You know those “reviews” on MTBR.com that are written by somebody who says, “just bought it, haven’t ridden it yet, but it looks great hanging in my garage?”
This isn’t one of those reviews.
On a lark at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, in February, i bought a pair of Ergon GX-1 grips at a ~50% discount. They were a sponsor of the event. I had seen their grips around, and figured i’d try some out, while supporting a sponsor of the event.
After the race (never change a part the day before you’re going to ride for 20+ hrs), I slapped them on, and they’ve been on ever since. Here’s my impression.
I never really thought about grips much. They were round, rubber, had a silly design on them, and that was about it. But really, there are 3 places where the body touches the bike: The saddle, the shoes, and the grips. I had always taken my shoes seriously. My saddles are the the first thing i check after a crash. But grips? Nah.
Wrong. Listen up. Good grips matter. And these are good grips. Like any lock-on grip, they go on and off nicely. Need to slide off your brake lever? No need to fire up the air compressor. These things just go straight on and straight off.
The wing shape is really cool. It’s a large platform for your hands. And they’re kind of like having bar ends. I know. Bar ends are tree hooks. Bar ends are lame. I’ve never used them. But it is really nice to be able to put your hands wide, get some leverage, and throw the bike side to side up some nasty climb. These grips give you that leverage off the sides of the bars without bar ends. That’s pretty nifty.
However, i’ve never had a problem with numb hands until i started using these grips. After hours and hours of riding, occasionally my fingers get tingly. Not a big problem, as a quick shake of the hands and some stretching and everything’s cool again. But considering these grips are supposed to prevent that, i was surprised. Who knows – i’ve put in a lot of hours this season – i may have had numbness if i was using regular grips, too. I think that the wide platform allows for more pressure on the median nerve, in the heel of the palm, than a round grip. But it also allows me to rest my body more, move my hands around more, and even rest my forearms on the grips on paved roads or long climbs, like the dreaded one out of Skull Valley at the W50.
Summary: 8 out of 10. Like saddles or shoes, grips are a contact point and are a matter of personal preference. However, i think the folks at Ergon are really trying to do something special here – putting real thought into how our hands hit the bike. I really like the options the grip shape provides. i worry that they caused the occasional numbness in my fingers, but that goes away fast. They’re kind of pricey at full retail (more than $12 rubber round things, that’s for sure) but they are holding up REALLY well after a long season of abuse. I bet they have at least one more full season left, and by season, i’m talking thousands of miles of riding. Oh, and for weight weenies (are there any left on this site? were there any to begin with?) they aren’t too heavy, considering the bennies.
Up next – you tell me: would you rather hear a breakdown of bar sizes, or the new disc mtb powertap system? Also, if anybody has a compact double crank system for mtb, i’d really like to try it out and report about it here.