Ergon GX3 Grip
Use the right tool for the job. It’s a saying we have heard a thousand times, and we've all learned it the hard way. Early in our lives we didn’t take it too seriously. The consequences were not disastrous one way or another. At some point, we've all ruined a few flat head screw drivers while using them as crowbars, or scarred a Chris King during installation when a headset press was nowhere close, but a 2x4 and hammer were within reach.
Where are we getting with this? Well, the slogan must be universal, because the German engineers at Ergon are always dishing out something fresh, but more importantly something with a unique purpose. For pretty much everyone out there a single grip is all they need, or at least that was the thinking. Ergon is changing that. The latest addition to their line of ergonomic grips is the GX3. Now that Ergon sells a good dozen options to choose from, it’s getting harder and harder to believe that we really need another grip. Ergon has always produced for a reason (not just for the sake of it) and for that reason we decided to give the GX3 a try. As a matter of fact, we were the first in the United States to carry the GX3.
Once you make the Ergon decision, (given our experience, that shouldn’t be the hard part) the next move is to go with or with-out bar ends. Unlike almost every other grip on the market, Ergon makes an integrated bar end on every grip with that option. It is not an afterthought or add-on like many of their competitors. Whether you go GX3, GX2, or any other option you will receive a fully integrated and complete system. The best thing about an integrated bar-end is the seamless transition from grip to bar-end. With an effortless pivot of our palm we easily switched back and forth to match the conditions. As a side effect of the easy transition, we actually found ourselves riding the bar ends more than normal because we could easily slide back to the braking position before slamming into that tree around the corner.
The bar-end is neither stubby nor massive like Roland Green circa 2003. It actually reminded us of a mini Sea Shadow stealth ship with the skin of a grip. It looked and felt like a well thought out form with distinct thought put into every curve and edge. The curves were well defined, and could almost be considered sharp towards the front. The leading edge did not let our fingers forget where to grab hold during a quick transition on a power climb, or the last lap of a short track. The same would hold true for the endless fire roads of the Leadville 100 or your local climbs. From the center of the clamp to the tip of the bar end it measured 4.5”.
The bar ends themselves are made from GFK, a composite developed in Germany, made primarily of nylon and reinforced with fiberglass. Like many other Ergon options, there could be a carbon fiber version coming in the future -- but that is just our speculation, no actual word on it yet. The grips themselves are identical to the GX1 and GX2. Like all Ergon grips, the bar end and grip are adjusted independently with a 5mm allen bolt to accommodate any riders preference. Ergon recommends 7Nm of force for clamping, but we suggest starting a tad lower and working your up to that if necessary, especially with carbon bars.
The most notable feature of the GX3 is the silicon gripers incorporated into the bar end -- again, total integration is king here. Maybe the guys at Ergon saw us cruising around last year with our bar tape-wrapped Ritchey WCS bar ends for added grip. . The grippers are spilt up into two main sections and are recessed so they sit flush with the surrounding surface. There was a small thin strip on top that imitates the texture of a diamond-plated toolbox. The second section of gripper wrapped around the sides and bottom of the bar end in one complete section. It’s a good thing these are not divided as our fingers always had an assuring surface to cling too underneath. Grippers on a bar end, are they something you can live without? Yes. But do they have a distinct advantage, yes. We found them to be one of those things that you we truly appreciated after riding them, but before that it seemed more like a gimmick.
With any other aftermarket bar end, we haven't found such integration and comfort. This bar end didn’t feel like it just squeezed its way onto our bar, rather we could tell it was meant to be there. It’s more like the bar end was there first, and the grip was designed around it. Although the overall sensation of the bar-end interface was great, there was one area of concern -- when riding on the grips, the reach to our brake lever was noticeably longer. The base of the bar end is quite thick, 1” to be exact. This is because it must have room to A) clamp the bar and B) have additional space to overlap the grip. The side effect is that the grip was then positioned further inboard on our handlebars. We tried moving the shift/brake levers inward, but then when the brake lever was in good position we couldn’t reach our XTR shifters with our thumbs. After checking out a few other configurations we discovered we could move our shifters outboard of the levers and adjust their position on the XTR mount so all pieces were happy. Basically, these took a bit more initial setup than a standard grip, but once it was done the overall sensation was far superior. Invest the time upfront, and have happy riding on the trail later.
Let's talk weights. The complete set weighed 275 grams including both grips, both bar ends and all hardware. To break it down a bit, each bar end weighed 85g while each grip weighs just under 53g. Although they are not the lightest things out there -- not bad considering it includes bar ends. We'd be willing to gamble that the long term comfort on our hands and reduction of hand/upper-body fatigue will trump a few grams any day of the week.
At the beginning of this review we spoke about the right tool for the job, and we're finally to our point -- Ergon's grip line-up is a statement in and of itself that's there's no one-do-it-all grip. Choose the right tool for the job at hand. If we're riding long, touring or endurance racing, the winged series grips are what we're reaching for. We loved the Ergon GX3 grip for any ride over 3 hours, especially when fire roads were on the menu. The comfort level is second to none on the wing style grips, and the bar end provided oodles of options for hand position. But they do lack a bit compared to the round Ergon grips when it came to pure grab on the bar. We find it’s worth the investment to keep both a winged style and a cylindrical style in the arsenal for whatever conditions we choose.