Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Optimizing Bicycle Contact Points With Vector Analysis

A stack of leather washers tensioned with three spokes between two handlebar binding rings

Hands, feet, butt. These are the contact points for a typical human on a typical bicycle. So how these are supported, as well as the angles between them, have a lot to do with many things, including comfort. I seek comfort. So, when I go to events like bike swaps, I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting grips to try. Also, I've been wanting to ditch the straight bars on Bip the Burple swap bargain bike from a few years back, and replace them with bars with some rise and sweep to them, to try to improve my hand comfort. While I was at it, I got a new saddle to try out, too, but more on that later. Let's focus on the hands here.

These are Brooks Plump Leather grips, made from stacks of leather washers cut from scraps from fabricating saddles. I embrocated these with some Obenauf LP, tensioned them to what seemed like a reasonable adjustment although I admittedly lack previous experience in tensioning stacks of leather scrap washers with spokes to use as handgrips, and mounted them on the new-to-me bars.

The bars are getting rotated into different positions until I find just the right one. This ain't it.

Finally, I found some grips which feel right for my larger hands. I also like Oury grips, but felt like it was time to try something different. The grips seem like a great swap find. The bars so far feel like quite an improvement over the straight pipe that they replaced. More on the saddle later, including an investigation into whether I may have stumbled upon the cheapest saddle with bag loops included (sort of). Oh and pedals, there must be pedals.


  1. Sweet. Can't wait to hear more on the bar's comfort. I'm in the market for different bars for my Peugeot.

  2. Looks cozy.

    Is there some kind of cylinder between the leather washers and the bars?

    And as always, nice to see photos of our Trek950 family...

    1. Nope, just a stack of leather washers connected with three spokes.


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