07 August, 2012

More Arts and Crafts, Cork Grips and Inverse Levers

I’m a big fan of the way cork grips feel and look. Naturally, I wanted to use them to build up a Porteur bike.  Not only are the grips comfy and inexpensive, but they also hold up very well to the elements.  To get the classic look of a Porteur, inverse brake levers are always a good choice. Here’s how to make a cork grip compatible with inverse brake levers.

What you’ll need:
-Cork Grips
-Inverse Brake Levers
-Very sharp razor/box cutter
-Cleaning fluid or Hairspray (to get the grips on the bar if a tight fit)
-Waxed thread

Step 1:
BEFORE mounting the grip, you need to create a channel for the brake housing. Be very careful in this step not to cut all the way through the grip - cut slowly and deliberately. Cut the grip down its length at a 45 degree angle. Cut again at the opposite 45 degree angle.  Take the sliver you just cut out of the grip and mount the grip on the handlebar.  For tighter fitting bars, you may need Simple Green or hairspray to mount the grip.  These items will evaporate and keep the grip stuck in place.  Make sure the grip is as far as it will go on the bar for the next step.

Step 2:
Take your hammer and start smacking the end of the grip until it starts to develop a cut.  Go around the end of the handlebar until you have a chuck of the grip end cut out.  Hang onto the chunk for next couple of steps.

Step 3:
Mount the brake body, cable, and housing even with the line of the cut made earlier.  The channel and housing should be facing the ground. 

Step 4:
Grab your waxed thread and start wrapping the front of the grip (opposite from the lever body).  Tie the end of the thread in a couple knots, push the thread together, and you’re done!  Bonus points if you can get the cut ends under the wrapped thread.

Step 5 (optional):
Stick the grip chunk you saved and stick it in the end of the body if your lever needs a plug.  You may need to cut a wedge off to make sure it doesn’t interfere or fall out during the actuation of the brake.  



Noah said...

Very cool. I've been thinking about doing this but wasn't sure how it would look. Somehow I convinced myself that inverse levers only belong with a wrapped bar and grips with mtb style levers. I'm still not sure but I love the variety of uninterrupted hand positions you can get with inverse levers. Sometimes I miss having a barrel adjuster and a quick release especially since the canti brakes I have the setup with don't have enough room to release my fat tires without either adding loosening the cable or deflating the tire.

cork grips said...

hate to rain on your diy parade but the portuguese cork grips riv offers are available pre-grooved for both cable housing as well as twine. this is however a cheaper option being about half the price of the riv grips but just not as aesthetically pleasing in my humble opinion.

dr2chase said...

Dremel! I think I did it with a drill bit, just zip it in at high speed, and whiz it around the inside of the handlebar. A few little bits of aluminum come with the cork, but not a lot.

I really like the black grips, more than plain cork. Doesn't hurt that they're cheap.

Anonymous said...

Is there something more useful about inverse levers? It always seemed to me that they'd be more dangerous in tight quarters, where they might hook on things like guy wires and that sort of thing.

VeloOrange said...


Inverse levers have a bit more streamlined look to them, and they look really cool. Because they face the ground, they shouldn't catch on anything.

Anonymous said...

I used the Rivendell grips with VO Montmartre handlebars, as I already had a project on my hands: fitting the grips onto road-size tubing to accommodate an inverse brake lever on one side and a Jtek bar-end shifter for an internal gear hub on the other. Worth the time spent with sandpaper wrapped around a pen, carefully widening the internal diameter...

Anonymous said...

Are these cork grips going on a 22.2mm or 23.8mm bar?

VeloOrange said...


These grips were going on a 23.8. It's possible to get them on using cleaner or hairspray, but in the end you do risk them cracking or tearing, so 22.2 is a better choice.

Anonymous said...

To avoid trying to tuck the knotted thread under, use the whipping technique that sailors use on rope ends. First lay a loop of thread on the bar (underside for aesthetics but not right next to the cable) a little longer than the distance you will wind the thread, with at least a couple of inches overlapping the cork. Starting at the cork, wind the thread as tightly as you can, finishing with a little of the loop still showing. Cut the thread fairly short and feed the cut end into the loop, pull the other end of the thread (with pliers if necessary) until the loop and cut end disappear under the wound thread. Cut off the excess thread that you pulled with.
Voila, c'est fini as Chris might say.