A brief review of the new(ish) Ergon GS1 grips.
The Rumblefish started with Ergon GP5s (with the big moose antlers). It eventually went to GP1s.
The Schweet Mukluk has GP1s (on Jones Loop Bars).
The Big Dummy also has GP1s (also on Jones Loop Bars).
The Mrs’ FX has GP1 Biokorks on it.
That’s the Superfish. Here are the grips:
There are three basic issues to discuss: 1) Should I have ergonomic grips; 2) If yes, should they be Ergon; and, 3) If yes, should they be GP1 or GS1?
1. Should I have ergonomic grips?
On straight bar bikes, including bikes with alt bars like the Jones Loop, my answer is yes. If you’re doing straight downhilling or park riding, then you might want ‘regular’ grips. Otherwise, my answer is yes. XC? Yes. Freeride? Yes. Race? Yes. Snow bike? Yes. From my perspective, they’re far more comfortable than any ‘regular’ grips. You can spread your weight over a larger area, you have greater vibration dampening, you have more ‘contact’ with the grip and the potential for better adhesion, you have an ergonomic shape that improves hand comfort…the benefits for me are endless.
Some say that ergonomic grips mean you can only have one way to hold the bars. To me, that’s never been an issue, for two reasons: a) the ‘natural’ position for these grips, if properly positioned, is so comfortable that I don’t want or need other positions; and, b) if I do need other positions, I can rotate my hand (just like with a ‘regular’ grip), and in extreme cases, can rotate the grip itself.
Some argue that ergonomic grips reduce your ability to tightly grasp the handlebars during very rough riding. I’ve not found that to be an issue. From my riding, I would say that the ergonomic grip means I can grasp the bars with greater comfort, reducing hand fatigue. I would say that the rubber in the grip diminishes vibration, again reducing fatigue. I would say that the ergonomic shape increases the surface area of my hand on the grip, providing greater ‘traction’ on the grip.
I will say that if you’re doing short downhills, or perhaps even lift-assisted park riding, you may be happier with “normal” grips. Personally, I find the Ergons to be incredibly comfortable.
2) Should my ergonomic grips be Ergon?
The ergonomic grips I had before I found Ergons did not have the ‘lock on’ feature on the end of the bar, and thus turned from their ergonomic position whenever pressure was applied, to my great annoyance. Ergons, on the other hand, are incredibly reliable. They remain in one spot without fail, due to the design of the aluminum lock designed into the end of the grip. I’ve had mine in service on some bikes for several years, with bad weather, hard falls, abrasions, travel, removal and reinstallation, etc., and no issues of any kind. I cannot think of a reason to use anything but Ergon.
3) GP1 or GS1?
I’m leaving out bar ends here–if you need bar ends, get bar ends. After riding with them, I’ve decided that I don’t need bar ends.
I’m also leaving out Biokork. Biokork feels very much like the rubber GP1…same shape, same rubber insert in the handle. Frankly, on a bike where biokork looks right (e.g. the FX), I’d use it. In retrospect, I’d have gotten biokork for the Dummy. But generally speaking, it performs much like the regular GP1. It is, perhaps, more environmentally friendly.
That leaves GP1 versus GS1. My time on the GS1 is not that great–5 or 6 rides now, covering a couple hundred miles total. No maintenance or wear issues thus far (they’ve come through a couple wipeouts unscathed, as expected).
GS1s weigh 155 grams in size large. GP1s weigh about 50 grams more–around 205 grams–again in size large.
GS1s are stiffer feeling–you give up a little bit of the tackiness and grip of the rubber in the GP1s. You may also give up a little bit of the vibration dampening. I haven’t noticed any real problems in that regard–at this point, the vibration dampening issue is more theoretical than anything. I suspect, because of the increased ‘hardness’ of the GS1, it may be inferior at dampening. In the real world, I haven’t had any issues with hand numbness or other problems relating to vibration. I haven’t had any problems with with maintaining ‘traction’ or grip on the bars, notwithstanding the difference in the tackiness of the materials, either. (Note: Ergon claims that the unique construction of the GS1 is supposed to be designed to control vibration and rebound).
The GS1 is more angular in all regards. The GP1 grips have a gentle curve in nearly all locations, very ergonomic in shape. They look ergonomic. The GS1 grips look less ergonomic. In fact, on first glance, I was concerned that they might not be comfortable. But on the first 30 mile mountain bike ride I did, I was thinking about bike setup and not grips. While focusing on tire, fork and shock pressures and settings, I rode and rode and rode. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I even really realized I had been riding the GS1s all day. That’s pretty high praise–being used to the GP1s, I was totally comfortable riding the GS1s.
I’d probably still keep the GP1s for more leisurely riding (e.g. Big Dummy). I’d use the GS1s on bikes used more aggressively, like the Superfish. Saving 50 grams is nice…but beyond that, I genuinely think that the different shape of the GS1 is better for more aggressive riding. I believe that: a) the GS1 doesn’t lock your hand into one primary position as much as the GP1 does; and, b) the GS1′s more svelte profile makes it easier to grab, hold and use in rough conditions. The rubber insert on the GS1 mitigates my concerns about the difference in ‘tackiness’ of the whole grip.
If I were building the Superfish or any mountain bike tomorrow, I’d use the GS1 on it. The GS1 has earned a place in my list of go-to gear. Again, I don’t think it replaces the GP1 for all uses–I wouldn’t put the GS1 on the Dummy or on my wife’s FX…but for the intended application, it’s a great grip.