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Interbike 2013: Ergon Bike Ergonomics

We had a chance to swing by the Ergon booth while we were in Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at some of their new offerings, shall we?

First off, Ergon has greatly expanded their saddle line…with saddles for road and mountain and disciplines in between, there’s one for every butt out there! The new road saddles (SR3 series), new cyclocross saddles (SRX3 series), and enduro-racing saddles (SME3 series) were getting all the attention. I had the chance to test-ride one of the very first SR3 saddles in the U.S., and I can say it was VERY comfortable for a racing saddle.

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There were plenty of grips to choose from…ergonomic styles in rubber, cork, and the really stylish leather ones, a collaboration between Ergon and luxury cycling shoes maker Quoc Pham:

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Ergon has expanded its range of backpacks, too. While these were developed for the mountain bike/marathon bike market, they serve admirably in a commuter capacity. You may remember that we have a BX4 pack on test right now (review coming soon):

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Of great interest was the display of products from Phorm, a subsidiary of Ergon’s parent company (RTI Sports). Using ergonomic and comfort features developed for Ergon, Phorm is aimed at the recreation/urban/commuter market with a wide range of saddles and grips:

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Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Review: Ergon GP1 BioKork Grips

As a member of the 2011 Ergon Commuter Team, I am in a somewhat unique position to be able to test some of Ergon’s products in real-world bike commuting conditions. As you may recall, we have reviewed some of Ergon’s products before, and I’ve been a user of their GP1 grips since the birth of my Xtracycle a couple years ago.

The first product I got my hands on was the GP1 “BioKork” grip set, part of Ergon’s Performance Comfort Series of grips:

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From Ergon USA’s site:

The GP1 BioKork uses 40% cork, sourced from sustainable forests in Portugal which is certified for its ecologically sound production. This ecological theme is continued throughout the rest of the grip.

The inner core is plastic reinforced using natural fibre, which make up 40% of its mass. In place of mineral oil, the gel in the palm section of the grip is vegetable oil based.

The clamp can also be 100% recycled. It is all a result of Ergon’s “GreenLab” initiative.

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The barend plugs are natural-fiber reinforced plastic, too. Nice! Even better, the folks at Ergon have listened to the complaints about their packaging — what used to be an abomination of unrecycleable plastic display packaging is now made from recycled/recycleable cardboard. Bravo, Ergon…that GreenLab initiative is good stuff!

Time to replace my weatherbeaten old GP1s…they served me well, but they were way past their prime. 2+ years in the Florida elements ate them alive:

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Installation is a breeze. The GP1s slip right on and are held in place by a simple aluminum clamp torqued to a max of 5nm. They don’t slip or throttle once the clamps are snugged down, and no additional glue or lube is needed to get them on/keep them on.

The new grips feel the same — same size and shape as the old GP1s, and are supremely comfortable. This is purely a perception, but the cork material “feels” a bit warmer than the old grips. Perhaps that is because it has been cold and rainy in my new home of Dayton, Ohio. Got to say also that the new BioKork grips add a certain elegance to my otherwise mongrel of an Xtra:

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The GP1 grips come in both small and large sizes. I have giant hands and really long fingers, so the large size suits me better. Oh, did I mention how comfortable ergonomic grips are? If you play with the angle until they feel right, they are pretty amazing. Chalk up another win for Ergon!

To check out more of Ergon’s product offerings, take a swing over to their website. And, stay tuned for more product sneak peaks and reviews in the coming months.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Upcoming Product Reviews and Features

We’ve got a few new products to review from our crew’s recent trip to Sea Otter: a couple items from the good folks at Cycleaware including their “HotRod” MTB handlebar light —

Cycleaware HotRod

and their “Heads Up” eyeglass mirror —

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In addition, we’ve got a really cool new pair of “Oasis” sunglasses to show off by Ryders Eyewear

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and a voluminous messenger bag/laptop sleeve combo by the folks at Banjo Brothers

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Finally, in the next few days I will be posting the results of my long-term test of the Seattle Sports Fast Pack waterproof pannier. For right now, let me just say that this thing is bombproof. Also, I will be posting a “final thoughts” article on the Ergon BD-1 backpack that we’ve been testing.

So, stay tuned…lots of useful goodies and information coming your way!

Ergon BD-1 Backpack — First Impression

Our friends at Ergon Bike Ergonomics recently sent us a backpack to check out. This model is called the BD-1M “Team Edition” backpack, and it is sleek and packed with features.

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Originally, RL was slated to test this backpack…but with his husky, macho physique, the harness system was a bit too snug. We needed someone willowy and narrow to test this bag, so the duty fell to me. As it turns out, the system is just a hair too BIG for me, but I got the bag’s straps and buckles adjusted to the point that everything worked out in the end. Phew!

Let’s get something straight right here at the beginning — Ergon does NOT market this bag as a commuter-specific backpack. In fact, it’s intended for the MTB crowd…a bag that can carry a hydration bladder, some tools, snacks and a jacket. At only 12 liters (730 cubic inches or so), it is not designed to carry a huge load. That being said, it does what it is intended to do splendidly!

Anyhow, on to the bag itself: It’s made of black and pea-green woven nylon, with a very visible hard plastic “exoskeleton” that gives it shape and forms the suspension components of the bag. All of the harness parts (shoulder straps, back pad, hip belt and sternum straps) are attached to the exoskeleton. The back panel adjusts using a simple hex screw and nut to fit a range of backs…I have it set to the “small” setting.

Here’s a shot of the harness and adjustable back panel:
Harness and back panel

Not visible is Ergon’s flexible link or “Flink” — a plastic sphere right behind the adjusting screw of the back panel that separates the bag itself from the harness system. This “Flink” allows the bag to pivot both up and down and side-to-side with the rider, staying balanced between the shoulder blades no matter what the load.

From the side, the “Flink” is a bit more visible. It’s that green object right between my shoulder blades:
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The bag hugs the rider’s back, yet lets a surprising amount of air to flow between bag and rider. The padded portions of the hip belt and shoulder straps are lined with mesh to let additional airflow in.

Did I mention that this bag is packed with features? It’s got a pocket for a hydration bladder inside, slots and hook-and-loop straps to control the bladder’s hose, a zippered outside pocket, a zippered inside pocket and another small open pocket on the inside of the bag. The folks at Ergon went the extra mile and included an ingenious raincover, too! At the inner base of the bag is a little “garage” for the raincover:

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Tear open the hook-and-loop strip and deploy the raincover — it stretches right over the body of the bag:

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Ergon even included a built-in emergency whistle, which is molded into the buckle of the sternum strap. Amazing!

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Well, how does this thing ride? I took it on one commuting trip to work — loaded down with two 500ml bottles of soda, a bulky hardcover book (Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War by 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson), a work shirt and assorted tools, tubes and small items. It was a tight squeeze…and God forbid if you had to get something at the very bottom of the bag. The narrowness of the interior compartment and the overall small volume means that you must unpack everything to get at goodies in the bottom of the bag.

Even with this load (maybe 15 lbs.?), the bag felt weightless once I got the straps snugged up. The padded hipbelt soaks up the most of the weight, and the shoulder and sternum straps serve to stabilize things. I felt FAST wearing this bag, and I never once worried about the bag shifting while I cornered or got out of the saddle to do some sprinting. Pretty cool so far!

In the coming weeks, I will test the waterproofness of the raincover, check the durability of this bag and offer further thoughts about the performance and balance of this system. Stay tuned for all of that.