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REVIEW

LoamLab Counterpunch and Grips

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Pete Roggeman
Date Jul 13, 2022
Reading time

In the lead up to last year's BC Bike Race, I wrote about some of the gear choices I had made or was contemplating prior to leaving for Penticton, as well as the Santa Cruz Blur I rode in the race. There's a little unfinished business there - I'd like to revisit some of those decisions and talk about a few of the other things I haven't yet mentioned - but that will be for another time. Today I want to focus on a small but mighty component I've been using and loving since then: the LoamLab Counterpunch, as well as their Single Clamp Grips*.

*I love the name Counterpunch, so it seems to me that the name of the grips could use a little more love

LoamLab Counterpunch on Sentinel

LoamLab Counterpunch on the Transition Sentinel showing scars from battle. Bit of corrosion on these bolts but they're old samples and Counterpunch ships with stainless hardware now. Yes, the fist is upside down. No, that doesn't matter, it's a symmetrical product. I would have taken fresh photos today but summer finally arrived and we're all going blind.

LoamLab Counterpunch Pinkie Protectors

LoamLab Counterpunch is the brainchild of Mark Haimes, who had suffered a broken 5th metatarsal and had to take 6 weeks off the bike (which probably led to way worse suffering in the middle of the bike season than the broken pinkie). Wanting to avoid a repeat of that injury, Mark put his CAD design skills to use and the Counterpunch was born. He also designed a grip that can be paired with the Counterpunch or used on its own, and I'll detail why you'd want to do that after, but although the Counterpunch is the star, the Loam Lab Single Clamp Grip shouldn't be overlooked.

When I first wrote about Counterpunch, I surmised that it likely would be more useful on a trail bike than my XC bike, however I was training on trails with high speed sections that often saw me weaving between tight trees, and on multiple occasions I felt the sweet kiss of the Counterpunch sliding off the edge of a tree rather than a hard contact between a trunk and my 5th digit and metacarpal (aka the pinkie and its knuckle). Having a small tab of aluminum armour protecting my outermost knuckle caused me to attack narrow spots between trees more aggressively, or at least a bit faster, thanks to the reassurance of a bit of protection and the knowledge that instead of a high-speed clip if I get it wrong by an inch, the Counterpunch will slide along a tree trunk, helping maintain momentum AND protecting my pinkie and knuckle at the same time.

What helped even more was that during the race, in a spot where I would never have thought I'd be at risk of injuring my pinkie or knuckle, I screwed up a technical uphill lunge and in an exhausted state, lost a pedal and fell sideways directly into a tree - right onto the Counterpunch - with enough force to stop dead. I can't say for sure I would have broken a tiny bone, but given how much the rattling descents of the Three Blind Mice trail network caused my wrists and back to ache, any injury at all would have made the remaining stages painful to complete.

Good on all Bikes

So, call me a Counterpunch convert on the least likely of bikes (in my preliminary opinion), but what about the most likely of bikes? Well, for starters, there are a fistful of EWS racers using the Counterpunch now, including Rhys Verner and Charlie Murray on an official basis (and a few others playing around with it, more to come), and EWS-E racer Milan Mysik. I bring up the latter because in addition to using Counterpunch on my Transition Sentinel, I've also taken to running it on the Santa Cruz Heckler I'm testing. I think there are benefits to running it on just about any bike, but e-bikes in the hands of some riders may be even more compelling. It could be argued that for some riders, a 50-lb bike may not be controllable with the same precision as one weighing 20 pounds less (again, we're talking about times when an inch to the outside is the difference between clean passage and painful contact). This is another place Counterpunch could shine for some riders.

Unexpected Benefit

Other than protection (from trees but also from massive rocks and boulders in places like Sedona or Moab), there's an added benefit to Counterpunch that a lot of testimonials speak to, which I've also encountered, and that is that it gives your hand a boundary on the bar to lean up against. Not all riders like to perch their hands off the end of the bar, but if you're one of them, like me, you may also appreciate that having a small hook to push your hand up against both provides consistent positioning and even a small amount of leverage or control. I didn't even know how much I valued this until I switched back and forth between bikes with and without Counterpunch and realized I wasn't always as good at guessing exactly where my hand was relative to the edge of the bar as I would have thought. This will be dependent on different riders as well as their hands, grip setups, and preferences, but I determined that I like having a reassuring piece of metal there to buttress my hand. I'm fine without it, but I prefer having it there.

Counterpunch is one of those great components that is effective, doesn't weigh much at 68g grams per pair, cost much (39 CAD or 59 including grips), or come with disadvantages but is nice peace of mind whether or not you've had injuries in this area before. I've been asked if it snags branches or other obstacles (it does not) and one person asked if I was concerned about being impaled with it - this is the kind of thinking that dominates Twitter and the back row of classrooms (where the not-so-smart asses sit). You can search for problems all you want, but if you're worried about being impaled by this hook, you'd best remove your brake levers and pedals, and remind roadie hold-outs about how silly they are for worrying about being injured by disc rotors. This sport comes with risk, but Counterpunch guards against an injury that is way more common than being impaled by a brake lever (or the tiniest bar end). Not everyone needs this or may think they want it, but there is very little reason not to try it out if you think it'll be helpful where you ride.

We'll cover the grips next but it's worth noting that you don't have to use LoamLab grips in order to use Counterpunch - it'll work with other lock-on designs that have an outer collar, or you can trim the soft outer edge of other grips in order to accommodate Counterpunch's collar.

LoamLab Counterpunch.jpg

It would be a shame not to show LoamLab's nice photos of the Counterpunch on a bed of moss...

LoamLab Grips.jpg

...as well as the Single Clamp Grip with its soft outer edge.

LoamLab Single Clamp Grip

While Counterpunch may be the main attraction here, LoamLab has also brought a nice grip to market. The name - Single Clamp Grip - indicates its simple nature, but it doesn't point to the grip's key feature. What distinguises the LoamLab Single Clamp Grip from other single and double clamp grips is that the plastic sleeve that rides beneath the rubber grip itself has several points of relief (fancy talk for holes) that allow the rubber to flex under your hand's pressure to provide greater comfort. This is the chief complaint with lock-ons for people who like thin grips and require lock-on security and convenience.

I have some that I've used separately from the Counterpunch, although the grip that comes with Counterpunch (you can order CP with or without grips) is the same except it comes with a clamp on the outside to accommodate CP, whereas the grip on its own only has an inboard clamp and is soft on the outside. The grips are soft and plenty tacky - even in the wet - and I love the relieved sections. Occasionally I get a bit of tendon soreness in my elbow if I spend too much time pushing around a heavy e-bike, and the LoamLab grip has helped reduce that a bit. I like a thinner grip but also like them on the spongier side, so the LoamLab Single Clamp Grip has quickly become one of my favourites. At 33 CAD, it's priced competitively for a premium grip, but as only a $20 uncharge if you buy Counterpunch for 39 (ie. 59 CAD for the whole system) I think it becomes a great value.

I'm a big fan of what Mark Haimes has done here with LoamLab. A Squamish-based company using some ingenuity to bring out a simple but effective product that I think a lot of people will appreciate. I believe Counterpunch is a great option for just about anyone reading this that rides among trees or big rocks, but if you're not convinced, I'd also point you towards the Single Clamp Grip, especially if you're committed to running clamps instead of slide-ons but still want a softer than average grip with a thinner profile. Both products come highly recommended.

LoamLab Counterpunch - 39 CAD* (59 CAD with grips) // Single Clamp Grip - 33 CAD*

*LoamLab has graciously extended a 15% discount on all orders when you use code NSMB15

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Comments

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 5 days ago
+16 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Émanuel Valex DancingWithMyself Tremeer023 Grif Poz Niels van Kampenhout Cydwhit finbarr Jerry Willows Justin White shenzhe Gage Wright imnotdanny Lynx .

That rusty bolt, argh!

It was a big disappointment to discover the supplier provided such crap bolts that corrode so easily. I recognized this early on, so all the Counterpunches have been shipping with stainless steel bolts since before the end of last year; but clearly too late for Pete's set.

I have extra stainless steel bolts, so if you have a set with undesirable orange patina, hit me up. If you're local enough you can swing by and grab replacements, or I can snail mail them within Canada for free. A dollop of chain lube also works wonders with the old bolts.

Reply

blangshaw
Burgess Langshaw Power
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Lynx . mtnfriend

Could we talk you into making a thick grip to go with these? I'd love to try some, but the small diameter is a deal breaker for me, and my current grips (the fat ergons) are not open ended.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+6 dirtnapped PowellRiviera imnotdanny Justin White mtnfriend Lynx .

Hey Burgess, it's definitely something I want to add as soon as I can, as it's a common request.

It's quite a costly endeavor to build new molds, and being a very new startup (and also starting up Khyber Racks at the same time), I need some time to build up my resources to expand the lineup. 

I could only start with one size, and since I've always like really thin grips, I started by trying to make the most comfortable thin grip. But grips are very personal, so more options are needed and will come as soon as I can.

You may find you can run them with your Ergons if you don't mind trimming them. I've seen people trim many kinds of grips, from OneUp, Burgtec, Renthal, DMR, ODI single clamps and also Ergon. If you have an old worn out set, you could test trim those to see if it's easy enough to do.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I'm a hand all the way to the outside, actually slightly overhanging the end type rider, so these wouldn't work for me, but always looking for bigger grips (33mm), currently have the Ergons GA2 FATs and the new Oury single clamp FATs and liking both, not sure which I prefer, but think the Oury because it feels softer and grippier.

Cool to  see the company reading and responding to stuff like this and even owning up to mistakes that may have been made, no real fault of their own.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
3 weeks, 5 days ago
+3 Andy Eunson Pete Roggeman Justin White

It's the consistent hand positioning for me. My hands always end up in just the right place relative to the controls. Nice for rolling into something steep after stopping for a look. I think this is worthy of consideration for the picky rider who measures things like lever angles.

I had to move my brakes outboard by about 15mm after installing the Counterpunches. It turned out I previously had a lot of unused handlebar outside each hand. The change was dramatic enough that I intended to cut the bars, but ended up adapting to the new effective width instead.

Someone pointed out to me that a flanged grip does the same thing, but lots of nice slide on grips lack an outer flange and the protection is a bonus.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 5 days ago
+4 Pete Roggeman Émanuel Valex Justin White cheapondirt

I would chalk this up to unintended positive consequences. 

It was one of the first things that I, and my early test riders, talked about a lot. Some described them as SPDs for your hands. I also moved my levers out, and I now really hang the meaty part of my hand right over end of the bar with my pinkies jammed in the pocket without worrying about being injured. Although unlike you, after a couple of months I did end up trimming my bars a little. 

Thanks for giving them a try, and great to hear they've improved your ride.

Reply

el_jefe
el_jefe
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 LoamLab Andrew Major Etacata

I'd really really like to try these, but won't give up my RevGrips - just need a little RevGrips / LoamLab collab so the outer lock-on is a CounterPunch end of the RevGrip.  Maybe some day!.....

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+5 finbarr imnotdanny tmb1956 Justin White mtnfriend

You're not the first person to say this, so it's on my radar for sure. 

The best solution would of course be to design it so the outer collar and plug is removed and replaced.

Although not perfect, CPs are able to be installed with a RevGrip by removing the end plug, sliding the grips inboard 6mm and keeping the outer suspension collar installed next to the CP. 

If you're local, you're welcome to drop by Squamish to try that setup to see how it feels before you buy.

Reply

tmb1956
tmb1956
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 LoamLab

Thanks for this info. I use RevGrips, and am happy to hear I can bodge together CP with my existing Rev’s.  

I now have a set of CP on order.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Kelownakona

Right on, thanks for giving them a go. I'd love to hear some feedback on how they work together once you've given them few rides, so if you have time hit me up!

Reply

agleck7
Agleck7
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 LoamLab Pete Roggeman

Absolutely love the grips. Been using deathgrips forever and never thought I’d change, but these are too good.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

That's great to hear!

Reply

cka3686
cka3686
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 LoamLab Pete Roggeman

I've been using the Counterpunch this year on a Levo SL with Wolf Tooth Fat Paws. These fine little additions have saved my hand more than once against a particular tree that has my name on it. Wouldn't ride without them now.

Reply

neil-carnegie
Neil Carnegie
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

I wonder about these. I live in a tight place (the tweed valley) where bar to tree contact is a real fear and have broken pinkies in the past but I also crashed hard last year and took a handlebar end to lower abdomen and groin. 

I had DMR death grips on at the time which have a generous amount of soft rubber on the end and even so did some soft tissue damage and had a bruise the size of a grapefruit for weeks. If I’d been on these I don’t know what would have happened but I think it would likely have been a lot lot worse. Solid metal end with a poky bit (even small) doesn’t feel that safe to me

Reply

paul-lindsay
Paul Lindsay
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Pete Roggeman LoamLab

I've got them on my bike Neil, you can have a look or give them a try. They just glance off trees, totally work as intended. The clamped in feeling and the definite end to the grip is really confidence inspiring too.

The poky bit is tiny, but fair enough, if I had the choice of which bar end to land on I'd pick something else. I've hit my hands off a lot more trees than I have landed on bar ends, though that might be luck, so the trade off is worth it IMHO.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more take up of them in the Valley.  "Counterpunch" is a clever name but one of the WR1 guys called them "Fingerbangs" which is even better...

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 PowellRiviera trumpstinyhands Justin White

FB was the OG name and was on the drawings and the website before it was public. It was with great disappointment the world got so touchy that I abandoned it. I will always wonder if it would have hindered or helped adoption. But at least you can talk about CPs with your kids without blushing.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 LoamLab

I would run these for sure if I rode regularly at Inners or the Golfie, Neil!

That sounds like a nasty injury. Of course it's possible or even likely that a hard end would have made it worse, and I'd only be speculating here, but at least the pointy bit on the CPs is turned inward, so might be less likely to be the part that you come into contact with in a crash. 

It'd be hard to convince of anything other than what's in the back of your mind, so I won't try, but I have crashed and been struck by so many parts of my bikes that I can't worry about any specific part of them - they will all do real damage if they catch you the wrong way. It seems like that happened far more often when we rode heavier bikes, but I bet it also has to do with being clipped in, heavy bikes, AND the fact that older geometry made it more likely we'd crash OTB and those are the ones I remember where I'd hit the ground and then reflexively cover my head because I just knew the bike was about to come tomahawking down on me.

Anyway, squeezing between trees happens a lot, so to me that's a more pressing concern, but grapefruit-sized bruises are no joke!

Reply

paul-lindsay
Paul Lindsay
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

This comment has been removed.

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
3 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 LoamLab

I do not use the Counter punch as my issues are more high speed shrub scratches and cuts to un-gloved hands rather than punching trees but having seen them in the flesh they are a good idea. My issue is better solved by SendIt guards.

But on the subject of the actual grip, the best single lock ring grip ever. Slim but vibration absorbing and remain grippy (but not stick on your skin tacky) in all conditions, sweat, rain and snow. 

I run them on all my bikes now and haven't looked at another style of grip since adopting these. 

For the budget conscious they also seem to be lasting really well.

Reply

Ripbro
Ripbro
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Bought a pair, but had to take them off when I cut my bars down. Seems weird, but when I switched from 800 mm to 790 mm bars my hands would naturally gravitate outward, and the outside of my hand would rest on the metal portion of the counterpunch. At 800mm my pinkies were not inside the curl of the counterpunch and didn’t touch the metal portion.

At 790 my pinky would be inside the curl of the bar end, gave me a consistent hand placement, but it made go hands numb as they would be sitting on the metal. I want to run narrower bars, and have been taking small steps to cut them down.

Too bad, as I really liked the product. I did wonder which way to angle the ends, and ended up choosing what I thought would offer the most protection and best glance of a tree. I would have liked a few suggestions on the packaging.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 5 days ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Hbar

Sorry to hear you didn't get along with them after cutting your bars. 

I have longer term plans to offer a version that is rubber across the top of the CPs, to have a similar feel as my single clamp grips (Pete is right, they could really use a name too). It's going to take some time though. 

As for how to angle them, I find completely level or slightly down is the most comfortable. There's not a lot of room on the package to add any more info, but I now ship them with instructions, and the QR code on the package takes you to the website where there are now installation instructions that suggest this too. 

In the meantime, if you bought the combo with the grip and still have the collars, I'd be happy to give you a set of the rubber refills for the single clamp grips so you can try them instead, which are specifically intended for hanging over the end in comfort. Hit me up via DM or my website if you're interested.

Reply

ElBrendo
ElBrendo
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 LoamLab Pete Roggeman Justin White

I've been considering your counterpunch ends since seeing them in a LBS a few weeks ago. I didn't realize you were local in Squamish. Very cool to see you engaging on here, what awesome customer service!

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Andrew Major ElBrendo Justin White

Yep, been in Squamish about 13 years now. 
If you decide to try a set, I'd love for you to support your LBS. But certainly, if you have any questions or require support I am more than happy to help.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Pete Roggeman Kelownakona

Yup, super good customer service/support! Won't get into specifics because every interaction is personal, but I got quick email responses and amazingly customer-friendly results from my queries. Not even issues with the products, literally just questions, but LoamLabs does not disappoint.

Reply

Tadpoledancer
Tadpoledancer
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

As you have mentioned here, some rubber on the CP for better hand comfort, and a grip that’s a bit thicker would be great improvements for a good product. 

The only significant downside for me has been me denting the doorframe with the CP multiple times when I carry the bike inside after the ride.  

Another really small annoyance has been if I ride through some really overgrown sections of trail, where I will place my hands further in on the handlebars to avoid the branches/plants, the CPs would grab hold of the thin branches and bring them a bit closer to the hands. Safety wise it’s totally worth it though.

Reply

Ripbro
Ripbro
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Awesome feedback, I’ll send you a pm:)

Reply

Kelownakona
Kelownakona
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I couldn't get on with them at all. I found it really irritating having my fingers rubbing up against the metal all ride.

I like to be ride at edge of the bar and it just doesn't work if you prefer that hand position. I was never a fan of dual lockrings and prefer the grip to go well over the end bar even with a bit of extra thickness there like Deathgrips or RF Full Nelsons.

As some comments have already mentioned, I was also a bit unnerved having two prongy bits sticking out off the end of each bar. 

Also not a fan of the grips. They aren't great in comparison with what else is out there.

Sorry for neg feedback but they just didnt work for me. Still happy I took a chance on some as I think its great to see what you've done and it did seem a good idea.

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Justin White Kelownakona

Sorry to hear you found them uncomfortable. 

If you still have the lock rings, I would be happy to send you some of the single clamp grip rubber refills that have thick soft rubber at the end, specifically for hanging your hand over the end. They use the same lock rings, so you can swap them out. Hit me up on DM or on my website if you want to give them a try. 

I run the CPs on all my bikes, and I like to hang my hand far over the end, with my finger pushed hard into the pocket of the CP, so while that didn't work for you, it does work for others. I do recall having a little discomfort the first couple of big bike park days, but haven't since. Perhaps with a little more time you'd adapt as I and others have.

As for the risk of having protrusions on the bar, that's a fair concern. It really comes down to personally weighing up the risk of clipping a bar and injuring your hand, or being chucked in the process, vs the risk of ending up with a forward facing protrusion ending up impacting toward you. Certainly not impossible, but as Pete suggests maybe no greater than a disc rotor, chainring or pedal ending up in an undesirable position during an acrobatic excursion.  

Regardless of all of the above, I appreciate you giving them a go, and please reach out if you'd like to try the grips without the CPs.

Reply

Kelownakona
Kelownakona
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 LoamLab

Hey Mark

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my feedback. That's so cool from an mtb company these days. Also really appreciate the grip offer. 

Your advice and Pete's words have made me think I'll give them another try based on what you've said on hand position.

If you don't mind , what would you reckon the optimum angle to set them at is? Do you want them almost levelled out pointing forward or some lift?

Thanks for any more help!

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Kelownakona

Great to hear you're willing to give them another try. I suggest you start with them level with the ground, or perhaps even slightly down. I personally find that if they are upward at all they are uncomfortable (I have a friend that likes them upward a little bit, but he seems to be the only one of that I have seen personally). This is probably counter intuitive since old bar ends were always pointing upward, and aesthetically it's a logical place to start; not ideal for riding though in my experience.

Reply

Kelownakona
Kelownakona
3 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 LoamLab

Bit of an update - as it might be useful for riders who had similar issues/concerns.

I've put them back on but level / parallel with ground (pointing forward) and it is so much better - I get what you mean where you hand goes over it but it still protects your little finger. 

Having them pointing forward also doesnt seem quite as dangerous.

Going to keep them on now they are fitted correctly and see how they go.

Thanks again for the help

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Kelownakona

That's great to hear, and thank you for updating!

Kelownakona
Kelownakona
3 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Ok thanks for that. I probably was running at too much of an angle based on that. Will level out and give it another blast.

Reply

GiveitsomeWelly
Karl Fitzpatrick
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Kelownakona

I hang my hand off the edge too and like the idea of the protection the CP offers but I ride gloveless more often than not and metal outer collars would give that squishy bit of my palm blisters if my previous experiences with other grips is anything to go by. 

I actually wonder if the counterpunch rubbing on my pinkie would do the same?

Reply

dbozman
dbozman
3 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Just ordered a set with the handy discount. Thanks. Not a lot of trees here in Phoenix, but a lot of nasty rocks that fingers take a beating on.

Reply

ehfour
ehfour
3 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Very tempted to dive in- I have some Ergons, does that mean I would hack the Ergon logo off and fit the CPs? Do you know if anyone has successfully done so? be a waste of a grip to try

Reply

LoamLab
LoamLab
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 ehfour

I haven't seen a photo of the results, but I have been told by someone they did it successfully. If you have a worn out set to practice on, that's probably a better bet though.

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