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The Great Bar Tape Review Thread

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The Great Bar Tape Review Thread

Old 05-07-09, 03:40 PM
  #1  
Hocam
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The Great Bar Tape Review Thread

Due to a variety of often embarassing and sometimes idiotic circumstances, I have had the pleasure of using five or six different brands of handlebar tape over the last month.

Given that bar tape is almost as important as your saddle and pedals, and that most tape seems to really suck, I give you The Great Bar tape Review Thread (TGBRT). You're welcome to comment with your own bar tape stories.

To me, tape is rated on three different categories.
Squishiness Let's drop all the B.S. about vibration dampening, next thing you know people will start whining about which tape is laterally compliant and vertically stiff. It really comes down to how squishy the tape is after you wrap it. More is better.

Wrappability Does it have a sticky side? Does it rip when you tug on it too hard? Is it long enough? If you wrap your own tape, you know what I mean.

Appearance Do they only offer multicolored rasta color? How about the texture? Are there those stupid dots everywhere on an otherwise color coordinated bike?


I'll start with the worst, and move my way up to the favorites.

Cinelli Cork Tape Rating: 2/10
This is by far the worst possible tape you could ever attempt to put on your bars. I'm convinced most shops sell it so you frustrate yourself and come back to have them install it for a hefty labor charge and a second set of tape.

Squishiness - 3/10 There is in fact some squishiness there, not much.
Wrappability - 1/10 Awful. Absolutely awful. It rips when you least expect it, leaves a nasty crud if you unwrap it to redo a section or simply throw it away. Terrible. The only good part is they at least give you enough.
Appearance - 2/10 What the hell is with the dots? I don't want dots on my tape, they look like a bunch of tiny birds crapped on my nice black tape. Also, try cleaning it. Please, just try so I can picture your futile attempts and laugh.

Deda Cork Tape 4/10
Almost as bad as Cinelli but with one or two redeeming qualities, still unbearable.

Squishiness - 3/10 No better than Ci-garbage.
Wrappibility - 3/10 Doesn't rip but they short you a good 3" and I'm using 42 cm bars! Talk about a crappy way to save some cash Deda.
Appearance - 5/10 If their logo wasn't slathered all over it this would be higher, but it is, so it's a 5. Otherwise excellent texture but hard to clean if you have light colored tape.

Cannondale Bart tape 7/10
Dunno who makes it, but it's pretty decent. This comes stock on Cannondales bikes.
Squishiness 5/10 - One of the few major flaws, this stuff just isn't squishey enough
Wrappibility - 8/10 There is almost enough tape in one half of the set to wrap both bars, THANK YOU! In fact, you can cut off some of the extra and put it under the tape before you wrap to increase squishibility. This would be a 10 if there was a sticky coating on the back.
Appearance 9/10 No logos, cleans up nicely if it's dirty and looks great! All of what I reasonably could ask for, but a little too slick.

Salsa Tape 8.5/10
Salsa seems to get things right, I guess being owned by the best parts distributor ever (QBP) helps.

Squishibility - 10/10 Oh yes, this is exactly what I'm talking about. No need for gel pads, this stuff is perfect.
Wrappibility - 10/10 Sooo lovely. Lots of extra, never rips, no gross coating on your bars from the sticky layer.
Appearance - 7/10 LOGOS!! I don't want to stare down at my hands midway up a lung busting climb and see advertising. This is Salsa's achilles heel.

Specialized S-wrap 8.5/10

Squishibility 10/10 Excellent, rivals the Salsa squish.
Wrappibility 8/10 No sticky strip? Are you kidding? If I need to leg go of the tape to get my scissors I have to go back at least 5 wraps. Otherwise nice and strong, plenty of length but you may be a bit tight for 46cm bars.
Appearance - 8/10 Very nice, but there are some dots. Not to the extent of Cinelli, but it still makes me ask WHY?! No logos, which is nice.

Specialized Roubiax Wrap 10/10
Good god, I've finally found it. The perfect wrap. Squishiness is top notch, the texture is prefect for gloveless riding and there's no god damn dots! The length is plenty, the sticky stuff doesn't leave a residue and stays sticky if you redo a section. My god, it's full of stars...
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Old 05-07-09, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
Specialized Roubiax Wrap 10/10
Good god, I've finally found it. The perfect wrap. Squishiness is top notch, the texture is prefect for gloveless riding and there's no god damn dots! The length is plenty, the sticky stuff doesn't leave a residue and stays sticky if you redo a section. My god, it's full of stars...
+1
Amen. Have it on my new roubaix. Phenomenal difference.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:46 PM
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Awesome review. Ive never had a problem with cinelli or deda. It takes some skill to wrap with those tapes, otherwise you run into the same problems you encountered. You know, I was thinking about the specialized roubaix tape, but now that you mention how its so squishy I have marked that off my list. Unless I am riding on awful roads, squishy tape is annoying. But hey, some people like the feeling of holding onto a jelly dong, no?
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Old 05-07-09, 03:46 PM
  #4  
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I like Cinelli Gel tape. I'll try and give that Roubaix tape a try at some point.
But the only big drawback to Cinelli Gel is the price.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:47 PM
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Some of this stuff is heavier than others. The relative number of grams needs be considered.

For example:

Cinelli Cork tape 68 grams.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:50 PM
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I ride my bike, not weigh it. I will never take a lighter saddle over a more comfortable one, same goes for tape, pedals and shoes.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
Some of this stuff is heavier than others. The relative number of grams needs be considered.

For example:

Cinelli Cork tape 68 grams.
Funny. I'd sacrifice a few grams (hundredths or tenths of a pound) for a more enjoyable ride anyday.
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Old 05-07-09, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
I ride my bike, not weigh it.
You must be new here.

Well, since I've been happy with Cinelli, it's good to know everything else will be even better!
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Old 05-07-09, 04:01 PM
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Cinelli cork has always garnered the BF Stiffie Seal of Approval®, kind of like Open Pros and Caad9s. And I think the dots give it character.

Oh, and the weight weenie thing, too. That Specialized stuff's got to be pushing 100g. Outrageous!
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Old 05-07-09, 04:05 PM
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Thanks for the reviews. I've been meaning to get some new bar tape. I'm definitely going give the Specialized Robaix Wrap a try.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:10 PM
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+1 on the specialized s-wrap. Good stuff, my old tape used to hurt my hands (no gloves) and now I feel fine!

But mine had a sticky strip on the back of it, it wasn't really tacky like glue or anything but more like the back of a post-it note.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:12 PM
  #12  
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Thanks for the helpful information. I would give high marks to Bontrager gel tape and the Shimano Pro tape. Both work quite well. I am not the biggest fan of squishy tape and rather prefer minimalist stuff. But, I always wear gloves that provide cushioning.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by zatopek View Post
Thanks for the helpful information. I would give high marks to Bontrager gel tape and the Shimano Pro tape. Both work quite well. I am not the biggest fan of squishy tape and rather prefer minimalist stuff. But, I always wear gloves that provide cushioning.
+1 on the Bontrager "Grippy tape". It's super, super thin, just like tennis racquet tape, but it grips really well.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Vermont22 View Post
Funny. I'd sacrifice a few grams (hundredths or tenths of a pound) for a more enjoyable ride anyday.
You chose the wrong sport.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:24 PM
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Rav-X Cork 8/10
I got it for a steal on EP with some other Rev-X stuff (highly under-rated company, IMO. Their MTB grips that are wrapped in bar tape and lock on are the best thing since sliced bread)
Squishiness 7/10- I'm not a fan of squishiness, but this is just an interim tape until I get some Fizik again. Even though I'm not a fan of the padding, it is comfy nonetheless. The tape is also very soft, and not super-grippy.
Wrapability 10/10- VERY easy to wrap, I stretched it SUPER thin and it just went with the flow. Probably the best I've tried
Appearance 7/10- Again, I like the looks and feel of thin bar tape (like cotton or Fizik), so the bulging look of it isn't super appealing, but it's great tape. I've got it in black, so I'm not sure about cleanability, but I'm sure it sucks for light colors.



Fizik Microtex Tape 9.5/10
Low squishability, easy cleanability, great looks, great grip, multiple colors. The only problem is that it's a PITA to re-wrap, but that is easy overlooked because I don't need to replace it unless I crash or I've worn it down to the grey. The white I've used cleans GREAT.

Fizik Soft Touch Tape 9/10
Squishiness 3/10- Again, my personal preference. Less is more. The grip is there more so than the regular Microtex, which is great for me.
Wrapability 9/10- Again, I never need to rewrap. Putting it on is easy, it doesn't tear.
Appearance 10/10- Looks great, I only had it in black, but I've heard that the white and grey are impossible to clean. I love the perforations.


Stella Azurra 0/10
I hate this stuff. It chunks off when you try to removit it. I had to take a flat-blade razor and goof-off to my bars. The stuff is pathetic, and it ripped when I was installing it. As bad as Hocam thinks Cinelli is, Stella Azurra is worse.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
Squishiness Let's drop all the B.S. about vibration dampening, next thing you know people will start whining about which tape is laterally compliant and vertically stiff. It really comes down to how squishy the tape is after you wrap it. More is better.
I would have to respectfully disagree with the above statement.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tanhalt View Post
I would have to respectfully disagree with the above statement.
+1. less is more.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:38 PM
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Fizik Microtex is my fave tape, very little padding, easy to wrap, looks good, easy to clean and durable.
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Old 05-07-09, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
Cinelli Cork Tape Rating: 2/10
This is by far the worst possible tape you could ever attempt to put on your bars. I'm convinced most shops sell it so you frustrate yourself and come back to have them install it for a hefty labor charge and a second set of tape.
-1 The tape is nothing that cannot be installed with a little patience. Got it on the CAAD now and no complaints.
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Old 05-07-09, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
Squishiness It really comes down to how squishy the tape is after you wrap it. More is better.
And with this, your review is already derailed. Squishiness in tape is akin to gel saddles. It prevents you from being able to adjust where your pressure points are and ultimately can lead to numb hands soon than nice firm wrap.

Originally Posted by Hocam View Post
I'll start with the worst,

Cinelli Cork Tape Rating: 2/10
This is by far the worst possible tape you could ever attempt to put on your bars. I'm convinced most shops sell it so you frustrate yourself and come back to have them install it for a hefty labor charge and a second set of tape.
You start by slagging off what is very possibly the "gold standard" by which all other tapes can be measured. This tape has been around longer than any other than woven cotton for a reason. It probably graces the bars of more bikes than any other single tape. The fact that plenty of shop mechanics, that we malign in so many other ways, manage to wrap it just fine gives us insight into your mechanical aptitude. Don't knock the tap for your lack of skill and experience. There are tapes that may excel at a particular attribute, but, for all around road use Cinelli Cork is an excellent combination of most characteristics. It is, in fact, available in solid colors if you wish as well as micro and macro splashes to match just about any outrageous color scheme youo want.

To each their own. There are some gel inserts you can hide under your tape to get more squishiness than any of the off the shelf tapes allow. I think you should probably take a look at them.
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Old 05-07-09, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CrimsonKarter21 View Post
Fizik Microtex Tape 9.5/10
Low squishability, easy cleanability, great looks, great grip, multiple colors. The only problem is that it's a PITA to re-wrap, but that is easy overlooked because I don't need to replace it unless I crash or I've worn it down to the grey. The white I've used cleans GREAT.
+1 on this stuff. I wasn't sold on the lack of squishiness at first, but after a few rides I find it hard to imagine using anything else. It's really great.
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Old 05-07-09, 05:21 PM
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Having been through Bontrager, Salsa, Deda, and others, I now only use Fizik Microtex. Great feel on the hands. Not as "squishy," but you can put Fizik Bar Gel under if you want (and I have, and it's nice). Cleans great. Only weird thing is that I swear the black tape is actually a slightly different material than all the other colors of the same brand/type.
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Old 05-07-09, 05:24 PM
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Fail
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Old 05-07-09, 05:28 PM
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Toughen up those woosy hands and ride without gloves for the next 300 miles.
Cotton bar tape is just fine . . .
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Old 05-07-09, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
Fail
Have you been studying at The Botto School For Terse Responses?
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