Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ergon GE1 Ergonomic Grips - Initial Impressions

Buying something you don't need

I saw these in the bargain-bin at a local bike shop. They were still there a week later and temptation got the better of me and I thought I'd give them a go. I've been wanting to try an Ergon with the distinctive  flat palm rest but they are an expensive purchase in New Zealand for something that might not work out. The GE1 model is marketed for freeriding and downhill but I'm sure they will work just as well for everyday riding.

The large clamp on the outside of mine has been slimmed-down on the new 2009 model

It's not like I actually "needed" new grips, I've been more than happy with the Lizard Skin Lock-On's I've been using for the last three years. I've never had any hand or wrist pain and the only improvements I would wish for on the Lizards Skins are slight increases in length, grip-diameter and softness. The ODI style of Lock-On grips are not as soft as standard versions because under the rubber is a hard plastic sleeve that slides onto the bars and gets clamped at each end. I much prefer them though for the ease of taking them on and off and the fact that you could ride underwater and your grips aren't going to twist in your hand or slide straight off the bar. Two frequent happenings when I used to race in wet Auckland winters.


Installing them was straightforward with a quick wipe-down of the bars with spirits and then gently twisting them on. I had to look at the pictures on the website as I didn't think the large flange on the inside should be poking upwards, but that's what it does and the orientation marks on the outside of it backed this up. The grip is secured at the outside only with a single clamp. I'm sure you could crush a carbon or lightweight alloy bar if you overdid it as the hex bolt is pretty big and you could really apply some torque to it.

How do they feel?

Weird, but natural at the same time. The contouring looks very subtle to the eye but your hands can tell the difference at once. I measured the circumference at 10cm at the inside and it increased to 11cm in the middle portion. The grips on my other bikes measure between 9 and 10cm. There's a light grey panel of softer, tackier rubber in the area your palms rest on and this combined with a long grip-area provided ample comfort and hand positions. 

The day after I fitted them we had a family mountainbiking day in Woodhill Forest so I got to try them out in anger. This is where I struck the first problem. It was a cold winter's morning so I was wearing light polyprop liners under my normal riding gloves. I'm 6' 5" with pretty big hands but I found it uncomfortable holding onto the larger grip diameter. I removed the liners and things got better but you would want to have large hands to fit the large size comfortably (they also come in small). When hitting stutter-bumps or landing a jump I could feel the pressure spread over more of my palm and I guess that is the whole idea. It still felt weird though and I think it's going to take more than a week to get used to them. 

The larger diameter also caused me problems on a beach-ride the following day. Very comfortable when just cruising along but when I had to stand and hammer for extended periods to get up and over the headlands (I'm riding a singlespeed) I just didn't feel as secure. My middle fingers were wrapped around and touching the base of my thumbs but I ended up sliding my hand inwards to the narrower area by the flange to get more purchase. This is the opposite of what you are usually doing when climbing on a singlespeed - i.e. sliding your hands to the ends of the bars to get the most leverage possible. 

The Verdict

These sizing issues aren't the fault of the GE1 of course. I think it's a sound design and just a little large for my hands riding in gloves. On my commute to work they feel just fine and I think I'll leave it a few more weeks before passing final judgement. 

One thing I will pass judgement on is the ridiculous packaging they came attached to. A total waste of plastic, cardboard and metal bolts that looks cool hanging on the wall of a bike shop but is completely unnecessary. 

The large flange on the inside sticks up and has markings for alignment

There is a specific left and right grip, just like pedals


Craigers said...

Thanks for the review Antoine. I've been think about going with Ergon for my racing bike build that I'm working on. It always helps to hear reviews of a product before i go with it. Sounds like a solid grip. I think I'll just check with my LBS to make sure I can exchange them if they aren't quite the right size. Thanks again.

Marla said...

I agree that the Ergons are a bit weird, especially climbing. I have the bar end ones, so I tend to climb with those and don't have the wrap around issues.

Pugsley doesn't have the bar ends, so I do the same thing you do and move my hands inward on the bar. I don't get nearly as much pull. But on longer rides my hands feel a lot better.

Antoine said...

I like bar-ends Marla but won't ride them in the bush after a very nasty high-speed accident some years ago. The bike (the Nasty Evil Bike once again) stopped dead when the bar-end got hooked on a vine, but I didn't!

Marla said...

That bike must have some bad juju!

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