RACE FACE – Half Nelson
Grips are important, right? As one of the fundamental contact points between you and your bike, we think they pretty darn important. Here we look at the Half Nelson Grips from Race Face. The claim is that they are super grippy with a worn in feel from the start. We liked this as some of our other grips in the past did become progressively more tacky and comfortable as they aged, but often too close to the end of their innings.
The Half Nelsons utilise a single lock-on clamp system which we were initially unsure about but they seemed to stay on just fine, with zero movement to talk of. This could be the reason why they are so light, at about 92,5 grams. The rubber used is a super tacky, durable compound that does in fact feel like it is worn in. The result was a very unique feel which had us holding them for an unnaturally long time before installing.
The bottom side of the grips has an extruded Race Face logo which creates ample grip where you need it most while the top part has contour lines which although aesthetically pleasing, are designed to get any excess water and sweat to run off. Double win.
The profile is on the slimmer side with a 29mm diameter to really wrap your digits around. If you are of the Big Hand Clan, these might seem a touch thin, but this all boils down to personal preference. If you like your grips a bit thicker, the Race Face Grippler in a 33mm diameter might suit you better. It shares a lot of the same qualities of the Half Nelson but in different thickness options.
The bar ends were pretty average, plastic with the sole intention of preventing any unwanted body piercings that may arise from dirt dancing.
COMFORT vs LONGEVITY
While silicone grips are probably the most comfortable, they don’t handle a bashing too well and are prone to tear. So a hardier, more resilient grip has it’s merit, even if there is a compromise in comfort. This being said, the Half Nelson’s were still some of the most comfortable grips we’ve ever used.
We did find ourselves having unplanned roll arounds on the ground, mainly due to pilot error, and the bar ends inevitably will be the first to touch the dirt carpet. Other instances include throwing bike down after a puffy encounter on the trail.
The grips managed to stay in tact, with a bar end being slightly misplaced but easily just pushed back in. The rubber on the grips themselves showed no signs of damage that could compromise it’s integrity. The integrity of the test rider is however dubious as there were claims that his bike was thrown directly at the aforementioned puff adder. Luckily neither serpent nor grips were damaged.
Generally, most mountain bikers wear gloves just about all the time. Gloves add a level of protection, comfort and keep your digits warm when its fresh to cold. Gloves, no matter how thin will add a level of warmth in the heat. The thinner the glove, the lower the level of protection). They also soak up excess sweat to ensure you maintain grip and can prevent your knuckles from trailside branches and fynbos.
As for the Half Nelsons, they were comfortable enough without gloves and sticky enough that sweaty palms were not an issue. The freedom of riding without gloves is also quite pleasant as the air blows over your knuckles when getting speed and is obviously cooler (temperature wise). While the intention is not for these to be ridden without gloves, there is no feeling of panic when you rock up to a group ride and your gloves are still sitting on your bed.
The Half Nelson Grips from Race Face were definitely some of the best grips we have used with some unique properties that add value to your cockpit. So far they have proved to be durable and as tacky, if not tackier, since the start of our testing. Great grips at a modest price point. The grips are available in several colours locally, Black, Red, Blue & Green.
To find your nearest retailer of Race Face