It's often said that paying attention to seat, handle bars, and pedals are the biggest factors in fitting a person to his or her bicycle. You can adjust, replace and/or fiddle with these components to your hearts content to make almost any frame—barring an oversize or ridiculously small frame—suit your transportation needs.
The biggest obstacle may well be your wallet; you must weigh how much to invest in your bicycle's makeover versus what you hope to accomplish. Do you have extra parts on hand? Can you locate suitable used parts? How invested are you in the frame?
Ask me how I know.
Through trail and error, numerous work sessions, replacing parts, many miles ridden, even tears—I didn't give up on the Ross Mount Saint Helens. Because I loved the frame style. It's now very serviceable transportation, a bike I hope to keep for many years.
But that's not the main focus of this blog post, except to illustrate that bike love takes time.
Once you've dialed in your machine fit, and put some miles on your bike, your next consideration may very well become handle bar comfort. There is a direct correlation between time spent in the saddle versus distribution of weight upon handle bars. There will be an inevitable outcome, whether it's immediate comfort, pain, or numbness, which is unique to the individual.
There is no science involved in comfortable grip selection. Much of it is trial and error, pertaining to your handle bar style, or preferred material. Do you require more padding beneath your palms? A double layer of bar tape to accommodate larger hands? Do you like the comfort of cork, rubber, or foam? Rounded or ergonomic grips?
Perhaps you are not sure where to start.
That's okay. I discovered there are less expensive versions of all options. My Trek's bar ends sport cheap foam grips (see photo above), which does the trick, providing comfort and insulation for cooler weather. I'm sure there are many ingenious solutions that other's have come up with. You just need to explore.
Whether it's a drop bar machine or upright bicycle—trust me—comfortable and functional grips go a long ways towards making your riding adventures into dream trips.
But maybe you need to discover that yourself.