Spirgrips: do you remember bullhorn handlebars?
Do you remember bullhorn handlebars? No, really! Those famous “bar-ends” which have now almost completely disappeared due to the wide-spread use of wide handlebars and the evolution of riding techniques. No one will weep over them and we can indeed forget them. Then, we find a small original accessory: Spirgrips. At first, we laugh. Then we try, and we realize that in this special configuration, infamous bullhorn handlebars still have a future. Leave your prejudice aside and let’s see what it is all about!
Pascal Badollet is Swiss and cyclist, but he is also first and foremost a physiotherapist. This is what brought him to develop this new ergonomic handle concept, which is designed to allow an alternative hand positioning on the handlebars and to properly align the forearm joints. Main users of this product are mostly sports hikers and endurance sports fans.
In concrete terms, Spirgrips look like small bullhorns, but their shape are much more tailored so that the grip is perfect and the space between the thumb and the index finger finds its place perfectly. Another big difference to conventional bullhorns: Spirgrips are placed not at the two ends of the handlebar, but inside the bar grips, right next to the brake levers and gear shifters.
This is particularly important as they do not interfere with downhill riding and are perfectly matched with the wide handlebars that have become the norm. We tested them on a 740mm wide handlebar without encountering the slightest concern.
The physiological advantages of Spirgrips have been validated by Savoie University which has carried out a scientific study whose conclusions have proved the legitimacy of the approach. A better alignment of the wrist with the forearm, a better distribution of pressure points, a reduction of stress in the scaphoid etc.: on paper and in the lab, it is really promising.
Before checking all this out in the field, let’s finish with some latest info on the product. Spirgrips are made of aluminum and weighs 114g, a penalty compared to a pair of classic bullhorns (a lighter model is being developed, but hush you will see!).
Important detail: small hinges on the clamps allow installation without having to remove grips or controls. On the price side, we remain reasonable: The white version sells for €39.50 and the black model tested here costs €49,-. Let’s go right away, let’s test this!
Spirgrips: the field test
We have to admit right away: when we saw Spirgrips for the first time, we couldn’t help but smile. “Oh no, not again,” we said. Then we ended up testing a titanium CMT bike that was equipped with this little accessory. And we stopped laughing right away because we realized that our hands were fitting very naturally on these little bullhorns.
Without even thinking about it, in the flat or riding over rolling hills, the hands smoothly slid and placed themselves automatically on the Spirgrips. The sensation is immediately pleasant and relaxing, proof that the concept makes sense and is well developed. Pascal Badollet at once felt a gain in performance, but it appeared to us that on long steady climbs, we have a better grip of the handlebar and we can develop power more easily in a similar fashion. The position also seems a bit more aerodynamic. It is purely subjective and we have not performed any measurements yet.
On the downhill or on steep and technical slopes, Spirgrips are not much of a use, but their positioning on the handlebar allows them to be forgotten easily under these circumstances. And that is what they are made for. With Spirgrips there is no risk of getting caught in a tree because they do not protrude very far and they are not located at the end of the handlebar. Another small advantage with Spirgrips is that you can always reach the brakes if necessary.
They also don’t bother those, who like us, like to ride downhill with the hands far apart at the very ends of the handlebar. They fit in rather nicely and we found only two minor flaws: since they are made from aluminium they are very cold to the touch in winter, and some of our testers who have bigger hands found them a little short. The same when we wear large full fingered gloves.
We did not expect it at all, but we had a real revelation by testing Spirgrips. We were very skeptical, but this test showed us once again how prejudice can be dangerous. If we had stopped at observation stage, we would not have discovered how well these small accessories work that will be a delight both for bikers and endurance athletes. In any case, we are sure Spirgrips will accompany us on the Cape Epic and it will always stay on our XC / Marathon bike!