Years ago when Ergon grips started showing up on the rigs of all the local endurance racers, I must admit, I wasn’t all that interested. Sure, they looked like they were quality grips with good design, but I never really liked the feel of the big ergonomic grips on my bike. Eventually I was convinced to buy one of the first pairs of the GA1s. Their rounded shape promised better feel for technical riding, but truthfully they didn’t stay on my bike for long.
Thankfully, the GE1 is worlds apart from that first GA1 (which is also now much improved with the new GA1 Evo). Hailed as the company’s first “enduro” specific grip, the round but still very ergonomic grip looked great on paper and turns out to be just as good in real life. As a company that focuses on your body’s points of contact with the bike, Ergon also offers a full range of saddles which could redefine your perception of comfort….
Just what makes an “enduro” grip? For starters, it’s all in the hand positioning. Enduro bikes in this case should probably include most trail and all mountain bikes – anything running a shorter stem and wider bars. This usually corresponds to riders in an aggressive position with their elbows bent, hands on the very end of the grips, and likely single finger braking.
While the GE1 may not look like a super ergonomic grip, it is shaped to perfectly fit the hands in that position. Because of that it’s important to follow the instructions when installing the grip – there is a left and right. Once the basic positioning is achieved, you can adjust how they feel by rotating the grips fore or aft using the tick marks as indicators. It’s hard to make out in photos, but one of my favorite features of the grip is a small ridge where each index finger would rest. When really charging climbs I found myself pulling on the ridge with my fingers. How much it actually helps is debatable, but it feels great.
All of my used grips usually have the same wear pattern which is a worn out grip at the very end while the rest of the grip looks fairly new. How little the GE1s are worn out at the end of a season, to me, is a testament to the design. Even though the grips use a real, natural rubber, they seem like they will outlast most other grips by far.
One of the drawbacks to lock on grips has always been the inner structure needed to keep them from twisting on the bar. This usually means a hard plastic sleeve which the rubber grip is molded on top of. The GE1s also have a hard inner core, but there are generous windows where your hand will make the most contact. This results in the feel of a slip on grip, with the security of a lock on.
While we’re talking about lock on grips, Ergon gets credit for using a 3mm allen screw which is much less prone to stripping out than a 2.5mm.
Wide bars and closed end grips usually result in a lot of contact with trees and the ground when crashing, which was certainly the case with the Ergon GE1s. Fortunately, the hard plastic ends and rubber seem to be holding up admirably well. With other grips recently I’ve lost end caps/clamps or ripped them completely, so high marks here for Ergon.
The only spot you could really find a fault with the GE1 would be their weight at 120g per pair. However, you probably won’t find the same performance and durability from any grip much lighter. At 60g a piece I am more than happy to run them on my bike. Of course, Ergon recently announced the GE1 Slim as well which will probably be a bit lighter thanks to the slimmer profile. I should note that I’m usually a fan of very thin grips, but I have no problems with the diameter of the current GE1s.
At $34.95 they are on the more expensive end of grips, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re worth every penny. Now I just need more for my other bikes…
While I had some idea what to expect when going into the GE1 review, Ergon’s saddle line was another story. Historically, I haven’t been that picky when it comes to saddles but after riding the SME3 Pro Carbon, that may change. Again billed as an Enduro specific product, the SME3 line is designed shorter, with more padding on the nose, and is fairly flat. All good things for moving around on the bike without catching your baggies.
Whether it’s the design of the saddle with the center relief, or the construction Ergon uses with high end orthopedic foam that is CNC’d for a precise fit and better long term durability, this is probably the most comfortable mountain bike saddle I have ridden. It just feels right.
This is the top of the line Enduro saddle from Ergon, but the good news for anyone on a budget is that the comfort should be the same down the line to the base model SME3, just a bit heavier. All SME3 saddles are available in two widths, small and medium, with the medium tested here. I think at 5’8″ I’m probably right on the edge for the sizes, but the medium seems to fit great.
The SME3 Pro saddle will gain you a light weight carbon shell and full carbon rails which will result in a weight under 200g. The saddle above was a preproduction sample, and the production model checks out at 195g.
For the gram counters out there who aren’t hard on their saddles, the $199.95 SME3 Pro Carbon saddle makes an awesome addition to your mountain bike. With that said, based on our experience with the saddle shape and comfort in general, any of the SME3 models come highly recommended.