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ergon gx-1 grip

Have you seen those funny looking grips called the Ergon grips? They really took the mountain bike world by storm in 2008-09.

After hearing so many good things about them, I picked up a pair of the Topeak Ergon Gx-1 Grips for my 2009 mountain bike race season.

The Gx-1 grips are a slightly slimmer version of the original Ergon grips, and they’re fairly light (128g) since they don’t include built-in bar ends.

I was hesitant to purchase the grips because I had felt them before in the packaging, and they just seemed weird! However, I heard many good things about them, so when PricePoint.com had them on sale for $32 (normally $40), I grabbed a pair.

Thirty bucks for grips is still expensive, but if they eliminate hand pain, it’s a bargain!

Holding them in my hands, they felt awesome! The firm surface coupled with a soft rubber wing/flared section seemed to be a great combo.

First step, installation.

This was very easy. The grips just slide on, then you tighten the hex bolt. Unfortunately, on my left grip, some of the threads were stripped on the integrated nut. Lame!

Instead of bothering with a warranty issue (a pain when you buy mail order), I swiped a bolt from a spare stem and used that. It was longer, so it reached down and grabbed the threads that were still intact. it sticks out a bit more, and now my stem is missing a bolt, but it works in a pinch.

Then I just had to get them dialed into position and I could say good-bye to hand pain!

Well, that’s what I thought!

First, I installed the grips so they were parallel to the ground. Then I went out riding, with a 4mm hex wrench in my pocket.

I went for an easy ride on dirt roads with flats, ups, downs, and a few spots where I could hit a few technical sections in the woods, over logs and rocks, etc.

The grips felt alright for 10 minutes, but not ‘good.’

Next, I tilted the grips down slightly. That felt better. After a while, I tilted them down a bit more. That proved to be too much tilt, so I went back up a little bit to the last adjustment.

I also tilted the grips upward, and that was really weird!!

So I thought I had found a great position for the grips in under one hour. They seemed fine for all terrain. Climbing was superb. No problems descending. I also hit a small jump, hopped some mud puddles, hopped a log, and took some sharp corners. No loss of control anywhere.

So I went out for a two hour ride…

At first, the grips felt pretty good. I’d even say ‘great’ while climbing. But after a while, I got hand pain, especially on the flats and descents.

[Note: I did not normally get any hand pain on rides with regular grips.]

For my next ride, I adjusted the grips once again. Just slightly. I thought I had them perfect! But still, the comfort wasn’t spectacular.

ergon gx-1 grips mounted

So it was time to go to a race…

During my pre-ride the day before a race, I was spinning around the parking lot without gloves. Being a hot day, my hands got sweaty. The Ergon grips became extremely slippery! Since the grips are hard/solid, it was like trying to hold onto a piece of PVC pipe that was covered in baby oil!

So on race day, I was obviously wearing gloves! What better way to test the grips than a 4 hour marathon race over rocky trails?

After about 1.5 hours, I noticed a problem. Turned out the right grip was slipping! Argh! Both grips were clamped down, but the right grip was slipping and putting my hand in a bad position.

I stopped and readjusted the grip and tightened down real tight. It still slipped a tiny bit.

But the real problem… After two hours or so, my hands hurt like crazy. And I had blisters all over my hands! Plus, the hard waffle pattern on the grip felt like it was slicing into my hands.

Time to try Ergon grips on a riser bar…

I like to race with a flat bar. Therefore, my initial tests had my Ergon grips on a flat bar.

Well, funny thing. I go and put these on my other mountain bike with a riser bar. They go on the riser bar and instantly feel at home. The grips are oriented with the pointy end of the grip pointing back and slightly up at my chest. Perfect position, first try!

The comfort still didn’t live up to the hype surrounding Ergon, but it wasn’t as bad as before.

So I switched back and tried that grip position on my hardtail with a flat bar. Awful! I went to the horizontal position (roughly parallel to the ground) and it was bearable; neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.

In the end, after three months of screwing around with these Ergon grips on two separate bikes, I just couldn’t get comfortable.

So what did I do? I kept trying the Ergon grips for another year!

Yes, despite the discomfort, I kept trying to get the grips positioned correctly.

My one last hope was a 9 hour mountain bike race, with tons of log hopping each lap. As well as 900′ climbing per 6 mile lap.

As before, the grips were pretty good for a few hours, then my hands were getting blistered. My hands got too sore to ride – it was the first time in my life where hand pain from grips kept me from riding!!

That’s the last straw. No more Ergon grips for me!!

My final verdict is…

If you experience any sort of hand pain while mountain biking, try these grips. If you regularly ride long distances, like 4+ hour XC races, you may enjoy these quite a bit.

Unfortunately, I am not one of the many people who fell in love with Ergon grips. I never had serious hand pain until I started using Ergon grips! I adjusted them into every possible position and tried them for well over a year, but never got them to be comfortable!!

Also, I just don’t like the hardness of the grips nor the lack of grip when your hands are sweaty.

So: if you’ve never had hand pain with regular grips, stick with regular grips!

Ergon has a great idea with these grips, and they might work great for 80% of the population, but they’re not for everyone.

Official website: www.Ergon-Bike.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com | www.REI.com

Product Review Details
Company: Ergon
Product: Ergon GX-1 Grips
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 2.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2010-09-02
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. Good stuff! I continue to enjoy reading these posts before making purchases.

  2. What would you recommend then? Body Geomery grips? Silicone grips? Handlebar tape?

    • @Drew

      It really depends on 1) personal preference and 2) your anatomy.

      Ergon has a few different models (including ones with only a slight flare), so you might still find something from them that you like. The Body Geometry ones from Specialized seem interesting, as well.

      If traditional-shaped grips don’t result in pain, though, definitely try the ESI Chunky silicone grips.

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