Grips on the cheap
Peter Eland tries out some
cheaper alternatives to
the Ergon grips.
AS you’ll have read last issue, Ergon grips are a particular favourite of mine. But at retail prices of around (or over) £20 a pair, handlebar set-ups like that on my touring tandem can get pricey. Second-hand bargains may help on occasion, but could there be a cheaper alternative? I came up with a mixed bag. Several dealers sell so-called ergonomic grips, but most don’t offer anywhere near the level of palm support of the Ergons. And of those that do, most are the traditional push-on sort which rely on friction to hold them in place, rather than using a positive locking system. These can still be good – like the ones on the S-300 reviewed this issue – but I really wanted the locking feature, mainly to make removal and refi tting easier. Eventually I found two likely candidates on (where else) Ebay. Just search for ‘Ergonomic grips’. One pair was £9.99 plus postage, the other £11.99. But as you’ll see from the pictures, the two pairs were close to identical. One was labelled BBB Ergofi x, and the other Velo Vice
Grips, but I’d be astonished if they didn’t come from the same factory in Taiwan. The only difference is the pattern of the rubber. They lock on, not with a clamp system like the Ergons, but via two Allen keys which screw in straight towards the handlebar, compressing a protective metal strip so they don’t actually mark the bars. It doesn’t seem as nice engineering-wise, but once done up they’re solidly in place, and they remove easily too. And the ride? Well, they’re not bad, and they certainly make fl at bars much more bearable. I don’t think they offer quite the same level of palm support as the Ergons, but it’s close. But one annoying niggle is the hard plastic shell on the outside edge of the grip – it can dig in to the edge of your hand at times. Another thing to note about these is that there isn’t a short version for people who use gripshifts – so you’ll have to cut them down yourself if necessary. A hacksaw should do the trick, but the result may not be as neat as you’d like. But for a town bike I’d say they’re perfectly adequate, and you may as well pocket the saving! For longer tours or off-roading the Ergons may still be worth the difference.
The BBB Ergofi x grips (above) and Velo Vice Grips (top) installed on a tandem. They're good, if not quite up to Ergon standards.
As we go to press I’ve just discovered another candidate – the 2008 Specialised BG Comfort Lockon grips, above. At £9 or less a pair they’re even cheaper, and should be available via many local bike shops, too. I’ll order a pair and report back!
ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008 VELOVISION