Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review- Ergon GA-1

In the last five years Ergon has gone from a nearly unknown company to a major player in the cycling world.  On any start line on any summer weekend you're likely to see Ergon grips in strong numbers.  For endurance racing a comfortable and supportive grip is critical, and in that arena the lightweight paddle-style GX1 and GS1 are very popular as are their corresponding bar end versions.  So why bother with the GA1?   

The GA1 is what Ergon considers their technical trail grip and offers a more familiar round profile.  The idea is that aggressive riders put more emphasis on manueverability but still need a well executed ergonomic grip so the shape is much more subtle.  Unlike the GX series there are also two sizes- small and large, as you probably would have guessed.  

The good news about the sizing is that it's pretty simple, and the innovative packaging allows you to try the grip in box in the store.  At 5'11" I'm a large in pretty much everything- t-shirts, jerseys, shorts, gloves, socks, etc., so I wasn't surprised to be comfortable with a large grip as well.

Prior to trying the GA1 I had been riding the GX1 exclusively for two seasons.  I was really happy with the wider, paddle-shaped profile and found that it increased control on chattery descents and allowed my hands to relax.  At two different demo events I rode several bikes with standard grips and felt like I was holding onto a #2 pencil.  With that in mind I felt the GA might be too narrow as I'd written of round grips as being a thing of the past.  

Although the hand support isn't as obvious as with the GX1 the GA1 definitely has some thoughtful features.  The grip contour is much more subtle, and you can get the right and left-specific grips installed on the wrong side if you're not paying attention.  The end collars are marked with right and left, and there's also a small gauge embossed on the top of the grip that shows you which side should face up.  After minimal fiddling I opted to run mine slightly back from vertical but well within the recommended range of adjustment.

Out on the trail the grips took some getting used to, but after a few minutes I stopped thinking about them.  The support was surprisingly good, and while I never felt that the wider GX ever got in my way it did seem like the GA1 enabled more room to move my hands around the bars.  

I've ridden these grips with both standard trigger shifters and cut down with twisters (yes, I'm a fan of twisters) and found them to play well with both.  Here's how they look installed as I ran them for last year's Vermont 50.

When I built up the RSL this spring I went for a set of GA1s again as shown in the top picture and rode them in a very technical and very slippery 6 hours of Pat's Peak.  In both the 50 and the 6 hour I never felt like my hands or wrists were fatiguing and honestly never gave my grip choice a second thought.  

Although the round profile looks like it would make the GA1 lighter than the GX1 it's actually slightly heavier.  Ergon's weight table calls them out above the 148 grams that they were on my scale (the GX1s were spot on the 135 grams that Ergon advertised).  Those aren't much heavier than a wide-profile grip, and as a confirmed weight weenie I think they're well worth the very minor weight penalty.

The GA1 is a great all-around grip and shouldn't be written off by endurance riders just because it's positioned as trail-focused.  Ergon sponsored rider Allison Mann runs the GA1, and if you're looking for a solid, comfortable grip you give it some consideration.

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