Unlike road bikes, with their drop handlebars giving their riders at least three hand positions, bikes with flat handlebars are typically restricted to just one. This can affect your comfort when your rides become ever longer. So, given the limitations of the flat handlebar, what can you do to improve your comfort while riding?
Bino came stock with a basic set of rubber grips from Biologic, the in-house folding bike accessory brand born out of Dahon and Tern. One key feature is the ergonomic wing that extended from the end and served as a cushion for the rider’s palms. This was a good idea.
However, the grips themselves weren’t so great. They developed a habit of loosening over time, losing friction and spinning on the bar, especially in wet conditions. They were also asymmetric, the right grip being some 30 mm shorter to accommodate the stock Shimano rear grip shifter. Once I had the Tiagra flat-handlebar trigger shifters installed, these grips just weren’t going to do the trick.
So I ended up swapping them out for a pair of Ergon GP3s in the “small” size, hence the “-S” suffix. The larger “-L” versions are meant for riders with larger hands.
Most of Ergon’s handlebar grips retain the ergonomic flared wing end. Here, the material of the grip is much more substantial, with a black rubber base and a textured gray forward rubber edge. The two rubber regions seem to have a slightly different density to each other.
The other main feature of the GP3-S grips are their integrated bar ends. They’re no longer in vogue now, but they were a feature of many mountain bikes in years past, and it’s a minor shame they’ve gone out of fashion.
The bar ends are around 55 mm long – just enough for my hands to fully wrap around them as “horns.” They are also textured and ribbed for good hand purchase. They’re made of a hard, tough plastic, but finished well enough to be comfortable.
Looking at them from below, these also double as the lock-on clamps for the grips themselves.
A single 5 mm hex bolt threads in from the bottom of the bar end to clamp the grip onto the handlebar. It’s important to do this bolt up to its specified torque, or just under it. I’ve heard of many people breaking this bolt due to too much tension, but so far mine has held up well.
Ergon also makes a big point of making sure the angles of the bar end and the flared wing portion of the grip are correctly set to your preference before torquing down on the bolt.
The real value of the bar ends is that they can give you a second hand position. On longer, wide-open stretches, you can wrap your hands around the bar ends to alleviate pressure on your palms. Set at the correct angle (for me it’s around 35 degrees from horizontal), holding the bar ends mimics the action of riding in the hoods on a drop-bar road bike. Sadly though, you do not have any access to braking or shifting controls in this second position.