Confession: I used to laugh at Bar Mitts. Maybe it was simply the goofy looks, but the thought never crossed my mind to give them a try. Man up I told myself. Those are for sissies. Just wear heavier gloves. Over the years I made up all kinds of excuses in my head for cold hands and learned to live with freezing, numb fingers, accepting them as a part of cold weather riding.
Times have changed. I first used pogies a few weeks back on a long ride where the high temperature was a balmy 18 degrees. After nearly eight hours on the bike never, not once, were my upper extremities cold. Pretty impressive stuff, especially considering how simple the concept is behind them.
Bar Mitts has been making pogies for years, with versions for everything from bicycles to baby strollers. They are made of waterproof neoprene and come in several different thicknesses. Think of them as wetsuits for your handlebars. I picked up the Mountain/Commuter version due to their relatively small size and ease of entry and exit, important on a mountain/fat bike for the occasional nose wipe or inevitable fall. Installation was a breeze and only a matter of a few velcro straps and one zipper. These guys use velcro to wrap around the handlebar (as opposed to cutting a hole in your grips like some by other brands), which is especially nice for when the weather turns and it comes time to remove them. Initial concerns about reaching the shift and brake levers were immediately alleviated and with several rides under my belt in a variety of conditions (including snow and freezing rain) I can confidently say they not only work, but work great. An added bonus is being able to wear a lighter weight glove and feel your tire’s limit of traction through the corners better. Oh and everything is reflective; the logo, the sides, everything.
Bottom line: If you plan to ride outside during the winter these are totally where it’s at. Granted they aren’t inexpensive, but they are certainly less than a trainer and allow you to ride outdoors when you would otherwise be cooped up in a basement somewhere on your trainer. So next time you see somebody riding with a big ol’ pair of Bar Mitts on their handlebars stop laughing…they’re probably the ones with nice warm hands laughing at you.