Sendhit Nock Hand Guards
Mountain biking has been slow to steal from the Moto world, but it always seems to bear fruit. This trend may also be accelerating. The biggest one lately is mixed wheel sizes, but you can add suspension, wide bars, risers, slack head angles, hydraulic disc brakes, fat(ter) tires, full face helmets, armour, and generous travel to that list, but I'm sure there is more. Despite the progress, we tend to resist these brash incursions from the world of braaaap.
Independent of this thievery, the bicycle is unique and entirely distinct when compared to its fire-breathing cousin. It has, in fact, been called the most elegant and efficient wheeled conveyance yet devised. I doubt I'll find naysayers here, amongst this well-initiated choir, and you may even share my view that an appreciation of the bicycle is most intense when it is at its most pure, according to my absurdly generous parameters.
One thing I've always appreciated about the kind of riding we do is that, like racing, it's pretty much mandatory to keep the bike as unified, elemental, and un-festooned as possible, preserving that elegance. You may have a bottle cage and a tool and a tube – strapped onto or within a tube – and perhaps even a seasonal front fender, but the purity of the silhouette, for the most part, remains intact by necessity. If something comes along that disturbs that outline (Nocks hand guards are a perfect example,) I tend to recoil, at least in my private life. And yet these personal biases need to be paused when I'm testing products, to allow me to approach some sort of acceptance of (gasp!) new ideas. And, dare I say, some objectivity.
The Unfortunate Incident
While I haven't had a bad crash while these have been mounted to my bars, they proved worth their weight in titanium during an unexpected shuttling incident. Deniz, Graham, and I were out riding and shooting these photos in the snow, in conditions that were a tick north of perfect. Grip was consistent but with a little bit of slip to make things exciting, and trails were running fast despite the frosting. We did a lap with some photos and could not resist shuttling up for another before dark, smiling like cartoon clowns.
Until recently Graham's vehicle has only had two racks (sounds like a good trail name) but he'd added a roof rack to his arsenal so, for the first time, the three of us could head to the top in his imported RH drive Japanese Forester, with bikes mounted. I drew the short straw and mounted my bike to his recently-acquired, but very well used, roof rack. It seemed a little sketch but I was assured my trust was well-placed and that my beloved We Are One Arrival 170 would be fine. We rounded the corner past the Mushroom parking lot on Seymour and were cruising along the following straight at about 70 or 80 km/h, laughing about the fleeting perfection of the conditions, when Deniz, who was sitting in the back, yelled something like "WE LOST A BIKE!" Sure enough there was my Arrival in the rear view, laying in the middle of three lanes like a freshly-flattened raccoon. Graham has suggested the blame for this mishap should be shared, but the unsecured rear wheel strap, which was still attached to my wheel as the bike laid on the pavement, suggests otherwise.
As we wheeled around to retrieve the body, hoping no cars would come along and smash it further, I felt an unusual calm come over me. I didn't say Inshallah, (and probably never will) but I felt it. There were no compound fractures or sucking chest wounds at first glance, and after several more glances, it seemed my bike had bounced off the top of a fast-moving vehicle and cart-wheeled onto a three-lane mountain road, without incurring significant trauma, neither cosmetic or structural. A closer examination revealed that any cockpit damage was prevented by the Nock Handguards. The plastic guards were scraped, as was one of the aluminum supports, but they were still entirely usable. The Hope brake levers surely would have been damaged, if not destroyed, as well as grips and possibly bars, and AXS controller. Instead of what could have been hundreds of dollars damage, it cost me nothing despite some time truing the rear wheel and straightening the derailleur hanger. This same bike protection can of course be extrapolated to a big crash but, most importantly, to your meat mitts.
The keen eyed among you may notice that, while these plastic guards will mount in either direction, I chose the wrong one. For my first several rides I had them upside down. The bulge you see at the top is meant to be at the bottom to protect your levers and fingers. Fortunately they are also effective in this direction, both for testing purposes and armouring.
It took a moment to figure out how the mounting would work, but after that it was very easily accomplished. I found the hinged clamps a little stiff but otherwise everything went smoothly, aside from my upside down mounting. These are compatible with Shimano iSpec II levers and can even be mounted in the small gap between your levers and the bars.
On The Trail
Looking at these, once mounted to my bike, I felt certain they would restrict movement or get in the way in some situations. To the contrary, I never noticed they were there while riding. Bear in mind that bar spins and tail whips (inverted or otherwise) or outside my repertoire. In terms of protection, I deliberately ran into trees several times to see what would happen. The first thing I noticed was that the design allows the plastic guard to flex upon impact. This absorbs shock obviously but it also allows your bar to be pushed smoothly way from the immovable object rather than turning your bars and flinging you to the ground. On the inside of the guards, a foam pad has been glued in place adding a little more protection for occasions when that flex closes the gap between your fingers and the pad.
While I haven't yet accidentally hit a tree with my bars while using these, I did find out their use in a small crash. On another snowy occasion I lost control and ended up laying the bike down. I kept hold of the bars and, rather than have my knuckles ground into the hard snow, the Nock guard on the right side absorbed all the impact and I felt nothing at all. It's clear these are effective protection for your hands while riding a mountain bike.
It might also make sense to ask, if these are effective for motos, why not mountain bikes? On tight trails MTBs can often travel faster than motorcycles, and we generally ride in closer quarters. Of course motos are capable of much faster speeds but they are also generally, but not always, ridden in more wide open spaces. Once thing is certain, our hands are just as fragile as our Moto-riding compadres.
I have yet to find a downside for these guards, aside from disturbing the aforementioned elegance of the bicycle's form. If I was an enduro or DH racer I would give these some serious consideration but as it stands, and as someone not prone to banging my hands, I'm not sure whether I'll continue to use them or not.
If you have hands that are easily injured, are nursing an injury, or live somewhere with particularly nasty flora at the edge of your trails, I would recommend these without hesitation.
Nock Handguards weigh 168 grams and cost 68 USD or 75 EUR