Wolf Tooth Grips | Karv vs Karv Cam


Grip are one of the three main points of contact on your fat bike and maybe one of the first upgrades. There are untold numbers of grips from which to choose with differences in material, design, size and color making the right selection rather tricky.

Adding to this mix, the fine folks at Wolf Tooth have developed several innovative foam grip options for the fat (and non-fat) cyclists. Fatbike Republic was able to secure a selection of their grips for some serious fat bike testing.

THE GRIPS 

The Karv and Karv Cam are part of Wolf Tooth's larger selection of ergonomic foam grips that include: Razer, Fat Paw, Fat Paw XL and Fat Paw Cam. All grips are available in a rainbow of colors, come with bar ends and are manufactured from dual-density silicone compound in the USA. 
SOURCE: WOLF TOOTH

Wolf Tooth states that their grips: 
  • provide excellent grip in all weather conditions because of the tacky texture
  • conform to your hand for improved comfort while maintaining durability
  • provide excellent vibration damping

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic


Fatbike Republic was sent a pair of Karv and Karv Cam in ultra-cool black. While they are made from the same compound and have the same properties . . . they have two distinctly different profiles.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

Karv

The Karv grips are a little thicker than the Razer and a little thinner than the Fat Paw . . . you might say they are the goldilocks grip. The foam is 6.5 mm thick with a round profile. Wolf Tooth says that the 32mm outside diameter is great for longer rides, as they reduce hand fatigue and finger numbness.

Dropping the Karv’s on the scales they weigh in at 75g which is exactly the claimed weight. Add in the bar ends will jack up the final weight to a slim 83g.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

Karv Cam

The Karv Cam have the same 6.5mm thickness and overall claimed outside dimensions. The big difference with these grips is that they have facets that make the grips no longer round, but provide four additional edges to grips. 

SOURCE: WOLF TOOTH

These “slices” provide more points of contact for your paws and can be oriented in any number of positions – Wolf Tooth recommends three specific positions for three distinct benefits.

SOURCE: WOLF TOOTH

The claimed weight of the Karv Cams is 56g, yet the Fatbike Republic scales have them coming in closer to 63g without bar ends.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

Checking the outside installed diameter, the Karvs measured a tiny bit larger than the claimed 32mm. The stock grips being replaced measured just under 30mm.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

INSTALLATION

I was installing the grips on two different fat bikes. My full suspension Trex Farley EX 8 would get the Karv Cam while my hardtail Norco Sasquatch 6.1 would get the Karv. Both beasts sport slick Wren carbon bars and forks.

The included instructions advise to install the bar ends first and then spray isopropyl alcohol on the bar and inside the grip before sliding them on. I did find the bar ends a little tight to install, so as per Wolf Tooth’s recommendation I trimmed the inner rib.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

Not having isopropyl alcohol on hand, I reached for some Vodka which has worked for me in the past as an isopropyl alcohol substitute. I cleaned the bars on the Trek, swished the inside of the grips with a little alcohol and wiped the bars. Let’s just say they did not slip on as I imagined.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

I had to twist and persuade the grips into the “maximum support” position and I anticipated that they were not going to come off very easily, or in one piece.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

I went a little different route with the Norco. Instead of using alcohol, I used plain soapy water in a spray bottle. A quick spray on the clean bars and inside the grips . . .

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

. . . and the Karvs slid on with practically no effort. A little drying time and they were good to go.

Wolf Tooth Karv Grips Karv Cam Grips Silicone Grips Newfoundland Fat Bike Fatbike Republic Fat Bike Republic

TESTING

There was a reason for mounting the grips on different fatties.  After doing a little research I thought that the mountain bike trail focused Trek would benefit more from the mutli-positional Karv Cams. And the exploration based Norco would better fit with the more traditional Karv grips.

Hitting the technical mountain bike trails on my full-suspension Trek I immediately noticed the firm yet soft nature of the Karv Cams. 


Oriented for maximum palm support, comfort and overall bar control, the diameter of the grips felt comfortable for my medium sized gloved hands.



The Cams did feel a little “tacky” and did not lose the overall grippiness when things got a little damp.



When things get rough and fast I sometimes put a death grips on the bars. I know that’s probably not the right thing to do, but it happens. The softness of the Cams gave a little forgiveness when I hit white knuckle territory.



Wolf Tooth was correct when they said that the Karv Cam facets allow the grips to conform to the contours of the hand. I found the additional contact points fell naturally at the joints of my fingers providing a more secure grip without needing to exert force. 



The more traditional shaped Karvs found their way to the trail during an overnight bikepacking trip on the heavily laden Norco. 



Like the Cams, they were squishy yet firm and were comfortable when gripping the full bar. The tacky nature helped keep me upright when riding one handed and bumping an unexpected rock – the grip did not slip from my glove. They also felt quite comfortable on a long peddle.




Getting back on home turf I did a few slow speed exploration rides.



The Karvs felt just as home crawling around in the woods as they did when bikepacking. 



I did lay the Norco down a few time with the grips scrubbing against rocks/stumps/dirt and there was no noticeable wear on the soft textured grips.



Grip Removal

I had to swap out the brakes on the Norco prior to the bikepacking trip and needed to remove the Karvs to slide on the levers. I removed the grips using the same soapy water I used for installation and a flexible plastic handle of a hobby paint brush. Sliding the handle under the end of the grip and spraying some liquid soap, I worked the handle around the bar getting everything lubed up. The grips slid off quite easily.





FINAL THOUGHTS


Is there a clear winner between the Karv Cam and the Karv . . . well yes and no. If you are looking for a soft grip for more aggressive trail riding, you may want to look at the faceted Karv Cams. If your riding is a little more tame, the traditional round profile Karvs may better fit your fat riding style.

Both grips were comfortable and supportive for my size medium mitts and were sufficiently grippy in dry and not so dry conditions. 

While not tested in the winter, it would not be a stretch to assume that both grips may temper the cold creeping from alloy bars . . . and possibly even decrease heat transfer during the summer.  And on a non-suspended fattie I can see the grips possibly soaking up a little front end vibration.


So if you are looking for a new set of grips for your fat bike, that are slightly different than the norm and quite comfortable, be sure to check out the the complete range from the folks at Wolf Tooth.


RIDE FAT !


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