Strict adherence to social distancing and Covid-19 protocols at BWR Utah protected us from contracting a Corona virus, but we came back with a bad case of Tog Fever instead.
It started when Keegan Swenson sprinted across the line in front of Peter Stetina to win the inaugural BWR Utah. Someone in the crowd said "what are those little things on his handlebars?”
Come to find out they are a made in Utah product brought over to gravel from the mountain bike side. It makes sense that Keegan would be using them, being a Utah-based mountain biker. We also spied the little "Handle horns” on 4th place overall rider Dylan Johnson.
Two riders in the top 5 using a product we have never heard of? We had to try these things out.
The website calls them “Hoods for your thumbs” and says they increase comfort and stability in the drops. They weigh 18g per set and they come with “Gravel Covers” which are like a rubber sleeve that goes over the Tog to add some cushion and vibration dampening.
Reviewing photos of the event we can see that Dylan and Keegan use the Togs differently. Dylan placed his togs down low on his bars and uses them when he is riding in a pace line, staying low and aero, with his hands way down low in the drops. The tog gives him a secure grip without having to squeeze the bars. Keegan, on the other hand, has his togs up higher, where he grabs the bars when riding technical terrain. This makes it easier to keep your hands up high, in easy reach of the brake levers, again, without having to grip the bars as hard.
Dylan Johnson says in his BWR bike check video: “during the course of a long race when you’re spending a lot of time in the drops, these help to make that position more tolerable.”
Installation was easy, but it presented us with an immediate decision. Do you put the Togs on and then wrap the bars over them, or do you wrap the bars over the mounting points, then put the Togs on over the tape? The manufacturer recommends putting the Togs over the tape, but notes that you can do it either way. We tried both ways and found the bars slightly easier to wrap by installing the metal mounting points under the tape, then attaching the Togs. The togs push down into the soft tape slightly so there is no edge that you can see or feel.
If you are going to use the gravel covers, mount the Togs slightly lower than you think you want them. The covers add about an eighth of an inch to the height of the Togs.
We expect this to be a polarizing product. Togs are not for everybody. You can ride your gravel bike just fine without them, thank you very much.
But for the kind of technical riding we do in our area, which we affectionately call “Gravel Plus”, we found they increased confidence, and just make riding in the drops a touch nicer. We also see the value in low-set togs to give better grip to fatigued hands on an event like Unbound when you find yourself pushing into the wind for long stretches. For both of those reasons, we decided we like Road Togs well enough to add them to our shop. If they sound intriguing to you, why don’t you give them a try?
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