Handlebar plugs and end caps are a crucial safety item

ODI grips. (Photo: ODI)
ODI grips. (Photo: ODI)
  • An exposed handlebar edge can cause horrific injury during a crash.
  • Pay attention to the wear of handlebar end plugs, especially on kids bikes.
  • To ensure that your handlebar ends are always safely covered, traditional lock-on grips are best.


Mountain bikers obsess about the weight and shape of their handlebars. How a few millimetres more width or a few degrees of backsweep, make a significant difference to bike control and riding comfort

An aspect of the handlebar that is often ignored, are the ends. With its tubular shape a handlebar has open ends, which can cause traumatic injury during a crash.

Your mountain bike grips function as both a control surface and also to reduce injury, by wrapping over and closing the handlebar’s exposed ends.

Most grips include an end plug that is pressed into place, with some adding two screws, to keep the handlebar plug or end-cap from rattling loose on gravel roads or when riding rocky terrain.

There is no excuse to be riding with open handlebar ends, as it is categorically dangerous and irresponsible. This is especially true for mountain bikers or kids riding off-road, where traction is reduced and terrain more technical, triggering a greater likelihood of crashing.

You never really think of your handlebar end caps,
You never really think of your handlebar end caps, until it is way too late. (Photo: ODI)

Kids often drop their bikes – wearing the handlebar ends

A handlebar with open ends can inflict horrible injuries during a crash. Children are at even greater risk as they tend to stumble into a flailing handlebar when crashing, due to their tendency to fall into the bike, as opposed to adult mountain bikers who crash at higher speeds, creating dynamic separation of bike and rider.

Another risk for kids source from the general wear of a bike often being dropped onto its side, especially on a paved surface. Kids are less diligent about carefully putting down their bikes and the repetitive dropping, or even those incidental little crashes as they are learning, cause a lot of abrasive wear on the handlebar end areas.

Carefully monitor the wear of those single-piece grips found on kids bikes and the moment you see some of the handlebar’s tubing become visible, replace them.

The popular lightweight comfort silicone grips that many South African endurance mountain bikers favour, have end plugs that can work loose over time, if you ride a lot of corrugated dirt roads.

Arriving at the trail carpark and discovering that you are missing either a left or right-side handlebar end plug can be deeply annoying. Always keep a spare set of plugs in your riding bag or car.

They might weigh a few grams more but the traditional lock-on grip, with its securing screws keeping the end caps in place, is your safest option.   

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