We thought the species was extinct… here it is reincarnated and moving inside the handlebars. The German company SQ lab, specialized in contact points, and in general ergonomics and comfort, has produced a hi-tech and interior version of the ancestral bar-ends, the “Innerbarends 411 R Carbon”.
Who would have thought to put the bar ends back on their mount? Not us in any case! Except we’ve found not one, but three good reasons to change your mind.
First of all, because having only one hand position is sometimes not enough, especially to face long distances, where the simple fact of changing position is already a comfort in itself. This is even more true when you start to suffer from numbness or carpal tunnel syndrome, and when, with age, considerations of comfort take precedence over looks.
So, because the endless (?) expansion of the hangers has also progressively increased the stresses on the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Joints that are less and less in the natural extension of the arm, and that make us kiss the air in an inconsiderate debauchery of Watts.
Finally, because at less than 40 grams per pair, the SQlab tips come close to solving all these problems for less weight than a cereal bar.
Bits of the 21st century
They are naturally in carbon, but they are also tiny, and hollow which allows them to reach this ridiculous weight, and incidentally justify their price (€129.95).
Even better, thanks to their flexible neck, they can be put on and taken off without moving the rest of the cabin, meaning they can be put on and off at will, within a minute.
Finally, as small as they are, their shape is perfectly designed. Despite the appearance, they offer all the necessary space for a large hand, even with gloves, and prevent any slippage, even when the floor is sunken.
All in all, on paper, the product is almost perfect.
Central position, maximum aerodynamics
First we placed the inner bars as close to the stem as possible, where the handlebar swells to its clamping diameter.
Although it is not the “official” position, we have mainly thought of using them in this way, in order to achieve the maximum aerodynamic advantage.
For rolling routes, the central position offers an alternative that is based more on aerodynamics than ergonomics.
And the position is clearly very effective! of course, it requires a good lining of the back, and it cannot be kept for hours, but in a cross-country race or marathon perspective with road and/or flat sections, the contribution will be very interesting. The shape of the tips is specially worked, and even at full speed, the well-fitted thumbs give all the confidence.
This will likely be the position of sharp, sheathed runners looking for marginal gains, especially on fast courses.
Mounted between grips and controls
After this first approximation, we moved the spikes between the grips and the handlebar controls.
In this location, they allow a more conventional and more relaxed position, and a comfort that we did not suspect!
In fact, our a priori allowed us to predict a minimal impact. It’s nothing.
The unique rotation of the wrists takes a lot of stress off the wrists and into the shoulders… young joints won’t necessarily feel the difference of course, but others will appreciate it.
Next, you need to understand the fundamental difference with the old bar ends: the Innerbarends are not designed to shoot, but to lean on. Therefore, they promote the relaxation of the bust and shoulders.
The most surprising thing is the drastic relief of the carpal tunnel. For people who have (become) sensitive to this well-known cyclist inconvenience, innerbarends are an almost miraculous solution. The palm and thumb, resting on the tip, receive most of the weight of the arm, while the rest rests on the grip on the outside of the hand. Between the two, the carpal tunnel, they are therefore suspended, and totally relieved. The effect is immediate!
The position of the elbows and shoulders is also improved (and more aerodynamic), while the spacing of the hands remains practically unchanged. So the control of the bike remains very good, and the return to the riding position (and braking) is done in a fraction of a second when the terrain requires it.
This will be the position of most of us. A little less effective than the first position, but can be maintained without fatigue and used for larger parts of the route.
Result: unexpected comfort!
We won’t go so far as to say they’re pretty… but they’re amazing at relieving carpal tunnel, and for that alone they totally justify their existence. For anyone prone to the syndrome, its price will be forgotten at the first outing!
In addition, SQ labs also offers a much cheaper “plastic” version (€39.95), which will fulfill the same function for a weight that remains reasonable in the end (108 grams).
Even if it is real, the aerodynamic gain will still be more difficult to perceive in the reality of a race on rough terrain. On the other hand, comfort and relaxation throughout the upper body will benefit all riders, regardless of age or level.
So many advantages make it a very interesting product, and one that we will not hesitate to recommend and use for all races or outings of more than 3 hours.
VV weight: 39 grams per pair