Former aerospace engineer and mountain bike racer Gary Stewart founded Extreme Steering, Inc. — better known as ESI Grips — in Northern Arizona in 1999. Stewart's first product was the Stabilizer, which was developed to help with speed and cornering stability for mountain bikes and was patented in 2002.
While designing and prototyping the Stabilizer, Stewart spent countless hours on the bike, and began to notice pain in his arms and hands. Having worked with silicone in other applications, Stewart was aware of its shock absorption properties, and knew it would be an ideal material for grips.
“While working in Aerospace I ran across a material on an application that I was working on. It was perfect. It was non-porous and withstood severe temperatures and climates," Stewart said. "Any condition you would throw at it wouldn’t affect it. Best of all, you got extreme shock absorption. I had to have that on my bars. So began my next mission to design the perfect mountain bike grip made of 100% Silicone."
At the time, Stewart was unaware that other mountain bikers had the same issues with hand and arm pain. But ESI's lightweight, shock-absorbing silicone grips were widely accepted by racers and riders after they were brought to market in 2003.
Today, ESI remains a family-run company, with Stewart at the helm. His wife Maria works as the brand's sales manager, and their daughter Anastasia Ulibarri handles sponsorships and social media. ESI's entire product line, including its mountain bike grips and road bar tapes are made in the U.S.
Check out our selection of ESI grips here, and be sure to watch the video below to see a hassle-free approach to installing silicone grips.