Tested: Neken SFH Intermediate & Small Grips
A product the Transmoto team has tried, tested and would recommend to a mate.
Last year, Neken released their all-new SFH Handlebar and Grips, which we rated highly. In short, Neken’s SFH handlebars (which stands for “Smooth Feeling Handlebar”) use a smaller tubing diameter at each end (18mm OD, instead of the conventional 22mm), and marry that with thicker-walled SGH grips (4mm, instead of 2mm). The result is that your grips retain a conventional outer diameter (the same 31mm OD that most grips generally use), but offer more cushioning and shock absorption for your hands, thanks to the extra material in the grip itself.
The only criticism we made in that review was that these SFH grips only came in one compound and one outer diameter (31mm OD). In other words, we argued that Neken hadn’t taken advantage of their bar-ends’ unique 18mm OD by producing grip options with 2mm and 3mm sidewall thickness – thereby giving consumers with smaller hands (and grip preferences) more options.
Thankfully, Neken has now released two more size options for their SFH Grips: an Intermediate 28.5mm and Small 26.5mm. But how do the 28.5mm grips compare with the original 31mm units? Do smaller grips give you better bike control in different terrain? And are the 26.5mm SFH grips worth trying if you suffer from arm-pump, or are they really only suited to women and Juniors? We teamed up with Pro off-road rider, Josh Green, to answer these questions.
WHY WE RATE IT
- Options: It’s crazy to think that a greater majority of handlebar grips come in roughly the same ‘conventional’ diameter, while riders’ hands come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve all seen small women and Junior riders struggling to control a bike simply because they can’t even close their hands around the bike’s grips. So it makes total sense for grips to come in smaller-diameter options for adult-sized bikes (yes, ProTaper’s Micro-Bar does accommodate smaller grips, but it’s only available for Junior bikes).
- Cushioning: By moving to a thinner sidewall to create these smaller-diameter grips, you could argue that Neken is giving away the very advantage that their grips are designed to offer – additional shock absorption for your hands. But remember that both the 26.5mm and 28.5mm SFH grips still have as much, or more, sidewall material to perform that cushioning effect for your hands.
- Options: If you use Neken SFH bars, you need to use Neken SFH grips, which only come in grey and black, and only in the one ‘soft’ compound, with a half-waffle. That’s great for Neken, but not so good for you if you like a specific type of grips.
- Lock-On: Sure, most riders figure out which sized grip suits them best, and they stick with it. But wouldn’t it be cool if these Neken SFH grips also came in a lock-on option so you could mix and match the grip sizes, based on who was riding the bike and/or your preferred grip size in differing terrain.
- Hardware Compatibility: The smaller internal diameter of the SFH bar-ends means they don’t yet accommodate existing bolt-on bar-ends or fastening hardware for full-wrap hand guards. As we said a year ago, “We suspect it’s simply a matter of time before hardware to suit the SFH bars starts to appear”, but that is yet to happen.