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Foam Grips vs Handlebar Tape

Old 05-10-11, 06:56 AM
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thesearethesuns
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Foam Grips vs Handlebar Tape

I am thinking about installing (what I imagine will be) comfy foam grips on a set of trekking handlebars for my first touring bike build up. Are there are any real drawbacks associated with going with foam grips over handlebar tape? How is handling affected, if at all?

Thanks.
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Old 05-10-11, 07:20 AM
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Foam is OK. But just OK. Most use tape.

There are a number of good inexpensive gel tapes,
but my favorite trick is to double wrap the bars with 2 layers
of Cinelli gel tape.

Very nice.
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Old 05-10-11, 07:33 AM
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I just like the look of bar tape
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Old 05-10-11, 07:50 AM
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Many years ago I tried foam grips, what a dirt magnet! In time the foam crushed to pretty much nothing... just not a viable alternative to double wrapping or using old bar tape strips under new tape.

Earlier this year I strayed from my usual Cinelli cork to try Salsa, Deda and Fizik bar wrap. The Salsa came out on top (second only to Cinelli cork and not by much) and doesn't have an adhesive back. Very comfortable with a single wrap and my old PI knit gloves.

Brad
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Old 05-10-11, 08:08 AM
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I use both on the trekking bike, and the foam grips are quality biking grips - not hardware store piping covers. The foam grips are where I put my hands going over road hazards, rough or technical sections, hands in reach of the brakes. Otherwise, my hands are on bar tape.

Works great, and the grips look new after two years.
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Old 05-10-11, 08:41 AM
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I've had problems with numbness in my hands from foam grips, I believe they were pressing on nerves that firmer grips would not normally reach. Now that I've replaced them, the numbness is gone.

These were not the standard tubular-shaped grips for drop bars though, they were Ritchey MTB grips which have an "ergo" bulge at one end.
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Old 05-10-11, 08:44 AM
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If you're talking about pipe insulation foam under tape, good for a little while, but the foam gets compressed. Double wrapping with bar tape works much better. Either way, it'a a big improvement, as handle bars are just too small for good ergonomics.
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Old 05-10-11, 10:05 AM
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I used Grab on grips on my Drop bar bike cotton taped over them. but they are sold as 4 pieces,
with edges rounded so just butting then together, would be better if the ends were squared up..

the Foam stuff I see is mostly low density , higher density is the Grab on stuff's improvement..

My Koga WTR came with foam grips, an OEM spec , not bad ,
their premium priced bikes have leather covered foam grips

Many more things are available if you order by the several hundreds..
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Old 05-10-11, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I use both on the trekking bike, and the foam grips are quality biking grips - not hardware store piping covers. The foam grips are where I put my hands going over road hazards, rough or technical sections, hands in reach of the brakes. Otherwise, my hands are on bar tape.

Works great, and the grips look new after two years.
Good point. I personally like the idea of employing a variety of handlebar grip combinations on the trekking bar, and for different riding positions and situations. For example, having a harder rubber grip from a BMX style bike nearest the headtube for more aggressive city traffic situations, a patch of heavy pipe-insulation style coverings for the widest edges, and bar tape for the rest. I think it would be good to be able to switch up not only the hand positions, but the texture and density of the griping material to avoid the sort of numbness that Chris_in_Miami describes.

Frenchfit--When you say the foam grips you use are "quality" grips and not piping style grips, are you talking about harder rubber grips for mountain bikes, or is there some other type of stiffer foam available in between those two? Are those the "Grab on" grips fletsbob refers to?

Thanks.

Last edited by thesearethesuns; 05-10-11 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 05-10-11, 11:56 AM
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Anything too soft makes my hands go to sleep after a few hours.I find some firm silicone type BMX grips that are to my liking and cut them up,put them where needed,then tape over them.They don't break down.

Last edited by Booger1; 05-10-11 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 05-10-11, 12:38 PM
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I'm currently using Grab-On foam grips. I like them, but I don't think they're better than high-end cushioned tape. However, they are cheaper and installation is a breeze. I was a little worried they'd absorb water in the rain but that hasn't been a problem.
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Old 05-10-11, 12:58 PM
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The Grab-on's crumble on me. Don't know if it's my acidic hand sweat or what. Just gets nasty. At least with tape you can clean 'em
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Old 05-10-11, 01:11 PM
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I have used these with good results. They are holding up well after 2 years of moderate use.

https://compare.ebay.com/like/2707353...=263602_309572
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Old 05-10-11, 01:20 PM
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Wow... talk about old threads... did this one come out of the '80s?
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 05-10-11, 01:22 PM
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I put some foam ones on. They got wet, soaked up all the water and wrecked the glue holding it on. I also used soap to make sure it would be easy to get on, then when the water dries it would dry on. That just meant that when it got wet they could slide about on the bars. In short: I had a very bad experience!! Bar tape is definitely worth it if you can spare the time to either do it yourself (tried this once, failed miserably) or hand your bike over to a shop.
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Old 05-10-11, 07:23 PM
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Under the tape on my trekking bars, I have gel pads (from Nasbar) for extra comfort. They have adhesive to stick while your wrapping but I use scotch tape to hold in place so they could be used again if I need to put on new wrap. Nashbar has these 4 to a package
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Old 05-10-11, 07:42 PM
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The Grab-on's crumble on me. Don't know if it's my acidic hand sweat or what
It's sunlight and UV, drying the surface of the rubber foam..
that's why I took to wrapping mine with 1 layer of black cotton tape..
then they last for a really long time.
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Old 05-11-11, 07:39 AM
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I'd recommend against Grab-ons. I used them for many years, looking for hand comfort. They seemed like they were helping, though they'd break down and lose their cushioning, and I had to replace them every year or two. That was a hassle because I had to remove the brakes and my bar-end shifters. In hindsight, I don't think they helped that much. It was easy to feel the hard metal bars through the foam, and my hands still got numb and sore.

What I'd suggest instead would be first checking the angle of your bars and the positioning of your brake levers. After years of setting these up myself, I got some advice from my local mechanic. I tried what he suggested and the difference was amazing. What he said to do was to turn the bars until I had a flat platform on top on which to rest my hands. He also suggested I slide the brakes back until the hoods offered a slightly different, comfortable place to rest my hands. What a difference! The brake levers were harder to reach in the new position, but I put some shims in (bought from Specialized) that brought them closer to the bars.

Two others things I've done helped more than Grab-ons ever did. One was to install some of those gel strips under the tape. The other was to use two wraps of bar tape instead of one.

Lastly, I like gel gloves. I think they help.

Sore, numb hands used to be one of my biggest problems while touring. Now it's almost a non-issue.
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Old 05-11-11, 08:17 AM
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How about bar tape on top of foam grips? I was considering stripping my foam entirely and double taping, but then thought just going over the existing cover with some non-gel bar tape would provide for a nice fat bar.. It's lighter on the wallet, too.
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Old 05-11-11, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
How about bar tape on top of foam grips? I was considering stripping my foam entirely and double taping, but then thought just going over the existing cover with some non-gel bar tape would provide for a nice fat bar.. It's lighter on the wallet, too.
I had done that on my touring bike years ago - worked fine. Try it, it's not a huge cost of effort to do so!
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Old 05-11-11, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Wow... talk about old threads... did this one come out of the '80s?
congratulations, you win the "best funny comment award" this week (especially for me as when I saw the title of this thread, I had an immediate flashback to either a bike of mine or of a friends from sometime back then)
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