Sunday, February 27, 2011

Halfway to changing my bicycle's handlebar grips.

I received new bicycle handlebar grips for Christmas and endeavored to put them on my bike today. I started out by looking at the new grips, "Satellite Plus" grips from Bontrager. According to the package, Bontrager is a brand name of Trek, which appropriate given that these are for my Trek 700 hybrid. Never heard of a Trek 700 hybrid? Well, that's OK. I bought the bike in 1991, so by this time it's an antique. And yes, it does ride like a 20-year old bicycle, with all of its roughly-changing gears and questionable brakes!

Why not start with replacing handlebar grips on an old bike?
Obviously, it needs a bit more than new handlebar grips, but I've got to start somewhere, and these were an unexpected and much appreciated gift. So, looking at the new grips, and then looking at the original grips still on the bike, I realized early on that I would need some instructions. Consulting, I learned that it was quite difficult to remove the old grips. The site recommended the use of WD40 to loosen the grips. I decided I would skip that step and simply cut the old grips off since I would not be using them again. I got out a pair of metal snips but did not need to use them, as the old neoprene-like foam grips were easily torn off the handlebars with little effort. "Great!" I thought. But not so fast.

New handlebar grips for my Trek.
The Tutor website went into great detail on how to remove the old grips, but it offered comparatively few tips on installing the new grips. In fact, it says that the grips can be "quickly" worked onto the handlebar. I don't know what planet they are from, but it took so much effort to install one of the grips that I now have a new grip on the right handlebar and an old grip still remains on the left handlebar. I had to stop in the middle because in my effort to install the first grip I wore all the skin off of the inside surface of my thumb on my right hand. I was twisting the grip over and over, slowly working it along the handle bar. I was able to move the grip about 1/4" (0.6 cm) with each complete rotation. Given the 5-inch length of grip, this means I had to twist the grip 360 degrees almost 20 times in a row to get it on the bar. At about the 18th rotation, with no warning, my thumb's epidermis lost contact with the underlying dermis and a flap of skin rumpled up next to my index finger. The wound started to bleed and I used scissors to remove the damaged flap of skin. With a bandaged thumb, I no longer have any desire to finish this job!!

What did I do wrong, and why didn't the Bontrager people provide instructions...or at least a warning that it might be difficult to install their product?

P.S. I just visited the Bontrager website to grab an image of these new grips. I laugh now at the irony of the product description for the Satellite Plus product:
"Grips don't get much more comfortable than Bontrager's Satellite Plus. An ergonomic palm extension gives added hand support while a dual-compound construction makes these grips both cushy and durable. Lock-on mechanism keeps grips from rotating on the handlebar."
So if they are not made to rotate on the handlebar, how the heck am I supposed to install them?

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