Back in the 90s, a lot of mountain bikes sported handlebar end attachments – they provided the rider with more hand positions, plus they were claimed to increase leverage. Since then, bar ends have largely fallen out of favor. This has been partly because of concerns over them hooking onto things like trees, and partly just due to the whims of fashion. Now, however, a new product is attempting to bring back some of the attributes of bar ends, without their bulkiness or hooking hazards. They're called Togs, and I recently got to try a pair out.
"Togs" stands for Thumb Over Grip System, as they allow you to hold onto your handlebar with your thumbs resting on top of it. That might not sound like a big thing, but when you've been pounding over roots and rocks for an hour or two and your hands are starting to cramp up from continuously grabbing the bar, it's definitely nice to be able to change things up a bit.
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Of course, you can also rest your thumbs on top of the bar without using Togs. The big difference is, they give you something to hold onto, so you don't need to worry about your hands being "bucked off" when you hit bumps.
The Togs are made from heavy-duty Zytel thermoplastic, and they simply slide on from either end of the bar before being locked into place beside the handlebar grips, using an integrated set screw. When I put mine on, I had to make a point of pushing them right up against the inside locking rings of the grips, so that the Togs and grips sat flush with one another.
While they still leave your hands with ready access to the brake levers (unlike the case with bar ends), it is worth noting that the shifters won't be right at your beck and call when you're riding with your thumbs up – so you're better off still grabbing the bar at times when lots of quick shifts are anticipated. Additionally, the Togs may end up competing for bar space with other items, such as drop seatpost or suspension lockout controls. In my case, I had to move my bell over, making it less easy to reach.
After using them for a while, though, I can definitely attest to the fact that they do indeed allow you to ride in the thumbs-on-top position while maintaining a much more secure grip on the bar than would otherwise be possible. The product website claims that they also provide climbing leverage and a boost in lateral stability (i.e: they help keep the front wheel from wandering). Quite honestly, I just couldn't tell if they did so for me – perhaps a few more weeks of use will be required on my part.
Togs are available now in six color choices, priced at US$25 a pair.
Product page: TogsView gallery - 5 images