Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

I know it’s wrong to like them… but I can’t help myself

Posted by Tony | July 12, 2011 | 17 comments so far

Specialized Overendz

With the South Downs Way in a day ride coming up, I’ve been looking to get my Trek Fuel Ex8 sorted and with the thoughts of a 12hr day in a saddle I’ve been thinking about all day comfort. On this sort of ride hands need to be comfortable and the obvious answer is… bar ends… I know it wrong to like them…

A  visit down to CycleWorks last weekend and I was the owner of a par of Specialised P2 Overendz. They are “moulded” composite material with hand shaped curves. A quick inboard shuffle of the grips/brakes/gears and the bar ends were on and I was ready to go.

As soon I started riding on Sunday morning I was taken back 15years to the last time I rode with bar ends. Immediately my hands were shifting across the bars to find different postions and when I got to the first hill… my god… that felt good. What had I been missing?

Why did they feel so good? Maybe it’s because I ride the road so much and climbing position on the bar ends mimics this? I’ve never felt quite comfortable on a MTB climbing with normal bars thinking that I wasn’t getting the power down, especially out of the saddle. However on the weekend ride I rode out of the saddle on the climbs more than I had for any ride this year.

The dilemma now is. How shallow am I? I love the feel of the bar ends but can I put up with the looks?

Filed under Mutterings in July 2011


About the author

There are 17 comments on ‘I know it’s wrong to like them… but I can’t help myself’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. StevenD says:

    Tony, you question whether you are shallow, have a ‘niche look’ and are concerned about fashion. Hmm then you cannot be a mole. (ouch) 🙂

    If it is a very sunny day then the light bouncing off D’Andy’s Pace on its own should be enough deflect the attention away from your bar-ends (snigger… sorry, I could not resist).

    Do what you need to go to complete the ride. While whispering, ‘I use bar-ends’ you can then shout ‘I did the SDW in a day’ and people will be then admire your fitness and bravado as well as your insanity.

  2. Barrie says:

    you closet bar end lover you!……
    i think they are great, as you know i have them on mosts of my bikes, much to alot of othere dismay but they do make a difference, although i have hooked up on a few branches/bushes in the summer
    feeling very nervous for friday, as i know the pain that lies ahead for us well me anyway

  3. Matt says:

    [Shudder] Sorry Tony, I couldn’t bring myself to use them despite agreeing they probably do help comfort.

    For racing I can imagine they can make a difference and the non-technical doubletrack of the SDW should be a good environment for them.

    I’d worry about snagging branches on some of our narrower trails and remember how hard Keith went down when he caught his bars – and that was without bar ends too!

    Having said that, the bars I run on the singlespeed are 700mm wide (old 25.4mm Azonic downhill bars) and find these are great for getting some leverage when climbing out of the saddle. On the Orange full-susser I always sit down anyway.

  4. DaveW says:

    I reckon a set of bar-ends would look okay on your retro Clockwork. I think they look odder, the wider your bars are thought. For me, the negatives are:

    – Looks, especially on wider bars
    – Catching on branches and brambles
    – Bending the handlebars in a heavy stack (I have done this)
    – Effectively narrowing your bars, which speeds up the steering and reduces control over difficult terrain.

    – Increased comfort
    – Can save your knuckles on collision with a tree

    So I can see the advantages on long XC rides, but I think these are outweighed by the dissadvantages when the going gets technical.

    I’m looking forward to Friday – if I can shake this bl**dy cold in time…

  5. Andy661 says:

    I think Barrie is very insensitive saying he’s gonna be in pain on Friday.
    To this end I’ll be bringing a 6 stone rucksack for him to wear so he can experience what’s it’s like being me!! That’ll be REAL PAIN.
    Team Lanterne Rouge


  6. Dandy says:

    “If it is a very sunny day then the light bouncing off D’Andy’s Pace on its own…”

    Strangely enough, I thought I’d leave the 150mm travel bike at home for the SDW. Instead I shall be using the short (only 130mm) travel Pace 😉

    No bar ends for me, though if they had them in an anodised green that matches my RaceFace Atlas AM bars ….

    Equipe Lanterne (et vin) Rouge

  7. Canadian Rob says:

    I gotta throw my comment in here since I’m the only person I’ve seen sporting bar ends on the Sunday Moles ride. I have used bar ends since I first swung my leg over my first mountain bike, a 1996 Schwinn Moab 2 Aluminum, great frame but a lousy RockShok Indy fork. I immediately replaced it with Marzocchi Bomber z3 which transformed the ride. But I digress…

    Having spent a lot of time on the road, I naturally seek out the hand position offered by my bar ends for a level of comfort that is simply not possible without them. On long climbs I am better positioned and less fatugued in the upper body. I know I will regret saying this but in 15 years of mountain biking I have only once gone down from catching my handlebars on a branch and I don’t think the bar ends really made a difference there.

    I agree with Dave W on one point though, it is impractical (and weird looking) to go with a longer handlebar to maintian the original hand placement when adding bar ends. I have always sacrificed a little grip placement which, as noted, quickens the steering and reduces steering leverage. I’m reluctant to comment on my bike control, but I don’t think it suffers too greatly.

    This last benefit may seem trite but when you turn the bike upside down for any reason, the bar ends tend to keep your shifters and computer from getting bashed up.

    So in summary, give me a flat bar and bar ends over a riser bar any day. My current Specialized XC Pro came with risers and they came off after the first ride. Besides, noone can side your bar ends from behind you…

  8. Big Al says:

    I think bars ends have their place , but they must be paired to flat bars and a hardtail. One way to get round the embarrassment is to try some ergon grips which are a bit more subtle. Good luck for Friday ,hope the weather is kind to you.
    I’d love to join you but laid up after my shoulder operation last week.

  9. Barrie says:

    Andy, i know what you mean when are carrying extra weight, we will have to run you through a bacon slicer!… only kidding but i do know what pain is like and i have suffered many many times at the hands of others and by myself, just remember the pain is the same in all of us.

    Now big Al shame you cannot make it with us but how is the collar bone, as i have been getting pretty bad spasms in mine in which i went back to the hospital and i am now under a different consultant who actualy wants to operate on it and strap it down, so having a think and have to go back in at the end of August, any feedback from yours would be great

  10. Big Al says:

    Hi Barrie,
    The operation all went to plan , I arrived at Ashstead hospital midday on sat and left the next morning at 10am. The anaesthetic numbed my arm and shoulder completely ( other than pins and needles in my thumb and index finger) and took 24hrs to wear off. Then the pain kicked in! One thing that amazed me was how heavy my arm was . I have a 5 ” gash on the front of my shoulder which they used staples to stitch up. They come out after 2 weeks. I’ve been told to wear a sling for 4 weeks which is also when the physio starts. I’ve been religously taking strong pain killers ( solpadol) which do help but they do make you very sleepy. Its too early to know if its worked but the lump on my shoulder has completely disappeared .I will keep you posted as the weeks go on.

  11. Markymark says:

    I removed the bar ends on my Boardman performance hybrid road bike as i was more used to the leverage on my MTB bars. The difference in steering control from the narrower hand position was highly noticeable even though i was riding non technical road.

    Having recently moved i now can’t locate the b**tards to stick ’em on my Stumpy as i think the change in position would benefit the longer rides and out-of-saddle climbs such as we’re gonna see on the SDW-in-a-day on Friday.

    Bars ends or no bar ends, either way there’s gonna be no dick-waving from me on Friday. Its steady Eddie all the way…

  12. Lloyd Brown says:

    I have always used bar ends and like Rob have only once snagged heavily enough to fall (I find many other ways to achieve that). I have a pro/con list, mine just falls weighs heavily to pro and not con. As for what people may think – I would be hard pressed to give even the tiniest ….. Don’t understand all the angst, if you like them, use them.

  13. tony says:

    Well bar ends were great for the SDW especially for the long non technical climbs. No hand ache and I felt stronger on all the climbs. B*&%$£er the looks, I’m keeping them on the Trek.

    I’m seriously thinking about converting my Alfine On-One to a flat bar and bar ends too for the winter.

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.