After a pause, our New Product Spotlight is back. In each Spotlight we we bring you info on new cyclocross-relevant products that have just been released or that we’ve reviewed. First up is a timely product that might keep you off the couch this winter and keep you building towards next year or getting ready for Masters Worlds.
New Product Spotlight: Bar Mitts
by Jacob Sisson
Nose-diving temperatures send most cyclists scurrying towards their trainers, or worse, the couch. For those, for the lack of a better word, crazy few riders (likely us ‘cross folk) who feel that the trainer cannot offer what the open road or trail does, Bar Mitts have come along to save their hands from the pain and danger of frostbite.
The design is simple in its execution – a neoprene fairing that slips on over your brake levers and wraps around your handlebars – providing a refuge and insulation from the cold environment. If you’ve spent any time in Asia, where many have no choice but to ride their bike to get to work regardless of weather, perhaps you’ve seen similar sleeves attached to commuter bike handlebars for cold and wet riding.
The Bar Mitts grant you access to your hoods and to the tops of your handlebars with ease. The neoprene is impervious to the winter winds and water, and allows you to wear your light fall gloves in the dead of winter. For those of us who feel that their winter gloves take away a certain feel and control, these are a welcome solution to keeping your fingers from falling off. Without needing thick winter gloves, you’ve also got much better dexterity for shifting and braking the modern “brifters.”
Okay, so it’s a nice solution to cold fall, winter, and spring riding, especially training on the road, but what about for cyclocross? Unless you want to add another complexity to your dismounts and mounts, you probably do not want to use these in a ‘cross race. But a hidden benefit for us ‘crossers could be warming up for a sloppy ‘cross race. Is it a wet, muddy, or icy mess out there before your race? If you’re not the wind trainer type, slap these on the bike for your warm-up ride or course preview, and take them off at the start just like your leg warmers. You’ll have clean, dry gloves and bar tape at the start.
Bar Mitts are capable of adapting to any available shifting system. With more and more shifting systems moving away from exposed cables, this issue is slowly becoming a thing of the past, but current Shimano lovers will be able to thread their cables through the Bar Mitts easily, removing any issues of incompatibility. Sram and Campagnolo users have nothing to worry about from the get go. Brake levers are given ample room for movement fore and aft, while the shifter blades are allowed enough room to move laterally. SRAM shifters, which were paired with the Bar Mitts for some of our testing, encounter slight interference as they get to the farthest shifting extremes. For the most part, however, shifting is allowed to proceed uninhibited.
With every good idea, there has to be a downside, and for the Bar Mitts, looks are certainly theirs. While aesthetics certainly aren’t the biggest concern of most cyclists, Bar Mitts are sure to see a few eyebrows raised in their general direction by the closed-minded bike snobs. But you can raise your eyebrows back at them as they shake their frozen hands in vain in attempt to regain circulation. For most, the benefits that Bar Mitts grant to commuting and winter training far outweigh any cosmetic issues one might have.
Bar Mitts also effectively remove your ability to use the drops. If you’re particularly attached to riding in the drops during training rides and during commuting, you’re stuck using your winter gloves, as the neoprene shields hinder access to your brake levers. The neoprene also greatly widens the diameter of your bar so if you’re used to riding in the drops, they’ll feel uncomfortable, especially for smaller hands. This also doesn’t take into account the safety aspect of things, as grabbing the brakes if you’re in the drops becomes significantly harder in an emergency with the Bar Mitts attached.
On the whole, Bar Mitts are a simple yet extremely effective way to keep your hands warm and dry and keep the feeling in your hands on the coldest of days, while being able to shift like normal and feel the road. Commuters and winter warrior ‘crossers alike will love the ease with which you can continue to wear your fall hand gear during the depths of winter.
MSRP: $64.95 including shipping
For more info: www.barmitts.com