SPRAY NO MORE

THE DAY OUR GRIPS FI­NALLY GOT A ... GRIP

Bike (USA) - - Bike Shop -

HAIRSPRAY, LADIES AND gentle­men. Hairspray. Back in the ’90s, our grips, per­haps the most in­ti­mate con­nec­tion we have to our bikes, were still com­monly se­cured by a scented per­sonal-groom­ing prod­uct that even the rock stars of the day were aban­don­ing en masse. Wire ties and glue were more se­cure, but they’re slow to cure and a pain to re­move. And none truly held a grip down per­ma­nently and re­li­ably.

No­body was more aware of this than Dave Grimes, who was busy pound­ing the pop-up tents at moun­tain bike and BMX races af­ter tak­ing the helm at ODI in 1992. Grips were pos­si­bly the most trou­ble­some of the parts fre­quently be­ing swapped in the pits. Back be­fore stems had face­plates and brake levers had hinges, our grips were the gate­keep­ers to the en­tire cockpit. Some­thing had to be done.

ODI wasn’t alone in try­ing. Its com­peti­tors’ early at­tempts were never com­mer­cially vi­able but, to be fair, nei­ther were ODI’s pro­to­types. The first was built around an ex­pen­sive alu­minum core. Later it­er­a­tions were cheaper but didn’t live up to ODI’s safety stan­dards. And all this pro­to­typ­ing was hap­pen­ing long be­fore 3D print­ing, mak­ing the trial and er­ror es­pe­cially la­bor-in­ten­sive by to­day’s stan­dards.

Dur­ing de­vel­op­ment, the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia brand worked closely with the rac­ing com­mu­nity that ex­posed the need for Lock-Ons in the first place. “The con­cept was al­most in­stantly em­braced by rac­ers who needed to be able to make ad­just­ments to their bikes or change equip­ment quickly be­tween races,” re­calls ODI bi­cy­cle brand man­ager, Colby Young. “Many of our spon­sored rid­ers and teams were in­volved in feed­back and test­ing on early pro­to­types.”

Dave Grimes and in-house ODI en­gi­neers even­tu­ally re­fined Lock-On into the mod­u­lar dual-clamp de­sign that has re­mained es­sen­tially un­changed for over 20 years. Al­though the rac­ers who first got their hands on them were on­board from the start, the first Lock-Ons had their share of naysay­ers when they were fi­nally re­leased in 1999. “There was quite a bit of skep­ti­cism ini­tially,” ex­plains Young. “The ma­jor mag­a­zines of the time felt that the cost was too high. A Bonus Pack was of­fered for $19.99 orig­i­nally, (closer to $30 in 2018 dol­lars) but they be­lieved con­sumers would never pay that much.”

That’s ac­tu­ally pretty im­pres­sive for a prod­uct that was—and still is—made in the USA. And if you were rid­ing at the time, you prob­a­bly re­mem­ber what a game-changer Lock-Ons were. It was the kind of in­no­va­tion we don’t see of­ten in our in­dus­try. “At ev­ery event or show we went to, peo­ple would con­sider it a chal­lenge to try to get the grips to spin on the han­dle­bar, which typ­i­cally ended up in them break­ing our dis­play rather than get­ting any move­ment in the grips.”

And to­day, the stan­dard set by Lock-On has be­come the norm. There are in­fi­nite shapes and mul­ti­ple clamp­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions. We take it for granted that our grips won’t slide off un­til we want them to. Also, that we can in­stall them with 2.5-mil­lime­ter Allen wrenches in­stead of a bot­tle of Paul Mitchell Ex­tra Hold.

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