Basil is a 2012 M6R Brompton; his original grips were the improved ones — improved, that is, over the previous version. I hadn’t loved the grips I used when I test-rode an older Brompton, but the foam grips that were part of Basil’s original equipment were much better. Fatter toward the end of the handlebar, and leaner toward the middle, they were quite comfortable.
On the longest rides, though, I found myself wanting to vary my hand position more than I could, easily, using these original grips. Specifically, I wished that I had a comfortable place to rest the heel of my hand.
A conversation with a Brompton owner in New York — and the ability to see an alternative in person, on a Brompton — convinced me to try a pair of Ergon GP1-S grips.
I was very nervous about altering Basil’s set-up; I like retaining original equipment. But, to some extent, even the marvelous machine that is a Brompton is somewhat a work in progress. If something can add to comfort and utility, then there is probably no good reason not to try it. Or so I told myself as I made that first terrifying cut beneath Basil’s old grips.
Worst case scenario, I could put another OEM pair back on, right?
The old grips separated pretty easily; I was able to pull them off with little trouble.The Ergons were 13 cm long, but the space available on Basil’s handlebar — up to where the brakes attach beneath — was only 10 cm. So I assembled the tool kit below (along with a ruler — I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without a ruler) and got to work.
That’s a pipe-cutter on the left. You can’t cut an Ergon grip with a pipe-cutter, but you can draw (or lightly cut, if you prefer that description) a neat line around the grip, which can then be followed by either the box cutter or the kitchen knife. (Mr. Diarist may or may not know about my penchant for multi-purposing kitchen tools.)
I measured each grip twice, then marked the surface 3 cm from the end. By carefully retaining the rounded shape of the grip, I was able to score the rubber (vinyl?) more deeply that I had thought possible, which was a help when moving to the next step.
Then I used the box cutter to deepen the cut. Someone more dexterous than I could probably make clean work of this with a box-cutter alone, but I finished up with the kitchen knife, which was easier for me to use at the end.
Next time, I’ll probably be able to make a cleaner edge, but this wasn’t a bad result for a first time try. Sliding the Ergons onto the handlebar took some work; the grips are held in place by a metal band at the end, which is screwed tight. (But not too tight — if you have a torque wrench, you can set it to the proper newton degree. Care is advised when tightening; some reviewers have popped the screw heads off, but that’s probably avoidable.) I tossed a 4 mm allen wrench into Basil’s saddle bag; it should be no problem if I need to make future adjustments.
Re-installing my Mirrcycle mirror was simpe, and that was all there was to it.
So far, I’ve only done a short experimental run with these — just enough to check that they are secure, and to test the initial angle setting. I like the feel, and I think they will do exactly what I hoped they would in terms of providing greater options for positioning my hands.
It’s been storming here, so my opportunities to ride have been few; I’m hoping to give these a good trial run before too long, if the weather, and life, cooperate.