I don’t spend a lot of time reviewing products here at Pedalfree, but when I find something that makes me go “ah-ha” I like to share my thoughts on it with others who might benefit. Bar Mitts is one of those products.
This is my third winter on the bike. Winters one and two were in Indiana and Utah. This one’s in Iowa, which is in the general vicinity of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas for those of you who don’t already know. It gets seriously cold here. I never gave it much thought as I’ve lived with this most of my life, but I’m in a winter cycling group on Facebook and a lot of those folks stop cycling long before it gets as cold as it has been for the last five days or so in these parts.
So how cold has it been? Well, we’ve struggled to get out of single digits and the wind chills have been as cold as 20 below. The next few days are going to be even colder.
I’ll ride through it because I ride every day. For what it’s worth, I don’t like to be cold any more than you do. The good news is that I haven’t been. The trick is to dress properly for what you’re going to encounter. That starts with your hands and your feet. These are the areas of your body that get the least amount of blood flow and it’s blood that keeps you warm. These are the areas that are most at risk of frostbite, or worse.
I knew all of this before we moved here and so a couple of months ago I reached out to the nice folks at Bar Mitts in Carson City, Nevada about purchasing a pair of their extreme mitts for my Surly Wednesday fat bike. Bar Mitts is a family-owned business. They make a whole host of products for flat bars, drop bars and other specialized equipment. I reached out via Facebook on a warm Sunday afternoon in October and within minutes I was chatting with Patti. She was awesome and took the time to answer all of my questions. She agreed when I said that I thought I needed the “extreme” mitts. These are their most “heavy duty” product, made of 6 mm thick neoprene with a fleece lining on the inside. I placed the order and they showed up within a week.
I was immediately impressed with the quality. The seams were well sewn and the overall look and feel of the product was very good. Installation was a snap. Simply unzip them, slide them over the handlebars and secure the end with the integrated bar plug. It takes five minutes, tops. You can tighten it with a 4mm hex wrench and they will not slip…even a little. There’s plenty of room for shifter and brake cables and they do not constrict hand movement in any way. When I have to pull my hand out to signal a turn, it’s as easy as can be.
As far as keeping my hands warm, well, Bar Mitts are everything Patti said they would be. All of my rides this week have been around one and one half hours long and my hands just don’t get cold at all. Above ten degrees I’ll wear a light pair of spring/fall weight gloves under them. When it dips as cold as it is now, I wear a heavier glove although I probably don’t need to. My main concern is if I get a flat or have some other mechanical issue and have to ditch the bike. I’m not going to change a tire at these temperatures, and I don’t want my hands to freeze on a long walk home.
I like cycling in the winter. Years ago I traded downhill for cross country skis and that was a lot of fun, but this is better still. I can cycle anywhere, right from my front door. I don’t have to wait for it to snow and I never have to wax. You can buy a fat bike and a pair of Bar Mitts for a lot less than a week in Vail or Park City would cost you, and best of all you can carve tracks and make memories all winter long.
In conclusion, Bar Mitts are a real game changer for me. Those first two winters I had to stay close to home and constantly monitor what was going on with my hands. Now I don’t have to worry about them at all. I’ve stayed toasty warm, and that has upped the pleasure quotient of winter cycling immeasurably. I highly recommend Bar Mitts if you rely on a bicycle for winter transportation or simply want to extend your season.