Bar Mitts Review

by Brian Mullin on February 16, 2011

Bar Mitts are neoprene hand covers for cold weather riding, that attach to your handlebars, and provide enough protection and warmth, that a lighter glove can be worn. I was intrigued by the Bar Mitts idea, since it reminded me of my Kayak Pogies, which allowed you to have direct hand contact with the paddle shaft, yet still provided adequate warmth in cold water. Having the additional dexterity that thinner gloves provide is an excellent feature, and gives one a better tactile feel for more precise control of braking, shifting and gripping of the bars.

Neoprene 101
Neoprene polychloroprene is a synthetic rubber, that was invented by DuPont scientists in 1930, and is produced by polymerization of chloroprene (C4H5Cl). Neoprene is used in a broad industry spectrum, for applications such as adhesives and coatings, automotive, construction, wire and cable, and industrial. For exposure protection applications (Bar Mitts, wetsuits, etc.), neoprene is foamed with nitrogen gas, which create closed cell gas bubbles, offering insulation and waterproofing. As a side note I found an interesting greener replacement product named Neogreene, which is free of VOC’s and other toxins, and has a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process.

Bar Mitts
The tested units are meant for flat bars on a Mountain or Commuter bike, and come in one size and color (black). In addition, they are available in road bike versions, for either external or internal cabling, and come in three sizes. Bar Mitts are made with 5.5 mm thick neoprene with nylon laminated on each side, and are double stitched along the fold creating a good wind tight seal. They use a heavy duty zipper down by the shifter and brake for installation purposes, with a small Velcro tab to complete the closure. Inside the Bar Mitts, there is a small attached neoprene ring, that allows them to be clamped onto the bar ends. They are guaranteed for a lifetime.

I have always found that I can bundle up the main body (trunk, legs and arms) and keep it warm on cold rides, but my hands and feet always seem to get chilled. I can wear my monstrous ski gloves to keep my hands warm, but I loose a great deal of dexterity, and they still get cold on a long ride. There is nothing worse than having your hands get cold, as they start to ache with early stages of frostnip, along with loss of finer motor skills. Popping a couple of disposable hand warmers into the gloves can help immensely, but it’s not convenient, and they might not be available. The Bar Mitts solve both of my issues, as I get to wear lighter gloves for greater tactile feel and dexterity, and my hands stay warm. They are pretty simple to install, although it takes a few times to learn the trick to get them on easily, but once accustomed to installing them, it only takes a few minutes.

Installation
Turn them slightly inside out, and open up the bar end closure, and clasp the Velcro shut, leaving the circumference as wide as possible. Push everything back in, and with the bottom zipper open, slide them over the bar ends and stretch them over the brake and shifters. Turn them slightly inside out again, and slide the closure as far over as possible on the bar ends, and reach around and pull the Velcro strap down tight, and pull the system over as much as possible. Push everything back in, and grab the zipper by the shifter and brake, and roll it around slightly (to squeeze the lines), connect it up and close it shut, and lastly close the Velcro tab between the lines and bar.

Impressions
Once installed they stand up nicely (semi-rigid), and are stiff enough that the large 4×6 inch opening is easy to ingress and egress. I had no problems on any ride tossing my hands in and out of the openings, even on some moderately technical terrain. Emergency maneuvers, and safely being able to extract my hands presented no concerns. You did occasionally get whacked by branches and bushes, since they stick out like giant oven mitts or hand paddles, and sometimes they got grabbed, so you had to keep a watchful eye on things. Braking was fairly easy, and I didn’t really have any issues with controlling them. Shifting was more difficult, and you had to sort of jam your hand over into the inside edges, and the front required more theatrics. They stayed securely in place no matter what seemed to happen, even with the occasional tree encounter. You can vary the thickness of the glove you wear, so it gives a slew of temperature gradient ranges. My hands were toasty warm, no matter what Mother Nature was tossing at me, whether it was the cold, snow or wind. It made some of my night rides almost enjoyable, since my hands had a comfortable, warm and dry environment, which was isolated from the outdoor realities.

Bottom Line
Bar Mitts are a great addition to the winter time arsenal, and they keep your hands warm and cozy, while allowing lighter gloves to be worn for greater dexterity. The 5.5 mm thick neoprene, is waterproof and provides excellent insulting properties. They are simple to install after a couple of practice sessions, and their stiffness and large 4×6 inch opening means it’s easy to take your hands in and out. Braking was effortless, while shifting was slightly more cumbersome. They are a great innovative product, that almost makes riding in the cold tolerable.

Strengths

  • Easy ingress and egress for hands
  • Excellent warmth and waterproofing
  • Well built

Weaknesses

  • Install takes some practice
  • Shifting is more cumbersome

MSRP: $64.95

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Visit the Bar Mitts Website at http://barmitts.com/

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