Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bar Mitts and Bar End Mirrors

I have been lazy as far as commuting to work in the last couple weeks. It's always dark (even with the end of daylights savings time) and hasn't been above freezing in the mornings for several weeks now.

 During the Thanksgiving holiday week, I had a short week at work (only Monday and Tuesday). Wednesday, I went out for a 12 mile ride pulling the little monkey in the trailer (his sister was in school at the time). Thursday, I pulled both monkeys for just under 10 miles in the trailer to the park to let them run around and get tired. I'm getting closer to 2,000 total miles this year, but haven't broken through yet.

 One problem that I've had with the cold are my extremities, my hands and my feet. The biggest problem with my feet is that I wear mountain bike shoes that aren't completely sealed on the bottom because of how the cleats attach. This is worse on a recumbent compared to a regular bicycle because my the bottom of my feet are basically facing forwards into the wind. I think I'll try lining the inside with plastic bags just to act as a wind barrier.

 Today I went out for a quick 13 miler with it above freezing, but not by much (36 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius). I wore two pairs of socks, two layers of long underwear under my tights, an undershirt, another long undershirt and long sleeve shirt under my jacket and ear muffs. I wore my long fingered bicycle gloves which are supposed to be wind and water proof, but aren't. But I wasn't worried about cold hands today.

 I've seen a few pairs of bar mitts for sale in the past. I had two problems with them. First, they are expensive (these sell for $45). Second, I have bar end mirrors and I didn't see how that would work. Recently on the winter forum on, somebody mentioned scooter bike mitts for $16 (shipped).  For that price, I was willing to experiment.

And I'm glad I did; it turned out well.  I ripped out the seams near the corner and glued and sewed in velcro.
Bar mitt showing the velcro that I glued and sewed on the inside.

Same mitt with the velcro closed.

This allows me to slip the mitt over my mirror and then close the hole.

The bar mitt on my bicycle with the mirror poking through.

Both mitts installed.

This clearly was not a profession job.  My wife Kate, on the other hand, makes purses and other bags out of antique silk:

One of Kate's bags on Bombyx Botanica.

so clearly somebody in my family actually knows how to sew (and it isn't me).  But the bar mitts worked extremely well and kept my hands nice and toasty warm.  If it had gotten 5 degrees warmer, they would have worked too well.

It wasn't too weird riding with the mitts either.  I do miss being able to see what gear I'm in (yes, I have indicators on my trigger shifters), but that wasn't too bad.  I was able to get my hands out and signal and get them back in with no problems.  And there were no issues with either shifting and braking.  This experiment was definitely a success.


  1. Ah...the fine joys of livin' in the South! What is this thing you call Winter??


  2. First, lobster gloves. These are thin shelled gloves that protect the fingers from the cold wind. Here's a good one:

    Second, wool. Even when I'm wet with sweat and reach the cold and sunless hollows of the mountains out here the wool really keeps me warm.

    Still, a shell is important against the wind.

    As far as keeping feet warm ... a few suggestions.

    First, you can purchase a form of sock that is really a thinly insulated bootie. Probably google it.

    Second, on long, cold (teens and less) you can purchase chemical foot warmers (hand warmers, too).

    Finally, a balaclava.

    Ice and snow are the only things not negotiable. And, lightening.

    1. Hi Dan,

      I was looking very closely at lobster gloves before I got the bar mitts. In my case, since I use only my thumbs to shift, I could have probably even gone with just mittens as well. For those who need to use fingers as well, I think lobster mitts are the way to go. Admittedly, I'm also being cheap and for $16, the bar mitts are a brilliant and cheap solution to my hand warmth problems.

      Thanks for the tip about insulated booties. I've started googling and finding good possibilities. I do have (but have never used) shoe covers, but the biggest problem I have is the air coming in from the bottom of the shoe. I keep meaning to put something under the foot pad that I think will help a lot.

      In my trunk bag, I keep a rain jacket and pants which can be useful as a cold weather layer as well. And I have two different weight balaclavas as well. I haven't gotten goggles yet, but if the weather gets cold enough, I could imagine doing just that.

      I completely agree that snow, ice, and lightening are definitely bad ideas for riding. :D