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Gravity Freeride or Gravity Free Ride

Ergon GFR1 Factory Grip Review

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Jan 21, 2021
Reading time

Once in a while, a product will surprise me on the trail and the latest is the Ergon GFR1 grip. Unlike previous grips from the German brand, there are no tapers, flanges, or other ergonomically focused features. The integrated end plug of the GE1 series grips is gone, replaced with a more traditional and replaceable end plug also found in Ergon's other gravity focused grip, the GD1. Ergon isn’t suggesting gravity focused riders don’t need an integrated end plug. Rather, Ergon realizes that grip ends get scuffed up from dumping the bike and riders will appreciate being able to replace their plugs.

The GFR1 grip was developed with Tahnée and Kaos Seagrave, which perhaps has more to do with the traditional grip shape than Ergon’s design team changing its view. Wherever the new ergonomics came from, the GFR1 gives riders an option without a tapered profile or the other ergonomic features Ergon usually includes.

Highlights:

  • 30mm diameter
    • Measured: 29mm
  • Single CNC clamp (w/ 3mm hex key)
  • Replaceable traditional push-on grip style end plugs
  • Mushroom style ’textured siping’ in the palm
  • Soft ridges beneath fingers
  • 140mm length (collar to end plug)
    • 125mm usable surface
  • Weight: 99g
  • MSRP: 39.95 USD (Factory) / 34.95 (Regular)
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Ergon worked with the Seagrave's and FMD Racing to develop the GFR1

Gravity Freeride 1 (GFR1)

While the structure lacks the unique shapes synonymous with Ergon, a glance at GFR1 shows a grip that's anything but bland. Looking at the rubber, it’s clear Ergon put plenty of time and thought into the design.

At the top of the grip is a section of sipes similar to a traditional mushroom texture found on something like the legendary ODI Longneck (a push-on grip from the BMX world). This section runs along the grip length but only wraps around a quarter of the grip. On the underside, where our fingers grapple for traction, is a series of ridges similar to the GD1. On the GD1, these ridges were a fairly clear evolution of the GE1 underside and the GFR1 has continued that evolution. Changes in height between the rows of ridges are more pronounced than on any of the previous Ergon grips and spacing between the rows has increased.

The remaining surface of the grip features a diamond texture that provides heaps of traction but not much padding. It's firm to touch, helping Ergon achieve a precise feel between the hand and grip, while the mushroom provides the damping characteristics. Or at least that’s the goal. Similar to the GD1, there’s a small flange between the collar and hand. It’s smaller than the GD1 flange – a couple of millimetres – and doesn’t continue around the underside.

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Heaps of grip is offered from the specially formulated rubber and well thought out design.

Not a Grip Free Ride

When the GFR1 grips were slotted onto my bars, their slim profile caught me off-guard. Before the GFR1 grips, I'd spent my year on a single grip – the ODI Elite Flow – and the 2mm change in diameter was a stark reminder of the difference a couple of millimetres can make. The thin feel of the GFR1 felt foreign.

Previously I’d found myself happy with grips around the 30mm mark but to get a bit more rubber between my hands and the bar, with a lock-on interface, I’d opted to try the ODI Flow and I’ve been smitten with it. However, from the first ride with the narrower GFR1, I found it surprisingly comfortable. Mushroom textures tend to deliver some added comfort and that was proving true with the GFR1. The mushroom texture can also make a grip feel thinner once your hand is clamped but that wasn’t my experience with the small mushroom area of the GFR1 which only supports the palm.

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The mushroom ribbing, or sipes as Ergon refers to them, cup up into the palm of the hand and provide good comfort.

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The ridges under the grip are taller and spaced further apart, providing improved hold and comfort.

The ridges on the underside provide heaps of finger grip and I found them quite comfortable too. Some finger ridges can cause discomfort, or do nothing at all, but I never found this the case with the GFR1 design. This area is more tactile than previous Ergon grips, making it easier to hold on, especially when the trail gets rough, or with bare hands in the rain which many grips struggle with.

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The diamond texture with this rubber is grippy, but doesn't provide much cushion. My knuckles…

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and the meaty section of my palm rested on these portions. I had issues with comfort when temperatures dipped.

The thin rubber in the diamond textured sections presented some mild discomfort but only when conditions cooled. As the rubber in my tires and grips firmed up and the oil flow in my suspension slowed, I experienced some hand pain across the Thenar Eminence (meaty part of the palm near the thumb).

On longer rides, where rough technical terrain was on the menu, the balls of my hands (where the fingers connect to the palm) would start to feel raw and tender. This part of my hand was directly in contact with more of the thin, diamond-textured area of the grip. Neither problem was consistent but in each condition, the limited damping provided by the thin rubber became problematic. I’ve found the non-factory Ergon grips more comfortable in the past and there’s potential that the same would be found with the GFR1.

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An excellent grip for riders who like thin grips.

Conclusions

Ergon’s GFR1 Factory grip provides ample traction and control, allowing for a looser hold on the grip, particularly when things get rough and rowdy. The thin profile feels great in the hand, especially in warmer conditions, but it may fall short for riders who prefer more rubber under all parts of the hand. Most of my experience with the grip was great but there were conditions where the GFR1 Factory grip’s small diameter and soft, minimal rubber sections can become less comfortable. For race runs or shorter rides, they could be a perfect mix of comfort and precision.

More on the Ergon GFR1 Factory grip.

AJ_Barlas
AJ Barlas

Age: 39
Height: 191cm/6’3"
Weight: 73kg/160lbs
Ape Index: 1.037
Inseam: 32”
Trail on Repeat: Changes as often as my mood.
Current Regular: Every test product spends time on Entrail

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Comments

ackshunW
+3 Sandy James Oates DadStillRides Chad K
ackshunW  - Jan. 21, 2021, 7:32 a.m.

You make these sound good but I’m never going to be used to $40 grips!

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 21, 2021, 8:16 a.m.

They’re not cheap, that’s for sure. What grips are you running?

Reply

mrbrett
+2 Chad K Neil Carnegie Andrew Major Dogl0rd
mrbrett  - Jan. 21, 2021, 8:27 a.m.

Yeah, grips are way to expensive. I save money on my $11k carbon wonder bike by using used hockey tape on my carbon bars. /s

Reply

Hollytron
+1 Andrew Major
Hollytron  - Jan. 21, 2021, 8:45 a.m.

Andrew go me hooked on the sensus push on grips and I like how thin they are. These look like a lock on solution for us with small hands (treated very unfairly). Can I give up the bespoke superiority of glueing and wiring my grips to my bars though?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Andrew Major
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 21, 2021, 7:41 p.m.

The Sensus Swayze push-on grip is one of the best there are. These certainly aren’t as comfortable.

Reply

humanpowered
0
Humanpowered  - Jan. 22, 2021, 9:55 a.m.

I struggle with grips.  I've broken my scaphoids in both hands and never had them set (I didn't know I broke them at the time) and I've got carpal tunnel stuff as well.  Hand numbness starts to set in 20 minutes into a ride.  I go back and forth between renthal ultra tacky with some tape under them to build out certain places and revgrips.  Do you think the Swayze is more comfortable than both of those?  Are they as flexible as the renthal which allows me to change the profile in key areas?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Andrew Major
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 23, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

The Swayze is certainly flexible enough to tape under certain areas and customize the profile, Kyle Strait used to do similar before his custom Meaty Paw grip became available. Andrew can better answer in relation to the rev grips and Renthal push-ons. He has extensive time on both the Swayze and just posted a review on his experience with the Revs.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 24, 2021, 5:39 p.m.

The Swayze - and any ODI made grip - is going to have a bit more structure than the Renthal Ultra Tacky (it's the softest grip I've used) but I do find that the Swayze provides more support, in a good way, so you may actually find it works better for you (comparing un-modified grips). 

Another, ODI-made, grip worth checking out is the Pulsar by Eclat. The flagellates are more obvious and so may fold such that any profile changes you make feel more natural than the other grip options?! I've used the Pulsar and it's a very close second to the Swayze for me. 

I've been thinking about getting some Sugru and trying to introduce a very slight taper (and bit of extra padding) under my grips for my ulnar nerves - so thank you for the renewed motivation to make some time to play with it!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 AndrewR
Andrew Major  - Jan. 24, 2021, 5:46 p.m.

Also, and I am aware that this is not a fix-all and that I'm a broken record, have you tried some alternate bar sweep options? 

A 12° bar is virtually un-noticeable from a handling perspective but certainly loads your wrists differently than a typical 7-9° backswept bar. A 16° bar will require a bit of adaptation (and maybe an extra 10mm of stem length) but could actually change your riding experience. 

I have a lot of experience with SQLab's 30X options, and the Fasst bar I run is a 12°, but there are an ever-increasing number of options for different ergonomics. 

Even if the typical 7-9° bar was decided upon because it works best for the majority of riders (rather than being a holdover from when we all had 600mm wide bars) that doesn't mean it's the best option for all riders - especially those of us trying to manage injuries - old or new - or wear and tear.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
+1 AJ Barlas
AndrewR  - Jan. 25, 2021, 11:56 a.m.

And there is an appreciable difference between 8º and 9º at 760-800 mm width. Even Chromag have recently moved to 9º (from 8º) for some of their bars.

And the other obvious on bar/ grip comfort is use a 31.8 mm clamp diameter bar (unless you are running One Up or We Are One bars).

Reply

humanpowered
0
Humanpowered  - Jan. 25, 2021, 1:58 p.m.

Thank you guys!  Lot's of good input here.  I've tried the sqlab 12° and it didn't really work for me, they also didn't have a 50mm rise, another measure I've taken to keep some of the weight off my hands.  I'm using a spike vibrocore 31.8.  My riding style is very much oriented to the gravity side of things.  Are you aware of any sources that could help me fine tune the grip profile for the ulnar nerves?

badgerracer
0
badgerracer  - Jan. 21, 2021, 9:34 a.m.

I went to Sensus Meaty Paws and now can’t ride anything else...anything thinner and I notice my fingers getting really sore. I do have larger hands though so I guess that makes sense. Still, these do look well designed

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Jan. 21, 2021, 2:49 p.m.

I like my GD1 Ergons. At first I didn’t like them  more than my previous grips, Rev Grip medium diameter but after a week they disappeared under my gloves. Grips are such a personal thing though, like saddles. I have medium hands but I dislike slim grips. I find that too small a diameter pounds into my hands and they hurt a bit. I like grips that I don’t need to death grip to hold on. The Ergons do that for me due to the pattern and rubber. These new models look good too. Is there a 32 mm diameter one as well?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 Andy Eunson
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 21, 2021, 7:48 p.m.

Some great points, Andy. Grips are one of the more personal things on the bike after the seat. These only come in the one diameter but I was surprised at how comfortable they were for how thin they are. Still, the diamond sections didn’t quite have enough rubber to keep me clear of discomfort all the time. I do appreciate the grip available with minimal effort that the design allows though and that mushroom section across the top disguises heaps of comfort in that part of the hand too.

Reply

jdw103
0
Jason West  - Jan. 22, 2021, 1:48 a.m.

Classic Oury ftw!

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 22, 2021, 7:18 a.m.

Nah, not for me. The classic Oury were one of my first aftermarket purchases in 2000. I didn’t take to their thick, jelly rubber blocks. I understand why people like them, though. Glad you’re pumped on them. Are you still using the push-on version?

Reply

Bearlover
0
Bearlover  - Jan. 22, 2021, 7:31 p.m.

My BMX days are twenty years behind me, but it was Jive Handles that inspired a lifelong preference for thin grips. I’ve tried Ergons, Ourys, and Rogues and even though I have large hands, I always came back to ODI Ruffian MX or Elite Flow grips. After reading here about the wonders of push-on grips, I set my lock ons aside and tried some Renthal push ons. They were wonderfully tacky, long, and, much to my surprise, too thin. After a few months on the Renthals, I went back to my trusty ODIs, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a 31mm grip that’s longer than 135mm I’ll get along with better? ODI Longnecks perhaps?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 23, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

The Longnecks are great but the mushroom can make them feel thinner once you clamp your hand around them. I haven’t ridden the Renthals to compare but they may get too thin? BUT. That thinness comes with the mushroom padding your hand, so it would feel different. 

Another favourite of mine was the ODI “O” grip. Quite thin but the alternating mushroom pattern was very comfortable. That was my grip of choice in my BMX days and I’d like to go back to it on my MTB (dirt jumper). But I fear it would be on the thin side for my trail bike. It’s thinner than the Longneck but the alternating mushroom provides easier grip. I find the Longneck, gloveless, can get a bit slippery because all of the ridges run the same way.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Jan. 25, 2021, 12:02 p.m.

@AJ Barlas: How sticky are they please?

My current best glove free, slim diameter, single lock ring grip is the Chromag Format (currently sold out because of its awesomeness).

I used to really like the Ergons (GE1 Slim ideally) but they feel hard and slippery (especially when riding in the rain or sweaty from hot days) compared to the Format. I went back to riding a set in the summer and they were removed half way through the ride (yes I carried a pair of Formats just in case I decided I didn't like them in comparison - LOTS is a long ride on any component that is annoying you).

The DMR Deathgrip Race is very sticky too (in a good way) but the deeper waffles feel a bit vague to me.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Jan. 25, 2021, 1:31 p.m.

The Format is an ultra-thin grip! There must be, what, 1mm of rubber over much of the grip? Jokes aside, I wouldn't refer to any of the Ergon grips as sticky but if you really enjoyed the GE1 at one point, these are similar in terms of rubber feel/stickiness. I hope that's helpful?

Reply

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