DSCF6541
59 Flavours of Subtle

The Ergonomic Grip Shootout

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Dave Tolnai
Date Sep 19, 2022
Reading time

Several months ago, I stumbled upon a thing that changed my bicycle riding. Better grip! More control! Less fatigue! What miracle product could be responsible for so many great things? Well, it was a pair of goofy looking grips that I took off my commuter bike.

It shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure this out. When those grips turned up installed on my commuter, the first upgrade I was considering (after changing the horrendous stock disc rotors) was to get rid of those grips. But I was lazy so I rode the bike a few times and I was surprised by how great they felt. So they stayed.

A few years later I was experiencing some nagging wrist and elbow pains and searching for any sort of solution and I decided to give the commuter grips a try. It was unbelievable (to me) how much difference they made. As stated above, I could hold onto the bike much better which gave me a whole lot more control and my wrist was supported in a way that I wound up with less fatigue. The grips were the ugliest thing to be strapped to a handlebar, but it was worth it! I was hooked. I continued to run those grips but remained convinced that there was a better solution. I cast my e-mail net far and wide, started taking delivery of all manner of grips, and here are the results.

Types of Ergonomic Grips

I’m going to divide my grip shootout into two styles of ergonomic grips. First, you have the tweaked profile style, and then you have the winged style. This also represents the break from “normal” into “weird,” and from most to least subtle.

The tweaked profile style of grip will probably be the easiest sell for most people. There are several companies out there that have recognized that our grip isn’t perfectly round. Take a second to curl up your hand like you’re holding an imaginary handlebar and have a look at the shape that it makes. It’s pretty round, but there are certainly some gaps, jimmys and jags to that profile. Several companies have looked at this problem and determined that a perfectly round grip isn’t the best solution for bicycles, SQLab and Ergon being the most prevalent.

The next style that we’re going to look at is the winged style of grip. Rather than (just) tweaking the profile of the grip, this style tacks on a wing that gives your hand more support through the palm. This sounds pretty simple, but there is some nuance to how this is accomplished.

70x - Rear

Riders perspective on the SQLab 70X. Note the subtle flare on the end and the pads on the bottom that form a subtle teardrop shape.

Grip #1 – SQLab 70X

We start with the SQLab 70X, as it is undoubtedly the subtlest of the bunch. It takes a pretty deep dive to see all of the little tricks that SQLab has employed.

If you’re on a bicycle ergonomics quest, chances are pretty good that you’ve come across SQLab at some point. They have numerous ergonomic grips available, ranging from the very subtle 70X, which offers a slight tweaking from round, all the way up to the not so subtle 710, which I couldn’t quite bring myself to put on a bicycle I don’t hate.

The 70X has a lot of similarities to the Ergon GE1 (which we’ll talk about in a moment), but pushes a few things a further, and reels a few others in. Many of the tweaks to the 70X take place along the bottom edge, where a large teardrop lives for the area for fingers 2 through 4. The end of the 70X also thickens out, towards your palm, but with more of a flare than a taper. This creates a sort of padded flat spot on the end of the grip that supports your palm. The focus of the 70X seems to be on giving you a nice shape to wrap your fingers around, more than changing angles or providing palm support. This results in a classic feeling grip with some helpful attributes to improve grip and support.

The 70X is available from SQLab for 30 Euros, or around CAD$40.

Ideal User – You’re trying to fly under the radar, but you’re willing to try some different things in the name of hand and wrist support.

Grip #2 – Ergon GA2 and GE1

I will confess that I didn’t spend much time on these grips during this shootout. However, the GA2s were stock on the Canyon Spectral I tested a few years back (so long ago that I struggled to find a link). During the test period I didn’t really notice the grips at all, but after I got rid of that bike I realized just how much I should have appreciated them. For the longest time, I actually thought it was the sweep and width of the Renthal bar that worked so well for me (I’ve cut down pretty much every bar since then to match the 780mm of that Renthal), but in hindsight I think it was the grips as much as anything. Either way, Ergon sent me a pair of GE1’s which seem to be a more aggressively ridged version of the GA2s that I am more familiar with.

The GE1s are fairly normal grips with a few important tweaks. They have a narrower profile on the inboard side of the grip, with a noticeable teardrop shape that tucks into the crook of your pointer finger. Towards the outside edge of the grip, it’s not so much that they get thicker, but they sweep back towards your palm, thinning out at the bottom/front, thickening at the top/back (depending on your rotation and perspective). This tapering takes place over the length of the grip and is almost like adding a few degrees to the sweep of your bar. This can have a substantial impact on how your wrist interacts with the bar. Indeed, most of these changes are millimeter deviations from round, but the results are profound.

GE1's are listed at 35 Euros on the Ergon website, which is roughly CAD$46.

Ideal User – You’re ergonomics curious and have been thinking about more sweep in your bar, or some other tweaks. These are the ultimate sleeper ergo grips.

Grip #3 – SQLab 711

In the SQLab grip line, the 711 is a bit of a mama bear option. It’s not so crazy that you scare other trail users, but it’s not so subtle that there isn’t a noticeable change. For me, it proved to be the best option from SQLab.

The 711 does everything that the 70X does, but to a greater extent. The teardrop shape is more pronounced and the flare at the end is gigantic in comparison, and adds width as well as height. You’ll also notice a little peak that sits between your thumb and pointer finger, which fills even more of the space that you’ve never thought about before. This all combines into a grip that looks fairly normal from afar, but attracts questions when viewed up close.

The interesting thing about these grips is that despite their relatively normal appearance, they took the longest to adapt to, and are perhaps the most critical when it comes to ideal installation angle. The technique I discovered was to place the little thumb/pointer peak properly (such that it is pointing at the base of my thumb) and the rest of everything falls in line from there. Getting the end flare correct is particularly crucial and feels a bit unusual. Every time I put these back on my bicycle there was a short period where I needed to adjust, just because I was resting on places on my hand that I didn’t expect to. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

While on the topic of the end flare, it’s surprising how much of a change this brings from a typical round grip, and just how much extra support it provides. The end result was a grip that provided most of the benefit of my commuter grips with none of the laughs. It’s not quite at the level of a full wing, but if I was ever looking for stealth ergonomics, these were the answer. Indeed, I brought these along to the Santa Cruz Megatower launch and I only generated a couple of raised eyebrows.

The rubber itself is very grippy. A general theme with all of these ergonomic grips is that the more ergonomic they appear, the less is provided in the way of aggressive ridges and nubbins. These grips are more or less smooth, save for a few grooves on the end and under your fingers. I was surprised by how much friction grip I was able to get out of all of them, even in the wet, and even without gloves.

711's are 35 Euros direct from SQLab, or CAD$46.

Ideal User – You’re a person who wants to go full ergo but doesn’t like answering questions in the parking lot.

Grip #4 – Ergon GA3

The first of our winged grips is the Ergon GA3. This grip has what is described as a “mini wing,” and it is indeed smaller than any of the other winged grips that I tried. Whether it truly meets the definition of mini or not is probably in the eye of the beholder.

The GA3 has many of the same characteristics of the GA2. Indeed from the inside to around the midway point, they could very well be the same grip. They have the same narrower profile and slight teardrop shape on the inner half of the grip, but then the mini wing starts poking out as you move your way out to the outboard edge. At the widest point, from tip of the wing to the front side of the grip, the GA3 measures at 43mm in small and 45mm in medium.

Aside from the size of wing, the other thing I noticed is that the location of the wing plays a big part in how much support you get. The wing of the GA2 shoots out tangent from the grip, so the top of the wing flows directly into the top radius of the grip. What I found is that the higher the wing is, the more support it provides. What this means is that the GA2 provides a tremendous amount of support despite the slightly smaller stature of the wing.

There are a few other nice characteristics of a winged grip. The first is that it gives you a second, slightly different climbing position, if you so desire. I often found myself moving my hands outboard and resting the center of my palms on the flat portion of the wing. This allowed me to switch things up a bit, and gives a nice soft hand rest as the wing provides a gentle form of suspension for your hands. As well, what I found is that not only does the wing provide you with support, but it also allows your hand to approach the bar at a slightly different angle, again almost like a slightly different barsweep. I’m still trying to wrap my head around exactly what changed, but my wrist feels more neutral with this grip than with others.

The end result is that the GA3 is now my go to, day-to-day grip. The wing isn’t huge, but provides all of the support that I’m looking for. These grips are definitely a noticeable departure from a standard round grip, but the trade-off seems worth it.

GA3's also cost 35 Euros, or CAD$46.

Ideal User – Somebody looking for maximum wrist support in a package that doesn’t scream commuter bike. It just quietly whispers it instead.

Grip #5 – Bontrager XR Endurance Elite

I didn’t notice when I first got these grips, but apparently they’re made out of recycled material! Or at least with recycled material. Is it the rubber? The plastic (turns out yes, it’s the plastic)? How much of it? We’re not exactly saving the world here, but it is something.

The Bontrager has a much larger wing than the Ergon, but not quite as large as my original commuter grip. Feature wise, there’s not a lot going on beyond the wing. The inboard section looks like a standard, round grip, and then the largish wing (53mm at the widest point) shoots out about halfway down the grip. The wing itself is quite thin and very flexible. Similar to the Ergon, this gives a second climbing option with a soft, slightly suspended ride. Also of note is that there is no plastic shell directly under your palm. Bontrager has cut this portion of plastic away, so there’s nothing but soft rubber between your palm and the bar.

Another key differentiator from the Bontrager is the location of the wing. Both compared to the commuter grip and to the Ergon, the wing comes out of the grip lower than tangent (think popsicle stick sticking out of a round popsicle). This tripped me up a bit on my first ride. I found that I had rotated them quite far up to get the support I was used to while climbing, but this felt like it was putting my wrist in the wrong place on descents. I was forced to rotate the wing down slightly, and I always wished I could get a bit more support.

This wasn’t ideal for me, but I’ve seen a lot of feedback from people that haven’t liked winged grips in the past because they felt like the wing was getting in the way a bit. This might be a great solution for those types. It still provides a lot of platform for support, it’s just a bit further away from you.

That’s not to say I didn’t like this grip. I used them a lot, especially before the GA3’s showed up. I still think it’s a good option for longer days with more climbing and flats than descents where the large wing works well and gives you lots of options.

Bontrager will charge you CAD$50 for the XR Endurance Elite.

Ideal User – Somebody looking for the largest wing but who doesn’t want that wing getting too much in the way on the descent.

DSCF6977

This was the best I could do to try to capture the orientation of the wing. From L to R, we have the original commuter grip, the Bontrager XR and then the Ergon GA3. The wing on the commuter and the GA3 come off more or less tangent from the radius of the grip, while the XR is offset down a bit, and comes off at more of an angle. This places the wing lower on the grip/bar relative to your hand, and I felt didn't give quite as much support.

Conclusion

After living with all of these grips for several months, the key thing that I’ve taken away is that there are almost no drawbacks. There’s a lot going on with how our hands, wrists and elbows interact with our grips and handlebars, and for me it’s clear that there’s a benefit to moving away from a rubber cylinder as a grip. Of course, all our bodies are different and for some, a change isn’t necessary. Still, the change for me was so dramatic, I feel strongly about encouraging others to experiment.

I had a conversation with our own Trevor Hansen just after I posted my grip article. I know that he has struggled with some elbow issues, so I wondered if he had ever played around with grips like these. He seemed interested, but skeptical. Many months later he wrote me to tell me he’d tried the Ergon GA3’s and was fully on board! So there’s at least one other person out there preaching the gospel.

A few of these grips work really well under a variety of situations. The 711s are great when you want a lot of support in a clean package. The Bontragers are good for when you want the largest possible wing. But day in and day out, the GA3s are the ticket for me. They feel great and they don’t look all that goofy. After using them for a couple of months straight now, my body feels great. They’re the frontrunner for me, but any of these 3 grips give me no reason to go back to regular grips.

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

BarryW
BarryW
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+4 Velocipedestrian Sandy James Oates Andy Eunson hardtailhersh

I kind of hate that there is so much worry about image over function in the MTB world. 

I truly believe that beautiful function creates beautiful design, not the other way around. Like a Knolly seat post, might look different, but functionality fantastic four dropper posts. Yet most manufacturers use bent posts for looks and limit dropper insertion.

Reply

WheelNut
WheelNut
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+4 Andy Eunson bishopsmike BarryW hardtailhersh

A lot of MTB is about projecting. If the top DH world cup guys were all used winged grips then we wouldn't be caught dead without them. All of us regular ol' slow guys want to look like the top dogs and to be part of the "in" group. We are social apes afterall.

Reply

davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 cheapondirt hardtailhersh

I hear what you're saying. I think for the most part, we have created a functional aesthetic with bicycles. We're guided a bit too much by what other people are doing, or what we're supposed to be doing, but most of what we think looks correct is that way because it's what we feel works. It just takes some time to get there.

We have a lot of pride in these bicycles. We put a lot of money and effort into them, and slapping something on them that looks wrong can hurt a bit. Should it? Probably not, but what are you going to do? To a certain degree, we all care what these things look like and we all subscribe to the way things should be. I'd say it's part of our job to nudge that in the right direction every so often. We get to try the goofy shit so that you don't have to take the risk.

If I wasn't able to find something that worked as well as those goofy commuter grips, I would probably still be running them. I was planning on giving them one final ride before I published this piece, just because, but I'm in the midst of a whole bunch of bike changes and I'm trying to keep it to one change per ride and I ran out of time. But there's a bunch of options in here that work as well, or as well as I remember, and look a whole lot less goofy, so I'm going to go with that.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+4 Lynx . Sandy James Oates Pete Roggeman hardtailhersh

Towards the end of long hard rides I sometimes get hand pain. Then again, towards the end of long hard rides most parts of me are in pain.

Reply

Fasta_Pasta
Scott Jamieson
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+2 roil John Hinton

Foamies. All day everyday

Reply

ohio
ohio
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 AndrewR

Coincidentally, I've been on foamies and GA3s, going back and forth. Have tried ESI chunkies and Wolf Tooth octos. Have gone back to the GA3s. I have significant wrist issues (salvage surgery coming up on the left wrist in a few weeks) and the GA3s have made a world of difference in wrist and hand fatigue for me. Nearly as much benefit as switching to a 20deg sweep bar (Protaper carbon 20/20). The grips are hard to notice with the super funky bars stealing all of the attention. But it works, and I've been able to keep riding.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
1 week, 3 days ago
+1 Lynx .

Sweep - there is too much focus on 8º sweep which is useful for correct arm position on a 2-3 minute downhill (or even 15-20 minute downhill), for most riders, contrasted with the having to contend with a poor hand/ wrist position for the 45-60 minutes of climbing that it takes to access said downhill trail.

9º is better (marginally)

10º yields a significant gain (PNW )

12º is even better (SQ-Lab)

SQ-Lab also do 16º if required (good for touring and 'flatter' XC type trails)

The other issue for most riders is the industry obsession with 35 mm bar/ stem interface. Most companies execute their 35 mm bar badly (for the consumer - not the pro racer) in that the bar is too stiff and does not dampen trail vibration enough. 

The last thing a rider on an XS 140 mm travel bike needs is 800 mm wide 35 mm handle bar but that is what is "cool" so that is what is being specced. The worst thing is that the shops that should know better are not providing a fit service to, at least, cut the bars to a sensible width and they really should be telling the manufacturers to spec a more sensible bar/ stem combo in the first place.

99% of non pros ie nearly everyone would be far happier on a well executed 31.8 mm bar.

That said, other than the issue of sweep, OneUp and We Are One's execution of the 35 mm handle bar is excellent.

Reply

Shinook
Shinook
1 week, 3 days ago
0

I agree on the 35mm thing, I am convinced most brands went that way for aesthetics rather than performance. I gave up on them a while back and have found a lot of much nicer 31.8 options, including the ti bars I'm experimenting now. 

That said, more sweep made my problems much worse, I don't think it's an objective solution to every problem. It should be a fit variable like bar width, IMO, and tailored to whatever issue the rider is having. I do wish more brands would offer more sweep options, though.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
1 week, 2 days ago
0

@Shinook - I think if you're going to a greater than normal sweep bar because of hand/wrist issues, you also have to be quite cognizant of width, because you honestly don't "need" as wide a bar when the sweep increases, or at least that's what I've found - remember your hands, relative to the rest of your arms is going to be quite different on a 16 degree sweep vs 8-9 degree sweep bar.

@AndreR - absolutely agree on everything you said, except that 16 degree sweep bars are only for more pedally/XC type trails, it all depends on the person and bike they're riding - can't imagine riding anything less than my SQ Lab 30X 16 degree sweep bar on my rigid Unit and I take that thing on every single trail we have here, including the steepest and gnarliest, just at a slower pace, of course.

Reply

Andeh
Andeh
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+2 Deniz Merdano Andy Eunson

After battling with some wrist pain (and resolving it after discovering it was just tight forearm muscles), I recently started trying different variations of "normal" grips instead of the RevGrips that I had been running to compensate for my jacked up wrist.  I found I generally preferred grips with cut-away sections through the inner sleeve to add more rubber on the end without making them thicker, and some sort of feature to help stop my hand from rotating.  OneUps have nice cushy rubber, but unfortunately the ribs stop short of the thumb, and I noticed on long days when my hands couldn't hold on, my thumb would rotate under, leading my wrist (and consequently elbows) to drop.

Then I tried the GE1s.  I didn't see it mentioned above, but they've got a small triangular wedge on the bottom for your thumb to rest against.  Night and day difference for me.  They are super sensitive to getting the angle right (I found that what works best is to line up the center of the clamp notch with the center of your brake), but once you do, you don't really notice the shape until your hand is trying to rotate under.  Arresting that tendency to rotate has made a big difference in my ability to keep a good attack position on longer descents ("eyes up, elbows out").

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer Andy Eunson

Ge1 s are super sensitive to correct setup. I didn't believe this until i started getting pain on my left hand and noticed the grips had rotated back a few degrees on the left side! Lined them up again and all was good. Like yours, center of the clamp with the center of the brakes!

Reply

davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

What you call a wedge, I call a teardrop.  I hadn't really though of it in terms of the thumb, more about giving your pointer something better to wrap around.  I'll think about it your way the next time I ride these grips.

Reply

gman3000
gman3000
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+2 Hbar Pete Roggeman

I love the Ergon GA3s for general riding. I've got a birth defect where various joints in my hand are fused, making conventional round grips not ideal for grip. I find that the wing shape provides a big squishy platform for my pinky to sink into and hold on well. I played around with the DMR deathgrips and chromag wax but have consistently come back to the GA3s.

I agree with the comment about the position of the wing having a large impact on the feel of the grip. It took me some riding and tweaking to get the roll angle of the wing in relation to the brake lever and grip right for me.

Reply

otagoboy
otagoboy
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Morgan Heater

I’ve used Ergon GS1 grips for over a decade now, on all my trail/enduro bikes. These have a slightly larger flare at the end compared to the GA3. They seem to have stopped making them this year, though you can still find a few online. 

Despite what people say about this type of grip being inappropriate for downhill or enduro work, I find quite the opposite. They allow great security and control, with only relatively gentle grip force; I have never experienced arm pump with ergonomic grips. The SQ LAb 711s are a reasonable alternative; less flare and bit softer, though this seems to make them better for longer, less technical stuff, where high frequency vibration/chatter is an issue.

I couldn’t care less about the look of them. Function over fashion any day. But then again, I love gripshifts, Pinions/Rohloffs and 16 degree sweep bars, which are more examples of items which work fabulously but are largely ignored by the masses. Some stuff you just have to try for yourself and ignore all the negative internet comments.

Reply

WheelNut
WheelNut
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Have you ever owned a bike with a Pinion gearbox?

Reply

otagoboy
otagoboy
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Yes - currently run a ZERODE Katipo (Pinion), Specialized Stumpjumper 2021 with AXS and a Ventana El Conquistador Tandem full suspension with XT Di2.

Zerode is brilliant and Pinion likewise

Reply

craw
Cr4w
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Andy Eunson

I've got a pair of the large SQ Lab 711. I've got huge hands and most grips come in a single small diameter which is odd because it seems pretty obvious to me that between children and 6'6" men it seems unlikely that one diameter of grip will suit everybody. 

I had some Sensus Meaty Paws with a satisfying 35mm diameter but they're basically just a tube. The ESI silicone ones have a stated diameter of 36 which is comical because they squeeze down to virtually nothing and are slippery as eels in the wet. The SQ 711s come in multiple size options and the biggest one, while slightly smaller than the meaty paws in diameter, fits better, feels better, had lovely tacky rubber and work great in the wet.

Reply

davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

The SQLab folks seemed really, really hesitant to send me the Large version of the 711.  Actually, they were hesitant to send me the mediums, and politely suggested anybody this side of a grizzly bear wouldn't need the Large.

I have also been surprised by just how tacky they are and how great they are in the wet.  We've been trained to think ridges and nubs and texture are the key to wet weather grip.  Who knew?

Reply

BertBC
Albert Steward
2 weeks ago
0

Here's the SQlab 711 reverse calculated diameters from their published range (circumference) measurements. BIG jump from medium to large... 

Small = 31.19mm
Medium = 32.78mm
Large = 36.65mm

Reply

enduroExpert78
Rick M
1 week, 5 days ago
0

I really like the medium sized 711s. They did take several adjustments during rides to feel comfortable.

Reply

DaveSmith
Dave Smith
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Velodonata

Have you given Rev grips a go? I've tried most of the reviewed grips but rev's were the only ones that gave me any relief.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Andy Eunson

It's amazing how bad revgrips were for me. Is it setup thing or double clamp design, they just game me massive pains

Reply

DaveSmith
Dave Smith
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 Velodonata Andrew Major

Literally the difference between one lap and two for me these days.

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Yes. They didn’t do anything for me.

Reply

Velodonata
Velodonata
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Rev Grips work the best for me, too, paired with SQLab 30X 12 degree bars. Decades of hand problems, not cured by the Rev Grips, but after trying just about every ergo grip out there, they are my current preferred setup. I recently updated to their "ergo" shaped version, which is a very subtle change. My previous favorite was the SQLab 710, which I slightly preferred to the large winged Ergons. But any of the ergo grips is way better than standard grips, I even have to travel with a set or I can't ride a rental bike, it's really that significant of a problem.

Reply

Shinook
Shinook
1 week, 6 days ago
0

I have really bad hand problems, in my left hand in particular. I've spent thousands on doctors (yay USA), components, gloves, forks, etc to try and find a solution. The closest I got was Flexx bars, but they have their own problems mainly stemming from the elastomers. 

Anyway, point being, I've tried a lot and can really tell when things work or when they absolutely don't. The 12 degree sweep SQlab bars made things worse for me, for instance, I think because of the increased pressure on the outside of my hand. I've tried most of these grip options on my bike and they similarly made things worse. I've tried a lot of other things, as well, and RevGrips made a difference for me (esp their "ergonomic" ones). 

I've concluded that there are two types of issues that cause hand problems for me: those caused by ergonomics (e.g. nerve entrapment), where the position of your hand and wrist causes nerve irritation and numbness, then those caused by the impact of riding to your hands. My issue seems less to do with the way my hands sit on the bars (unless I go to some crazy amount of sweep or do anything to increase external pressure) and more to do with the impacts on the outside of my hand irritating the nerve. 

If you are having problems due to impact and vibration, I think RevGrips make a difference. It's not going to solve your problems, but I can tell an improvement and a difference. The only thing I've used that truly made a massive difference were the Flexx bars, but I think they could use some refinement and try to find a way to get rid of the elastomers. I'm also trying various titanium bars right now with good success.

I'd really like to see more options out there. I saw a spy shot of some pros bike a few years ago and he looked like he had some kind of honeycomb type structure under his grips that looked promising, but it never made it to market AFAIK.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Shinook

@Shinook - Curious if you've looked at or had a bike fit and or played around with saddle tilt as a maybe culprit putting too much weight on your hands? Some  saddles are very sensitive to tilt and just a 1/2 turn on the bolt can be the difference between putting weight  on your sit bones vs onto your hands.

Reply

Shinook
Shinook
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Yes, I have and that was an issue early on and it was pointed out in a bike fit I had done. It's not as much of a problem while climbing as it is going downhill, a lot of our trails are really rough and eroded with extended descents. 

I should have added that overall fitness helps a lot. When I was really in shape pre-COVID, I noticed a marked decrease in problems, although it was still there at times, it wasn't as bad. Slipping a bit the last two years due to various factors, it's not as bad as it was but I've noticed its back again. I think for all the great fitness mountain biking is, it doesn't really provide the strength you need in certain areas to perform well and the best thing I found for my particular issue was overall fitness and weight loss, but the issue was still there at times.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
1 week, 6 days ago
0

I think what you're looking for or describing isn't  really fitness, it's more core strength and the ability to hold ones self up without having to rely on putting weight on your hands and I absolutely agree. Right now, in the same boat as you coming back from my knee, then covid and not doing a lot of riding, or trail work and my core not being close to what it was and I have to be very careful with saddle tilt to not let too much weight go into my hands because the core just isn't doing what it used to and keeping my weight supported without any real conscious effort on my part like it used to do.

Reply

Sethsg
Sethsg
1 week, 4 days ago
0

Mountain biking is not a great way to get "fit" the only real way it impacts your fitness is cardiac health and mental health. There is a reason that pro downhill riders and even XC riders spend so much time in the gym or doing cross-training.

Reply

sjc115
sjc115
1 week, 6 days ago
0

@Shinook

If it's the outside edge of your hands giving you the issues, try the WTB PadLoc grips.  I had the same issue and those are what worked best for me (better than Rev, although I never tried the ergo Rev grips).

Reply

Hbar
Hbar
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I have a mild case of Dupuytren's, and round grips tend to irritate the small nodules in my palms on rougher descents (dupuytren's tends to appear on the ring and pinky finger tendons first). the GA3 grips do the best to distribute the force over my hands without feeling too clumsy. Definitely not the culprit for my consistently poor line choice.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+3 Hbar Cam McRae Andy Eunson

I love the education this site and its readers provide! Been wondering what the bump and trough between ring and pinky on my hands is for about 15 years now. Boom! Dupuytren's! Didn't even need to go see a doctor! Thanks!

Reply

Hbar
Hbar
2 weeks ago
0

Glad it was helpful. Hopefully yours stays in the mildly-annoying-bump phase, and doesn't go into the contracture phase, where range of motion is significantly compromised. The remedies for that look not too fun.

You're right, this is a great forum--I would likely not have bothered to share elsewhere

Reply

TerryP
TerryP
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Chad K

I've used GE1s for many years and they're my go to grips, but I might pick up a set of GA3s to compare.

Reply

cxfahrer
cxfahrer
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Grips. I have numb hands sometimes on long seated rides, but I would never change them to ergo grips for when it gets technical. I hate thick grips, or when they feel bulky on the edge. Ergon GE1 broke the first time the bike fell over. 

I liked the Lizard Skins McCaskill very much - thin, grippy, nice. SDG SThrice are my favorites now (or similar SDG), the slight bulge at the end is enough support for my wrists.

Grips are a very personal thing, though - I never had serious trouble with hands or elbows.

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

If H.R. Giger rode a bike, it would come with SQlab 710 grips.

For the more aesthetically acceptable 711 there is also a glue-on version which should provide even more cushioning. No groves for wires, though.

Reply

roil
roil
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Timer

I have both versions of the 711. The 711 R (push-on) actually use a much firmer rubber than the 711 (lock-ons). I was surprised by this as well. 

If you want serious cushioning, go with Wolf Tooth fat or mega paw grips.

Reply

wasatchenduro
WasatchEnduro
1 week, 4 days ago
0

I was converted to WT squishy grips several years ago but over time realized I had a tendency to grip harder because of the vague connection which exacerbated arm pump. 

Back on normal grips and linking the Deity Supracush. I’ll throw the GA3s back on soon as I remember them being pretty awesome.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Dave - have you tried bars with larger backsweeps?  Say a 12 or 16 degree backsweep?

Reply

sjc115
sjc115
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

A grip that I found works great is the WTB Padloc series.  Yes, you have to cut the handle bar to make it work, but it's an easy cut (I designed a 3D printed cutting guide, https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:428043). I have them mounted on 12 degree back sweep bars and found that to be a great combo.

The cushioning provided by the pad on the end helped my hand pain, and there is no wing to get in the way.  I have tried all the grips in your test (plus the super expensive Rev grips), but for me and my hands, these WTB's worked the best.  YMMV.

This is the version of the Padloc that I like the best: https://global.pivotcycles.com/collections/part-1/products/phoenix-team-padloc

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

I came to Ergon grips way back when they first started, they were an eye opener, they were masive, used the ones with the smaller bar ends and wings and didn't care if anyone thought they looked goofy. Then they started to refine them for racing etc and I moved to the smaller ones with less wing and bar end and thought they were great, never had any real trouble on tech stuff, but didn't realise that I hadn't even really started to push the tech riding boundaries compared to what I ride now and on what type of bike. I also realised that when doing one of my favourite things, tech climbing, that you actually didn't use the bars ends because you needed your finger son the brakes in case you needed a quick brake check, pause and realignment, so went to regular GE1s IIRC.

When the GA3 came out I thought great, just that little bit of wing to give support, but not enough to stop my hand from properly wrapping all the way around the grip for those steep, gnarly times, so I ordered a set. They went on the bike, did one easy ride and they came off, the wings felt like soft noodles, like they needed a little blue pill, no support, just annoying and so I got rid  of them ASAP. Also, on the OG version, the bar plug was an essential part of the grip and provided end support for the grip, but it was designed for the avg bar, not super thin 7075, very thin walled ones and so didn't stay in mine very well at all. I moved to the GA2 because it was a bit thicker than the GE1, which I thought was a bit thin for me.

Few years later I gave some nice, chunky, Oury grips a try and fell in love, loved the extra girth, didn't have to try so hard to close my hand to get proper grip, they were nice and soft and comfy without gloves, excellent grip. Then I decided to try a bar with much more back sweep about 6 years ago and that really helped a lot with wrist pain on more pedally type rides where you weren't in the attack position as much. So now I used either the new Oury single clamp lock ons or the GA2 Fat grips, or some OG ODIs.

Would  love to try the SQ Lab 710 or even the 70X as I already use the 30X 16 degree sweep bar and absolutely love it, but unless I happen to find someone who has a set to try or someone gives me a set, I think I'm done spending money on stuff I really don't need as my current grips work fine and find that more times than not if I get any hand pain its because I've been messing with seatpost  or saddles and haven't got the saddle exactly to the correct tilt so as to not put weight on my hands.

Reply

SteveR
SteveR
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Numb hands were becoming a problem on xc rides a few years ago (age?) so I started experimenting. A bit more sweep, adjusting roll, and cutting the 800's down to 760 (less bar strikes too!) helped, but switching out my long favoured Oury's to a generic copy of the SQ Lab 711 last summer made even more of a difference. Which led to Ergon GA 3's for this season. Yes!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Good database here Dave. I've been suffering from pain on finger 3 and 4s on long, hard rides. Mostly since my switch to a heavily damped fork. Rev grips did nothing, if not made things worse. Ourys are great but a summer only option as they don't work with thicker gloves.

Back to the GE1 Slims i went. Much better but with room for improvement. 

If i could get L2P to actually stock Ergon stuff, id try the GE1 Factory with stickier rubber. 

Did you find the wings help with hand cramps!

Reply

davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

I didn't want to make this too much about my particular injuries, but that's probably some context that would have helped.

Years ago, I suffered from hand cramping.  Only in the bike park though.  My whole lower arm would go numb.  I went to physio, and it was due to my hand collapsing onto some tendons when I rode.  Physio gave me some pretty basic hand/thumb exercises and that made all of the difference.  My hands don't bother me when I ride any longer, but I seldom ride park any more.

For me, it's two things.  One, I have really pokey elbows and I hit them on things all the time.  At times, they get aggravated while riding.  I'd say this is my biggest problem, and I find that these grips, mostly the winged ones, but some of the others, really help with this.  Why?  I'm going with better wrist support keeping things lined up a little bit better.

My other issue is that I jammed my wrist playing ball hockey many years ago.  Again, every once in awhile this gets aggravated again, and it becomes really painful to ride.  These grips have made all the difference for that.

Will it help with hand pain?  I'd think some of them could.  SQLab in particular seems all about filling in all the little spaces in your hands that most grips don't, which I would think could eliminate some stress points.  Everybody is a bit different, which is why I wanted to more explain what each grip did best (in my opinion).

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

I’m using the Ergon GD1 on my hardtail and full suspension bike in the larger diameter. Back in the day I used slim grips because Tomac did. With rigid forks or those 50 mm travel forks my hands would hurt from that child sized grip pounding into my hand. Oury grips were much better. Not so much from the extra cushion but from the larger diameter spreading the force out. Now I always look for the diameter of a grip. 34 ish seems to be a sweet spot for me. My hands wear a medium or size 8 glove usually. I figure as well if the grip is really grippy, you don’t need to death grip the thing which is way easier on the hands and forearms. Oddly enough yesterday I was concentrating on what I did with hands during my ride. I really do have a light grip most of the time. And my hands move a bit cornering flat turns. I kind of rotate the outside hand. 

I always wear gloves too. Thin ones with no palm padding. 

I’ve used a few ergonomic grips but never the ones with the larger palm flare. Sometimes in spring my elbows hurt a bit after rides but never during rides. That pain was related to snow shovelling. I think lots of times hand and elbow pain and shoulder and neck issues too are from poor bike set up. Steep seat tube angles with low stack. People want to slam the stem and run 25mm rise bars for looks but steep sa will require a more upright stance usually. One grip I liked was one made by PRO. But it was more difficult to set up as I found where it was rotation wise was quite sensitive. 

Great review by the way. Gives one food for thought.

Reply

roil
roil
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

I have the sqlab 711s. Is the rubber on the 70x the same, softer or harder? Thanks!

Reply

davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 roil

The textures and thicknesses are quite different, so it's hard to say with absolute certainty.  But the smooth bits feel pretty similar when you rub your thumb over them, and have a similar softness.  I would guess they are made of the same material.

Reply

roil
roil
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Thanks for the insight!

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

I have tried most of these.

The small, flexible wing shaped grips, like GA3 or older Specialized ones of similar design worked well for comfort, but bothered me on technical trails, because I can not rotate my hand back.

I loved the teardrop cross section and soft rubber (due to minimal and cutout lock on sleeve) of the 711. I really didn’t like flared end though. I want less, not more diameter pushing up on the outside of the  grip.

The GE1 has always worked pretty well, but I wish it had the short, cutout plastic sleeve of the 711 and others. Especially if you get the thin grip, there just isn’t that much rubber to cushion you.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Thanks for the deep dive. I think the two reasons I've shied away from ergo grips are 1) assuming they wouldn't work for MTB, and 2) not understanding the features. I still find it tricky to predict how my hands will get along with a new 'standard' grip.

So this is really helpful and may facilitate some future experimentation for me.

Reply

brad-sedola
Brad Sedola
2 weeks ago
0

Is it the demographic of the readers? I too am of the age to have accumulated several injuries over the years that contribute to numb hands/feet. I have the SQ Lab 16 deg bars and the Ergon GA3 on my mtb bike. They worked well until the most recent injury of sprained/jammed wrists and fractured radial head on my right arm 2 years ago. Flat bars with any grips gave me such pain during recovery, I bought a gravel bike so I could continue riding. Curvy bars with slanted hoods, drops and flats provided enough variety to keep the numbness and pain away. The change of seasons is going to get me away from riding 1.7" tires on my favorite trails back to my regular mountain bike. No doubt in my mind I wouldn't be able to handle the stock 9 deg sweep, lock on grip setup.

Reply

Marcky
Marcky
1 week, 4 days ago
0

Using exactly the same set-up here. SQLab 30x 16deg and Ergon GA3. I can ride all day long without hand or wrist problems. Regular bars and round grips stop me from riding after an hour.

Reply

Sethimus
Sethimus
1 week, 6 days ago
0

7ox /w 3ox 12°!

Reply

Sethsg
Sethsg
1 week, 4 days ago
0

I do find that ergo grips are super comfortable. The only problem is the wide flat section when the grip has only one clamp because it applies more leverage, so when you go off a jump they can twist which is not exactly helpful.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.