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Bar ends and grips

Bar ends (suitable for flat handlebars) went through a flourish of popularity some years ago when everybody owned a pair and everyone famous had a signature model. There are less about at the moment. We’re sure it‘s an aesthetic thing: they look a little odd on riser bars.

Bar ends are most useful for climbing because moving your weight forward over the front wheel helps keep it on the ground. They‘re great for short bursts of standing up on the pedals too – the angle is more comfortable, allowing your shoulders to open out so that you can get loads of air into your lungs. And it‘s nice to have a variety of hand positions when you‘re out on a long ride so that you don‘t get stiff and locked into a single position. The profusion of shapes available can be confusing. Generally, choose short, stubby ones for climbing and longer, curved types for altering your riding position. We like ones with a machined pattern on the metal for extra grip.

The extra leverage that bar ends give you can be enough to twist your handlebars in their mounting – always check that your stem bolts are tight after fitting bar ends. Test that they will hold by standing in front of the bike with the front wheel between your knees. Push down hard on both bar ends. They shouldn‘t move on the bars, and neither should the bars move in the stem.

The end of your bar end, like handlebars, should always be finished off with a plastic plug. This protects you a little bit if you land on the end of your bar or bar end in a crash – an open end will make a neat round hole wherever it encounters parts of your body. Just as vital for handlebar comfort are grips. There really are a lot of different choices here, so many that it‘s confusing rather than helpful. The most significant variable is grip thickness. Slim versions are lighter but less comfortable. Thick ones absorb more vibration, but this makes your bike feel less responsive – it‘s harder to feel what‘s going on if there‘s too much cushioning.

Your hand size also matters here. If you‘ve got small hands, choose thinner grips. Dual density compounds, which have a softer, spongier layer over a firmer core, are a good compromise. Deep-cut patterns are better if your grips tend to get muddy and if you tend to ride when it‘s very hot, as smooth grips get slippery when you sweat onto them.

Grips that bolt on rather than stick on, like those made by Yeti, are a little more expensive but they are more secure and are easier to get on and off if you swap bars frequently. Each end of the grip has a locking aluminium collar that you tighten on with an Allen key.

Carbon bars need a little extra care – check whether your anufacturer recommends them, and follow any indicated torque settings carefully.

Refitting bar ends

Bar ends and grips - Step 1

Step 1: Undo the bar-end fixing bolt (almost always a 5mm Allen key). Slide the bar ends off the bars. They usually come straight off easily, but if they don‘t, ease the clamp open by removing the fixing bolt completely and opening the gap with a screwdriver. This avoids scratching the bars.

Bar ends and grips - Step 2

Step 2: Inspect the end of the bar and the bar end. Bar ends provide enough leverage for them to damage bars in a crash. If the end of the bar has been bent or dented, either replace the bar or choose not to refit the bar ends. Clean the interface and grease under the bolt head.

Bar ends and grips - Step 3

Step 3: Refit the bar ends, tightening the bolt just enough to keep them in place. Sit on the bike in your normal riding position and rotate the ends into a comfortable position. (It can help to close your eyes.) Check that both are pointing in the same direction, then tighten firmly. Stand in front of the bike and push down on the bar ends to check that they don‘t rotate on the bars and to see that the bars don‘t rotate in the stem under pressure.

See also bike maintenance tips, tricks and techniques “Care of suspension seat posts”