I love new stuff as much as Navin. I love new stuff that makes my life more comfortable and easier to navigate.
Part of the preparation leading up to racing "the most difficult mountain bike race in the world" is testing and retesting gear. Riding a bike for that amount of distance is all about finding out what works for you and your body. It is simple kinetics. When riding a bicycle, there are five points of contact between your bike and your body: left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot, and finally, your whole ass.
I recently made a significant upgrade to one of the contact points - my hands (no, I didn't replace THOSE!). On any ride, your hands (and subsequently your forearms, upper arms, and shoulders) will receive a tremendous beating. Hell, you're on a mountain bike on an uneven surface jutting against rocks, trees, roots, and other miscellaneous obstacles. What else would you expect? Most cyclists wear padded gloves to help absorb the pounding and most MB riders have front suspension forks that suck up most of the bone jarring force coming at you. What many riders don't factor in, however, is the impact that a good, ergonomically-correct set of grips can have on a long distance ride. I am a testifier to both the before and after.
The before was the stock Kona grips that came with my bike. I always had intentions to change them out, but without the impetus of longer rides to do it, the replacement was delayed...until after my Paris ride. I noticed after that ride that my hands really started to tighten up and in certain places go numb; which is condusive to repeated trauma. The type of trauma that can be the result of poor ergonomics on a long ride. Think about it. Over 50 km, your hand position is likely to change at least 100 times because your body is simply not meant to be static. Your brain says "this isn't working" and makes adjustments. Over a long ride, this is done countless times. So, how do you fix it?
I had read some reviews about the grips from Ergon and as such, checked out the different models that were available. Ergon is a German manufacturer that specializes in saddles, grips, pedals, gloves, and backpacks - all with the common goal being to make your ride that much more comfortable. After checking out the numerous permutations that Ergon had, I decided to try the GP2, which from what the company states, is the replacement to one of their best-sellers - the GC2.
This grip is fantastic. There, I said it. I had the opportunity to test these puppies out on my latest ride to Erin and with a bit of tweaking, they made a world of difference. The rubberized palm pad allowed me to change my arm angle and rest my palm with my fingers of the grip and bore most of the jolts from the uneven surface. It allowed me to control the bike without actually gripping the bar (sometimes relaxing your "grip" muscles can do a world of good). The 2" bar end also enabled me to suppenate my wrists for when I had to climb, or simply when I wanted to coast along a trail for a bit' this being typical of most bar ends, but due to the short nature of the stubs, I was able to get my entire hand around the tip comfortably. This rotation in the angle took alot of pressure off my shoulders. The angle of the bar end is adjustable depending on one's preference, simply by turning the hex bolt on the underside.
The proof was in the pudding for these grips as I firmly believe that I was able to complete my ride due to their installation. Though who ride more technical terrain might choose to go with the bar end-free models like the GP1 or the GP1 Biokork. However, I highly suggest that all riders evaluate the types of grips your own...and the Ergon brand is synonymous with comfort. All in all, you might think that grips are the least sexy part of a bike, but on a long slog, a good set of grips can make or break your ride. In my case, they make me want to ride alot more.