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Bar Mitts Reviewed by a Broken Pinky

by Josh Lipton

Last winter, I broke my pinky at the start of the cold season. I was riding a road bike at night, without bike lights, down a trail with the brakes a bit out of tune. I bailed out while dealing with a deep rut in the trail. Surgery ensued, with little pins holding my mangled pinky bones together. And the doc told me not to bike commute for several months while thing healed.

Frustrated, I focused my energy on this time properly gearing up for the winter bike commuting that I would still have left once I was cleared to get back on the bike.

Bar Mitts Straight Bar Bike

One of my biggest concerns about getting back on the bike again was how I would keep my hands warms while wearing the protective brace for my pinky I was told to wear while engaging in activities such as cycling.

Having come across a few variations of gloves that attached to the handlebars, I was curious if this might be the solution I was looking for. So I gave Bar Mitts a call and they were more than happy to get us set up for a review of both the standard flat bar set as well as their drop bar version.

Right away, I enjoyed how easy they were to install, or should I say dress my bike with.

The flat bar version installed quite intuitively, sliding right over the handlebars with the zipper open to allow the grips, brake levers, shifters and cables to pass through. In position, the zipper closed around the cables with an internal piece of neoprene holding the grip end of the Bar Mitt in place, secured with a piece of Velcro strapped around the grip. With the ergonomic grips, I barely had enough Velcro to stretch around the grip, but I managed.

Bar Mitts Straight Bar Bike

The road version of the Bar Mitts was not quite as intuitive. In fact I mangled the no instructions installation and had to bring up the Bar Mitts website to figure out the puzzle. But it all made sense and those to were a breeze to install once I knew what I was doing.

The Bar Mitts are made from heavy duty neoprene, the same material that is used for wet suit construction. The material lends itself to a product which is wind and weather proof. Once I had my Bar Mitts on, I left them on throughout the winter months. If it was a warmer day, I would wear summer gloves. For the coldest days, I would put on winter cycling gloves and would have perfectly warm hands through this combination. I have to say, that on those bitter cold days, I’ve never been satisfied with winter gloves alone. But combining with Bar Mitts was a winning setup.

Bar Mitts Straight Bar BikeThe first ride with the Bar Mitts on takes a little bit of getting used to. With my glove centric thinking, I had to think through a few simple things like “How do I bail off my bike in emergencies if my gloves are attached to the bike?” and “How do I operate my brake levers if I can’t see them?”

The first question was a silly psychological barrier that eroded briefly into the first ride. The second question did pose a small obstacle. Actually, brake and shifters are so intuitively designed these days that not being able to see them is rarely an issue. On the other hand, I did experience some issues as I was test riding some electric bikes with which I was unfamiliar. Getting the feel for the throttle while using the Bar Mitts took just a little bit of getting used to as well.

I like the look that the Bar Mitts lend to the bike. Something about them proclaims that I’m serious about winter cycling. And every cyclists I pass seems to notice and I can almost read their thoughts form into an expression of something like, Why is it that I’ve not gotten myself such a clever setup? Life is not just.

While it took a broken pinky to find a reason to try out this interesting new product, once I discovered them, I was a convert. The first time this fall that the temperature dipped below freezing for that morning commute in, I slipped my bike into a cozy pair of Bar Mitts.

Bar Mitts Drop Bar Bike

 
Burley nomad 229

13 Responses to “Bar Mitts Reviewed by a Broken Pinky”

  1. jamesmoore80 says:

    I use Bar Mitts on my 29er and think they are one of the best investments for winter commuting. Great review!

  2. Oh, don’t these look great? I can just feel the warmth now. Gloves are never enough for me either, not on the coldest days. But then again, on the coldest days, I find myself dreaming of a Bar Mitt for my entire body and then I realize that I already have one of those and it’s called a sleeping bag and unless I want to stay home there is just no way of being completely cozy while bike commuting in certain temperatures.

    $64.95 per pair with free US shipping doesn’t make me eager to spend the money, but I only have one bike, one set of bars, and if these last for many years then it won’t matter, I just read on their website that they come with a lifetime guarantee, so I’m sure after today’s chilly ride I’ll be eager to order a pair. Thanks for the prescient review, Josh.

  3. steve koplin says:

    I just bought a pair of these, and I’m glad to see they are getting some publicity! I stumbled upon them after I started to realize that I needed another solution to cold hands when three layers of gloves (a liner, a winter glove and a waterproof shell) still left my hands freezing when the temps dipped below 32deg (even if they were toasty at rest). The most effect these have is reducing convective heat losses from wind, and they do a great job at that. My hands are toasty with the right pair of gloves below freezing. I picked my pair up off amazon for $50.

    Agreed, besides my silk weight balaclava ($7 from Sierra Trading Post), the best winter-riding purchase I have made.

  4. Ted Johnson says:

    Something about that top photo is very unsettling. Like a lamperey — a toothless lamperey.

    Bar Mitts

    Lamperey

  5. Tyler says:

    Hey,

    Those mitts are pretty thin just neoprene. At the local rural store (farm and fleet) they sell snowmobile overmitts, fleece lined, with a pocket on the inside (old mechanic would keep his inhaler in there). Friend of mine just picked up a set for cheap. The are a bit larger, a bit heavier, but pretty dank.

    http://www.farmandfleet.com/products/375098-handlebar_mitts.html?lref=%2fcatalog%2ffind.aspx%3ft%3dhandlebar#.Trm5-kMr2so

    Check it out. We have those same mitts you tried in the shop, and they see pretty weak in comparison…

    T the Funwrecker

  6. Ray Lovinggood says:

    Back in the 1970′s during some of my motorcycling days, I had something very similar for wintertime motorcycling: Craig Vetter’s “Hippo-Hands”. They were VERY similar to the “Bar Mitts” shown here, but larger. And as Josh states, they worked very well at keeping the cold at bay. However, they were quite large and did look a bit ugly on the motorcycle, a 1975 Honda CB-750F Super Sport.

  7. Cool! Having had a surgically repaired (maybe replacement would be a better word,having nothing but man made parts inside there now,LOL) left index that “freezes and locks up” below 20 degrees or so,maybe these combined with gloves can keep me riding when I normally just couldn’t. Food for thought anyways.

    As a “disabled” cyclist,I don’t commute anymore,but that doesn’t mean I don’t ride or ride for errands rather than drive when I feel up to it ;)

    Steve

    • Josh Lipton says:

      While my pinky was surgically repaired, its spirit remained broken. But the Bar Mittsvah eventually had a strong impact and I can report that pinky’s spirit is now spiritually repaired as well.

  8. Marty Mathis says:

    I’m glad that you wrote about these. I should have bought a pair last year. I just ordered a pair off Amazon. Bring on the cold.

  9. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    A few years ago, when I moved to Minneapolis I took 2 one gallon milk/water jugs, cut out for the cable and hands and mounted them..
    They work great for cold rain and block wind. They really help on mild cold making hands feel like its 15 degrees warmer. I’ve been wanting to insulate to help on days that are -15f and colder…

    They don’t look as nice, although I might cover them with reflective take and cloth..

  10. Rick says:

    I was considering these although Not sure how they’d mount on my bullhorn bars.

  11. gear says:

    A company called: AME makes heated grips and bar tape. Just to mention an alternative.

  12. Hamish says:

    Yet another option is the barbra.ca
    It covers the whole bar and comes in two sizes.
    Bright orange with reflective tape it increases visibility which is more important than ever in winter. The registered design also allows for bells, lamps and rear view mirror stems.
    Glad to see that there is so much interest in winter riding.

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