Hoods. Arguably the most common hand position while road cycling is gripping the hoods, you have control over braking and shifting and it is comfortable . Modern hoods are also remarkably hardy and can resist sweat and grim for years. Unless you take a slip and tumble, the hoods are not a part of a bike that is frequently replaced. But what if the standard rubber hoods are too slippery or too sticky?
A niche Japanese brand produces Shakes Hoods and produce a soft rubber and a hard rubber version. The material is actually TPE – Thermoplastic Elastomer which is a mix of plastic and rubber and lends it durability of plastics along with elasticity.
Shakes are not alone supplying replacement hoods, ODI for example have a range of brightly coloured brake covers for road bikes called HUDZ. The cost to replace a set of hoods (original or compatible) is usually between $15 and $30 though vintage replacements hoods are often more expensive. The Shakes retail for about $45 and even with the “Premium Bracket Hoods” tagline, it will take a customer specifically seeking a softer or harder style hood rather than simply a replacement.
Working against Shakes is the fairly limited compatibility – no SRAM or Campagnolo and for Shimano, the hoods are only compatible with Tiagra ST-4700, 105 ST-5800 and Ultegra ST-6800. The CEO Katsuyuki Kobayashi confirmed that they are planning to release more models in the future although specific timeframes were not provided.
The compatibility of the current hood created a problem in reviewing as I have bikes with Shimano Ultegra 6700 and Ultegra 8000 groupsets… but no 6800. I will admit that I even attempted to get the Shakes hoods onto my 6700 levers but Shimano tend to be very strict with compatibility and this really isn’t a part that you can fudge.
Despite not being able to properly test the hoods while riding, I could still tell that the soft version of the hood are tackier. There is also a light surface structure on some sections for added grip whereas the regular hoods have smooth surfaces. The visible difference is the colourful stripes and a range of 12 bright colours along with a plain black version will let you colour-coordinate. This makes Shakes hoods are fairly loud as opposed the the understated look of the original Shimano brake covers.
Outside of Japan, availability is limited but it they are still possible to locate. The retail price is around $45 which makes then more expensive than the genuine Shimano replacement hoods however for riders (with compatible groupsets) seeking the harder, less grippy hoods or seeking hoods that are much more grippier and tackier than the standard hoods – these are an option.
For further information about the Shakes hoods visit shakes.tokyo and for purchasing, google is your friend.