Ergon GX1 Grip
“You've lost that loving feeling now it's gone, gone, gone.” How often are we heard singing the same refrain. The Righteous Brothers must've been mountain bikers. Seriously, numbness or lost sensation in the hands is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Not all people experience this problem. Others have, but perhaps they've stumbled onto the right combination of bar width, sweep angles, and grip shape through years of trial and error and have found relief. Some folks are still looking. If we could do something to possibly alleviate our discomfort, we should take advantage it. We've had the opportunity to become a dealer for Ergon bike products. Ergon is short for ergonomics -- the scientific study of equipment design for the purpose of improving efficiency, comfort, or safety.
We were lucky to procure a set of the new Ergon GX1 Grips a couple months prior to their release. The GX1 was a production item for Ergon in the past. However, the quality of the product wasn't up to snuff, so Ergon put the GX1 on hold until materials and production could meet their high standards. Our test grips are a pre-production sample of the new and improved GX1. The Ergon GX1 Grip is a race ready handlebar grip that neither looks like nor feels like any normal grip we've used before. At first glance, they, look awkward and heavy. To be honest, the packaging causes part of that perception. It's bulky and heavy. However, the idea behind the packaging design is clever. You can get your hand around one of the grips and cop a good feel. Take the Ergon GX1 grips out of the packaging, and they actually feel nice and fairly light. They weigh 137 grams, so they're not that light, but the point of the Ergon grips is the feel.
Installing the Ergon GX1 Grips is easy. They slide right onto the bars, since the inner portion of the grip is hard plastic. They have a clamp on the outboard side that works much like any other lock-on grip. Be careful with the clamps because they use a 4mm allen key. It's big enough to apply too much torque. Ergon states a 5nm torque spec for the clamp. However, we'd recommend using some dynamic assembly paste and a perhaps a lower torque spec on super-light carbon bars. We wondered about a recommended positioning for the wing shape section of the grips. We ended up getting on the bike with the clamps a bit loose and rotating the grips to fit our particular preferences. Since the wing of the GX1 is fairly small, we found it took a pretty square eyeball to make sure that both grips were positioned the same. Once in position, we locked down the clamps and hit the trails.
One initial perception we had is that our riders who prefer skinny grips liked the Ergon GX1 just as much as those who have a preference for the full figured kind. Actually, the GX1 is the most streamlined grip that Ergon offers. They tout it as a pro level race grip. Too bad we're not pro racers, so we'll never know. But some of us are pretty fast and we liked the feel. The GX1 has a smaller radius than Ergon's other offerings. It also has a slimmer and smaller wing area. The wing area provides support for the palm of the hand. The idea behind the design is that the increased support will reduce pressure on the ulnar nerve and will almost force you to hold the bar with less pressure, thereby increasing comfort and decreasing overall fatigue.
Our first ride with the Ergon GX1 Grips was a twisty, muddy mountain bike race. We normally experience some hand numbness and loss of control somewhere between "ready, set, go" and a "rock and a hard place." The more technical or difficult the trail, the more likely the numbness occurs. We're probably overgripping the bars, but we do what we do. What the Ergon grips do is spread our chicken white death grip onto a greater surface area. We've done a few more races and a bunch of trail rides on them now, and our verdict is in. The shape is truly effective.
The Kraton rubber on the Ergon GX1 is soft, but thin on the inboard side. In terms of squishiness, they wouldn't rank up there at the top. We weren't bothered by that too much as the shape itself served to present the comfort. The texture black areas of the grips, under the palm and under the fingers, provide plenty of traction. In hot, sultry conditions, however, the GX1 can get slick without gloves, especially the gray portion. With that in mind, most grips get slick with sweaty, bare hands. We've had a few spills and the clamp, combined with the bar-end plug on the Ergons served to protect the end of our lightweight carbon handlebar.
Now and again a group of forward thinkers comes to our industry, and shakes it up with a few creative design ideas. Ergon is one such company, having created something interesting in a sea of ho-hum, same ol' - same ol'. More importantly, the Ergon GX1 Grips function well. There were no problems during the test period other than people clamoring to get a feel. What we found was that the GX1 provides some relief for numbness due to pressure on the ulnar nerve. On crazy long descents, we still got some numbness in our hands. But we also had stiff fingers from latching on to the brake levers for extended periods of time. We can't win all the time. For most riding situations, the Ergon grips were far more comfortable than traditional round grips. Climb out of the box and grab onto something new -- the Ergon GX1 Grips may be your salvation to comfortable hammering.