Spend any time bike touring and you’ll have discovered all of the minor annoyances that pop up when you spend long days in the saddle on multi-day tours. But you don’t have to be into bike touring to benefit from design innovations that make cycling more comfortable. Ergonomic grips for the ends of your drop bars are just one example.
In our first “Gear Check” installment last month, we discussed the advantages of shallow drop handlebars. So it makes sense to stick to the cockpit for this installment by sliding down to the ends of those shallow drop bars to talk about bar end grips.
Why no drop grips until now?
So many aspects of the bikes we ride are basically a function of trickle-down design from road racing bikes where the focus is reducing a bike’s weight and making it more aerodynamic so that it can be faster. But once you start questioning all the features of your bike that were influenced by racing, and that you likely don’t need, all sorts of possibilities start to arise.
Since most recreational riders don’t spend much time in the drops–mostly because drops designed for racing are not comfortable–it never made sense to spend time making the drops more ergonomic.
But shallower drops, especially with some flare, offer a comfortable position that many riders find themselves spending more and more time in. So why not tinker with making that new position you’re spending time in even more comfortable? Now, we said that the Gear Check feature would be about gear philosophy rather than reviewing specific products. But to our knowledge no one else is making bar end grips, so let’s talk about Redshift’s Cruise Control Drop Grips.
Control and comfort for gravel, bike touring and more
Interestingly, they have the word ‘control’ in the name but not the word ‘comfort.’ Suffice it to say that if you take our advice on shallow drop bars and find yourself spending more time in the drops it is worth checking out these grips for the added control and comfort they offer. There’s no shortage of reviews if you want a second opinion.
Over on Gravelstoke Jason Rowland reviews the full Redshift Kitchen Sink set up and says of the Cruise Control Drop Grips: “I used the added hand position primarily for seated climbing. Gripping near the base of the extensions made the bike feel free to move under power and optimized my posture on the bike. It was also handy for tucking in and pushing through headwinds.”
Clifford Lee’s review at Cyclocross Magazine notes how “the larger surface area provided by the Cruise Control grip improve(s) long-distance comfort by spreading the pressure over a wider area of the hands.” BikeRumor‘s Jordan Villella reports that “Riding in the drops, the brake levers are extremely easy to access and control…I found myself not leaving the drops for miles at a time, just cruising along comfortably.”
A similarly positive review can be found at Riding Gravel, while the closest thing to a mixed review we could find is this comment from off-road.cc: “While it is unlikely to suit all riders, the shape and ability to add on extra sections to improve control and grip will appeal to those taking on big adventures or those looking to increase comfort.”
And in case you were wondering, YouTube loves the Cruise Control Drop Grips as well. Dirty Teeth MTB provides a nuanced review of the various components of Redshift’s entire Kitchen Sink system (i.e., handlebars, top grips, drop grips, and tape) based on more than 1,000 miles of riding and multiple 100-mile days.
The verdict on the Cruise Control Drop Grips? “I wound up digging them way more than I thought I would. I found them super comfy. During high speed descents I felt great control and didn’t have to clench the bar too tightly…My hands maintained a solid grippy feel no matter what the weather.”
“During high speed descents I felt great control and didn’t have to clench the bar too tightly.”
Always Another Adventure describes the grips as “a revelation” and “a brilliant addition for touring.” The only possible downsides are some reports of difficulty reaching the brake levers when in the Drop Grips. But this would be no different than in the same position without the grips. Either way, you may need to slide your hand forward to reach the levers.
Drop grip drawbacks? Not as long as you can install them
Two other minor drawbacks apply only to certain set ups. BikeRumor‘s reviewer ran into trouble installing the grips around electronic shifting wiring and a junction box. A second problem arises for some handlebars with an ergonomic bend that prevents the grips from sliding on. Other than these two minor limitations, Redshift’s Cruise Control Drop Grips can fit virtually any existing handlebar.
Why are they more comfortable and why do they give you better control? Think about the contact patch between your bike and the ground. The bigger that patch is, the more traction and the more in control you are.
Bar end grips put much more of your hand’s surface in contact with the bar. Spreading out the pressure reduces fatigue and increases confidence in handling the bike. And spending more time on the bike in more comfortable positions means more fun. What’s not to like?
Banner image courtesy of Redshift Sports