When I used to think of Ergon, my mind would automatically jump to grips. But more recently, they’ve jumped into the saddle game, and they’ve also started making hydration packs, gloves, and insoles, all with “ergonomic” fit at the forefront of design (imagine that!).
I stopped by the Ergon booth at Interbike and spoke with several very knowledgeable German innovators about their latest product offerings, and I also got to try out their digital sit bone measurement system and learn a little bit about how saddle fit is determined. Ergon uses this digital seat to measure the distance in between your sit bones. Just plop your butt down, sit up straight, and the computer will spit out a number. This number is simply the distance in centimeters between your sit bones, which bear the weight of your body when seated, including on a bike saddle. Each of Ergon’s saddles has a different sizing guideline, which is included on their website with information about each product. I discovered that surprisingly, I am more often a medium than a small, as most women would likely be. Ergon’s hope is to get these digital measurement systems in shops that extensively sell their product, in order to help consumers more easily choose a saddle that works for them.
On to the latest products…
Not being a downhiller, I’d never given any thought to what kind of saddle gravity-oriented riders would use. I learned that in fact, there are downhill-specific saddles, and their design does matter. Rather than being engineered for comfort while seated, they are created to aid in control of the bike while negotiating obstacles at high speed, both in the air and on the ground. Ergon solicited the help of several pro riders on the gravity circuit while designing their SMD2 series of downhill saddles, which allow freedom of movement while providing extra padding on the sides to optimize control with the inner leg. These saddles also have shock-absorbing rails and a wide gap on the underside to reduce tire contact when the seat is extra low.
There are three different models of the SMD2 series. The lower-end model has a nylon composite saddle shell and steel rails, while the Comp upgrades to a carbon saddle shell and an anti-slip cover, and is available in either stealth black, red, or blue color accents. The Pro Titanium features titanium rails, as well as all the features of the Comp.
To go along with the new saddles, Ergon has also introduced a line of gravity grips. They feature a tapered design with a smaller inner diameter and larger outer, which helps to improve precise and speedy hand positioning. The grip surface is made of a custom rubber compound that offers plenty of cushion and vibration damping, while still allowing the rider to maintain optimum control. A sturdy aluminum clamp keeps the grips snugly in place, even through the gnarliest conditions. The GD1 Factory downhill grips come in a regular and slim version depending on the rider’s hand size, and either black or translucent orange.
Also new for this year is the IP3 Solestar, an insole that is designed to maximize foot stability and the transfer of energy from the leg through the foot to the pedal. Their construction consists of a composite glass fiber stabilization shell, EVA foam padding for comfort, and an antibacterial carbon fabric against the foot. They are compatible with all cycling shoes, both mountain and road, and are available in 6 different sizes.
The HM2 gloves use mesh on the back of the hand and fingers for optimum breathability, and special non-slip patches on the fingers aid in grip and braking. As we seem to be seeing with a lot of gloves recently, there is no padding on the palm, so control and bar feel is preserved. The palm material wraps around the tips of the fingers to avoid seams at the fingernail area and to maximize comfort. Ergon also offers a wide range of glove sizes, from XS to XXL, for a perfect fit.
Ergon has recently started making hydration packs as well. They have different series that are labeled depending on discipline–all-mountain, enduro, marathon (cross-country), touring, and new for this year, downhill. The BP1 Protect downhill pack features a built-in back protector that can also be removed, as well as room for a 1.5L lumbar reservoir and essential tools. All of Ergon’s packs are highly-adjustable, and the length of the pack can actually be lengthened or shortened via a sliding mechanism on the back panel. The waist belt can also be raised and lowered depending on the rider’s torso length, and is infinitely adjustable via velcro rather than the traditional buckle strap. The BP1 forms a low profile that can be worn under or on top of a jersey, and all body contact points are highly-breathable for optimum comfort. The pack comes in two sizes–S-M and L-XXL.