Gravity Freeride or Gravity Free Ride
Ergon GFR1 Factory Grip Review
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.
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ape Index: 1.037
Trail on Repeat: Changes as often as my mood.
Current Regular: Every test product spends time on Entrail