Thumbs up or thumbs down?

TOGS are dinky thumb hooks designed for long distance and XC riders to aid climbing and offer alternative hand positioning.

TOGS is an acronym. It stands for Thumb Over Grip System. It’s a bit of an oddball idea but it’s one that nonetheless appears to have taken hold amongst certain types of mountain biker.

>>> Guy Martin is racing Tour Divide under false name


Who remembers bar ends?

Those of your of a certain age will remember bar ends. Bar ends were short poles that you clamped on to the ends of your handlebar and you held on them whilst climbing. Bar ends were everywhere in the nineties. Even downhillers ran them. They kinda worked with climbing leverage but then fell out of favour when riser bars came along and bar ends on risers just looked… wrong.

So where did the idea of TOGS come from? “Simply, we were envious of the brake hoods on road bikes which are comfortable and efficient.

“The only option for flat bar bikes seemed to be bar-ends, which just don’t feel all that great, are kinda heavy and have safety issues (bar-ends can hook foliage and people and they provide no access to shifters and brakes). So, we researched the thumb-over grip position that many pros use as an alternate hand position, and improved on it with TOGS”.

(The “thumb-over grip position” referred to above is actually a little trick well worth knowing. When on extended or steep climbs it can help to put your thumbs over the top of handlebar – like a monkey grip. This helps you to pull the rear tyre into the ground for traction)

>>> How to ride technical climbs

Anyway, TOGS. They’re little things that most riders will just shrug or laugh at but some folk reading this will go “hmm… yep, worth a try”.


Alternative hand positions

As well as being an aid to climbing, TOGS create an extra hand position. This is totally irrelevant on normal rides but for endurance riders and racers simply having somewhere different to place your hands is extremely welcome and can reduce fatigue as well simply just cheering you up.

Price-wise they cost $20 for the regular reinforced nylon resins versions or $30 for hinged carbon fibre versions. They’re made in the USA. They weigh 18g.