Only Kevin Evans, Ben Melt Swanepoel and Jose Hermida still ride with bar ends in the pro ranks. Why? Well yes, they’re old (school), but they also all like to have more than one hand position option when riding. On steep climbs, bar-ends offer good levers on which to apply torque and on long, steady sections they allow you to relieve the pressure that comes with mountain biking’s one hand position (remember that road cyclists have three firm hand position options). So that’s the pro’s, but what about the schmos? Well, we schmos tend to ride for less than 10 hours a week and then do stage races, which see us clocking over 10 hours in the first two days! With this lack of conditioning comes discomfort and/or pain. It manifests itself in areas of weakness, but possibly the worst discomfort/pain emanates from the hands. We use our hands to support our bodyweight and to control our bike and any interference with that is dangerous.
Numbness and pain, sometimes unbearable, can be felt during the ride and for days afterwards. If this sounds familiar, or if you want to do your damdest to avoid it (assuming you’ve had a professional bike set-up done), Ergon grips should be at the top of your shopping list. We tested the GS2, which has the erognomic grip and a ‘three-finger’ bar-end, the angle of which you can adjust independently of the grip angle – an impressive feature.
There are three different compounds and textures, which provide both grip and comfort. They took a few rides to get used to, and we found the extra cushioning on the outside of the grip affected our control on technical obstacles like jumps and during bunny hops or front-wheel lifts. But on long, obstacle-light rides, we welcomed the palm support, which effectively removes pressure from your ulnar nerve. It’s also comforting to have the bar-end hand position option, either for cruising or pulling up on during climbs. We spoke to riders that use this model and similar Ergon grips to get a wider range of feedback and they truly swear by the improvement in comfort, especially those that do stage races and marathons and those who are prone to hand pain.
The Ergon GS2 grips aren’t for everyone. But if you have ever suffered numb or sore hands, or if you’re not big on technical riding, then this is possibly the most important investment you can make. There’s also a carbon bar-end option – the GS2 Carbon – should you feel the need to save a few grams in weight. For those that use GripShift, the Ergon grips are compatible. Ergon doesn’t recommend fitting them to carbon fibre handlebars, but that’s really just a legal disclaimer. To be sure though, check with your carbon handlebar manufacturer before fitting them.
SIZES: S, L
CONTACT: http://home.icon.co.za/~supercyc/; 011 917 9134
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 26, 2013 – All rights reserved