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14 September 2015 - 1:09pm

Foam grips solutions


Catrikes, Greenspeeds, and other trikes using bar-end shifters get major upgrade at AlphaBENT

Foam grips are one of the most under-reported problems in the bike and trike industry. The conventional foam grips are ubiquitous and comfortable, but they are almost guaranteed to fail. Failure of these grips reflects poorly on your fancy, expensive trike, and is surprisingly expensive to fix. We have sourced a durable solution for any trike using foam-grips (which generally includes trikes with bar-end shifters such as Catrikes and Greenspeed) sold at AlphaBENT.

What happens?

On most trikes employing bar-end shifters, the cable housing passes down the handlebar underneath the foam grip. At the bottom of the grip, the cable-housing generally has to rise away from the handlebar to pass over the brake lever clamp. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_preview","fid":"810","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em; float: right;"}}]] This rise is a stress-point, and, over time, that stress causes the foam grip to split at its lower edge. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_preview","fid":"811","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em; float: right;"}}]] The split then travels up the grip (getting stressed by usage of the handlebar and by time) until the grip rips free. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_preview","fid":"812","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em; float: left;"}}]]

This happens even on trikes that are hanging on the wall waiting for purchase! This happens even if the cable housing is anchored to handlebar with a cable-tie / zip-tie.

How to fix ripped grips

Fixing this problem is not rocket science and it doesn't require special training. However, it does require time and patience and ends up costing trike owners unnecessarily.

The reason is that it is quite difficult to fit a new foam grip over the shifting mechanism. Therefore, we usually find it necessary to pull the entire shifter and cable and then we have to put it all back together and then re-tune the shifting. Sometimes, the cable is compromised and we have to reach for a new cable.

What is irritating is that this is a mere parts sourcing issue and it costs us all unnecessarily...

Furthermore, the solution is only ever temporary. It WILL happen again, and a lot sooner than anyone wants it to.


At AlphaBENT, we've experimented with different approaches to resolving this problem.

We have tried anchoring cables tightly with zip-ties. This works better than not having any zip-tie anchors, but the stress point at the bottom of the grip still exists and the grip will still fail.

For the past year, we have settled on the solution used by ICE. This solution involves passing the cable housing into the handlebar and then back out again below the brake lever. To that end, we have painstakingly drilled holes into the handlebars of all the Catrikes in the shop. Frankly, it's a pain in the neck, and it makes assembly and disassembly more difficult. Once the cable housing is threaded into the handlebar, you really don't want to pull it out again unless you have to. This means that reconfiguring brake levers, etc. is much more involved that it really should be. Furthermore, the grip still has a stress riser at its top-point where the cable housing emerges from the shifter.

Our efforts to resolve this problem pass largely unnoticed by our customers. No one notices that they have lower maintenance costs!

The main people who notice, are us -- the workers in the trenches who actually get out there and pull things apart, and drill holes, and re-assemble, and re-tune the shifting.

Our solution

This year, we have gotten in some test units of a fancy new silicone foam material. We've installed it on several trikes and put some into real use.

The results have been very good. None of the grips has failed in use.

Now, we know that it's still too early to tell. However, it seems that the silicone foam grips are handling all the use that has been thrown at them with aplomb.

Because these new grips are stronger and handle wear better, we can go back to anchoring the cable housing at the bottom of the handlebar. This is quicker and easier for us to set up initially and later on allows easy reconfiguration or replacement of the brake levers without simultaneously requiring a bunch of shifter work.

It seems like such a small thing, and yet, you wouldn't believe how much needless maintenance we do with this "small thing". And, in order to be most efficient with our time and energy and provide our customers with the best product possible, we have spent a fair bit of time and energy developing this solution to a ubiquitous problem.

Another great reason to buy a trike from AlphaBENT.


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