Much like the Renovo Coupe and NOX SV electric boat, the Sen Comfort bicycle handlebar grips from Munich's Velospring combine beautiful, ageless aesthetics with innovative technological design. The warm walnut wood cloaks a spring suspension system that minimizes jarring impacts on the hands and wrists.
Finely oiled and polished wood isn't the most obvious choice for bicycle grips. It's much more expensive than run-of-the-mill rubber and doesn't seem like it would necessarily grip that well or feel that comfortable during actual cycling.
However, Velospring designer Klaus Mildenberger has a lifelong passion for both wood and cycling. He decided to team the know-how he's gained from his decades of crafting wooden furniture and home decor pieces with his love for cycling, creating a bicycle component that looks as uniquely beautiful as a piece of fine, handcrafted furniture.
"Wood stands for pure beauty, exquisite aesthetic, sensual haptics, and natural individuality," Velospring explains. "The natural grain of the local walnut wood makes every grip pair very special and unique."
All true, but can wood really perform up to its price bracket when it comes to the simple but important task of keeping fingers wrapped comfortably around handlebars? We can't tell for sure without a thorough trial, but we do know that the 11-oz (310-g/per pair) Sen Comfort grips are more than just stylish accessories for ultra-expensive show bikes. Each grip features spring-based suspension hardware that provides a bit of impact-absorbing cushion. The spring action allows the grips to twist a small amount, smoothing out the impacts and vibrations of rough ground and ensuring the ergonomically whittled walnut doesn't become harsh and uncomfortable in the cyclist's hands.
Velospring has made a positive impression on at least a few industry professionals. The Sen Comfort grips took home a Green Award at the 2014 Eurobike show and were a BrandNew Award finalist at the ISPO Munich show earlier this month.
Cool design and industry accolades aside, €199 (US$225) is an awful lot to spend on a set of grips. But if you're looking to put together a high-spec commuter bike with second-to-none looks, you'll probably have trouble finding another set of grips with the same level of high-tech, high-style design. Velospring has a network of dealers around various European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Those that think the internal suspension system sounds like unnecessary weight and cost can opt for the spring-less, 8.6-oz (245-g/per pair) Sen Pur grips, which feature the same wooden design for a lower price of €149. Such consumers should probably shop other wooden grips, too, as the small market includes some lower-priced products that still look awfully nice, including these $70 grips from Nisnas Industries.
If you enjoy the wooden design featured on Velospring's grips, you might take a few moments to check out Mildenberger's furniture design site. The site is only available in German and Russian, but the photos speak for themselves.