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Successful but perhaps pointless project

Old 12-08-21, 10:13 AM
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Successful but perhaps pointless project





I recently replaced the drop bars on my winter bike with a set of VO Milan bars. I liked the upright posture and improved visibility, but thought they were a little narrow, and like most flat bars they offer relatively few hand positions.

To give my wrists a change of position, I would sometimes place my palm against the butt of the grip with my hands facing forward. It was promising, but awkward. I wondered what it would be like to have in improved version of that grip.

Okay, cutting to the chase, I made a prototype set of sphero-grips from a couple of 2 1/4" birch balls, some threaded rod and associated hardware, and a couple of neoprene expansion plugs from a set of bar-end plugs.

Standing over the frame, they feel good to my hands. Gripping the balls makes the bars a lot wider, and makes it possible to rotate your wrist in any direction. It's also very pleasant to wrap the thumb and forefinger around the very end of the bar, with the palm of the hand and the remaining fingers resting on the ball.

It also looks cool, like those ornamental (and protective-to-the-ox-driver) brass balls that oxen have on the tips of their horns.

What I don't know yet is how it feels on an actual ride, because it's been too icy to go out. My guess is that it will be a modest improvement over the original ball-less setup, but probably not quite good enough to justify the time and effort that went into it. That seems to be how I roll.
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Old 12-08-21, 10:19 AM
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Finally! A bike with some real balls. It's a good idea and was built up very well.
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Old 12-08-21, 11:38 AM
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at least they are not hanging from the seat

joking aside it is an interesting concept for added hand placement on the bars
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Old 12-08-21, 11:42 AM
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Awesome
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Old 12-08-21, 12:57 PM
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I can see them being very comfortable. (Low hanging fruit here...or are they high hanging?)
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Old 12-08-21, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
balls
VO recently got in some "wood" MTB grips, if you want to match the balls.
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Old 12-08-21, 02:04 PM
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I feel like you should draw some smiley faces or some such on those wooden balls.
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Old 12-08-21, 03:00 PM
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I think it's brilliant! I might like to make a pair. Are wooden balls a commodity?
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Old 12-08-21, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I think it's brilliant! I might like to make a pair. Are wooden balls a commodity?
I have found wood balls in the arts and crafts supply stores, 50mm or 60mm
They are used for doll heads, also there is a choice of pre-drilled ones...
Used them to make wooden gear knobs for old cars 😎
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Old 12-08-21, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I think it's brilliant! I might like to make a pair. Are wooden balls a commodity?
Yes, here are the ones I used:

https://www.rockler.com/hardwood-bal...YaAu21EALw_wcB

The ones I have were very well finished. All I did was go over them quickly with some fine sandpaper and rub in a little walnut oil.

Looking at the price list here, I'm puzzled as to why the 2 1/4" balls are $7.99, the 2 1/2" balls are $5.99, and the 2" balls are only $3.99. If I had been paying attention, I probably would have started with the 2" ones. But this is C&V, so carelessness with money is the order of the day.
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Old 12-08-21, 04:17 PM
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Some real knobs in this thread.
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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RUSA #7498
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Old 12-08-21, 04:59 PM
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After your comment on oxen, I'm imagining them on Picasso's Bull's Head.
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Old 12-08-21, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
After your comment on oxen, I'm imagining them on Picasso's Bull's Head.
I think we can all agree that it would be substantially improved by the addition of a pair of spheri-grips. Or whatever these things are called.
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Old 12-09-21, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I feel like you should draw some smiley faces or some such on those wooden balls.
Or all kinds of emojis!

jonwvara They need built-in LED lights to add to your visibility. However, I do realize, that enough time has already been put into your exceptional project.
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Old 12-09-21, 07:44 AM
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I think this C&V crowd is mostly about ‘whatever works to keep the bike comfortable’ is Good. That’s really what it is about for riders.


Ride On.
Collect on.
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Old 12-09-21, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I feel like you should draw some smiley faces or some such on those wooden balls.
artistic additions can be endless. 8 balls, Globe map, hypnotic swirl,
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Old 12-09-21, 01:57 PM
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Br sure to update the thread once you've had a chance to road test your innovation.
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Old 12-09-21, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
artistic additions can be endless. 8 balls, Globe map, hypnotic swirl,
I am going to ask for a wood-burning kit for Christmas.
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Old 12-09-21, 06:08 PM
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I'm thinking those would probably look pretty nice with cork grips too.
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Old 12-09-21, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Yes, here are the ones I used:

https://www.rockler.com/hardwood-bal...YaAu21EALw_wcB

The ones I have were very well finished. All I did was go over them quickly with some fine sandpaper and rub in a little walnut oil.

Looking at the price list here, I'm puzzled as to why the 2 1/4" balls are $7.99, the 2 1/2" balls are $5.99, and the 2" balls are only $3.99. If I had been paying attention, I probably would have started with the 2" ones. But this is C&V, so carelessness with money is the order of the day.
You officially have the biggest balls. It only cost $8 more for your BOM. Cheap for a non-wear item. Added bonus: you get a larger more comfortable surface that should cause fewer hot spots on your hands.

I do wonder how this will play out on a bumpy road. Does a ball provide enough grip in the case of a sudden jolt to the bars? That said, maybe a better equivalent when thinking about these is the grip on modern drop bar levers where you drape your hands over the knob of the hood.

Overall, this is a really cool project! Maybe a next evolution could be a shape that keeps the ergos but matches a little more aesthetically with the bar. That's a next level of difficulty though, I am sure.
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Old 12-09-21, 08:03 PM
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If you were a real sports fan you could have gone with whatever your sports icon throws!
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Old 12-09-21, 10:10 PM
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....and, finally, an appropriate place for shellac!
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Old 12-10-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
...I do wonder how this will play out on a bumpy road. Does a ball provide enough grip in the case of a sudden jolt to the bars? That said, maybe a better equivalent when thinking about these is the grip on modern drop bar levers where you drape your hands over the knob of the hood...
That's my main question as well. The grips do seem very secure with fingers and thumb wrapped directly around the ball, or with thumb and forefinger wrapped around the very end of the bar, with the palm and remaining fingers on the ball. But it's also comfortable to use a "no thumb" grip, and that's probably a bad habit. Fine as a change of pace on a smooth road, but a big bump could be a problem in that case, I suspect.

It's supposed to be a little above freezing tomorrow, though raining. If it's not too bad, I hope I'll be able to ride at least a few miles and see how these things actually work.
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Old 12-12-21, 05:42 PM
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Today it was sunny and about 35 degrees, so despite a stiff west wind, I managed a road test of about 8 miles or so.

The grips felt quite good through heavy mittens. No issues with getting a solid grip with thumb and forefinger wrapped around the very ends of the bars and the palms/fingers on the balls. I enjoyed widening or narrowing the bars, depending on how I positioned my hands. A more or less "thumbless" grip, with the hands cupped around the balls, was less secure but still seemed fine on (relatively) smooth pavement. No issues reaching the brakes.

From similar quixotic projects past, I'm well aware that I have a tendency to prematurely declare that whatever I'm working on is a howling success. I'm not doing that this time. Even so, I'm encouraged. A longer ride without mittens will tell me more, but that will likely have to wait until April or so.
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Old 12-12-21, 06:20 PM
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Jon, in the spirit of human kindness, perhaps you can try these for a future mod:

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