While grips are not often the most exciting component that you’ll find on the modern mountain bike, they are a huge player in the comfort and control department. There is a massive range of grips available on the market but as with many things, price point can be a big decider for many riders.
Some pics from Lyne Components caught our eyes recently. They were images of co-founder Dayle Holmes creating prototype models for their recently launched Cosmic Cactus grips with a home-made injection moulding setup. We had to find out a little more about the process behind the grip design and what went into the project to deliver a great looking and performing grip for the remarkably low R340 retail price!
We reached out to Dayle to find out a bit more about the grip designing process, and this is what he had to say!
WA: It’s good to connect, Dayle! Give us some background on why you decided to make a grip and when the thought came about?
Dayle: Good to connect with you too! Grips were always something we wanted to create, but we wanted to create our own unique design, and the injection moulds are inherently very expensive, so we had to get the timing right for the project.
WA: One could get any number of white label grips off the shelf from the East and brand it as you want but as you said you wanted your own unique design. It sounds like something special came together to make this project happen?
Dayle: So this project came about when an old friend in Taiwan got hold of me about a new business they had started, which was to manufacture saddles and grips. The friend in question had already been working in this field for some 25+ years so has loads of experience in the manufacturing side of grips and saddles, but they were looking for someone to design their line of white label grips. So that’s where the project all started, we struck a deal to design two lock-on grip models, with the licence to sell these in certain regions, but without having to pay for the moulds. This is massive as it allowed us to significantly reduce the cost price of the product allowing us to offer them at a very competitive price point.
WA: We see what you mean by timing it right. You’ve named the grips the Cosmic Cactus, and we love it! Where did that name come from?
Dayle: So the name came from the shape of the grip, it resembles a geometric cactus, perhaps a cactus merged with a spaceship? The name Cosmic Cactus was then born.
WA: We’ve seen that you used an injection moulding process in-house at Lyne to create test grips. I assume this was to try out different patterns on the grip? What were some of the lessons learned from this process about different patterns on the grip?
Dayle: Injection moulding is typically an end-product form of manufacturing and isn’t typically found in the realm of prototyping. It requires large scale machinery and a mould typically costing in the hundreds of thousands of Rands. So it is vitally important that the design of the product is perfect before cutting the mould.
In plastic injection moulding the prototyping process is relatively easy using 3D printing to replicate a plastic part, but rubber is where things get tricky, 3D printed rubber isn’t easy to achieve and often has slightly different properties to that of injection moulded end-use rubber parts. So this is where we came up with our own solution, to 3D print moulds to injection mould prototype grips with 2 part polyurethane rubber.
This was largely experimental, and we were shocked at how good the results came out. We were able to match the rubber compound surprisingly close to that of mass produced grips and the detail and resolution was very accurate.
The best part was the turnaround time, we were able to go from design to test riding in under 24 hours. This allowed us to test lots of shapes, patterns and thicknesses before finalising the design for mass production.
WA: We see that there is a bit of intentional flex engineered into the grip to help reduce vibrations. Was it quite tricky to find the balance with this? What has the feedback been like on it?
Dayle: This was a bit of a beautiful mistake one could say. The flex in the grip core is linked to the fit on the bar and the glass reinforcing percentage in the polypropylene material. Our first production samples were relatively flexible and we arranged for stiffer samples to be made. When we tested the new stiffer samples, the feedback was that the flex from the first batch was actually preferred. So we decided to go back to our material mix in the first samples for production.
WA: Overall, how much of the development were you able to do at Lyne HQ and how much was done over in the East where the grips are manufactured?
Dayle: The prototyping was fully done in house, and once the design was submitted to our supplier in Taiwan we did further refinement with pre-production samples. It is at this point where we experiment with different materials and rubber compounds to fine tune the feel.
WA: How did you ultimately decide on which rubber compound to go for as well as grip diameter?
Dayle: We did some market research before embarking on the project by asking a core group of riders what they are looking for when choosing grips, and the overwhelming feedback was that riders wanted a thicker grip that doesn’t wear out too fast, but still provides good vibration damping and stops hand fatigue. We tested a bunch of different competitor grips as well as prototyping various thickness grips and decided on 31.5mm with a rubber durometer of 25A.
Grip compound is a little like tire compound, soft ones are always better, but the softer they are, the faster they wear. The 25A compound strikes the right balance between durability and comfort.
WA: We know you’re a man who always has an idea and is always tinkering. Any hints on what else we might expect to emerge from Lyne in the near future?
Dayle: We actually have a huge amount on the go currently. Short term we have some new wheels that we’ll be launching, those should be out in a week or so.
Later this year we will be launching some very exciting new products, as well as starting a sister brand to Lyne Components which is definitely the most ambitious project we have ever embarked on! Watch this space…
Well that certainly leaves us with a buzz for what is to come from Lyne! There is no doubt that South Africa has some talented designers and manufacturers within her borders and seeing their projects big and small come to fruition always leaves us with an optimistic outlook on the South African bike industry.
To see more of what Dayle is up to and even hook yourself up with some Cosmic Cactus grips, head over to on-lynecomponents.com
To hear about Dayle’s experiences and thoughts on the mountain bike industry, listen to the podcast we recorded with him here!