Crank Brothers Cobalt are a thin density lock-on design grips making the transition perfectly from XC trail blazer to road whippet, tourer to tagalong thanks to high quality materials uniting shock absorption and tenacious all weather grip without the chunky profiles. Death gripping the bars when screaming into winding descents wouldn't budge them but some smoother anodised/plated finishes proved trickier and the clamp bolts seemed unduly fragile
Weighing a paltry 90g and measuring a sensible 130mm wide, the composition of these grips is remarkably simple. Dual density foam sits atop a composite sleeve flanked by good looking anodised 6061 (blue, silver, gold) aluminium cuffs and a choice between standard and carbon specific end plugs. Slotting them aboard the bars couldn't be easier (although some bar/end combinations may demand a little Stanley knife surgery, thus defeating the object). Loosen the Allen screws, apply a little hairspray to the bars, slide into position and snug down very gently using a 2mm Allen key and preferably a torque wrench. I was shocked to discover the left bolt had sheared despite kid-gloves treatment but a drop of threadlock saved the day.
Ordinarily I wouldn't dream of riding any distance w gloves/mitts but as measure of their shock absorbent qualities, I set out aboard a rigid mtb for a twenty-mile medley taking in bridle path, green lane and rutted trails. Comfort wasn't quite on par with some of the really old school offerings last popular in the late 80s but they've numbed persistent trail buzz and some deeper ruts better than I'd expected from such a lightweight set. Three weeks asphalt duties confirms they're just as dependable on the open road and asphalt jungle. The dual density foam doesn't saturate come the first cloudburst, seem truly colourfast and nonchalant to everyday carelessness. However, generous width might not suit "Wiley Coyote" traffic jammers with Uber narrow cockpits.
Thin density MTB grips ripe for flat bar road bikes let down by delicate fittings
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Crankbrothers Cobalt Foam Grips
Size tested: Cobalt grips - gold
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"One of the lightest dual clamp lock-on grips for XC racing". Lend themselves very well to most flat bar applications.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
grip material high density foam
lock rings 6061 T-6 aluminum
torx bolt size T10
Generally good but bolts seemed unduly delicate
Excellent, even in bare hands but not quite a match for the old school foam types off-road.
A little pricy perhaps.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall the Cobalts have performed very well providing excellent insulation from road and trail shock without spoiing the lines of racier road mounts. The foam seems reasonably hard wearing too, although the coming months will be quite telling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stylish design, ease of installation and pleasing shock absorbtion.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing specific aside from the delicate bolts but this may just be down to a rogue pair.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)