-Not for everyone
-Doesn’t fit over all models of grips.
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Imagine for a moment that you are a left-handed scrapbooker—strange ask, I know, but hear me out. Now imagine that you’ve been scrapbooking for, say, twenty-three years, never realizing you were left handed until you recently, randomly, happened across some left-handed scissors. This is how I felt when I discovered Togs: I never realized I was one of those riders who sometimes rides with their thumbs on top of their bars—additionally, I never realized I was different because of it—and I obviously had no idea there was a product out there developed specifically for riders like myself.
Togs, which stands for “Thumb Over Grip System”, are small fin-shaped accessories that clamp just inside each grip and provide a spot to hook your thumbs around if you ride with your hands resting atop your bars. The thought is that this provides more control over rough terrain, and extra leverage for climbing.
I first tried installing the Togs with some Bontrager lock-on grips which have a slight flange to the clamp. This flange proved to be taller than the overlapping ledge on the Togs, and basically made them incompatible. I swapped my Bontragers for some Sensus Lites on one bike, and some ODI Yetis on another, and didn’t have any additional compatibility issues. Between the Sensus and the ODIs, the shorter length of the Sensus Lites put my thumbs in the best position to hook onto the Togs while still feeling like my hands were wide enough on the bars while still being able to easily access the controls. It should also be noted that Togs sells an exclusive, shorter-than-stock, ESI grip on its site, which are similar to the Sensus Lites, length wise.
Of course, I’m not a full-time thumb-over gripper. It’s more or less exclusive to grinding up grueling ascents or spinning along on generally smoother sections of trail. On technical climbs where I may need to pull back on the bars, or need some extra level of grip of trail I keep my thumbs wrapped around the bars.
Like with many new unfamiliar products, my first few rides with the Togs felt almost forced, having to consciously engage with them, but after a couple of weeks, they kinda just disappeared into the background, and I continued using them mindlessly. In fact, the Togs became so natural, I didn’t realize how much I was using them until I found myself on bike without them and caught myself reaching for them naturally on climbs—an experience akin to reaching for the shifter lever on a single speed or the dropper post lever on a fixed-post bike.
I appreciated the extra security when I’d ride thumbs-over. Togs offer more than just a spot to hook your thumbs. They act kinda like mini bar-ends (remember those?) offering extra hand positions—something especially nice on longer rides where switching up hand positions can really help ward off fatigue. I can’t scientifically attest to whether the Togs provide any additional leverage or power to the bars on climbs, but they definitely feel like they do—plus, there are a few pros on the World Cup circuit who run these, so there’s gotta be something to that.
Togs offers two models for mountain bikes: The $25 Flex MTB and the $30 Carbon Pro MTB. The Flex MTBs are made from plastic and the Carbons are, well, carbon. The weight difference between the two of them is a scant 1 gram (the carbons are actually the heavier of the two), but the main difference is that the carbons offer a more secure clamp interface which helps prevent the togs from moving or twisting. I ran both models, and preferred this more secure grip of the Carbons, however I can’t say I was really too bothered by the Flex’s less secure feel.
Are Togs as revolutionary as left-handed scissors? I’m not left handed, so that’s perhaps not a fair question. Togs, for me, aren’t as much of a necessity as, say, suspension or a dropper post. This said, I don’t have any plans to take them off my bike anytime soon. Also, Togs offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee on its products, which is pretty cool, and rather rare in the bike industry.
Photos: Ryan “Squirrel” LaBar
Find them at togs.com