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With my half of 24 hours worth of racing- to say nothing of hundreds of hours of training- on the table, I was excited when Ergon’s Jeff Kerkove suggested that we give the company’s technically-oriented GA1 Leichtbau ergonomic grips and matching HA2 gloves a try. With Jeff himself no stranger to long rides and given the grips’ popularity among New Mexico’s endurance racing set, I though that Ergon might be on to something. Weird or wonderful? Pass the break and start another lap to find out!
Why the GA1 grips over the company’s more recognizable winged GS1s or GX1s? When I first tried Ergon‘s GS1s, everything went fine until I hit technical terrain. With the large wing, I just never felt as secure or as in control of my bike as with tradtional grips. For fire road epics, sure- but the last thing that an exhausted rider needs is to lose control of their bike in a mildly techy section. Designed to provide similar comfort but more control during technical trail or downhill riding, the GA1s sounded like a good option.
Joining their grips last year is Ergon’s glove series. The HA2, with its extensive silicone printing, heavy-ish fabrics, and Kevlar palm guard, is listed as an “all mountain” glove. The heavier materials also make it a great cool weather alternative to Ergon’s more race-oriented glove, perfect for our November-February training and racing period.
Mounting the GA1 Leichtbau grips to our Project 24.2 bike’s Ritchey WCS carbon bars was uneventful. The grips have handy markings that help orient things and the single clamp at the outside of the bar is marked with a recommended torque value. Though I did rotate the grips forward and back during our four months together, the neutral position seemed to work best for me. The grips never slipped and my only complaint is that the rest of the grip (everything inboard of the clamp) seemed a bit loose and took on some bar-scratching dust. More a cosmetic issue than anything else- and it keeps installation and removal easy.
The 144g (large) GA1 Leichtbau grips use Direct Contact rubber to save 15g per pair over the non-Leichtbau GA1s and provide “enhanced rebound and damping.” At $35, they cost $5 more and are available in the same black, white, and the tested Team Edition green. To my surprise, the Direct Contact rubber is showing virtually zero wear after hundreds of miles- which goes some way to justify their cost.
The HA2s are an interesting creature. With sizing well on the small size (size up if you have any questions), I found myself arriving home with aching knuckles after each ride in my usual large size. After passing the larges on to our guy Alex and trading up to XLs, things got much better. The HA2s’ padding is well thought out and works very well with the GA1 grips- the only finger numbness I suffered was during an 8hr gravel ride, which could have been the result of a heavy pack cutting off blood flow.
In the context of 40-50 degree days, the HA2s worked well with both Ergon and other grips, providing plenty of control and comfort despite a bit of excess material in the palms. Both Alex and I thought that the finger length/hand circumference balance was off and that, for a given size, either the palm should be made snugger or the fingers longer. The extensive (and not terribly breathable) silicone printing and use of neoprene at the cuff did make the HA2s uncomfortably warm when working hard above much 50 degrees- there’s little chance that these will see much summer use at all. Though I appreciated the ability to wear the HA2s in place of insulated spring/fall gloves, Ergon’s more race-oriented HX2s would probably be a better choice for year ’round use.
The other major issue we experienced with the $45 HA2s was inconsistent quality. While my XLs have held up well, trim started failing on the large samples within a couple of weeks and they have continued to wear at an alarming rate. All companies can suffer from a bad batch from time to time- anyone who ends up with a bad pair should be able to contact Ergon for a replacement.
After several months of training and racing, I can say that Ergon really has done a good job with the ergonomic aspects of both the GA1 Leichtbau grips and HA2 gloves. As a system, they’re noticeably more comfortable than either piece paired with a competitor’s model. The GA1s are the first clamp-on grips that I have found comfortable for long rides- a surprise given their dense padding. For riders sold on clamp-ons’ security, the GA1s are a the first grips I’ve found that approach full-rubber grips’ comfort.
The HA2s, on the other hand, need some work. The fit is just a bit off in the palm and they’re just too hot for summer use. For a trail glove, the lack of even a small amount of knuckle protection (something even the HX2 looks to have) seems like a major oversight as well. Setting the large pair’s disintegration as an outlier, I’d recommend looking elsewhere in the Ergon range- the potential really is there for a solid system.