Ergon GA1 Grips - Reviewed

Mar 17, 2010
by Dean  
Ergon GA1 grips. An ergonomically shaped all mountain grip designed in Germany with ergonomics put at the forefront of the design.

Five points of contact. When you ride your bike, your body has five points of contact with your bike (two grips, two pedals and your saddle). Your grips then make up 40% of the contact and input that your body has with your bike and arguably it is the most important point of contact you have with your bike.

Full review inside,For the most part people don't really put enough thought into their grip selection. Most grips on the market today are basically round tubes of rubber on either end of your handlebars with a texture of some sort for additional grip. There are lock-on grips and soft rubber grips and multi-colored grips galore to choose from. You can even get scented grips to attract the ladies.

What's the deal with the Ergon GA1 grip then?
To put it simply, it is made to fit the natural shape of your hand. Ergon, the company takes part of its name from the word ergonomics. Put simply, ergonomics is a discipline that better enables the human body to interact with its environment and can therefore optimize a system's performance. It comes down to how everything fits together and how each part of the system interacts with one another. Ergon produce grips and backpacks for mountain biking and every product is engineered with ergonomics at the forefront. A significant amount of thought and scientific testing goes into each product they produce.

Ergon GA1 grips
Ergon GA1 grips

What does all this ergo mumbo jumbo mean to you as a rider?
Increased comfort and increased performance due to reduced hand fatigue: aka less hand and arm pump on long rides.

How do these grips offer this performance enhancement?
It all comes down to the shape of the grip. As I mentioned earlier, most other grips are simple round tubes of rubber. The Ergon grips are sculpted tubes of rubber that are shaped to fit the palm of your hand to increase comfort and reduce fatigue by having direct surface contact with your hand as it naturally grips your bars. When you grip a normal handle grip that has a continuous diameter, your hand has to collapse in on itself to get you whole palm to touch the rubber of the grip. This collapsing of the palm puts stress on your hand, weakens the grip and can irritate the ulnar nerve that leads from your hand and continues up your arm . The sculpted shape of the Egron GA1 prevents the collapsing of the palm and makes continuous contact with the palm in a more comfortable natural manner.

The photo below shows how a riders hand has a natural concave shape to it when a handle grip is grabbed. The photo of the GA1 grip shows how the grip matches the natural curve of a rider's hand.

Natural curve of the hand
Natural curve of the hand

Curve of the GA1 grip
Curve of the GA1 grip

Due to the specifics of the grip design these grips are to be installed as per the instructions provided by Ergon, so as to perform as expected. They are left and right specific (embossed on the grips) and are to be rotated to a certain position on the bars (embossed on the grips). The forged aluminum clamp secures the grips as well as any grip I have ever used and it even has a specific torque installation recommendation written on the clamp. All the necessary details for us anal techy types.

Embossing and torque spec
Embossing and torque spec

Once I had the grips installed as per spec, I took hold of the grips and immediately noticed how well they fit my hand. They were really quite comfortable. I have run Sunline, ODI, Sefas, Oury, Yeti and Lizard Skins grips over the past 6 years. My favorites have been ODI Ruffians. I have short fingers and a wide palm and they just seem to be the ones I come back to with the greatest success. When I tried these Ergon GA1 grips they were the baseline of what to compare to. The cool thing about the GA1's is that due to the shape and the continuous palm contact, you don't have to grip the bars as tight with your fingers to have contact with your grips. Because you don't need to use additional pressure to cave your palm, you can grip a slight bit looser but still have a good firm grip on the handlebar. I noticed this within a minute of riding my first downhill trail.

The Ergon GA1 grip is marketed as an all-mountain grip but this in no way means that it can't be used for DH or other types of riding. The performance advantages that the grip offers would be a benefit to anyone on a flat bar type bike. Most of the time when I climb, I don't grip my bars very tightly but on the downhills I like to have a good grip on the bars. To me this is where these grips showed just how good they are compared to most other grips out there. From time to time I like to go on what some call epic rides. Those 3+ hour rides in the saddle where the constant jarring on the body takes its toll. In the past I would often get numb hands due to my hand position on the bars. With these GA1 grips, my hand numbness was non existent.

I liked most things about the Ergon GA1 grips. The comfortable grip they offer makes them a stand out for me. The attention to detail in the instructions, packaging and quality of the grips is outstanding. Apart from the white rubber becoming a little brown due to dirt, they haven't shown any signs of accelerated wear and the forged aluminum clamps have held up well to spills and encounters with trees due to my wide bars and tree bashing ways. I've had over 20 rides on them with some nasty wet west coast weather and not once have they rotated or have my hands slipped off the grips.

The colors the grips are offered in are black and grey with a black clamp, green and black with a black clamp and white with a green clamp.

Three colorways offered
Three colorways offered

Egron GA1 weight
Egron GA1 weight

The thing I would suggest for improvement is more sizes. Personally I would like to see a slightly smaller sized grip. The grips currently come in two sizes: small and large. I had small, but would really like to see a range of small, medium and large and I would make the small a touch smaller in diameter so as to cater to those with smaller hands than mine. Make the current small the medium and keep the large. In fact, after my first ride on the grips, I had cramps in my hands after riding with the grips. I was ready to toss them, however I read about cramps after the initial ride with these grips due to the unfamiliar shape. After 2 rides my hands were fine and the cramps were gone. It's just like getting a new pair of shoes that offer proper arch support: you need to give them a chance. I suspect that had I had a smaller grip to begin with I would not have had any cramps at all. The second thing I would like improved is the weight of the grips. Nowadays people count the grams and often one component is chosen over the other simply due to weight and not performance. I would hate for grips like these to be ignored due to their slightly higher weight.

I honestly approached these grips with an open mind. I gave them a shot against my tried and true grips of the past. I liked them, I liked them a lot and I can honestly say that a lot of riders could benefit from these grips. They offer a performance advantage that other grips don't, especially for extended rides. I know that they will not be for everybody, but if your riding involves a lot of saddle time, then these grips may just offer you some additional comfort and control for those long pounding rides.

GA1 grips put to good use
GA1 grips put to good use



49 Comments

  • + 9
 I thought Ergon cut down on packaging this year, 'cuz too many hippies were complaining (rightly so) that the packaging actually weighed more, and took up more space then the grips themselves.
Guess Ergon still wants to go for the "shelf presence" rather than the environmental (or the "having the best product") approach to increasing sales volume. Shame.
  • - 1
 And I love the "German innovation" tag at the top. I guess that refers to the Specialized BG patent they ripped off for their first series of grips. Lulz.
  • + 7
 Wow, as soon as I saw this Ergon review I thought "I hope Ergon read this because I am going to complain about the enormous amount of packaging." and dkidd you beat me to it.

That two of the first three people to comment complain about the packaging says a lot, I think.

Shame - agreed.
  • + 2
 Over here in Germany, they've already changed the packaging for 2010 - more "Environmentally Friendly". But the Grips are great ! I have small hands and have always had problems with most grips - but with Ergon I could go down to the "Ladies" Version ;-) and got a super fit. Have been running them for the last Year and have had no problems - have them on all my bikes now .... and on my wife's ;-).
  • + 2
 Petition to Cut down on packaging!! yay
  • + 4
 Environmentally aware mountain bikers? Thats really cool.
  • + 2
 This was old packaging that we received with our grips. Here is a link to the new packaging: www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/interbike2009-verpackungskonzept

It is said to be 40% less packaging and it is all post consumer recycled paper. I'd say they've made a change for the better.
  • + 1
 k, good. I thought they said they were cutting down.
  • + 1
 alright.....Im gunna order a pair tonite then
  • + 6
 can we stop talking about packaging and start talking about the product... im all for saving the environment but this is a biking website not an EPA protest
  • + 3
 I think Lester may be onto something Wink
  • + 0
 A cable-tie inbetween the two, with a pack of bolts strapped to it. Thats how you use less resources!
  • + 4
 A lot of riders (me included) ride with their hands right to the outside edge of the grip. It doesn't matter how ergonomic the shape is - with that hulking great clamp on the end it makes this grip totally useless to grip end grabbers like us.
  • + 3
 I've never understood this? If you ride lock-ons then why not place your hand on the rubber bit, you know the bit that you're meant to put your hand on instead of the hard metal clamp. Only causes wrist pain on rough tracks.

If you need the extra width- get wider bars.
If not, you can just slide your brake and gear levers inboard a little and still have the same feel but with your hand on that lovely rubber.
If you must ride on the end of the grip then get non lock-on's.
If none of these options suit then enjoy your aching wrists my friend!
  • + 3
 i ride exactly the same as rstwosix and have never had "aching wrists" from doing so.
its just the way people choose to ride, i dont want longer bars or to move mmy brake i like my setup.
  • + 4
 You must not have ridden any real long and rough downhill tracks then...Or maybe your young wrists and bones are still nice and supple!

But I know i've suggested this to lots of friends who have really noticed the difference after. Set up of bars/brakes/shifters is a very personal thing but if you ride with the butt of your hand pressed against a solid metal lock-on clamp then that's just plain stupid and in the long term gonna cause you trouble.
  • + 1
 hamsterly forest dh is long enough lol and how is holding onto a barend gona cause any trouble at all?
  • + 1
 I've done it for 4 years... my wrists are fine, if I hold my grip only on the rubber bit it just doesn't feel right at all, I always wear gloves though, maybe they should take the idea of making a bar end plug as the clamp and put another clamp at the center of the bar?
  • + 1
 Just wait someday you will clip a tree riding with your hands on the ends. And loose a chunk of your hand... I ve had a few close call until recently when I rethought my shifter and brake lever layout. I went from 680 bars to a very comfortable 760. With every control within easy reach..
  • + 2
 In regards to some of the comments to help educate our consumers in the USA and Canada.

1. We hold 4 Worldwide patents on all of our grips.
2. The packaging has changed. It is 100% paper and 40% less than the former packaging. More info here: www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/interbike2009-verpackungskonzept

Jeff K
Ergon USA
  • + 1
 No luck getting the name changed I see Smile
  • + 1
 The last few times ive been biking,whether it be a fast blast through the woods or a few hour jaunt round some singletrack ive had really painfull fingers and bad arm pump,will these really help?had the same bar,grip setup for a good while now and it just seems to have started out the blue!also been told handlebars with a lower rise,slight backsweep and wider would help,anyone have any advice?
  • + 1
 I would go to your local bike shop or talk with some experienced local friends that can look at your set-up and offer advice. Often friends or shops have spares or will loan you parts to see what could help fix your problem. The Ergon grips might do the trick for you, but it would be good to have others that are experienced to look at what you have to see what will help.

Based on your symptoms(painful fingers and bad arm pump), my guess is you are running too thick of grips . When I first started riding had severe finger pain and arm pump. I rode with thick Rouge Odi lock-ons and then tried thin Ruffian Odi lock-ons and my pain and arm pump disappeared completely.

Try a few different set-ups, something is bound to fix your problem.
  • + 1
 I worked at the local bike shop for 3 years and never came across or had this problem myself or with any customers!the problem i have is that my setup is perfect for my riding style and feels great but something isnt right and i think it may lie with me not the setup!im gonna order some of these and see what happens,hopefully on sunday if they arrive quick enough. cheers for the advice anyway though bud
  • + 1
 greg, which fingers? Is it mainly the pinky and then the ring finger is less painful? If so, that sounds like you are crushing the ulna nerve. Specialized BG gloves with the radial pad fixed it for me - I recommend the BG Ridge - the other BG glove has gel pads where your callouses are and it sucks IMO. I think the other Ergon grips with the HUGE bulge on the outer would help you too.
  • + 1
 The Ergons reviewed also say they help with the ulna nerve. Perhaps give 'em a go.
  • + 1
 It's all of em,I can only describe it as what I imagine arthritis to be,had tests and it isn't which is nice!ordered these grips and some kodex racing strut bars,hopefully that'll sort my problems and my bike will still feel as sweet as it does with current bars(or better of course)doing the passportes du soleil in June so trying to get bike set-up now so I can get plenty of riding in.thanks for the advice on the gloves,that'll be the next thing I start to look at!
  • + 1
 I agree Ergon packaging is way tooo flashy and not usefull at all, and that packaging also adds to the already expensive cost of the grips...

but i have to say, i wouldnt want any other grip than this.... =)))

to bad you cannot get them in Mexico... ( i bought mine in austria)
  • + 1
 Numb fingers, aching hands and forearms - problems all too familiar to bikers. Caused by too much pressure on the highly sensitive areas of the inner palm and potential malpositioning of the hand. Ergon grips provide 100% contact of hand and grip by an anatomically optimised grip-shape. Thus the pressure is relieved, especially near the nervus ulnaris, preventing the hand from getting numb. Additionally overstraining of the median nerve (often resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome) as well as aching wrists are prevented.
  • + 1
 I have been riding these grips on my AM bike for the past year and love them. I was skeptical at first as I never had problems with numb hands but now I don't think I will ever go back. Great for XC, AM and I have even thrown them on a DH bike. Now, if I ride a bike that isn't mine, I will bring me own pedals and my own grips!
  • + 2
 only one thing... this type of grips will last less, because they have a specific position, and usually i turn around my grips when they get worn (the back side is always new...)
  • + 2
 Hey! thats my $9.99 starfrit scale from cambodian tire. I bought it for mom but strangely it always ends up weighting componentry.
  • + 1
 That's funny...I bought it from Can Tire as well when it was on sale for $9.99. I just took some nail polish remover and rubbed the Starfrit logo off.
  • + 1
 I have those grips on my DH bike, they are great. The only complain I have is that the green from the lock part is running on the white grip part
  • + 1
 I have Ergon grips on all my bikes and love them! If you're experiencing pain and numbness in your thumb and first two fingers, it's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome...
  • + 2
 Wow, this is a really good blog entry.
  • + 4
 Wow, those grips are shit.
  • + 0
 I'll stick to the good ol' ODI lock-ons! Nothing beats an original!
  • + 1
 The lighter Version will soon be available (www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/interbike2009) - "GA1 Leichtbau" Smile
  • + 2
 The embossing on the grip to assist orientation is a great idea.
  • + 1
 great review! been using the GA1 and the GE1 for some time now and i love em!
  • + 1
 The lighter Version will soon be available (www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/interbike2009) - "GA1 Leichtbau" Smile
  • + 1
 The person to whom that hand belongs to has a SERIOUS nail-biting problem.
  • + 1
 Looks pretty nice, but I gotta say, all that packaging makes me sick.
  • + 1
 it is too expensive for mee and really i don't even like it
  • + 1
 wow, i want a pair
  • - 3
 I think they look like shit. they beong on a xc bike. you get arm pump from brake levers not from the grips.
  • + 2
 but it wouldnt hurt to try them.
  • + 1
 YOU may only get arm pump from your brake levers, but in the real world people get arm pump/hand numbness and fatigue from a myriad of causes.
Vibration, improper wrist alignment, gripping the bars too tight, and/or Carpel Tunnel just to name a few.
On an MX track, you use your front brake and clutch numerous times every lap, so your ligaments and Median Nerve moving through the Carpal Tunnel xxx/xxxx amount of times per session/race can easily cause irritation and inflammation, leading to arm pump and possible loss of your ability to properly control the throttle, work the brake and clutch levers, and even grip the bars.
The typical mountain bike rider doesn't [need to] apply his brakes anywhere near the amount of times as someone riding on an MX track does. In fact, unless we're riding down the odd 20-30 minute descent, or riding in a bike park for the day(in which case one run down the hill is typically followed by an extended 'rest' period while we wait in the lift line, then get taken back up to the top), our brakes don't usually see a whole lot of use, period.
Because of this, Ulnar Nerve problems(irritation) is a MUCH more common problem for mountain bikers, and cyclists in general. And this is DIRECTLY related to your grips
I've personally found that the GA1's do a great job in lessening my hand numbness
The only grips I've found that do a better job are the ones that have a platform for you to rest your palm on, but they obviously cut down a bit on your ability to fully grip the bars, so I don't like to use 'em on descents.

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