By JASON MAGNESS
Full disclosure: The writer of this review, a member of the YogaSlackers team, has received equipment from Ergon for use in competitive adventure races. YogaSlackers receives no monetary support from the company.
Pat was my bike-shop sugar daddy. I was his mountain-bike-racing guinea pig. The relationship was great: He’d give me good deals, and I’d test and ride the amazing — and sometimes strange — mountain bikes he’d concoct from spare parts found around the shop.
One time, the feature he was most excited about on a new bike was the grips. “I couldn’t get you a deal on these,” he said. “But they are only 100 bucks and well worth it.” I nearly choked.
I’ve been mountain biking and racing since before bikes had shocks. It takes me a bit to warm up to the new ideas in the industry. But the Ergon GX2 Leichtbau Carbon grips, which cost $85 to $110 at various websites, are a different story.
As Pat promised, the grips added actual performance attributes to my bike. Sleek and comfortable, the grips are designed to give the rider more hand contact with the bike, which increases control. The ergonomic shape also minimizes pressure on the ulnar nerve and keeps the hand from going numb.
It took a bit of time to get the grips set up in the optimum position. But the adjustment is easy to make with any bike multi-tool, and by halfway through my first ride I’d dialed it in. I loved the extra grip surface, and the integrated bar-ends were nice for climbing. The grips felt secure and never spun.
Other Ergon grips — mostly the cheaper, slightly heavier, but equally comfortable models in the GC2 line, which start at around $30 per pair — have since been on all of my bikes. I have tested them through racing, touring (including a 1,080-mile trip this past summer), and while training.
I’d started to take them for granted. Last month, I flew to the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, a race where the organizers provide the bikes. In my haste, I forgot my grips and ended up crossing the vast desert with the stock Cannondale grips. By 20 miles in, my hands were numb and my wrists tweaked. I adjusted my grip every few seconds, and finally I gave up.
Pain and suffering accompanied the rest of my ride. The only solace I had was the fact that my teammate Daniel had actually brought his all the way to the Middle East with him, and then opted not to take the two minutes to put them on, saying “how much difference can they actually make?”
You never know what you are missing till they are gone. Bottom line, Ergon grips are the best bike accessory to come out in a long time. With a variety of models and price points, it’s easy to find an Ergon grip that fits your style and budget.
—Jason Magness is a founder of the YogaSlackers.