Monday, 23 May 2016

Wolf Tooth Fat Paws | Are You Missing Out?


I recently completed a review of a 2016 Norco Sasquatch 6.1.  One of the areas of improvement I mentioned were the lame foam grips that came stock on the bike.  I had ridden the bike around the shop and once around the block and decided that I did not like them as they were squishy and I was comfortable with "regular" rubber grips.  I had the them swapped out for regular grips before the bike came home.


Several months later I discovered that Wolf Tooth, in partnership with RedMonkey Sports, developed a fat foam grip.  On the surface they looked very similar to the black foamy things that I ditched belonging to the Sasquatch.

Should I have given the foam Norco grips a chance?  Was I to hasty in ditching them?  Am I missing out on something better?

I reached out to Wolf Tooth and they sent a couple of pair of their new Fat Paws for review here at Fatbike Republic.


The Grips


Designed and manufactured in the USA, these grips were developed for riders who want a larger grip with a softer feel.

  • Made from 100% pure silicone
  • 36-37 mm installed diameter
  • 100g weigh per pair
  • Come with wolf head bar end caps
Wolf Tooth says . . .

The 100% silicone compound provides excellent vibration damping and is soft enough to conform to your hand for improved comfort. Fat Paw grips are produced with a tacky texture that works great with or without gloves in all weather conditions. This combination of features helps to reduce hand fatigue and finger numbness and also provides a great option for riders with large hands.

Taking a closer look at these grips, they are indeed soft.  They may resemble the grey\black foam pipe insulation you may find at your local Home Depot, but they are definitely softer.  One end is tapered while the other is more square cut.



Dropping them on the scale you can see that they weigh in at 99g, which is 19g heavier than a generic regular grip.



For dimensions they measure in at 1.27" in diameter and 5.28" long.



Installation

Installing the Fat Paws is a tad more onerous that installing regular rubber grips.  Now its not going to cause undue frustration, but by following the instructions it may take a few more twists and a little more massaging to get these squishy grips to where they need to be.



The end caps seat securely with a tap from a rubber mallet or the heal of your hand. Unlike some other softish grips that have been tried in the past, the Fat Paws do stay put when installed.  

For testing purposes the Fat Paws replaced a set of regular grips as well as a set of ergonomic Ergon GP2s

Testing

The trails in our neck of the woods are anything but smooth and flowly. They are more aptly described as rocky and rooty . . . the perfect place to test these grips.

It was a relatively easy transition from the regular rubber grips to the Fat Paws.  The initial oddness (as when tried on the Sasquatch) was still there, but after a short period they felt normal.  The grips did indeed easily conform to gloved hands and they promoted a more relaxed grip on the bars.




As both bikes were bluto equipped it was difficult to comment on the shock absorbing properties, however hands were less tired after blasting down a rugged section of trial and releasing a death grip on the bars. 



Moving from the Ergon GP2s to the Fat Paws was tinkering with a successful bar\grip\stem setup that mitigated wrist discomfort and hand numbness.  Installing the soft grips was an experiment to see if they would improve the current setup.  

Unfortunately, after about a hour riding the discomfort and numbness started to creep back in.  This is probably due to the actual style of the grip, not the material, as the ergonomic grips offer different hand placement.



While unable to confirm due to the warm riding temperatures, the insulating properties silicone should displace any cold that may be transferred from the bars while winter riding.

Final Thoughts

As with many things in life personal preference may have one person disliking something while another person will think its the best thing ever.

It was clear that swapping out a set of ergonomic grips for Fat Paws did not have a positive impact.  If the Fat Paws were shaped more like the ergonomic grips, to allow alternate hand placement, the results may have been different.

Moving from regular grips to the soft Fat Paws was less dramatic than my very first exposure to soft grips.  They do indeed conform to your hand and there is less fatigue after gripping the bars really tight.

I do wonder about durability.  Unexpected dismounts, branches slapping at the bars, and bike drops on hard surfaces (it does happen) may eat away at the soft silicone compound.  I'm thinking that the Fat Paws will shine during the winter, isolating your hands from cold bars . . . especially coupled with a set of pogies.

As I was finishing up the review I had to take my Bigfoot for a quick spin to check out some drivetrain mods.  The Bigfoot sports a set of well seasoned regular grips.  When I swapped back over to the Fat Paw equipped Sasquatch, it was like sliding into your favorite chair . . . the one with perfect butt groove.

So . . . are you missing out?  Quite possibly.  Maybe you should peel your butt out of your chair and check out the Fat Paws for yourself.

Thanks Wolf Tooth.

Ride On !

UPDATE
6 Months Later

After six months of use the Fat Paws have held up quite well.  The bar ends have been chewed up from drops, but the grips are still going strong.  No question about durability.  

Good job Wolf Tooth.




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