I have been keen to get some kilometers in the legs over the past couple of days, but the Sydney weather has decided to turn it on. Yesterday I went to do a 40km time trial on the road steed to see how I was going recovering from a nasty bout of viral bronchitis – and my ride was met with 40km/hr winds that nearly knocked me off the bike at one point with my front wheel slipping laterally on some downed leaves. It was a good hit out, and even in the bad conditions I was able to maintain a good pace. I was keen to back it up today, but was greeted this morning to this (and that was when it was lightly raining):

No Riding

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fair weather rider, but putting down 60-80km in these sort of conditions on Sydney roads is a bit nutty.

So I thought I would write up two component reviews that I swear by and have already installed onto my new MTB steed.

Oury Lock-on Grips

Oury Grip are an American company based in Arkansas who specialise in making grips for motorcross and ATV, but also MTB and BMX. Grips are a funny thing, and like all your contact parts are peculiar to your personal taste and comfort. I had gone through three different sets on a previous MTB steed (my old Trek 4300 – solid horse, but as light as a draught horse), before I found the Oury Lock-on grips.

Oury Lock-on 1

 

Oury Lock-on grips feature two clamp rings on both sides of the grip itself. The grip itself has a great rubber pattern to its outside surface which is both comfortable and strong as well. The inside of the grip is made of a different material which provides a strong inner core. Its the connection of this inner core to the clamps which makes the whole grip unit quite strong and rigid on the bars. The only difficulty I have had installing these on the bars has been in getting clamps onto the grip units, but with a mallet and a flat surface this is sorted pretty quickly. I suppose the burning question is how do these feel on a ride? I have ridden with these grips on 3 hour rides and never once felt any discomfort through the hands. While the rubber squares have a tiny bit of give in them, you never feel out of control and in continuous contact with the bars. But without gloves it will leave square marks in your palms after a long ride, though I never felt discomfort.

Oury Lock-on 2

 

So when I got my new MTB steed I had to get a set of these onto the bars. My wife’s flat bar road bike has these grips on too, and the testament to how well they feel is when I was cheeky enough to ask if I could swap over the grips from her bike onto my new MTB steed she put her foot down and said “get your own!” Great component, looks good and does the job with comfort.

3T Xida carbon bar

When I built my previous MTB steed I was trying to build an uber-light rig so the frame, seat-post, and bar were all carbon. I managed to get 3T components for the seat-post and bar on special online for 40% of the retail price and I was very impressed. The bar is the 3T Xida, which is a compact bar – meaning that instead of the 720mm width they are narrower at 640mm.

3T Xida 1

 

You are probably thinking to yourself ‘this guy is writing a review about a bar, what is so special about this overpriced italian component?’ Well this is one slick piece of kit! For starters the bar weighs in at just under 140g, which was half the weight of the alloy bar that came with my new bike. It has only a slight sweep at 3.5 degrees, but with the eccentric connection to the centre oversize tubing you can also rotate the bar at the stem to have a slight upturn. The centre point of the bar has a rougher surface to provide the connection point with the stem a better gripping layer. As with all 3T components, it is all about precision and there are marker points around the centre point to ensure that you can measure the rotation of the connection exactly how you want it.

3T Xida 2

Again the ultimate point is how does it ride? It is initially a strange feeling riding with carbon bars. You do not realise how much you get used to the transfer of vibrations through alloy bars into your hands (even with suspension forks). There is a strange amount of flex yet rigidity in the bars, I suppose the carbon at work. It means that the smaller jolts that your forks are never going to take through the suspension don’t transfer to the same amount to you the rider – making it a more comfortable ride. And given the fact that I clock up most of my kilometers on my road bike, I suppose that I am used to a narrower width bar. Plus I am a strong enough bloke to be able to yank the front end around with only 640mm width on the front. This bar looks slick on the bike, but it does make your cockpit that much more compact. As soon as the online “specials” came up again, I had to get this onto the new MTB steed.

3T Xida 3

 

I definitely recommend these, at the right price they are a good buy and are a bit of sleeper as to how much more comfortable they will make your ride.

How does the cockpit look with the both of these installed? Check out the photo below:

Cockpit

And yes that is a bell on the bar, with my only excuse being that my MTB Steed doubles as my Urban Steed too.

 

One final thought… I hope that justice will be served to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. We were captivated last night watching the coverage of the manhunt for the two (and there may be more) suspects. It will not bring back those that were lost, nor repair the injuries that the many other victims have received – but for the victims, their families, the athletes, and the city of Boston the Police and Anti-Terrorism Forces did their jobs and caught the suspects. I never understand why sports like this are targeted, because the sacrifice made by those athletes just to get to the start line is the most human of endeavours – which should never be tarnished by war, politics, and mindless extremism. I hope that next year, the Boston Marathon will run proudly and safely once again.