WTB PadLoc Grips: Reviewed

Words Kaz Yamamura
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Nov 18, 2015

WTB showed me their crazy new grip idea at Interbike. I was intrigued, as they claimed to solve a problem that I have encountered before – twisting grips (albeit only on carbon bars). The PadLoc system, as they call it, was derived when a WTB employee/racer Jason Moeschler broke his back in a fall caused by a twisting grip, as well as Jérome Clementz losing time during an EWS race due to the same issue. I’ve had a few weeks on the WTB Padlock Grip and the pre-cut Clementz Boobar Blackbox handlebars, so I’ve had a chance to compile some thoughts.

The PadLoc grip system works like this: a wedge on the inside of the grip interfaces with a handlebar whose end is cut at a 30° angle. Together they oppose any circular movement of the grip. A single inboard clamp opposes lateral movement. In theory, the grip won’t move at all, and as I found out, it works in practice.

The guts of the PadLoc system. A handlebar with ends cut at a 30° angle, as well as a wedge on the inside of the grip.

Some people have rebutted this as just another way of marketing product. Jason Moeschler breaking his back to promote the PadLoc system? Jerome Clementz losing time in an EWS race to market the idea? That sounds like nonsense to me. Grips have gone from hose clamps, glue, single clamps and double clamps. All of those prevented horizontal movement, but the PadLoc is the first of its kind – it prevents circular or rotational movement. This is the start of something new, and whether or not you think you need it, super fast guys like Moeschler and Clementz felt it was needed. That’s a pretty good start.

Pre-cut Blackbox Clementz Boobar 750mm bars. A little shorter than what I’m used to, but it worked just fine on the trail bike.

WTB sent me home from Interbike with the pre-cut Truvativ Jerome Clementz Boobar Carbon handlebar and a set of grips with a massive diameter – the 33mm ergonomic monster. I put them on, bolted the inner clamp tight, and went out for a ride. I didn’t like the ergonomic grips. /End of review.

Kidding. The 33mm grips were way too big for my tiny Japanese hands. Ever compared the size of a hand-rolled nigiri with a hand-tossed pizza? Yeah, one is way bigger. I also wasn’t a fan of the ergonomic shape – it dictated where my hands should be on the bars, otherwise it was uncomfortable. Not a problem if you don’t let go of your bars often on the trail, but when you’re doing super rad sick-as-balls one-handers like me it becomes a problem.

The chunky 33mm grips named “The Clydesdale”. A little too big for my hands, and I wasn’t a fan of the ergonomic shape.

WTB was kind enough to send me a smaller 28mm diameter version, which was perfect. I usually run 30mm grips, but the 28mm felt fine – I had zero complaints from my hands about being sore. They were also shaped like a conventional grip, with the whole grip being of the same diameter. And the extra material on the ends of the grip, where the extra rubber is? Oh, don’t even get me started. The cushion for the pushin’ (myself up the hill) was great, and on the descents that small bit of softness helped keep my palm from feeling like there was no blood circulation. However, I don’t like using up the whole length of the bar – I usually keep my hands about a centimeter or 2 inboard of the edge, effectively using only about half of the cushioned bit. I had a friend who uses the whole bar try a lap on my bike, and his concern was that the outside edge was so soft that it felt like his hands were hanging off the edge.

Installing the grips couldn’t have been simpler. They slide on, and rotate themselves to fit in the wedge. Nice. Tighten the inner lock ring with a 2.5mm allen, and voilà – ready to go. In a span of 60 seconds I went from opening the packaging for the grips to being ready to ride; 30 of those 60 seconds were spent looking for my allen key set.

The 28mm Thinlines. The red section on the end is the cushioned part, which is where the wedge lies.

I’m somewhat OCD, and I want everything on my cockpit to be absolutely perfect – I can feel things like my brake levers being a few degrees askew and it pisses me off. The directional Easton Lock-On grips I reviewed took me forever to install, with most of the time taken by me trying to rotate the grips so that they were in an identical position so the the shark fins of the grips were in the same position on both sides. If there were non-wedged grips that had the cushion ends like the WTB grips, they would have taken me much longer than half a minute to install, with much of my time probably taken by rotating the grips to the perfect position.

I really enjoyed the design of the grip; it was like it was wickered, but much softer. I rode gloveless for the duration of the test, to really get a feel for the grip and softness of the grip, especially on the outside wedge. My hands had no problem with grip, even while riding in the rain, which North Shore locals are experiencing in great quantity right about now.

View of the wicker pattern.

The pre-cut Clementz Boobar carbon bars felt “right” – the right amount of up-sweep and back-sweep. However the Clementz bars only come in 750mm which is 20mm shorter than my preferred length. Truvativ does offer a pre-cut 780mm Boobar 7000-series alloy bar for those looking for a longer bar – at the cost of gaining 100 grams – but it’s also about $100 less expensive. The carbon bars weigh 225 grams while the alloy bars weigh 335 grams. The Clementz Boobars come with 7˚ back-sweep and 5˚ up-sweep, pretty common numbers for a handlebar. I personally ride bars with 8˚ or 9˚ of up-sweep, but I had no problem dropping down to 7. However, riding on a double-ended spear covered in rubber did make me a little anxious about the possibility of taking a core sample of myself.

The pre-cut bar. I was a little nervous about having a spear right under my hands, centimeters away from my skin.

A comment I saw about the grips that actually intrigued me was something along the lines of “So, if I want to change the angle of my lovely soft grips without changing my bar roll, do I have to cut new bars?” But after seeing the grips in person, and the size of the wedge, I answered that question with another question: how far are you rolling your bars that your palm won’t contact this inch long cushion? I run my bars quite a bit rolled back – enough that people comment on it every time they get on my bike – and my hands still managed to sit on the padded bit. Case closed.

WTB offers the PadLoc system in 3 main sizes: the 28mm Thinline, 30mm Commander and 33mm Clydesdale, as well as the ergonomic and thick Ace grips, and Jerome Clementz’s personal 30mm grip shift grip. All grips are the same price, at $34.95 US. However, each size grip has a different design – it would have been nice to see each design available in all 3 sizes.

The 30mm thick Commander.

Truvativ will also offer pre-cut bars, with the 750mm Clementz Blackbox Boobar carbon bars, and the 780mm alloy bars. Both pre-cut bars will come packaged with the WTB PadLoc 30mm Commander grips. The 750mm carbon bar with PadLoc grips combo will be $226, and the alloy bar package at $111.

Park Tool will offer a jig guide insert for their existing SG-7.2 adjustable saw guide, called the SGI-7 for an extra $20. Extra meaning you need to buy the adjustable saw guide to be able to use the insert.

Park Tool will offer an insert for their existing SG-7.2 guide dubbed the SGI-7 to chop your bar of choice for an extra 20 bones.

So let’s recap. The PadLoc system solves the very real problem of slipping grips. The bars are tried and true, and the grips worked well: they kept my hands comfortable and glued to the bars. However, switching to the PadLoc system requires that you only run WTB grips – at least until more options hit the market – so you’d better hope to like what WTB offers like I did. If you cut your existing bars, you better polish up your measuring skills, or have your friend do it so you at least have someone to blame.


Are slipping grips a problem for you?

Comments

harlan-price
0
Harlan Price  - Nov. 30, 2015, 1:12 p.m.

This is a case of an accidental discovery that outperforms the original goal. Yes this grip doesn't slip and it doesn't scratch your auto when you lean it against it which is awesome. BUT! If you put your hands on these, use the whole bar, and take a few runs down the mountain then put on your old grips you'll see the obvious reason these grips will stay on your bike once you try them.

That comfort wedge is the real advantage of these grips. Are you a charger? You like comfort? Outside palms feel bruised? Hand issues? Get them. Worth every bit.

And yes I ride for WTB. I was doubtful too and would not ride something I thought was BS or not up to performance standards. I haven't used their grips for years, until now, despite being able to get as many of their grips as I wanted.

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JulieT
0
ashroadadam1 .  - Nov. 22, 2015, 9:48 p.m.

ESI grips
Go on easy with rubbing alcohol.
Never slip.
Weigh under 90gms.
Stay sticky even in the wet.
Cost $20.
Compatible with all handlebars
Say no more.

Reply

DrBrownPow
0
DrBrownPow  - Nov. 21, 2015, 10:04 p.m.

Meh… havent had many issues of slippage in my years of riding. Seems a bit unnecessary & pricey! If it makes me as fast as Jerome, worth the coin 😉

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republicmalcolmisland
0
RepublicMalcolmIsland  - Nov. 20, 2015, 9:17 p.m.

I kicked your monkey, then I used your goat.

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boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Nov. 19, 2015, 12:55 p.m.

silly product, excellent review

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Nov. 19, 2015, 11:35 a.m.

While it's not a problem I've experienced, I think it would be stupid to assume my experience is universal. Time will tell if the problem is prevalent enough for this idea to have legs. I think it's a creative solution.

I really liked the tone of the review- nice one Kaz.

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ian-bongard
0
Ian Bongard  - Nov. 19, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

If you are having problems with your grips twisting then they were installed wrong or the bolts weren't torqued to spec. I see no reason to cut 25 mm into each side of the bars to use grips that solve a problem that wasn't there in the first place.
Great solution just there wasn't a problem that needed solving.

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0
t.odd  - Nov. 19, 2015, 10:20 a.m.

grips slipped all the time before lock-ons, was that decades ago now? no problems since, hope this silliness dies a quick death.

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 19, 2015, 8:58 a.m.

Slipping grips are not a problem for anyone with lock on grips. I even use ESI silicone grips and they don't slip. To say "The PadLoc system solves the very real problem of slipping grips" is hollow shilling, IMO- as it ignores the 15 or so years we've had lock on grips.

This review overall was honest and awesome. The concept that these grips might take off, however, is a new level of stupid. Gonna bring back shock boots next?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 19, 2015, 10:04 a.m.

Strong words, John, and I'll take you to task over 'hollow shilling'. You ought to know that some people don't like using double-ended lock-ons. For them, particularly with carbon bars, slipping grips can be an issue. 'Them' in this case includes me.

I can understand people's skepticism, and I'll agree to being uncertain about the future success of this idea, but let's remember there's more than one way to skin a cat, eh?

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 19, 2015, 1:14 p.m.

Okay. I'm good with your point of not using double ended lock-ons, but I can't seem to make single-ended lock-ons like the Santa Cruz Palmdales throttle at all on my SixC bars. Weak wrists, maybe. I defend my comment.

Different ways to skin a cat are good. Rube Goldberg ways of going about it will never stick.

Why not drill a hole in the bars and put a machine screw through?
Why not make a bigger aluminum surface to grip on the bars?
Why not? Because there isn't a problem needing solved- and this "proprietary technology" isn't serving anyone but WTB.

People developing products should go beyond weather or not the can, and think also about weather or not they should.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 19, 2015, 2:06 p.m.

Fair points, John, and you def get an up vote for a Rube Goldberg reference.

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 20, 2015, 9:18 a.m.

Thanks @peteroggeman:disqus. Rube has been a huge inspiration in my life, notably for my career path.

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0
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 20, 2015, 11:54 a.m.

not that i've ever had an issue with lock-ons spinning, but i like the set- screw / hole in bar (near the end) concept as an alternative to this. still allows you to use whatever grips you want, and doesn't destroy the bar and / or lock you into a proprietary system.

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 20, 2015, 12:38 p.m.

@perryschebel:disqus The idea is yours. I hereby give you and all NSMB readers free license to its use.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 20, 2015, 6:54 p.m.

I don't think drilling a hole into the end of your carbon bar sounds all that wise.

Maybe someone who knows more about carbon's structural integrity can make a comment either for or against that statement.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - Nov. 21, 2015, 10:47 p.m.

I would say that drilling a hole is as wise as sawing off a chunk of bars.

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gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 2:45 p.m.

The idea that because it isn't a problem for you, then it must not be a problem for anyone else, is indefensible and frankly quite silly. I've never had a problem with slippage either, but I would never be so rude as to discount the experience of someone who suffered a broken back as a result of it.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Nov. 19, 2015, 3:30 p.m.

What were the details around that particular case? Was the hardware not tightened to spec? Minor variance between the bar and clamp diameters?

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gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 6:47 p.m.

I have to assume that they must have tried tightening the grips a little more before they start cutting off chunks of their handlebars, but then I'm not part of the group of mountain bikers that gets angry every time a new product is released, so maybe I'm biased.

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 20, 2015, 9:07 a.m.

This comment reminds me of a story about the movie Pirates of the Caribbean that I read once. In the comment section of that article, a woman complained about the movie because her husband was attacked by pirates while crossing the Indian Ocean or something. The movie was crass and not sensitive to those who have experienced the trauma of real pirates, with real knives in their teeth, and really mean monkeys.

See what I'm getting at?

Reply

gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 20, 2015, 10:40 a.m.

No, you're talking about a movie. There isn't really a parallel there. It's more like if you said "Why do we need coast guard or a navy, I've never been attacked by pirates so they must not exist."

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john-canfield
0
John Canfield  - Nov. 20, 2015, 11:23 a.m.

Once I did an XC race where my seat post was loose, but only to the point where the saddle would wiggle left and right, on its slow cascade to the bottom of its extension.
After the race I observed, as one might expect, that the collar was indeed loose. After that, I decided to drill holes in all of my frames and affix a bolt through a corresponding hole in the seat post, as to mitigate the issue of my not tightening the collar enough. Boom. NASA redundancy. My engineer friends would be proud.

The real question is- Why do you hate pirate movies?

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Nov. 19, 2015, 8:48 a.m.

I've never had grip slippage problems. If anything the standard lock-on collars could stand to go to a 3mm bolt, which would solve any issue I've ever had with the system.

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Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 19, 2015, 8:58 a.m.

Yes and yes. And for the 0.01% of people who's grips slip you could just add a little Shoe Goo under the grips when you slide them on. Enough to prevent rotation, but you'd still be able to remove the grips when they wore out.

No need to cut your bars and get proprietary grips.

Who thinks up this crap???

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gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 2:43 p.m.

I guess a guy who broke his back and a guy who lost a race because of grip slippage thinks up this crap.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Nov. 19, 2015, 3:28 p.m.

Did they ever determine the cause of the slippage in those cases?

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gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 6:44 p.m.

They've clearly determined a solution.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 19, 2015, 6:58 a.m.

No sale…. too much proprietary BS for a grip system… and who wants to cut their bars? Really.

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gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 2:49 p.m.

I mean, a ton of people already cut their bars.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 19, 2015, 6:05 p.m.

For length yes, for outrageous grips that defy description, ruin your bars and make no sense, not so much. Are you with WTB marketing by chance?

Reply

gavitron
0
Gavitron  - Nov. 19, 2015, 6:45 p.m.

Are you the chairman of the Whiner's Club, or are you just a Negative Nancy in your free time?

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 19, 2015, 7:57 p.m.

You are pretty passionate about this… I couldn't care less if you use it or not. I wouldn't waste my money.

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mikefunk
0
mikefunk  - Nov. 19, 2015, 12:55 a.m.

Who is funding this? I mean, most stupid bike "invention" of decade.

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JVP
0
JVP  - Nov. 18, 2015, 11 p.m.

Quite possibly the best, most thorough and honest review I've seen. I enjoyed reading it - nicely done.

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jaydubmah
0
jaydubmah  - Nov. 18, 2015, 8:31 p.m.

Given that .0001% of riders have the radness of Jerome Clementz and Jason Moeschler, this whole concept strikes me as a solution looking for a problem. Extremely limited grip selection and additional tooling at the buyer's expense is crazy. The only thing missing is for the MTB industry to make this a "standard" moving forward, rendering all current grips and bars redundant 🙂

My current ODI's still seem pretty sweet to me…

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 19, 2015, 10:08 a.m.

The idea may not make it. Or maybe a few more grip co's will offer an option or two so you'll be able to get your fave grip for this system, and your local shop will buy the cutting jig, and all of a sudden it's game on.

No, it won't make us rad like Clementz or Moeschler, but speed doesn't = grip slippage, grip torque does. And I know a lot of our readers hang on real tight.

Reply

jaydubmah
0
jaydubmah  - Nov. 19, 2015, 10:40 a.m.

Good points Pete - will be interesting to see how this shakes out!

Reply

Lynx
0
MountainBikeBarbados .  - Aug. 18, 2018, 8:02 a.m.

Was just checking in on these, some 3 years later to see if anyone besides Kaz has given them a go and what they and Kaz think now some time later? Possibly was considering these in the Clydesdale option for my big mitts, but the thought on the end feeling squishy if you run your hand at the edge of the bar is what has me concerned, have a set of push on Oury with the lips on the end and hate how they feel because of that soft lip.

Reply

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