Welcome to our weekly roundup of parts, gear & accessory reviews. Quick, and to the point, these mini reviews are distilled down to the most important elements. Does it work? Should you buy it? This week, we put the following products to the test:
- Ergon GFR1 FMD Grips
- PRO Discover Carbon 20° bar
- Blackburn Switch Wrap Tool Kit
- Crossrope weighted jump rope
Ergon GFR1 FMD Racing Grips
These are Ergon’s gravity and freeride oriented grips, developed with Tahnee Seagrave and the Canyon [CLLCTV] FMD Racing team in mind. Tahnee and the team wanted a vibration damping rubber compound, and Ergon delivered. Ergon’s Factory Custom Rubber sits on a plastic sleeve, with a rubber stop between your hand and the aluminum inner clamp.
- Overall Length: 140mm
- Grip Surface Length: 120mm
- Diameter: ~30mm
The Ergon GFR1 has a narrow profile consistent across its length. The rubber is soft and tacky on top where your palm rests but firm at the underside where your fingers clamp. It is a very comfortable grip that is well-suited to my small hands. Vibration damping is evident, as is the solid feel of the underside of the grip, useful for pulling up.
The bar end plugs are very tight-fitting – they won’t be falling out until at least the next ice age. They do however protrude unnecessarily from the handlebar, lengthening the bar by 4mm on each side – not the end of the world but something to consider if you ride very narrow tracks that wiggle through trees. I’ve been running these for 5 months and wear is minimal. Happy to recommend! (Buy now for $35-$40) – Jessie-May Morgan
PRO Discover Carbon 20° gravel handlebar
Picking a flared gravel dropbar is tricky – so many options! Even PRO have bars from 10-30°. I chose something in the middle – a happy medium with room for my wrists in the drops without going super wide for this Lynskey PRO GR gravel bike. (I’ve already ridden 75cm Curve Walmer bars where picking your way through the forest can even be tricky.)
The PRO Discover Carbon 20° bar debuted as a light gravel racing option to work with GRX Di2… or any other nice gravel groupset, like the Campy Chorus levers I bolted on. At just 207g, the bars are light, but still tough enough for off-road riding.
I choose the most narrow 40cm, for a compact setup. Because of the inward sloping flare, the hoods of my levers ended up 39.5cm center-to-center. At the other end, the drops come out to 47cm c-c… wrapped with bar tape 50cm wide outside. The bars include holes for completely internal cable routing (which I ignored instead of bleeding brake lines), short 75mm reach & compact 150mm drop.
The $330 / 290€ carbon bar has a gently curving bit of backsweep to the large diameter tops. It also gets a fatter, shaped section at the first bend for a more ergonomic hand position while riding the tops. Wrapped with grippy PRO gravel tape, the bar gives me a solid handhold, eating up vibration over any terrain. It’s also almost seamless to move from the narrow position of the hoods to the wider, more stable drops – perfect for a ‘best of both worlds’ mix of paved & gravel road riding. -Cory Benson
Blackburn Switch Wrap Tool Kit
Saddle bag? Tool strap? Something in between? The Blackburn Switch Wrap Tool Kit kind of defies classification, but that’s OK because it works quite well. Blackburn has managed to take the hassle out of the mounting process you get with most basic tool or tube straps, and integrated some multi-tool storage while they were at it.
Designed to carry a tube, a CO2 inflator with a 20g cartridge, and their 15 function Switch tool, the Switch Wrap also allows quick access to the tools. A small velcro flap on the back covers the slot for the tool carrier, which can be removed without undoing the main velcro strap that holds everything in place. That makes trail-side repairs where your spare tube or inflator aren’t needed a lot faster.
Mounting the Switch Wrap is straight forward with two loops on the main wrap that keep the velcro strap from migrating. Grippers on the top of the wrap help keep it in place on your saddle. Once it’s strapped down, it has an impressive hold that’s not going anywhere – even in muddy, aggressive riding.
The Switch tool itself is stored in a little ‘card’ that slides in and out of the wrap, and is set up like a little t-bar. You can place any of the five ‘bits’ in the top of the tool, or in the handle, giving you plenty of options to get into tight places and crank down with plenty of torque. The tools don’t ratchet, but the handle option makes spinning fasteners fairly quick. Included are a T25 & T30 Torx bit, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm Allen bits, a flathead screwdriver, an 8mm hex tool and chain breaker. On the handle of the chain breaker you’ll find size 0, 1 and 2 spoke wrenches, a disc pad spreader, and a Presta valve core tool as well. Depending on your set up, it may not have everything you need for remote adventures, but for most rides, it’s perfect.
A CO2 inflator is not included, but I used the Blackburn Wayside micro inflator during the review. It’s a great option for a super tiny, lightweight inflator with a spring actuated chuck. I just wish it had a way to screw it onto the CO2 canister tightly without puncturing it. When weighed with the Wayside head, the whole kit comes in at 202g. There are lighter set ups out there, but the Switch Wrap is very easy to use and seems like a great value at $45 for the tool and the wrap (Get it here w/ free shipping). – Zach Overholt
Crossrope weighted jump rope
Jump ropes are a great warmup, and a great power workout to train your calves for explosive power. Since they act as the supporting muscle for your “foot lever” on every single pedal stroke, it’s a good idea to keep them strong and firing quickly.
The Crossrope is a unique (and very high end) take on the humble rope. A few things set it apart from just using a piece of, um, rope.
First, the handles detach, letting you change the weight of the rope for more or less of a workout. Options range from 0.25lb to 0.5lb with the Get Lean set (shown here, retail $99) and 1lb to 2lb with the Get Strong set (retail $139).
Second, they come in different lengths, so you order the right length for you. Third, and perhaps most impressive, is that the handles have some insanely good bearings inside. See that motion blur in the pic above? I could start it spinning and let the handle hang and it would continue rotating for almost a minute. If only we could get our bottom brackets to spin that long and easy!
Honestly, the Get Lean set was pretty light for me, but still a great way to warm up…and humble myself. If you haven’t jumped rope since grade school, try it see how quickly your calves are on fire! – Tyler Benedict
That’s it for this week. Tune in each weekend for more mini reviews!
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