Ergon GA1 Grips
Ergon products are founded on the basic principle of ergonomics -- form is function. The majority of the grips for which they are best known use a "wing" to support the ulnar nerve. Proper positioning of the grip helps eliminate or minimize the "break" in the wrist, and reduce fatigue on the ulnar nerve and the rider's upper body. But the "wing" is not necessarily ideal for all-mountain or enduro style riding, as the rider needs to be able to maneuver his/her hands with ease -- freedom to respond to the given situation. Ergon's GE1 has been their answer to this issue up until now -- a grip designed with a more traditional cylindrical shape, but is still subtly contoured to provide support and vibration damping to the palm.
While the enduro-inspired GE1 fit the bill in many ways, many urged Ergon to design a grip specific to all-mountain demands. At 170g, they found that the GE1 was unnecessarily bulky, with burly bar end plugs and a flanged inner grip. With that in mind, Ergon developed the Ergon GA1. The GA1 trims the fat, eliminating the flanges on the inner grip and drastically slimming the bar end caps.
We received our set of Ergon GA1 grips just prior to Sea Otter, and installed them almost immediately. Ergon's packaging of the grips is both attractive and unique as it doubles as a point-of-purchase display, allowing for one to wrap his/her hand around one of the grips to ensure it's the grip of choice. End caps for both the grips can be found on the back of the packaging -- one in the second grip, and one sectioned off in a plastic bubble. Pretty logical, we know, but you'd be surprised how many "Where's my other end cap?" inquiries we've fielded. As with all products we test, putting them on the scale is a priority. The GA1 weighed in at a very respectable 116g, within a gram of the claimed weight, and among the lightest of their lock-on peers.
We tested the small size of the GA1 in black/grey. It's important to note that "small" does not refer to the grip's width, but its diameter. Most people, and those who prefer less volume in a grip, should select small. We wear a size large glove in most instances, and the small grip proved to be a perfect fit. Those with large hands (size XL glove+) should probably select size large. The difference is just 3mm in the diameter -- approximately 32mm for the small, and 35mm for the large -- but it was very noticeable when we grabbed each. Ergon offers three colors in the GA1: black/grey, Team Edition (Ergon Green with black grip surface/endcap), and white (with Ergon Green endcap.)
Now stop for a second -- form your hand as if you were grabbing a bar, and look at your palm. It's not perfectly flat -- it's concave in the middle. Ergon states that if you ride a traditional cylindrical grip without contour, you're placing additional stress on your hand. It needs support. Hand stress leads to hand fatigue, and when riding, hand fatigue contributes greatly to upper body fatigue. That all seems pretty logical, but we wanted to put this claim to the test: after riding our GA1's comfortably for the first couple hundred miles, we took a couple back-to-back rides without Ergon grips, using a very traditional grip design. Within an hour, our hands were beginning to suffer. Not badly, but they were generally uncomfortable, and we began experimenting with different positions on the grip and bar in search of relief.
Installation of the GA1 grips was a breeze. After you've removed your existing grips, simply slide the new grip on. Lubricant should not be necessary. Depending on the handlebar this may require a tap or two with a mallet, but in most instances we found it is easily accomplished with a little elbow grease as in our video above. Sit on the bike, find the position that best suits you, then tighten the 3mm Allen bolt to no greater than 4Nm. We found that 2-3Nm was sufficient. Lastly, pop in your plastic endcaps -- depending on the handlebar, this will probably require the use of a mallet the first time around.
In preparation for our assault on the Downieville Classic, we raced the entire Arkansas Marathon Series on our Santa Cruz Blur LT all-mountain rig. Our last event, Syllamo's Revenge, took place in miserable conditions -- 50 miles of humid, wet, muddy, rocky, highly-technical singletrack. Just a few miles into the race, we were covered in mud, and our gloves/hands were soaked in both sweat and mud. The GA1 grips grabbed us and hung on for dear life. Their ability to do so was quite remarkable. Through a couple upper-thigh deep creek crossings, we got saturated -- even submerged at one point. Not once did they develop that slimy grip feel or even hint at getting slippery. The inmolded Kraton rubber compound of the GA1 clearly showed its true colors.
The Ergon GA1 is magnificent for what it is -- a minimalistic all-mountain grip -- and will be well received. At just 116g, it's among the lightest of its peers, but it offers an ergonomic contour for comfort and gobs of, well, grip-tion. For most riders and every day use, the GA1 is the top of its class. Is it the all-mountain grip of choice? Perhaps, but we see a line in the sand: for those that enjoy epic riding -- 3 hours+ -- our personal preference would be for the GE1. It's at this point though, that the lines admittedly get blurred between all-mountain and enduro riding. The bottom line is simple -- we enjoy spending long hours on the bike, and the 54 additional grams translate into worthwhile added comfort, control and vibration damping when we do so. For anything shorter, we'd take the weight savings and opt for the GA1.