Right off the bat, I will tell you that I had never heard of Ekrin Athletics when they reached out to me to review the Bantam, their new mini-massage gun. My initial reaction was not to review it, but then I thought that you all probably use a massage gun of some sort, as I do, and maybe this is a nice device. So I said yes to the review request. Plus my latest Amazon special massage gun had just given up the ghost a few weeks earlier.
We who ride the bicycle know that muscle recovery is important, and I am not a stranger to the benefits that a massage gun can offer. But, I didn’t know that much about Ekrin Athletics, so I did a lil’ homework to get familiar with the company.
According to the Ekrin website, they have a lot of professional athletes using their products, from the WMBA, and NHL, to the NFL. I didn’t see any cyclists though, which I felt was a little surprising.
Do massage guns work? They seem to, I’ve personally found benefits while using a massage gun after both long rides and rides with big efforts. I even use the gun on the no-ride days that fall between the riding days. I use it on my back and neck as well. It works well, and I am a proponent of the tech.
But, let’s talk a little bit about percussive therapy.
Some Thoughts from UCLA Health
According to UCLA Health, percussive therapy, which is also called percussive massage, uses “rapid and repetitive pressure combined with vibration therapy. The massage head moves quickly and forcefully, applying pressure directly to your soft tissue, while the vibrations engage the outer layer of skin”.
A good massage has been proven to help with stress reduction, easing pain, and improving circulation, says UCLA Health. But, not everyone can afford or has the time to partake in a professional-level massage. For this reason, a massage gun is a great “DIY” alternative. But before purchasing one, UCLA Health suggests the following features to consider:
- Speeds: More options give the gun versatility.
- Weight: Since you could be holding the gun for up to 10mins, they suggest a gun falls in the 2 to 4 lbs range.
- Noise: This may affect where you use it and how “relaxing” the experience is.
- Battery: How long the battery lasts between charges can affect whether it’s ready to use when you need it.
Benefits of Percussive Therapy
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the benefits of percussive therapy. Some of the gains you achieve are just good for your overall health. Contrary to what you may think, I am not a medical professional, and I won’t be doing a super deep dive into the full medical benefits of percussive therapy, I will however list a few that UCLA Health mentions:
- Improved mobility – Stiff necks, sore back or aching muscles may be due to fascia, layers of tissue and fluid that can surround and stabilize your bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels can lead to limited mobility. The repeated pressure at high speeds of percussive therapy thins and distributes the thickened fascia fluid helping your muscles move easier.
- Reduced post-exercise soreness – Lacitic acid builds up in muscles after exercise which causes pain and soreness. A massage gun’s percussion forces the muscle fibers to release lactic acid reducing the soreness you’ll feel.
- Decreased delayed onset muscle soreness – The pain and soreness that we feel 24 to 72 hours after doing a new exercise, or unfamiliar physical activity like moving or lifting something heavy is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) resulting from tiny muscle fiber tears. Research has shown that vibration therapy increases skin temperature, blood flow, and hormonal response to reduce inflammation and pain associated with DOMS.
To summarize… it is safe to use a massage gun, before a workout, after a workout, or whenever you have muscle tension or stress. UCLA Health does say that if you are suffering from ongoing muscle soreness or stiffness, reach out to your primary care physician.
On with the Review Already
Being the lil’ bro to the B37, the Ekrin Bantam massage gun is the smallest, most compact massage gun that they offer, weighing in at a little under 500g (1.1lbs)… half the weight of the bigger B37.
On top of being lightweight, it’s really compact and easy to use. The carrying case is small measuring 7.5″ x 7.5″. Being lightweight, the Bantam made for an ideal on-the-go massage companion… although I haven’t had a reason to use it like that very much. But the times that I did travel with it, it packed away nicely in my suitcase.
It’s even small enough to actually fit (without the case) in my wife’s purse with zero problems. It’s really small and light enough to take with you on a long bike tour or bikepacking adventure if that suits your needs. Backpacks and gym bags would also be a perfect match for the Bantam.
When it comes to dealing with my pre/post-ride muscle routines, I usually rely on stretching to relieve any muscle aches, but I’ve used the Bantam quite a bit in the last 8 months since receiving it, and that’s changed the game a little. And after actually reading about the benefits of percussive therapy, I’m going to be using the Bantam much more often and on a regular basis.
Right away I noticed that despite its small stature, the Bantam packs way more “punch” than my Amazon special, which was almost twice the size. With its quiet motor, quality build, and rubberized grip area, the Bantam is easy and relaxing to use.
It came with four attachments:
- Flat (silicone): For overall use
- Bullet: Pinpoint usage for hands, feet, and knots
- Round (silicone): Low impact for treating sensitive and sore areas
- Fork: Designed to treat spine and neck
These attachments quickly and easily can be pulled from or snapped into the gun without the need for tools or any real effort. It also uses a USB Type-C charging cord making it easy to charge anywhere. Erkin says they use a premium lithium-ion battery and claims a 6-hour battery life.
I can attest to the 6-hour battery life claim, as the battery in my Bantam lasts a very long time between charges. The power didn’t fade while I used it two or three times a week for weeks at a time without having to charge it. However, it does have a convenient indicator light on the bottom of the gun, that will let you know when it needs to be charged and when it’s done charging.
The Bantam uses a redesigned brushless motor that has three speeds, low (2000 rpm), medium (2600 rpm), and high (3200 rpm). I found all three speeds to be the perfect amount for me. All three of the speeds were useful, and I found it easy to find the right speed for the task at hand. In contrast, when compared to my Amazon special gun’s 5 speeds, where basically only two of its speeds were useful.
Ekrin Athletics Bantam Features and Retail
Retail: $150 (free shipping)
- Compact Design
- USB Charger
- 4 Attachments
- 6 Hour battery life
- Slim, Easy-Grip handle
- Three speeds (2000 to 3200 rpm)
- Travel case included
- Ultra Lightweight (1.1pounds)
I am a firm believer in the benefits of percussive therapy, I have been using and enjoying the results of massage guns for the better part of three years. The Erkin Bantam is the best one I’ve used. I love that it’s so small and can go anywhere I may need to bring it. Its power is unmatched when compared to the other massage guns I’ve used. It doesn’t bog down when applying a lot of pressure to trouble areas. It’s a great little massage gun that’s not terribly expensive and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone in the market. Its lightweight, and quality build will no doubt last a long time.
Check out Ekrin’s other massage gun options and accessories below.