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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-23-10, 08:05 AM   #1
earthworm94
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Handlebar Tape comparison

I am a little inundated about the choices of materials for handlebar tape.

What are the pros/cons for each material (cloth, leather, gel, cork, etc...)?

Which one is the most durable?

Which one is the most cost effective?

Which one can survive the elements if one have to park outside often?

Thanks!

Thank you very much.
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Old 07-23-10, 08:39 AM   #2
xtrajack
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I roll with vintage ten speed rubber grips, the four piece tube style. I had them on my touring bike 25 years ago, I used them for five years on that bike until I sold the bike. When I bought my current issue bike, I bought a old BSO just because it had those grips. I don't think that they make them (the grips) any more. I bought another set on ebay for my next bike.
They are comfortable, and they wear like iron. The set I have on my bike have been on there for over two years now, I am not sure how long they were on the other bike (aka BSO).
If I couldn't have them, I probably would go for gel under leather for comfort. I don't believe that the leather over gel would be as durable.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:29 AM   #3
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Cork is cheap, comfortable, and lasts a long time. I haven't noticed much difference between brands of cork tape. Bike Ribbon brand is cheap. Cinelli is good and costs a little more. My current cork tape has been on my bike for two years.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:37 AM   #4
Al Criner
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Deda tape is real nice, you can get it from Price Point for $10. Leather is dang expensive. Old-school cloth tape is durable if you shellac it.

You need to define "effective." All of the choices work. You need to decide what you need - padding, grip, thick or thin, etc. If you are not sure just start with some basic cork tape and see how it goes. Bar tape is easy to change and you don't have to keep it forever. There are a number of threads on this in the forums, search around and you will get all kinds of info.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:06 AM   #5
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I typically get whichever cork or gel is cheapest. Gel is usually much thicker and cushy, and it doesn't cost much more. Some brands wrap easier than others. I like Easton and Planet Bike. Bike Ribbon is also good.

I just took off some Bike Ribbon cork that lasted about a year and a half and was still in good shape until I ripped it unwrapping it for a cable change. I replaced it with Forte gel tape. That seems OK, but it was a bit awkward getting the ends to fold into the bar.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:21 AM   #6
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I tend to buy either Cinelli or Fizik Microtex
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Old 07-23-10, 10:25 AM   #7
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I prefer cork.

Pros: durable, relatively inexpensive, absorbs sweat well, grippy in all temperatures, available at any LBS in lots of colors.
Cons: can tear while installing, will definitely tear when deinstalling, lighter colors will get and stay dirty, darker colors will fade.

Deda is my favorite, Cinelli a close second.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:59 AM   #8
jwbnyc
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Profile Design Bar Wrap or Shock Wrap with gel non-adhesive backing.

Cheap. Durable. Re-useable.
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Old 07-23-10, 11:32 AM   #9
earthworm94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I typically get whichever cork or gel is cheapest. Gel is usually much thicker and cushy, and it doesn't cost much more. Some brands wrap easier than others. I like Easton and Planet Bike. Bike Ribbon is also good.

I just took off some Bike Ribbon cork that lasted about a year and a half and was still in good shape until I ripped it unwrapping it for a cable change. I replaced it with Forte gel tape. That seems OK, but it was a bit awkward getting the ends to fold into the bar.
And the bar plugs don't stay and now I lost them somewhere near Arlington National Cemetery and/or on I-66...
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Old 07-23-10, 11:56 AM   #10
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Are you going to put it on yourself? Some tape is easier to apply than others. I've only done it a couple of times, so I can't say which ... just that it can be a pain, or not terribly difficult.

I've been using Fizik tape, which feels ok when it's wet. It's wet a lot in Seattle. They have one kind that comes with gel inserts, which go between the bars and the tape. Expensive, but it seems to help a little - I would recommend something cheaper, though, unless you're planning to do some centuries when you're not commuting.
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Old 07-23-10, 12:05 PM   #11
earthworm94
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Are you going to put it on yourself? Some tape is easier to apply than others. I've only done it a couple of times, so I can't say which ... just that it can be a pain, or not terribly difficult.

I've been using Fizik tape, which feels ok when it's wet. It's wet a lot in Seattle. They have one kind that comes with gel inserts, which go between the bars and the tape. Expensive, but it seems to help a little - I would recommend something cheaper, though, unless you're planning to do some centuries when you're not commuting.
Yeah, I'll install them myself. I use gel padded gloves already so I don't need any more gel.
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Old 07-23-10, 12:37 PM   #12
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I bought some Fizik Microtex for my Aurora. I liked it so much I went back a few days later and got some for my Sputnik. It feels grippy when it's dry, or when my hands are sweaty, or that one time I got rained on...
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