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Though many people are fully offered on bikepacking with flat bars, they’ve one main downside in comparison with their curvy counterparts: a scarcity of other hand positions. Discover our mini information to fashionable options to this drawback right here, together with opinions of top-rated bar ends, thumb grips, and inside bar ends…
Drop bars or flat bars for bikepacking? It’s a query that haunts bikepackers everywhere in the world however sadly has no clear reply. All of it comes down to non-public choice, particularly on mixed-terrain routes, and there are numerous causes to decide on one over the opposite. Usually, people favor drop bars due to the varied hand positions they provide proper out of the field. There’s no want for ergonomic grips or add-ons, and being able to vary your hand place and stress factors will help alleviate numbness and discomfort on lengthy rides.
For these of us who spend the vast majority of our time driving extra conventional flat bars, there are different methods to combine issues up. Over the previous couple of months, I’ve been experimenting with just a few of the most well-liked handlebar equipment. From conventional bar ends to the newest in inside bar ends and thumb grips, every part is designed to vary up your hand place and is well-suited to bikepacking and lengthy rides. Discover a breakdown of the three classes under, adopted by a number of mini opinions of a few of the add-ons I examined.
Bar Ends (Inside and Outer)
Not simply reserved for 90s mountain bikes, bar ends are extensions that may be mounted on both aspect of the grips and positioned perpendicular to the bar. Whereas conventional bar ends had been virtually all the time steel and chunky, manufacturers like Ergon, Cane Creek, and SQlab have modified the sport with fashionable, rubberized choices that present another driving place, will help shift your weight ahead on lengthy climbs, aren’t obstructive whereas path driving, and typically provide an aerodynamic benefit.
Aero Bars and Grips
For bikepacking routes that comply with easy filth roads or sections of pavement, including an aero bar setup or aero grip is a good way to make a giant change to your driving place, typically taking the burden off of your arms altogether. Whereas I’ve by no means had the necessity to run conventional aero bars, that are largely reserved for easy roads and ultra-endurance racing, I’ve been capable of take a look at out a variety of Farr’s aero grips that fall someplace in between a real aero bar setup and an inside bar finish.
Whereas the UCI could have banned them for racing, thumb grips or TOGS sit simply inside your grip to supply a hook in your thumb whereas resting it over the bar. The concept is that they supply leverage on climbs, mean you can change up your hand place barely on lengthy rides, and add little or no weight or bulk to your cockpit.
If you happen to’ve ever looked for inside bar ends, you’ve probably come throughout Germany-based SQlab. Specializing in handlers, saddles, and grips, their bar ends recurrently make their approach onto bikepacking rigs showcased on this web site. They transfer the arms inward on the bar, permitting your elbows to relaxation towards your torso and stretch the physique barely extra ahead. SQlab says this small change in place supplies each an aerodynamic and bio-mechanical benefit—stress-free the neck muscle mass and altering the load zone in your arms, and so they even went so far as recording the facility financial savings at excessive speeds (36km/h), which was on common 5%.
After utilizing the Innerbarends 411 R Carbon for a number of months now, I’m beginning to recognize their recognition. SQlab has completed a terrific job of molding the form to cup the area between the pointer finger and thumb, cradling your arms and relieving sure stress factors. Even the extra minimal carbon model supplied a cushty and pure hand place that I’ve discovered myself attempting to copy by shifting my arms round on my grips for years. With the bar ends mounted proper beside my grips, I used to be capable of shift and brake, nonetheless had loads of leverage to take care of management of the bike, and the ensuing place is on no account a completely tucked aero place—which isn’t usually what I’m after.
- Materials (as examined): Carbon
- Weight: 40 grams
- Place of Manufacture: TBD
- Value: $45-150 USD
- Producer’s Particulars: SQlab-USA.com
Farr Aero Bolt-On
The primary iteration of Farr’s Aero Bolt-On was launched again in 2020, and since then, the Australia-based model has been busy releasing up to date variations and an assortment of different elements and equipment. Presently, there are two Aero Bolt-On choices of their lineup, the alloy model and a slick carbon model, each of which I’ve examined. The concept behind the Aero Bolt-On is that it supplies another hand place, improved aerodynamics, and a spot to mount a GPS system or gentle. It’s like a mini aero bar for individuals who don’t wish to go full-on aero.
Whereas I by no means had the possibility to blaze down a race course utilizing the Aero Bolt-On, it didn’t take lengthy to establish its usefulness. The easy bolt-on design is simple to put in, alter, and barely resulted in compatibility points. The ergonomic form of each the enable and carbon model are thoughtfully designed and comfy. And most significantly, they supply a hand place that’s radically completely different than normal grips.
- Materials: Alloy or Carbon
- Weight: 98-113g
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Value: $99-165 USD
- Producer’s Particulars: RideFarr.com
TOGS: Thumb Over Grip System
When my arms get drained, one of many first issues I do is flip my thumb up on prime of my grips, and I’m all the time seeing different riders do the identical factor. Sadly, on normal flat bar grips, that is an uncovered place that doesn’t provide numerous management or correct grip. That’s the place TOGS are available in. TOGS are tiny thumb grips that clamp instantly onto the bar, offering a spot in your thumb to hook onto whereas driving “on prime” of the bars. In accordance with TOGS, they “provide superior management, consolation and climbing leverage.”
Whereas they may not provide as drastic of a change as a few of the different choices on this record, the delicate change in hand place is noticeable. They supply a cushty hook in your thumb, offering sufficient leverage pull towards whereas climbing or simply to combine up your regular hand place. They take up minimal area in your bar and the Flex MTB Togs don’t require the elimination of your grips to put in, so they’re straightforward to pop on and off when wanted. They weigh simply 18g per set, so that they’re the lightest possibility on this roundup as properly.
It’s value noting that TOGS recommends utilizing shorter size grips so you may merely pivot your thumb relatively than shifting your complete hand. They’ve custom-length ESI grips out there on their web site and have additionally had good experiences trimming down Ergon GP1 and Ergon GA3 (twist shift model) grips.
- Materials: Plastic, Carbon, and Rubber
- Weight: 18 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Utah, USA
- Value: $20-25 USD
- Producer’s Particulars: TOGS.com
Cane Creek Ergo Management Bar Ends
The Cane Creek Ergo Management Bar Ends are among the many hottest bar ends, typically exhibiting up right here on the positioning. They function a cushty rubber end, ergonomic form, and lock-on design that works on any 22.2mm bars. I bought my set over three years in the past, and so they’ve bounced round between bikes after I’ve wanted additional hand positions. The rubber end has confirmed to be exceptionally sturdy and their dimension and form hit a candy spot for bikepacking and path driving.
It’s widespread to identify the Ergo Management Bar Ends on rigs tackling difficult occasions just like the Colorado Path Race, and I observed 2022 Tour Divide singlespeed winner Andrew Strempke and second-place finisher Katie Strempke have each been utilizing them. The one draw back to bar ends like these is that they don’t pair properly with sure grips, together with Ergon, which have an inner lip to forestall them from sliding down the handlebar. I’ve gotten round this by trimming the lip on the grip away with a pointy knife.
- Materials: Rubber and Aluminum
- Weight: 138 grams
- Place of Manufacture: TBD
- Value: $30 USD
- Producer’s Particulars: CaneCreek.com
I’m a giant fan of Ergon grips, particularly the GA3, which I run on virtually all the bikes I take a look at out. I discover the mini wing on the GA3 presents sufficient assist with out sacrificing management on technical terrain and is the perfect grip for singletrack-heavy bikepacking routes. It’s no shock that Ergon additionally presents a full vary of grips with bar ends built-in into the design. From the touring-friendly GP collection all the best way right down to their extra mountain-bike particular GS collection, Ergon presents a number of types of bar ends to fit your wants.
I’ve been utilizing the GS2 grips for a while now, and whereas they’re chunkier than my beloved GA3 grips, I discover they provide much more assist and hand positions with out feeling like overkill on technical trails. I appreciated them throughout my preliminary scouting journey on the Tree to Sea Loop final fall, and so they’ve just lately discovered a house on a inflexible mountain bike I’ve been testing. The built-in bar finish could be angled individually from the grip, curves in sightly towards the within for a pure hand place, and in the event you’re on the lookout for an extended extension, in addition they make the GS3. Each fashions are supplied in two sizes, small and enormous, relying in your hand dimension and preferences.
- Materials: Rubber and Fiberglass Composite
- Weight: 220 grams (massive)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Value: $55 USD
- Producer’s Particulars: ErgonBike.com
I shared a few of the hottest merchandise used so as to add alt positions to flat bars above, however there are numerous different choices out there which can be additionally value testing. Discover just a few of them under, and tell us within the Dialog part if in case you have a favourite you’d like added.
Including hand positions to your favorite handlebar could be completed affordably and with hardly any weight penalty. Though a few of the choices above won’t be as radical as altering to a real consolation MTB bar, all of them present delicate shifts in hand place and weight distribution that would imply the distinction between numb fingers and multi-day consolation.
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