Saturday, July 27, 2019

Bike Friday HaD: Ergon GS3 Grips, Handlebar and Stem

While waiting for the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day frameset to arrive, I had plenty of time to draw up a component list for the bike, plus source for all the components. In fact, it took 4 months for the frameset to arrive, after placing the order with MyBikeShop. It is due to the frameset being out of stock at Bike Friday, so they had to make the frameset first, before painting it and sending it out.

One of the decisions I had to make was the type of handlebar that I need. For speed, a drop bar is better, as it puts the rider in a more aggressive riding posture. In fact, even my commuting bike, the Fabike C3 is using a drop bar, to make it feel as close to a road bike as possible.

However, a cargo bike is very different, and I have read that using a narrow drop bar on a cargo bike is not ideal, as you have less control over the bike. For a single rider on a road bike it is OK, but with a longtail cargo bike, with plenty of weight at the back, a drop bar does not provide the necessary leverage to steer the bike safely and easily.

With that in mind, a flat handlebar is more suitable. There are other kinds of handlebars, such as a swept-back handlebar, or a butterfly bar, but those are more for city bikes with an upright riding posture. I still prefer to use a flat handlebar with a good forward reach, to ride in a relatively aggressive riding posture.

Nowadays, most flat handlebars are MTB handlebars, which are really wide and usually more than 700 mm long. Shorter types (560 - 600 mm), like those that come on folding bikes, have a good width but the centre clamp diameter is smaller at just 25.4 mm.

Since I already have a stem (with 31.8 mm clamp diameter) that I want to use, I need a handlebar that is around 600 mm wide, but with a centre clamp diameter of 31.8 mm. One way is to cut a MTB handlebar down to the correct width, which was my original plan.

Incidentally, while getting the Ascent crankset and custom wheelset from Ascent Bikes, I got to know that they have a handlebar that fits my requirements. It is a carbon handlebar, which is totally unnecessary on a cargo bike, since any weight savings is inconsequential when the whole bike will weigh almost 20 kg. However, since the price is quite reasonable, I decided to get the handlebar from Ascent Bikes, as it will save me some work in cutting a handlebar down to the correct length.

Plain looking carbon handlebar from Ascent Bikes. 600 mm width, 31.8mm centre clamp diameter.

Toseek branded carbon handlebar.

Printed markings to help align the handlebar's angle and position.

Surface finish is rather different from what I have seen before. It is a silky matte finish which looks quite nice.

Not sure why the hole is offset to one side, but I was assured by the factory that this is not a concern.

The hole on the other side is centralized, which means that the wall thickness is equal in all directions.

Carbon handlebar weight is 156 grams, which is not a weight weenie value (around 100-120 grams).

Although the offset hole (and thus unequal wall thickness) is quite unsettling, it is only the end that has this condition, which is OK as most of the stress is near the centre of the handlebar. Also, the handlebar weight is higher than normal, which means that this handlebar is probably over built, which is fine.

After selecting the handlebar, the next important decision is to select the grips. I am a big fan of Ergon grips for flat handlebars, as they make a big difference for comfort. Examples of some other bikes that used Ergon grips shown here.

Dahon Boardwalk with GX2 Grips
Brompton M6R with GP1 Grips
Crius AEV20 with GP1 Grips
Dahon MuEX with GP1 Grips
Avanti Inc 3 with GP3 Grips

For this cargo bike, I decided to get an Ergon grip with bar ends, so that I can hold the bar ends when cruising, with no need to shift the gears or operate the brake levers. This will be better for comfort as well. For folding bikes, bar ends are not so feasible as they get in the way of the folding. Since the cargo bike does not fold, I can choose any Ergon grip with bar ends.

Ergon GS3 Grips with bar ends, in S size.

Bar end is designed together with the grip, as seen from the special shape of the interface.

These GS3 grips are classified under racing grade, which means that they might be more lightweight and possibly more expensive than normal GP3 grips. However, since they cost the same as the GP3 grips, I might as well get these GS3 grips which look better too.

Pair of GS3 grips. Bar ends looks to be a comfortable length.

Black rubber at the palm area is softer for more comfort.

White lines are printed at the bar end, to help align the left and right side angles.

Rubber is insert molded on the bar ends for better grip and comfort.

The pair of GS3 grips weigh 232 grams, which is quite decent considering that bar ends are also included. Surprisingly, they weigh exactly the same as the GP3 grips!

The PRO PLT stem will be used on this cargo bike, since it is a spare stem that I removed from the Avanti Inc 3 last time.

Later on, during the installation of the stem and handlebar to the frameset, I would encounter a problem as explained below.

Stem does not fit on the handlepost of the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day!

Normal clamp diameter between the steerer tube and the stem is 28.6 mm, but the Bike Friday handlepost stem is not normal. As I will come to realize later, there are a few other non-standard designs on this frameset.

The external diameter of the handlepost is just 25.4 mm, which is too small for the stem to clamp onto. I did not know of this issue beforehand, so I was not prepared for it. Luckily, with advice from MyBikeShop, I realized that a shim is needed in this case.

Shim to convert 25.4 mm diameter to 28.6 mm diameter, which is exactly what I needed. This is from Taobao.

Place the shim onto the handlepost, and then the stem over it. With this shim, a normal stem can now be used with the handlepost.

This is something that you need to take note, if you plan to use your own stem on a Bike Friday bike. Here is a useful graphic showing you the different types of stems provided by Bike Friday.
Many types of stems to suit different purposes.

Upon closer inspection of this graphic, I noticed that the clamp diameter of 25.4 mm was mentioned, just that I did not spot it. The type that I am using on this Haul-A-Day is the Adjustable Aheadset Style Stem.

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