A tale of two grips? Vorsprung durch Technik? German grip maker Ergon, now famous with its different view on how you should hold on to your handle bars, has expanded their MTB grip line even further. Ergon now offers twelve different grips so you’re sure to find one that will fit your hand and application. Ergon’s grip range covers freeride, all-mountain, trail, XC racing and even touring.
With any Ergon grip set you need to remember that they usually come in two sizes (small/large) for different size hands. Ergon offers the GX1 Leichtbau in team green and black, while the GA1 come in three colors: all white, black, and team green. Another key point of importance for those who use carbon bars is that you may need the HS100, Ergon’s handlebar plug reinforcement – otherwise you may damage the end of your handlebar.
Installing the GA1 on my Opus Maadh was a piece of cake – just remember you have the option to set the grip to your own personal comfort angle (see instructions or Ergon’s website for more detail). I went to Kelso Conservation Area to put the grips through their paces since Kelso has a great mix of rock gardens, skinnies, step ups, twisty single track and drop offs that will put any component through a serious workout. Heading out on the trails it took a few minutes to get used to the new shape of the grip which has a slightly raised section midway on the grip to match the recession of your own had. After getting used to the new feeling I found the grip held the palm of my glove really well and my hand did not slip at all. As a result I was able to relax the amount of force that I normally use to prevent hand movement over tricky terrain. Even going through a few soft and wet spots the grips didn’t change the amount of control they offered.
One thing I truly love about the GA1 is the control the grip offers when hitting the skinnies. The superb grip and full-handed feeling gives me confidence when climbing and negotiating the elevated pathways. Since these particular grips are round (unlike the GX series) they allow even more wrist movement. Overall, the GA1’s really hit the mark and they even match my bike to boot!
Installing the GX1 Leichtbau took a bit longer (not by much) on my XC bike simply because the wing extensions will bug you if your wrists are not at the same level. Other than that there was no issue (again, get the plug ends if you have carbon bars). Once the clamp was torqued @ 4Nm I was off on the trails. Now these handlebar grips are very different compared to the GA’s in the fact that these grips have extension (wings) that allow pressure to be spread out more on the hand rather than concentrated in one spot, allowing the rider to go further and feel more comfortable. If you see the photo below you can see that my hand follows the contour of the grip nicely. I have my glove removed for clarity and do not recommend riding without one. 🙂
These grips differ greatly compared to Ergon’s original GP1. First, they are lighter – 136.4g compared to 205.8g – and have a smaller, slimmer wing and lower grip diameter that allows for improved hand positioning. All these features are what XC riders want: comfort, control and light weight. For this test I went to the DVP which offers fast, flat, twisty sections along with steep short climbs and rolling sections that could be pumped as well as coasted through. All in all, the trails offer typical XC riding.
Getting used to these grips was quick and easy. The shape of the grip did not really affect the way I ride, and the added wing really helped support my hand along those steep climbs, allowing me to conserve some energy. The relatively minimalistic diamond shaped pattern offered just enough grip, although when wet it was just a little slippery (perhaps due to the fact that the gloves I was using a the time were new and not worn in).
The Gx1 Leichtbau grips feel great and do what they advertise, providing comfort and control, great for those long rides. Heck if they’re good enough for Dave Weins, Jeff Kerkove, Irina Kalentieva, Wolfram Kurschat and the rest of the Topeak Ergon team, there must be something there. Try them out at your LBS!