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What qualities do you look for in bar tape?

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What qualities do you look for in bar tape?

Old 02-23-21, 09:38 PM
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What qualities do you look for in bar tape?

I've been riding for ages but never used bar tape. There are a bewildering amount of options out there, but since getting something that will be comfortable after 100 miles in the saddle is important to me, I figured this would be a good place to ask what to look for. What type of material? How thick of tape? Any kind of guidance is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 02-23-21, 09:49 PM
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I like Cinelli cork. Looks great and comfortable.
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Old 02-23-21, 10:00 PM
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For the most part I'm happy with basic cork tape. I have the lizard Skin DSP tape in I think 2.5mil thickness on my cross bike and mostly I like it for the extra grip it offers. The Zipp CX tape has a similar grip but that's for a bike I'm riding in rain, snow, and mud over bumpy rutted fields and trails. For my gravel and road bike I don't really find grip to be a problem and cork gets the job done at a reasonable price. I'm also not good at keeping track of gloves so some tapes with really smooth finishes that don't absorb are a bit of a negative.
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Old 02-23-21, 10:22 PM
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Being the fashionista that I am.... color definitely ........ Oh, and I guess comfort
presently Salsa gel cork handlebar tape is doing it for me
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Old 02-24-21, 06:17 AM
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I like cork tape too. I also put some extra padding on the tops of the bars and under the tape, the padding I am using I bought over a decade ago, do not recall who made it.

Some of my tape was really cheap off Ebay, it came with no adhesive, but once I bought a spool of double sided adhesive tape at the office supply store (possibly Scotch brand?), that solved my problem. The really cheap tape I bought was labeled cork but I do not think there is any cork in it, but it still is thick and comfortable, is not slippery in rain.

If you have never used bar tape, you might want to look on you tube for a video by Park Tools on putting on the tape.
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Old 02-24-21, 06:41 AM
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I mostly use a cork under wrap, with a leather over wrap. Some of the handlebar stuf has lasted over ten years in all kinds of conditions.
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Old 02-24-21, 08:56 AM
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Original question, thanks for asking!

I look for a bit of padding (depends on the bars how much I really need -- a good bar has a curve that matches my hand, a bad bar needs a lot more padding). Not too much padding, though, or I don't feel like I've got a good grip. Good cork tape is OK on the former, not the latter IME.

I prefer to buy in person, so I can rub my finger across the tiny opening in the box. I mail ordered some once -- awful stuff, slick plastic outside, felt like my hands were sliding around every time I gripped the bar. And not too tacky, pine tar need not apply.
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Old 02-24-21, 12:09 PM
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Like Tourist in MSN, I also use gel pads under my bar tape. It is the Fizik Bar Gel. I bought it years ago and it has really worked well for me. It was really affordable ($15 or so) when I bought it but now on Amazon, it is listed as $ 33. A bit insane for the price. You can probably find it cheaper elsewhere or on Ebay.

Amazon - Fizik Bar Gel

Now, I use Lizard Skin 3.2mm. LS makes 1.8mm, 2.5mm, and 3.2mm bar tapes so you have options. It's super cushy and has great grip. But I love it. I've used other brands of bar tape before but it's never worked all that great for me. With the lizard skin, I can even ride in hot days without cycling glove to provide cushioning, and the grips are still good with sweaty hands even on really long rides. It seems though the price on Lizard Skin bar tapes have gone up dramatically in the last couple of years. I think I paid $25 to $30 couple of years ago and now it goes for $40 to $45. It's crazy cost for just handlebar tape. I will probably be looking for another brand now with similar characteristics.

I look for bar tape that has:

a) Cushioning
b) Good Grip (texture)
c) Aesthetics (it's all about style baby!)
d) Easy to clean.
e) Durability. ( I avoid lighter color bar tape because it shows all the dirt and harder to clean.)
f) Cost

Last edited by dmeans2anend; 02-25-21 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 02-24-21, 12:24 PM
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3mm or 3.5mm tape is great for me.
Ritchey Pave 3.5 tape is what I have on a couple bikes. On another, I have Cannondale Synapse 3.5 tape that isnt just similar, its the exact same thing as Ritchey Pave and I bought it since Pave was out of stock everywhere.
Both tapes are about $20 online. It is durable, wraps easily, the cushion lasts, and its easy to clean. Oh, and its long enough to mount on flared gravel bars.

A lot of tape is either overly tacky, or tough to clean, or delicate, or tough to wrap, or too short.

Its shocking how many tapes are unimpressive. I wrap probably 20 bikes each year for a program I help manage and use whatever tape people give me and its interesting to see what is nice and what is questionable. That supacaz stuff is tough to pull tight and short even on regular medium width road bars. But it comes in neat designs and thats what is important for some.
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Old 02-24-21, 12:46 PM
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A bit pricey, but the bar tape I've been happiest with lately is the Brooks Cambium line. It's rubber and reusable and grippy. Currently double wrapped on top of cheaper synthetic cork.
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Old 02-24-21, 12:53 PM
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mstateglfr: Since you also used 3.5 mm tape and wrap quite a bit, can you help out with some questions?

Q1) Every time I wrap my own bike, after 3 - 6 months or so, one of the handlebar end plugs would come out or I lose it on a ride. It's happened about 3 times now. Aarrgh!!! Would you have any suggestions? I've watched Park Tool's video on wrapping and follow its steps religiously but I am still having the same issue. Would you recommend this type of handlebar end plugs (Evo below) instead of push in end plugs that comes with the bar tape? It's harder with the 3.5mm tape because it is so padded. Or should I just give up and let a pro do it at the bike shop?

EVO Handlebar End Plug


Q2) I haven't seen the Ritchey Pave 3.5mm tape before. Do you know if it is anything like the Lizard Skin in terms of grip. I really love the grip of LZ but I would definitely switch especially if it is that much cheaper if I can get the same grip.
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Old 02-24-21, 01:23 PM
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dmeans, I've purposely always used the end plugs that have the expander screw whatsit, and while it sometimes takes me a few times getting the amount of tape tucked in to be the right amount, I have to say that the various end plugs that I've used that have the expander thing generally stay in place.
On my tough touring bike, I have used some black hockey tape to go over the end plugs to make sure they were solid on a long trip, but I didnt mind the bit of black on the ends visually, but I realize this is not an ideal thing to use.
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Old 02-24-21, 01:55 PM
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DJB: Wow!!! What an amazing photo. Beautiful colors. Was that in Mexico or somewhere in Central America?

Thanks for the tip in black hockey tape. It actually looks really cool with your bike. I'll do it with my bike too. Good to know about the expander end plugs. I'm going to get some then.

Boy, how do you keep your white bar tape SO WHITE especially touring...??? Amazing.

Last edited by dmeans2anend; 02-24-21 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 02-24-21, 02:04 PM
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Bar plugs falling out? Use those other bar plugs. Never had one fall out yet.



But if you prefer your shifters, a lost bar plug gives you an excuse to by a bottle of wine that has a cork in it.
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Old 02-24-21, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dmeans2anend
Tourist: Wow!!! ....
I think you meant Djb.
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Old 02-24-21, 02:14 PM
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Tourist : You and DJB have become one as my 'bike angels'! Sorry for the confusion.

On my next 'touring bike', I would definitely get bar end shifters.

Last edited by dmeans2anend; 02-24-21 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 02-24-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dmeans2anend
mstateglfr: Since you also used 3.5 mm tape and wrap quite a bit, can you help out with some questions?

Q1) Every time I wrap my own bike, after 3 - 6 months or so, one of the handlebar end plugs would come out or I lose it on a ride. It's happened about 3 times now. Aarrgh!!! Would you have any suggestions? I've watched Park Tool's video on wrapping and follow its steps religiously but I am still having the same issue. Would you recommend this type of handlebar end plugs (Evo below) instead of push in end plugs that comes with the bar tape? It's harder with the 3.5mm tape because it is so padded. Or should I just give up and let a pro do it at the bike shop?

EVO Handlebar End Plug


Q2) I haven't seen the Ritchey Pave 3.5mm tape before. Do you know if it is anything like the Lizard Skin in terms of grip. I really love the grip of LZ but I would definitely switch especially if it is that much cheaper if I can get the same grip.
I use expanding plugs like the one you linked. All my bikes have sugar skull bar end plugs from here- https://kustomcaps.com/
Related note, my headset caps also come from there.

The Ritchey Pave tape is dry feeling. It isnt sticky. With regard to how much grip there is, I havent noticed the Pave tape to ever be slick, even in the summer, and I sweat a good bit. I do ride with gloves though.


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Old 02-24-21, 04:57 PM
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mstateglfr: Very cool bar end plugs! Thanks so much.
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