Words By: Colin Reed
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: grips are a personal preference. We’re all people with different sized and shaped hands, so what might work for my meaty paws might not work for your dainty claws. With that being said, there are options within each segment of mountain biking that will suit people differently. Today, we’re going to take a look at two different grips that live mostly in the downhill and enduro worlds. The Ergon GD1 Evo Factory and the ODI AG-2 are two similar, yet different grips meant to tackle rougher courses and longer descents. They both place an emphasis on grip over weight, they both lock-on, and they both provide more grip than you’ll find on XC-oriented designs, but the ways they accomplish these tasks are different. My goal here isn’t to convince you that one is better than the other, but rather to lay out the facts, maybe give a little opinion, but then ultimately let you decide which one would be a better fit on your long-travel rig.
The GD1 is Ergon’s first official foray into the gravity oriented world and I will say they nailed it on their first try. They took advice from their pro downhill riders and created a grip that will certainly appeal to people who love rocketing downhill. The GD1 features a tapered shape that helps cradle your handle into a more secure position, a high-tensile clamp on the inside to prevent rotating, interchangeable end-plugs for those inevitable crashes, and ridges on the top to provide maximum grip. There is also extra rubber where your hands are going to feel the most trail feedback to help lessen hand-pump, which is a massive plus. It goes for $39.95, which isn’t the cheapest grip you’ll find, but I’m willing to bet you won’t find a grip that has as much engineering in it as this.
In case you weren’t aware, the AG in AG-2 stands for Aaron Gwin. That’s right, the guy who has more World Cup wins than you can count on two hands designed a grip. ODI has been in the grip game for a long time now, but they’re smart people and they knew that if Aaron Gwin had something to say about a grip, they should listen. The AG-2 is the second iteration of the original design, but it builds upon a successful grip to begin with. The rubber padding is a little thicker than you might find on most grips, the compound is mega-soft, the surface pattern is designed to provide more grip and more vibration dampening, and unique ribs run parallel to the grip to add a little extra mechanical traction. They go for $35.00 a pop, which is well worth it when you consider whose design you’re buying.
So both grips are meant for downhill and enduro, both are designed with pro rider input, and both try to maximize grip as much as they can, so which one is right for you? I’ve ridden both of these grips and they are indeed different. The way that Ergon tries to enhance grip is mostly through the ridges on their grip. The GD1's have some interesting ridges running parallel along the grip that produce grip when you twist on it. Think cat tongue here; when you’re not pulling on the grips, you won’t feel much, but twist and suddenly the grooves hook into your gloves (or hands, if you’re crazy like that). The AG-2's feel like they try to get a little more grip through their soft compound. Yes, the ODI's have the ribs, but it doesn’t quite produce as much traction as the GD1 grooves. Overall, I say the Ergon's have the slight edge when pulling hard on your bars, but the ODI's have more grip as a baseline.
As far as grip shape goes, the GD1's have a nice profile that gently convinces your hands to fall into place. This is nice and comfortable and keeps your hands more towards the insides of your bars. The AG-2's on the other hand (see what I did there?), tend to be flatter throughout the grip until the end, which has added rubber to prevent your hand from sliding off during some dramatic leaning. The ODI grips definitely rely on their comfortable compound to help keep your hands in place here.
There are a bunch of other, smaller differences between the two grips, such as an inner flange, overall pattern, end caps, and compound choice. So which one do you choose? Obviously this is your decision, because like I said up top, grips are incredibly personal choices. But here’s what I’ll say: if you want maximum grip while going downhill, go with the GD1's and if you want more overall comfort while still getting more than enough grip, go with the AG-2's. Both Ergon and ODI absolutely crushed it when they designed their downhill and enduro oriented grips. Either way you go, you’ll have something that helps you grab on to your bars better than anything else short of glue.