Behind the Accessory: Handlebar Mitts
If there’s one thing we know about the Rad Family, it’s that they’re always looking forward to their next ride.
For some of you, that means longingly waiting until spring rolls around. Others aren’t as patient and are more than willing to brave a little snow or rain if that means squeezing in some extra time on the saddle.
No matter where you stand, our entire team hears you and is dedicated to making sure you have the tools available to enjoy year-round rides whenever you’re feeling up for it. That’s the driving force behind our latest accessory: handlebar mitts.
So what are these things? In a nutshell, they’re large hand coverings that you can attach to your bike in the winter months to offer some extra protection against the elements.
They’re more convenient than gloves since they free up your fingers to operate the brakes, shifter, twist-power assist, and control system. Plus, since you can keep them affixed to your bike for the whole season, you never need to worry about tracking down that one glove that always seems to go missing. Where did you leave it last? Did you try looking under the couch cushions? Maybe check again?
But the most exciting takeaway? The innovation heroes in the Rad Lab custom-designed them specifically for our ebike models.
“We have a lot of riders that use our bikes in snowy or rain-prone places,” Trevor Knapp, the project’s industrial designer, told us. “We’ve seen some of them trying out similar accessories with mixed results, so we realised we owe it to them to give them something that works perfectly for their bike.”
For Knapp and his team, this meant going through four or five separate prototypes until they landed on the exact right design, putting themselves in our riders’ shoes mitts throughout the entire process.
“To get into the right headspace, a lot of us started using products that were already on the market for our commute,” he explained. “The biggest issue we found was that none of them really complemented the way our riders use their bikes.”
For starters, Knapp said, most mitts being sold at that time were too constrictive, which meant there wasn’t enough space to safely shift gears or jump between different levels of pedal assist. The Rad Lab got around this by giving Rad Power Bikes’ mitts a roomy interior and making the entry point wide enough for riders to place their hands in and out at a moment’s notice.
“Being able to take your hands out without a struggle is a huge benefit, especially since a lot of our riders share the road with cars and need to be able to signal,” Knapp said. “Overall, you just feel more at ease when you know you can slip right on out whenever you need to.”
The other goal was making them adaptable for different models, which meant adding in a clever hinge to accommodate the outward-facing handlebars on the RadRhino or the swept-back design on the RadWagon.
“It’s one size fits all, not just for the riders, but for the compatible bikes themselves,” he noted. “We worked hard to make it as uncomplicated as possible. Either mitt works on either the left or right side, so our riders will never have to worry about accidentally installing them incorrectly.”
As for Knapp, he says he can’t wait to see riders start to use the mitts, especially if that means giving them an opportunity to get outdoors when they would’ve spent the day cooped up inside otherwise.
He added that he and others on the Rad Lab team have been using them for months, even though the temperamental climate of the Pacific Northwest means it can be raining one hour and then sunny the next.
“You know, we designed it for that too,” he said. “They’re super easy to install and uninstall.”
Leave it to the Rad Lab to think of everything — and for our riders to inspire them. Stay dry out there!
Ready to enjoy year-round rides? Our water-resistant Handlebar Mitts are available now.