If something is designed to be gripped in our hand, it should be cylindrical … right? Well, not necessarily. According to cycling ergonomics expert Sean Madsen, who previously designed products for Specialized, bicycle handlebar grips actually work better if they're flat on top. It also helps if they're narrow at the end, and have "wings." The resulting product, named for the manner in which a sushi cone is held, is called Sushi Grips.
According to Madsen, when we grasp something in our hand, most of the force comes from our ring and pinky fingers, acting in opposition to the thumb. Additionally, the muscles in those two fingers are able to exert the most force when the hand is almost closed into a fist.
With that in mind, Sushi Grips are narrower at the ends – where those fingers sit – than the handlebar itself. This means that the grips extend out from the bars 65 mm per side, so users will either have to cut their bars down, or just go with a wider ride.
The wings at the ends of the grips, meanwhile, allow the outside edge of the hand to press the bike down on the inside when cornering, thus leaning the bike more and tightening its turning radius.
And yes, the Sushi Grips are flat on top. Madsen claims that this feature actually distributes pressure away from nerves in the wrist and the crease of the palm, and into the most padded parts of the palm.
He's currently raising production funds for the grips, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$40 will get you a set of Sushi Grips, assuming all goes according to plan. If you'd prefer them to already be mounted on an aluminum or carbon handlebar, higher pledges will get you that.