Basil Gets a Grip (or two)

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.

12 replies on “Basil Gets a Grip (or two)”

We recently fitted a pair of these, but in Biokork to our Bromptons. They make a massive difference over long or bumpy rides, I promise you :)

Happy riding!

Only a couple of very short ones, Kelvin — but I liked what I felt, and they served as trial runs to make sure I got the angle right. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I’m back doing long rides again, owing to various Other Life issues that are competing — all too successfully — for my cycling time. Too bad; I want to know if these grips really make a difference, too, on the rides where it counts most.

These grips are much more comfortable than the stock one. When you fit them make sure they are parallel to the ground. They the best upgrade I have for my brompton so far…

Thanks for the tip, Raymond. I’m still fitting them, but I originally make the mistake of angling them just a bit too high. Once I’ve had a chance to try them out on longer rides, I suspect they’ll end up very close to parallel, if not fully parallel. It’s kind of cool that such a simple upgrade meets with so much approval!

Silicone grips? Fascinating — thanks for the link, David. I’ll keep it in mind if the Ergons don’t work out. (These guys sure win on price! Great colors, too, for the right bikes.)

I really like the Ergons with the nubby bar ends I installed on my Brommie. (GP-2 I think) they don’t scrape the ground when folded unless there is decent weight on a bag on the front block. You can adjust the left grip when needed a bit if a problem. I bought the grip shift version that required no cutting, my hands are smallish, so the extra grip space isn’t missed. I really like the extra hand positioning the nubs provide. Perhaps something to consider. Thanks for the cool blog!

Thanks, John! I’ve never ridden on a bike with end nubs on the grips before — that’s something I’ll think about when Basil’s current grips need replacing. When that time comes, I’m definitely getting the grip shift version — my cut-off edge lacks the fit-and-finish I’d rather see on my B!

Well done, your grips trimming looks commendable (unlike my first attempt). Because you needed to trim so much (because of the older brake lever mount style), I feel that it’s difficult to improve – unless you tried notching the grips around the brake lever block, as I’ve seen some people do. Alternatively you could change to the later style brake levers (Brompton or other brand?) which allows for a longer grip length & a cut through less material?
Phew! lots of chance for tinkering isn’t there?

Notching the grips would be excellent, Ian! That hadn’t occurred to me — though it might have made fitting that last cm or so pretty difficult. The finish would be a bit more elegant, though.

It’ll be a while before I’m tempted to swap out brake levers, but I do notice a certain change in my attitude now that I’ve taken the first step; the idea of swapping out bits seems less terrifying and more interesting than it did previously.

(Sorry about the late reponse to your comment; I was traveling again and forgot to mention it on the blog.)

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