I realise its a while since the last post on this thread, but I just re-read the whole thing (one of my favourite BPL threads of all time...).
Wondering if you managed to try the cork grip solution in the end? It sounds like a good idea to me...especially as the cork sits above the cone so won't really get flamed, will add a smidge of insulation, and save weight. I can understand if you are reluctant to remove handles...but you could leave them on and still put the cork on to test, until you are sure.
Thinking of going this path myself this year, should have taken the plunge a couple of years ago!