Hudz' replacement brake hoods for Shimano's ubiquitous Dura-Ace 7800 STI Dual Control levers differ from the stock items in several key areas: the tops are notably flatter, the upper tips aren't quite as pointy, and the underside features nifty moulded-in finger grips.
The effect is a more secure-feeling and level 'shelf' for your hands that doesn't concentrate pressure on the hooks of your thumbs as the stock hoods do, plus a bigger and generally more substantial feel.
This is great for those with larger hands, but the increase in size isn't so dramatic as to make them unusable for smaller folks. In addition, the ridges on the underside of the Hudz make for a more natural-feeling place to put your fingers, particularly when you're out of the saddle and climbing hard.
Our lower-durometer SoftGrip version seemed perfectly suited to the rigours of cyclo-cross racing. The tacky surface, combined with the modified shape, requires less hand pressure to maintain a secure grip on the bars and there's more security when you hit the bumps.
In spite of expectations, the softer material is also firmly attached to the underlying substrate, with a snug fit and no twisting to speak of.
Our earlier experiences with Hudz have included ugly mould flash lines and ill-filling edges but these latest editions have improved substantially on the originals with tight gaps and nearly invisible seams.
The end product is far improved in overall quality and there's still the same generous array of 14 colours. If you can't find something to match the rest of your bike, you're simply not trying hard enough.
A more natural grip, a wide array of colours, a high-quality fit and feel, two durometer choices, and even a reasonable price ($29.95 – UK price TBA) if there's a downside to Hudz' latest little bits of rubber, we haven't found it yet.