Leather grips (Brooks, Selle San Marco, ...)

Contents


Brooks leather grips

Brooks handvatten, 1 Brooks handvatten, 2

Specifications

∅ 3.5 cm, width: 13.1 cm (can be made shorter to the desired length in ca. 5 mm steps)
Mass: Ca. 306 g. (for a pair)

Construction

Made from leather washers, bound with short spokes. The ends are from some sort of metal, it appears to be lighter than brass, but it does contain copper as I found out when I filed out the inside a little (see picture 2) to make it go smoothly over a black anodized handlebar (without scratching) as the handlebar was not quite round due to the use of bar-ends. It's definitely not made from aluminium which the instructions (only included in the retail version of the grips) claim:

Each grip is made with a stack of leather washers held together by: 3 bicycle spokes, 3 nipples, 1 inner aluminium ring, 1 outer aluminium ring, 2 allen bolts.

Experiences

You can't use the grips with bar-ends, without modifying them, as there's a little ridge that keeps the leather endcap fixed. You can file that away if you want, which would allow the use of bar-ends. These grips are as I expected quite hard, and give a good grip. When the sun has shone on them for a while, they still feel cool. For a mountainbike they could be suitable regarding their firmness and grip, but they are a bit too thick for that I would think (see also the comment with the San Marco grips). After a while the leather rings are getting a bit loose. They are installed in the grips in pairs, rough side of the leather to rough side, which is not a good idea as cutting the rings from the leather will deform them (the edges). This means that they will be wider than real width of the leather, and by use, which gives repeated small sideways pressure and a little rotation of the rings, deformations from the cutting will be flattened and thus the rings will get loose, and you must tighten the grips. During use over a few 100 km I had to adjust the grip twice, and the grip (yes, 1 as I used 1 on one side, the San Marco grip on the other side so as to be able to properly compare the two) became a bit shorter, ca. 128 mm instead of 131 mm... If the leather washers had been placed so that a rough side touches a smooth side everywhere, this problem would likely have been negligible. (I will test this with the other grip).

Correction: It seems to depend on who has put the grips together. Another pair was put together will all the rough sides facing the smooth sides (no smooth-smooth/rough-rough).

The instructions also say:

Brooks leather grips shape to your hands and allow them to breathe while riding.

Leather saddles certainly deform, but that's by virtue of sitting on it with almost your entire weight (say 60 kg and more) and grips usually only get very light pressure. There isn't really room to deform either in contrast to a saddle, because if the leather would deform, it would need to go into the handlebar which the leather washers touch. So the claim that the grips shape to your hands is nonsense.

Conclusion:

Interesting concept, and if you don't mind hard grips (note that most plastic grips are also pretty hard), a good but pricey choice for in particular city bikes.


Selle San Marco leather grips

1st picture: San Marco grip on the left, Anatomic grip on the right. 2nd picture: Anatomic grips at the top.

San Marco & anatomic grip, 1 San Marco & anatomic grip, 2

Construction

They are made from soft foam rubber around which is sewn a thin layer of leather.
∅ varies from 3.2 to 3.8 cm, width: 12.8 cm (also available in a 90 mm variant for use with twist shifters).
Mass: Ca. 65 g. (for a pair)

Experiences

When the sun has shone on it for a while the grips feel quite hot because the foam rubber insulates thermally... These grips aren't particularly suited to mountainbiking because they are too soft for that and also a little too thick which makes it a bit harder to get to some gear shifters of which the levers come close to the handlebar (for a derailleur system).

You can lay your arms on the grips while cycling to give an aerodynamic position, very good for when you've got a headwind or just want to cycle quickly.

Conclusion:

My 2nd choice for a city/touring/travelling bike (first place: Anatomically shaped grips). For a MTB I don't think these are good because they are too soft.


BBB leather grips

BBB handvatten, 1

Construction

They are made from foam rubber around which is sewn a thin layer of leather.
∅ 3.35 cm, width: 12.8 cm (also available in a 90 mm variant for use with twist shifters).
Mass: Ca. 65 g. (for a pair)

Experiences

When the sun has shone on it for a while the grips feel quite hot because the foam rubber insulates thermally... These grips are better suited to mountainbiking than the San Marco grips because they are a bit harder and slightly thinner. The light brown grips as shown are discoloured in an ugly way, but the grips have been used a few years and have been outside (rain) for long periods. I don't know if the light brown San Marco grips will discolour in the same way.

You can lay your arms on the grips while cycling to give an aerodynamic position, which is very good for when you've got a headwind or just want to cycle quickly, but doing so is a little less comfortable than with the San Marco grips.

Conclusion:

My 3rd choice for a city/touring/travelling bike. My 1st/2nd choice for a mountainbike (anatomically shaped grips are probably better for an MTB too).


Anatomically formed leather grips (no name, from Rose Versand)

1st picture: San Marco grip on the left, Anatomic grip on the right. 2nd picture: Anatomic grips at the top.

San Marco & anatomic grip, 1 San Marco & anatomic grip, 2

I tried these grips that have a shape with rest for the palm of your hand for the first time on 20-12-2010 on a long ride of 20 km. It was esp. long because everything was snowed under, and no snow had seemingly been removed for days which resulted in lots of lumpy snow, sometimes frozen tracks in the snow from bicycles, etc. This results in very very heavy and slow going. You need to grip the handlebar pretty hard to keep control of the bicycle and you need to make continuous adjustments.

I had my old San Marco grips on the left hand side of the handlebar, and the new anatomic grips on the right. It was amazing how much better the anatomic grips were on that ride. With my left hand I got a cramp-like feeling after a few hundred metre, whereas with the anatomic grips I never had any problem at all! No cramp, no feeling of muscles in my arm/hand getting tired. It was just unbelievable how much better it was and from that moment on I decided I would only use anatomic grips.

Conclusion:

Really unbelievably better than standard round grips. You need to have used them in heavy riding situations to really appreciate them. For MTB use I therefore estimate that anatomical grips are also extremely good and relaxing for your hands compared to round grips... For long tours under normal situations where you don't need to continuously adjust the steering they are also a lot better than round grips, fairly quickly actually as I've tested. Of course under such circumstances (long rides on asphalt) the difference is not as extreme as on bad roads but the difference is noticeable fairly quickly. Therefore these grips are my 1st choice for a city- or touring bike. For an MTB this is probably one of the best grips as well as they're fairly hard and not too thick.

Possible improvements: These grips, which resemble grips from Gazelle, would be perfect for a tour- or city bike if you could fasten them on the handlebar with an inner hex bolt, as is done with the grips from Gazelle, and if the foam/rubber inside was softer.

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