Review: Formy 3D-printed bar grips make a lasting impression
You don't need to be an ergonomics expert to know that custom-fit cycling products are typically more comfortable than their off-the-rack equivalents. And thanks to the advent of 3D scanning and printing technology, we're now seeing that sort of "personal touch" being increasingly applied to everything from frames to saddles … plus you can now add handlebar grips to that list. Formy Bike Grips are 3D-printed according to each customer's measurements, and I recently got my hands on a pair.
Mechanical engineer and Formy founder Sky Van Iderstine started by 3D-scanning and statistically analyzing clenched-hand impressions made by a wide variety of people – the resulting database reportedly represents over 99 percent of adult hand sizes.
When a client wants a pair of the grips made, they just measure the length of their middle finger and the width of their hand, and submit those figures on the company website. By cross-referencing that data with the hand size database, Formy is able to select a hand-impression computer model that closely matches that of the customer.Based on that model, a 3D printer then creates the grips in the client's choice of over 40 colors.
The Formies are made from a harder grade of thermoplastic polyurethane than regular grips, for increased durability. Thanks to a springy lattice structure that underlies their solid surface layer, however, they still have a foam-like squishiness.
The pair made for me were very comfy, with my hands easily finding their way into the impressions upon grabbing the bars. With about 116 mm of actual grip space, they're a little shorter than what I'm used to, although extra length isn't really needed given that your hands go in one specific place on them.
It should be noted that the hard plastic from which they're made does feel slightly less rubbery than the softer grades used in other grips, although I certainly didn't find them to be outright slippery.
If you're interested in getting some for yourself, Formy grips are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$49 will currently get you a pair, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is $69.
Should you be interested in taking a more "hands-on" approach to custom handlebar grips, you might also want to check out the mold-em-yourself Imprint Grips.