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Bright bar tape ideas

27 Apr 2016

Why not customise your ride by giving its hard-working handlebars an instant makeover?

Standing out among your fellow cyclists can be a bit tricky if you don’t like wacky jerseys or haven’t got a wallet-full of wonga to revamp your ride. One really cheap and easy way of giving your bike an instant bit of identity, however, is to change its bar tape. Manufacturers tend to supply bikes with pretty standard colours (well, black) so why not go for something a bit more daring? Something that picks up on part of your bike’s paint job, for example, or complements the all-important saddle-bar tape match. Here are a few desirable designs…

1. Fabric -  Silicone Tape

What the makers say Silicone tape is ultra-soft and durable, the material provides natural shock absorption and stays cleaner for longer. Due to its tacky nature it can be re-wrapped multiple times.

What we say The cleanest of the lot, the silicone tape was an OCD-sufferer’s dream. Perfect in the wet, the silicone offered a great level of grip and didn’t get spongy like most foam-based counterparts. The padding left a little to be desired and the price isn’t the cheapest, but the clean and cool look given off by the tape is more than enough to make you want to treat all your bikes to it. 


2. Fizik - Superlight Tacky Touch Tape

What the makers say Offers 2mm of thickness for extra grip and better control, smooth and comfortable to touch in any weather condition. This new tape is made out of Microtex, a durable, strong, breathable and washable material that will stick around.

What we say Fizik makes some classy products and this bar tape is no exception. The Superlight Tacky Tape (our tongue is suitably twisted) gives great feedback in the wet, which means it’s ideal for British summers! On top of this, the wide range of block colours Fizik offers means that your cockpit can stand out as much as you want. 


3. Selle Italia - Classica Leather Smootape

What the makers say All the Smootape tapes offer a perfect grip, and they’re the only ones that eliminate the imperfections from overlapping, ensuring that the taping is smooth, thanks to the exclusive international patent deposited by Selle Italia.

What we say If you’re feeling something a bit more on the classic side, then take Selle Italia’s hand as they lead you way back with this leather creation. Using patented ‘Smootape’ technology, Selle Italia has made a bar tape that doesn’t bulge over thanks to its asymmetrical design. The devil really is in the detail. Plus, like any good Italian supercar, Selle italia has kept it classy with genuine leather. Not one for the marginal gainers out there, though – the tape is one of the heaviest on test, coming in at 96g and it’s also at the pricier end of the scale. 


4. Tortec - Super Comfort Tape

What the makers say Our shock-absorbing core is made of a lightweight EVA foam that is durable and stain resistant. Designed with aerobar compatibility so now you never have to worry if you’ve got the right tape for the job.

What we say Classed as Tortec’s most comfortable tape, and with good reason. Compared to the standard 2.5mm padding that you see with the majority of tapes, this has a whopping 3mm. OK, it’s not that whopping but over a meaty Sunday ride, it could mean the difference between you being able to unlock your front door at the end of it or dropping your keys in the front garden. As one of the cheaper tapes on test, this is definitely one to look for if comfort is your top priority.  


5. Cinelli - Mash Parallax Volee Tape

What the makers say Parallax is an expression of racing attitude in the magical world of San-Francisco fixie styling. The progressive graphics, such a feature of Mash, combine with the grippy feel of Volee ribbon.

What we say One of the main features that Cinelli boasts about this is the ‘sharp look’. Well, they aren’t wrong. The bold black and white pattern is certainly striking and coupled with the PVC feel, it’s a great tape to use for any mean-looking bike lurking in your shed. The lack of gel or foam inserts shows its true nature – this is intended for short and fast riding, so any endurance heroes may want something a bit more comfortable. Made and designed for all-out racing, we definitely looked the part – now we just have to work on the actual racing bit!


6. Profile Design - Drive Tape

What the makers say This performance bar wrap has an ideal balance of cushion, feel and grip. Weighing just 50 grams, this tape will give you secure comfort without penalising those weight-conscious riders.

What we say  The stretchy nature of Profile Design’s tape is great for those of us who love to overwrap. It’s also incredibly easy to wrap around your bars, making it a shoo-in if you’re the type of chap who tends to struggle with tight, fiddly bar tape. The synthetic leather-style material with its the cool hexagon pattern give the tape a grippy feel which also works pretty well in the wet. This tape is perfect if you’re looking for a sleek option, however if you want something with gel or foam inserts, look elsewhere. 


7. Lizard Skin - DSP Bar Tape

What the makers say Lizard Skins DSP (DuraSoft Polymer) Bar Tape was created for superior comfort, optimised feel and control. Ultra lightweight at only 56 grams per set including plugs. Thanks to its 2.5mm thickness, DSP maintains its durability, increased shock absorption and superior grip in all conditions.

What we say For many, Lizard Skin is the bar tape to use, and we can see why. Its DSP membrane means water just runs off it and bike grease doesn’t stick around either. With a huge range of crazy colours from neon pink to red camo, Lizard Skins offers a great deal of choice. 


8. FWE - Vex Gel Bar Tape

What the makers say The FWE Vex Gel Bar Tape is made from a material with a textured pattern that has excellent anti-slip properties and comfort, damping the effects of road vibration and bumps you may encounter on your ride.

What we say The most comprehensive of the lot in terms of comfort. Unlike others in the test, this was supplied with its own gel strips. Fancy. Being an own-brand from Evans, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not up to scratch, but it gave our hands a smooth ride and for this price, it can’t be overlooked. 


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