REVIEWS

Chromag Wax Grips

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Dec 23, 2021
Reading time

Wax On

Do you know what Chromag Wax grips and the average mountain biker have in common? They both conform. But where the push-on Wax grips feature a delightful combination of support and suppleness, the AMB continues to follow the trend in choosing convenience over either comfort or cost when selecting their mitt-saddles.

I know, I'm always pushing this rope talking about push-on grips. Are there great options on the market for lock-on grips that somehow deliver ergonomic bliss while masking their hard plastic centers? Certainly yes, multiple choices. For a sweet example, check out some beautiful AJ Barlas photos and a well-crafted review of the Ergon GFR1 Factory grips. Comfort and convenience for 40 USD | 50 CAD. I'd still argue that you'd be just as well off, if not better, with a pair of "the legendary ODI Longneck" push-on grips that AJ mentions in his review, at 11 USD | 14 CAD. Just add some clear spray paint* and wire to do the install job right. I will note though, that while the Longneck push-ons come in seven different colours, there is no option for an oil-slick clamp.

*or your preferred choice of adhesive.

Chromag Wax Grip NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

I'm smitten with my lovely Safety Wire Pliers, but I did this for years with a simple pair of needlenose. I use clear spray paint for adhesive. Any colour will do, but just trust me and get clear.

Chromag Wax Grips NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

And before you say this sounds hard, or time consuming, I want to say that I believe in you. You can absolutely work that rattle-rattle spray can and those pliers. It's child's play, really.

Chromag Wax Grip NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The Wax grips are Chromag's only push-on model but they do come in nearly infinite lengths up to 150mm. There are also five colours to choose from: Green, Red, Blue, Black, and RAWHIDE. Giddyup.

Chromag also has a whole line of lock-on grips using their intelligent "split-teardrop" clamp design and even a new single clamp grip called the Format. I'm certain both clamping setups work really well if you tighten them. I've even been told that the 37 USD | 45 CAD Clutch grips are "f***ing awesome" but not by anyone who's run a push-on grip in the last twenty years. So, I'm not certain it counts. If you've ridden an ODI Rogue or Ruffian lock-on in recent memory, that's the awful hard-plastic experience they gave up push-on grips for in the first place.

The Wax grips have a static width of 30mm but unlike lock-on grips, which layer rubber on top of hard plastic sleeves, that doesn't tell the whole story. For example, the Sensus Swayze, another push-on favourite, also sports a 30mm outer diameter but feels thinner than the Wax when I initially grip it. This likely comes down to the tapered density - not shape - of the Wax's tacky 25a rubber which feels thicker when squeezed towards the end of the bar. On the trail, the Wax feels a touch thicker while climbing, which I like, and a touch thicker and more damped while descending, which I learned to like.

Chromag Wax Grips NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Over the last five months or so everyone in my household has moved over to Chromag's Wax grips, including myself most recently. Thanks to some sharp snips we're even running them in three different (custom) lengths.

Chromag Wax Grip NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The only upgrade I've made to the new aluminum Chameleon MX thus far is to plug on my 16° SQLab 30X bar with a pair of Wax grips installed. The blue colour is a happy coincidence as I already had them installed - I think it looks pretty awesome though.

In addition to a few dimes in wire and spray paint they sell for 18 USD | 21 CAD or less than half the price of most good lock-on options. They're also tough in a crash and truly long-wearing while being well-cushioned and tacky (not sticky) to boot. There are a few push-on grips I love to use for different reasons, but I think the Wax probably presents the best value in terms of performance and longevity.

Should Chromag ditch the rest of their grip line and just add two more diameters of Wax - say 33mm and 36mm - thus pleasantly covering the needs of every mountain biker on the planet with a superior product at a high value? No, probably not. I imagine most folks will be riding lock-ons again next year. But if you're min-maxing performance on any budget, push-ons are a must-try and the Chromag Wax is a great place to start.

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Comments

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
7 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Guy Elliott

Didn't know these cost 1/3rd less than my favourite ESI grips. Which won't be everyone's cup of tea anyway, but ten bucks? That's the kind of detail you shouldn't miss if genuinely interested in min/maxing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 cheapondirt bushtrucker Reed Holden

ESI - and all the various similar grips either work for you or they don’t. I’ve tried a few versions and none where a top tier choice for me.

There are cheaper push-ons but I think these are quite excellent (and a solid value/performance).

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I hesitate to recommend them unless someone knows they want vibration absorption over most other traits. I can definitely see how more people would be more likely to get along with these Chromags. Which are now next up to try out after I wear out my brand new Chunkies.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Cr4w bushtrucker

ESI grips are great until it rains (gloveless) and if anything slightly sharp on the trail (or a work stand) ever touches the grip. At which time they tear and need replacing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+2 cheapondirt bushtrucker

My sweaty hands made them awful gloveless even when it wasn't raining. Even with gloves for me they were a bizarre combination of lack of tactile feel, lack of grip, and I didn't feel they were anymore - if not actually less - comfortable than other push-ons I've tried of similar thickness. 

I know folks who love them and I always come back to being glad there are so many choices on the market. My go-to for years has been the Swayze but, while - uncut -they don't feel as nice to me with naked hands or in the parking lot test, the Wax is the winner for the extra damping. 

The nice thing, as contact points go, is that push-on grips are a relatively cheap and easy thing to experiment with - I'm always curious to hear peoples' favourites.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

OK, now I know I've got to try something different because I thought mine were pretty good the one time I got caught gloveless in the rain!

There is definitely a reduced tactile feel but to me it has been worth it to come home from each ride without wrist pain. If I can have both, and for less money, I'm going to be all over that.

I've been lucky with durability. No tears on my first pair, but I did put some odi lockrings on the end to prevent most ground contact.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 cheapondirt

Big end plugs are a win with any push-on grip. I cut my bars down so no room for superfluous locking-clamps but the Swayze and Wax both have generous end caps. 

The Wax caps need a bit of electrical tape to fit some very thin wall bars / the Swayze caps need to be shaved to fit some thicker bars (carbon usually).

Reply

HollyBoni
HollyBoni
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

If I don't have any grip issues without gloves with ESI grips, does that mean i'm not sending it hard enough?

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Sending it huge and with massive hand strength!

Reply

HollyBoni
HollyBoni
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Thank god, I was worried for a second there.

I'll probably try these grips, I can cut them down a bit, right? I think they would interfere with my front light remote switch, and I love that thing!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I’ve cut the Wax to three different lengths in these photos. The only thing to note is they feel a bit softer (less dense) as you move inboard.

One of the beauties of push-on grips is how easy they are to modify. I haven’t had to play with these other than shortening them but on the Swayze I’d had to trim them in various ways to clear shifters and dropper remotes.

If you do try the Wax I’d love to hear how the experience compares to ESI from your perspective. It would be helpful in talking about them with other folks I know who get along with ESI (and similar) grips.

Cheers!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I like to think I’m always clear in highlighting that I write from my experience and in my opinion but I appreciate the reminder / chance to clarify.

I have a few friends who love ESI grips, some of whom shred way harder than I do. The beauty of having many options for contact points is we can all ride our preference - saddles, gloves, pedals.

I have nothing against ESI grips except to say they don’t work for me - and why, in my experience, I think that is.

Reply

bushtrucker
bushtrucker
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yeah that’s been my experience too. No good in the wet and one small tear and they’re as good as done. Otherwise great grips but just not with it for the cost compared to other push on options.

Reply

bushtrucker
bushtrucker
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

helpimabug
helpimabug
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major bushtrucker

I love push on grips.  My favorite are the new Ourys, thick, soft rubber that stays soft all the way to the end of the bar.

But even with spray paint and safety wire wrapped super tight on the inner, outer, and middle of the grips, they still rotate.  Not in an unsafe way, just veerrry slowly over the course of a ride.  That keeps me going back to lock ons more often than not.  I do tend to sweat a lot and yank on the grips really hard.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Which Oury grips are those?

If it helps my trick is to spray the bar, let it dry a minute, then spray inside the grip and slide it on. Then I let cure before wiring. 

I never have slippage issues (knock on cedar) down the road but occasionally when I rush the grips don’t adhere properly - in which event I just do it again. I never wire until I know they’re solid without.

I’ve done a few for friends who couldn’t get their push-on experiments to stop twisting and I think it always came down to patience.

Hope that is helpful!

Reply

helpimabug
helpimabug
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

It’s the v2 single compound Ourys.

I do spray both the bar and grip, and wait for it to dry before wiring...but haven’t tried letting the paint on the bar dry a bit.  Maybe that helps minimize how much of the paint gets wiped off by the grip sliding on?  I’ll give it a try next time, thanks!

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think the finishing on the bar affects grip as well.  I've been running Renthal Super Tacky push ons on and off for a few years now and had mixed results with spray paint.  They stick fine on some bars but twist on others.  I've not wired on my Surly bars and they seem fine where as need wire on the Ergotecs.  SQ bars seem OK and from memory Renthal bars.

Maybe time to get out a little sand paper for extra grip...

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I’d agree with this - like tubeless tire/rim combos. I always get them aired up but some combos are more of a struggle.

Reply

Tremeer023
Tremeer023
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I made the switch to push-ons this year (S&M Mike Hoder signature) and first used hair spray, buf it slipped so I moved to Pro Taper grip glue.  No issues at all and no wire required.  I'm sold on push-ons, thanks NSMB!

I'm UK based but more of a fair weather rider (yeh, I know).

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Tremeer023

Are you here in the rain forest or from a drier climate? The wire keeps moisture and crap from getting under the grip and breaking down whatever adhesive you use. 

I’ve talked to plenty of riders who have no issue just using an adhesive. But I’ve also talked to a few riders in wetter areas (PNW / UK) who were fine until they had a crash or were out in a deluge and then weren’t.

vincentaedwards
Vincent Edwards
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have been riding these grips on 2 bikes since you initially touted the benefits of push on grips. I really like them! Previously, I’d been riding Ergon grips (the enduro and DH models) which I also really like, but these work even better for me. They offer more grip (even compared to Ergon ‘factory’ rubber, increased comfort, and great durability. The price is nice as well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Have you tried other push-on options, or the Wax worked so you stuck with them?

.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I get some flack about my push-on grip evangelism, so it’s always a nice bump to hear folks read/tried/loved.

Reply

Larrabee
Larrabee
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

“I get some flack about my push-on grip evangelism, so it’s always a nice bump to hear folks read/tried/loved.”

Thanks to you, Andrew, I switched from push-on Renthal Kevlar grips to the black Renthal Ultra Tacky ones, well glued and with 5(!) wire wraps on each (belt and suspenders FTW!). This on my Murmur, so you know I’m “out there”. 

I donated my spare Kevlar grips, glue, lock wire and labour to my buddy — fitting those to his Chameleon.  

That’s a good gift: show up and put on new grips for a friend. 

Thanks for a whole year of useful info (I’m now on an SQ-Labs 610 Ergo saddle!), and “mass quantities” of entertainment.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Cheers! 

Push-on grips definitely can be contagious. 

Welcome, looking forward to my Best Of 2021 piece going live next week and lots of fresh content in 2022!

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I fitted a set of these to my FS after all the raving. I don't love them.

I really wanted to, and the softness is nice. But the (perceived?) thickness too much for me. 

I've left them on, in hope that when worn a bit they'll feel thinner. But my hands are happy on the lock on ODI Gwin things on the HT.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

If you find them a bit too large I'd suggest the Sensus Swayze as the next grip to try. For folks looking for the best, thinnest, grip (period) then the Renthal Ultra Tacky push-on is the easy winner. I like the extra damping on the Wax.

If your hands aren't huge another thing you can do is trim the outer edge off the Wax. Cut to my daughter's length they feel much softer and thinner because they're notably less dense at the inside. My wife's grips feel somewhere in the middle.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew, how do these cf my favs the Renthal Ultra Tacky for grip?  I ride both with and without gloves (more so in summer).

I'm always keen to add more Chromag to my bike so may take a punt on these.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

They are thicker, and they feel ever thicker again due to the higher density towards the ends. 

The Ultra Tacky Renthal absolutely has more grip without gloves if my hands are wet or sweaty - these are a more traditional grip feel, not “sticky” to the touch.

In short, totally different! I love the feel of the Ultra Tacky but had mostly ditched the Renthal option for the Swayze for the added damping. These feel thicker again. 

Only one way to find out of course! Plus, if you do try them report back.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

£14 so worth the "buy now" click.  I'll report back.

Also I really need to get some safety wire pliers - they look like the ticket.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew- I tried the Wax grips but still like the Renthal UTs better as they're gripper and thinner.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Certainly thicker and less sticky. Did you like the Renthal's better like you pulled the Wax right off or are you going to run them for a while? Have you tried the Swayze as well?

Cheers Marty!

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

On my mtb I've run the following order : Wax -> Progrip -> Renthal lock on -> Renthal push on.

I've had R push ons on the commuter for a while.

The Chromag end caps are awesome tho but a pain to get out.  I'm running a blackmail with the R push ons

I've now got a whole collection of grips I need to give away...

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Someone you know will be your BFF for introducing them to those Wax grips. I don't know who, but they're out there!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I love the pliers - faster and cleaner and just better than doing it by hand with pliers. I almost wants to say fun-to-use!

Plus, who knew there were all sorts of other things that could be safety wired together?!?

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I wired some suckers on for a shower shelf.  Worked a treat.

Wiring by hand is painful.  The amount of times I've pricked my fingers isn't funny.  It's generally a bloody process.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Yeah, you definitely need a plier setup! Not only is it not a bloody affair, my grom confirms they’re fun to use!

As tools go they aren’t expensive.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I’m sure you have an outfit closer to home, but for anyone in BC who’s looking for a pair, I bought mine from Gnarly Parts and have had zero complaints.

agleck7
Agleck7
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I’ve been planning to try push ons on my mtb (Clint Reynolds grips). I’ve always just used an air compressor with no adhesive on my bmx. Am i risking something sketchy happening if they get wet on my mtb??

ps there are TONS of options for grips if you look at bmx grips

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Lots of options though many are cheap/crappy by comparison. ODI makes some great options. Eclat Pulsar is awesome.

The answer to your question comes down to location and usage. Absolutely, riding in the  wet, crashing, etc I wouldn’t not glue & wire. Don’t need any fancy tools just some snare wire and some spray paint.

Certainly, I’ve read comments from folks who’ve just don’t a clean, air-on, and ride. But I’ve seen enough loose grips locally (push-on and improperly tightened lock-ons) that I’m very wary when I see that written. 

So yeah, highly recommend glue & wire myself.

Reply

agleck7
Agleck7
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks!! 

Any issues with spray paint or grip adhesive on a One Up carbon bar? As far as damage or warranty voiding?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

That’s a question only OneUp could answer definitively. But, it’s hard to imagine how a bit of paint would affect the construction of a bar such that if there was a defect in manufacturing or materials they wouldn’t honour their warranty.

I mean, I usually run aluminum bars but I have glued grips on a number of carbon bars with the same method and never given it a second thought.

Reply

WyOh
WyOh
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Big handed (XXL glove) Wolf Tooth Fat Paw fan here. I’ve not needed paint or wires… just apply with rubbing alcohol and let dry. Their Megas actually surprised me by being TOO big! I think the Mega Cam might be perfection if I can be bothered to get the rotation right.

Reply

bushtrucker
bushtrucker
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Big fan of push on grips here, mostly for the cost savings. Funnily enough I kinda prefer a firmer grip and have found WTB Original Trails be the best for me. They have a great feel with the slightly bulged centre section that fills ya palm nicely. The old school look of em doesn’t go to bad with a steel hardtail either.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
Jake Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 maxc

What are the downsides of lock ons? I guess I'm missing something obvious because I don't get the problem.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Jake Smith

The plastic internal sleeve reduces the volume of rubber for a given grip diameter.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
Jake Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

That makes sense. Does it matters more if you've got small hands?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Jake Smith

I don’t have huge mitts but I often wear a large glove. 

I know lots of folks who get along fine with lock-ons (especially nice lock-ons) but the easy plus or push-ons is removing the plastic sleeve means more rubber for a given thickness. 

It’s a great first step for some noise cancelling for anyone who has problems with their hands (which lots of folks do) before trying something like a Rev grip as needed.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
Jake Smith
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Ok, that makes total sense. Thanks for the clarification, my brother.

Reply

adurant
Alex Durant
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Joined the push on church after trying a pair last winter (well more specifically I tried a push-on on one side and a lock-on on the other, just one park lap and I was sold.) I've tried oury v1, renthal ultra tacky, sensus emj, and the odi longnecks (flangless version.) Sensus emj and odi are tied for my favorite although if I had to pick I'd go odi. Any thoughts on how the chromags compare? I'll probably try them for myself but curious.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Alex Durant

I like the Longnecks as well! They're much more similar to the Sensus Swayze or Eclat Pulsar - which makes sense since they're all made at ODI, have similar diameters, and the same compound. 

The Wax feels fatter, especially left uncut as the density increases quite a bit towards the outside. Coming off the Swayze there was a learning curve as the grips feel thicker. I didn't love-love them on my first parking lot test actually. But the damping quality on the trail is higher, I think, because of that increased thickness out towards the end. 

Whether you'll like them, like them compared to the ODIs, or LOVE them I couldn't say. I am surprised how much I like them after years of favouring the thinner feeling Swayze and Renthal Ultra Tacky. It's nice how inexpensive push-on grips are in terms of playing with contact points though.

Reply

adurant
Alex Durant
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yea grips are so personal its always hard to say, your thoughts are very helpful though. I've got xl hands so been wanting something slightly thicker without going Oury v2 thick (which ill probably try as well tbh). The bike nerd in me loves that its one of the few components that you can truly and easily A/B test. Bang for buck its the best bike improvement I've ever made so thanks again for enlightening me and also for the great articles in general!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Cheers!

If you do try the Wax, post up and let us know how it worked for you.

Reply

Ceecee
Ceecee
7 months, 2 weeks ago
-8 cheapondirt Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Bikeryder85 Zak Brown shenzhe Grif tashi

A localized haze of witless self-congratulation obscures recent developments in the non-push-on universe. When will WPL introduce biobased spray paint

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
7 months, 2 weeks ago
+3 Velocipedestrian Zak Brown papa44

I’d politely ask again that you choose another online publication for your trolling. We have a great community here that you clearly aren’t interested in participating in.

Happy holidays,

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