Getting a Grip
Originally posted 1/11/2013
After the seat, my bike’s handlebar grips were next up for improvement. Riding the bike usually made my hands numb because of the vibration and pressure of upper body weight resting on them. Changing the handlebars to lift the hands and get the torso more upright is the preferred option, but the Raleigh’s brake and gearchange cables make that impossible to do without having a selection of replacement bars on hand for trial fitting. So, it’s up to the grips, and though the Raleigh’s OEM handgrips are soft rubber, they still proved a problem.
Enter the Ergon GP5 grip, designed and made in Germany, where Industrial Design is still a career option, and functionality and performance can still take precedence over manufacturing cost. Developed with the assistance of the German Sport University in Cologne, the entire selection of Ergon grips flat out work, and do so with a simplicity that makes them able to be fully installed and adjusted in less than a minute apiece using just a metric hex wrench. Just slide it over the bar end, rotate the grip to most comfortably support the palm of the hand, rotate the extension lever how you like, and use the wrench to tighten one bolt. Then ride.
One would think that, with the leverage available from that extension, that the grip would slip and rotate at the first good bounce. After all, the only thing holding it to the handlebar is a single narrow metal squeeze-clamp that only contacts the handlebar at its very end in a band little more than a quarter-inch wide! And, the manufacturer cautions about using the proper fastener torque, and about mounting it only to a tubular steel handlebar, or to an aluminum one only if it’s made for this type of grip clamp. And about checking the grip’s grip after any crash or impact, yada-yada-yada. Well, does it hold okay or doesn’t it? Answer: it’s a rock, and it isn’t going anywhere after it’s slid on and tightened. Mind you, it does require a handlebar tube end that falls within common industry specs, which certain cheapie Walmart-level bikes may not. For that, you’ll need to replace the bar with a real one.
But wonky looks aside, how does the Ergon grip work? It works great, thank you. Talk about big-car comfort! The flat area on the main grip provides a wonderful amount of support to the base of one’s palm. Once you rest your weight on one of these grips, you know you’ll never go back. That old wrist injury from tumbling in eighth grade gym class? Not a factor with the Ergon, because the palm pad can be rotated exactly as you need it to be, as can the extension angle.
What about that weird curved extension on the GP5? Yes, it’s ugly, but it’s there for a reason. It allows you to shift your hands around and hold the handlebars in several different ways, which “takes the load off” and alternates pressure points around on longer rides. You still need to return to the main grips to change gearset speeds or squeeze the brake levers, but that’s easily done and isn’t a factor in steady-state riding. The extension certainly isn’t needed at all for more moderate rides, and REI offers several additional models of the Ergon grip lineup that range from vestigial extensions to no extensions at all. I selected the more extreme GP5 merely to offer me the most comfort options when my errands turn into a real ride. I really don’t like numb hands, and having to stop and shake out the pain with miles still to go. I can vouch that this problem doesn’t exist any more, not with these grips.