Thursday, August 6, 2009

Product Review: Ergon GR2 Grip--RMM May Have Been Saved From Arthritis


So I started mountain biking this summer. I have been racing regularly and riding offroad at least once a week, usually twice. While I have noticed an increase in bike handling skills, I have also noticed that my hands are really sore after a long ride. I asked other off road riders if they had the same problem and most of them indicated that it came with the territory; they told me to man up.

A stranger to manning up on the bike, I got to thinking about ways to fix the problem. Carpal Tunnel affects many cyclists, and I don't want to be one of them. After investigating the available handlbars and grips, I settled on the Ergon GR2. I got these because the grip is actually shaped like the palm of a hand. Ergon's website pointed out that both the grip angle and the bar end are independently adjustable, and if that wasn't enough to justify the expense, they come in two sizes and Ergon has a bunch of scientific looking diagrams.

Set up was simple. My first time out, I set the grips how I intuitively thought they should be and then adjusted them on the trail to dial them in. Overall, it took about an hour of riding and stopping to adjust before I was happy with them. I haven't touched them since that first ride.

My hands are no longer sore after a long ride. The grips do exactly what they are meant to do. They spread the stress of offroad cycling over a larger section of your hand than normal grip. Instead of your hand adapting to the grip, the grip is adapted to the hand. I won't try to sell you on bar ends, you either already have them or you think that they are for dorks.

Since I have a larger contact area with the bars, I have noticed differences in how I grip the bars in various situations. For instance, I no longer get the white knuckle death grip when situations get hairy. I am not saying that the grips are making me a better bike handler, but they are making me more comfortable, which inspires confidence.

My only functional complaint about this particular model is the bar end. If you are going to have a bar end, I would prefer it to be longer. Ergon offers a model with a longer bar end, I just didn't choose it, which is my mistake.

The grips are not light. If you are hyper concerned with grams, you can upgrade to the model with carbon fiber bar ends, but that increases the cost to about $100. But even these baubles are heavier than standard lock-ons or Oury's.

Speaking of which, even the magnesium grips I bought weren't cheap at around $50 retail. My justification for the expense was as follows: Wait, do I need a justification for spending money on a part that will improve my cycling experience? If you think that I do, perhaps you are reading the wrong blog.

The last question most people ask when they are considering a new part is: does it improve the overall appearance of the bike? Or: does it look fast? The answer to both of these questions is "No." These grips look goofy. Natasha laughed when she first saw them.

I have grown used to them, but I expect that my friends will laugh at them when they see the bike. I have never been one to succumb to peer pressure. Furthermore, I am almost 10 years older than most of my cycling friends with all of the amplified aches and pains associated with increased age.

I am a sucker for ergonomics. I sleep on a Tempurpedic mattress; I am current sitting on a high falutin' multi adjustable office chair with memory foam cushions. On my road bike, I use ITM K-Sword handle bars, because the handlebars are shaped exactly like my hands (I'd review them, but they are no longer in production). Basically, Ergon had me in mind when they developed their product line.

If you are experiencing hand pain after rides, you should consider checking these grips out. If you have no issues with pain, stay with what you are running because those grips are definitely lighter than Ergon grips. I had hand problems. Ergon's have helped alleviate them. I am very happy with my new grips. Based on my experience with this model, I will be trying some of Ergon's other grips when I get my next mountain bike.