Looking to replace the worn off handlebar tapes on your road bike?
If you look around, you probably have noticed that there are hundreds of options available today.
With hundreds of choices, comes the hard part.
- Which one is for you?
- How do I choose the best ones?
- What color should I get?
For starters, there are various thicknesses and made from different materials. Each will feel differently and have a different wear and tear rate.
On this page, I’ll discuss them more in detail and share some of the popular bar tapes among cyclists today.
If you’re looking for a classic and simple look that won’t cost you a lot of money, then Cinelli’s cork tape is the way to go. Cinelli, an Italy-based company that produces bikes and bike components, is well known for this quality tape.
It will give you a cushioned base for your hands while absorbing sweat on hot rides. It also comes in a wide variety of colors. Just keep in mind that cork tape isn’t as durable as some other tape materials on the market. It will fray and come apart over time.
- Pros : Value for money.
- Cons : Not as durable as other materials.
SRAM’s bar tape is a step up from your standard cork tape SRAM, one of the big three manufacturers of bike components, imbeds polyurethane into its Supercork bar tape.
What does this mean?
Polyurethane makes the tape more durable and the grip considerably better than standard cork bar tape. And best of all, it’s only slightly more expensive. SRAM Supercork comes in various colors, including yellow, blue, white, black, and red.
- Pros : Good durability for a cork bar tape.
- Cons : Can get slippery when it’s wet.
Value for Money Picks
Zipp Service Course CX
For rougher cyclocross riding, cork tape won’t do. It would be best if you had more padding for shock absorption and enough grip to prevent your hands from slipping off the bars.
Zipp’s Service Course CX tape features beefier padding with a gel center strip that absorbs shocks from gravel rides. Its cross-hatched pattern is designed to provide plenty of grips, whether barehanded or wearing gloves.
- Pros : A lot of padding and grip.
- Cons : Not durable.
Fizik Vento Microtex
If you’re after a classic look, improved durability, and a grippy contact point, then check out Fizik’s performance bar tape.
The first thing you’ll notice with Fizik’s bar tape is the 3mm padding, which provides better shock-absorbing capability than thinner options. Fizik also provides excellent grip without gloves and even more grip with gloves.
And although wrapping your bar in this tape is more difficult as it lacks the stretch factor of other tapes, it does offer more durability. The perforated microtex material will hold up far longer than other types of bar tape.
- Pros : 3mm thick padding provides plenty of comfort.
- Cons : Wrapping is more difficult due to its material.
High Quality Picks
Supacaz Super Sticky Kush
Willing to pay for the best handlebar tape?
Then check out all that Supacaz’ Super Sticky Kush has to offer. The top layer is made of Super Sticky PU foam, a polyurethane material that provides maximum grip even when wet.
A layer of Kush foam, a patented material from Supacaz, provides a level of cushioning that you just won’t find with other bar tapes. They also come with a set of bar end plugs with matching colors.
Still skeptical of the high price tag? Don’t be.
Three-time world champion and Tour De France green jersey winner Peter Sagan uses Supacaz Super Sticky Kush on his bike.
- Pros : Nice, sleek design.
- Cons : Expect to pay 2-3x more than a standard cork bar tape.
Lizard Skins DSP V2
Lizard Skins has made a name for itself as the top of the line in handlebar tape. Why?
Lizard Skins are made of a soft polymer that increases road vibration absorption while at the same time providing excellent grip in both dry and wet conditions. And while you’ll pay more for Lizardskins, keep in mind that they’ll last longer.
It comes in 2.5mm and 3.2mm thickness, with the thicker variant offering the best comfort. Lizard Skins come in eight different colors.
- Pros : Various thickness levels to choose from according to your preferences.
- Cons : Soft polymer material is not durable.
Handlebar Gel Picks
Fizik 4 Pieces Handlebar Gel
Fizik’s gel insert pads add comfort to your handlebars while at the same time allowing you to position them for maximum effectiveness.
Because these pads are not filled with liquid gel, these gel pads can be cut, allowing you to tailor them to the shape of your handlebars and the hand positions you use while on the bike.
And because they’re solid, you also don’t have to worry about them bursting and making a mess of your handlebar tape.
- Pros : Can be cut to suit your needs.
- Cons : Could be too thick when installed under a bar tape for some’s liking.
Bar Tapes Buying Guide
You’ve probably noticed that handlebar tapes come in a variety of thickness, materials, and specific usage in some models.
How does all this differ from each other?
Let’s take a look at the 3 important things to know about handlebar tapes before you decide.
1. Color Options
When considering what color bar tape to go with, you’ll find that black is the most commonly used color.
Black doesn’t show dirt.
So, while white may look stylish, it won’t take much time for that beautiful handlebar tape to show wear.
Consider wear and tear when choosing a color for your handlebar tape.
Today, handlebar tapes are made from either of the materials below. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
|Type of Material||Pros||Cons|
|Cork||Cheapest||Not the best grip|
|EVA Foam||Comfort||Harder to Wrap|
|Microfibre||Comfort||Need to be cleaned regularly|
|Leather||Classic looks||Hard to wrap|
- Cork adds comfort and a classic look to your handlebars. And while it may not offer the performance of other bar tape materials, it is also the least expensive (eg : Cinelli and SRAM Supercork) and one of the easier bar tapes to install.
- EVA Foam. Comfort is the biggest advantage of EVA Foam tape. Its thickness and gel padding make it the bar tape of choice for cyclists riding on uneven surfaces like pave or cobbles. Its ridged texture also adds grip. For these reasons, EVA Foam is an excellent option. Just keep in mind it will cost you more money and is more difficult to install than other tape materials due to its lack of stretch.
- Polyurethane. The biggest advantage of polyurethane bar tape is the grip. This material is designed to be tacky in both dry and wet weather, and it can also be textured to further enhance grip. Polyurethane tape such as the Supacaz Sticky Kush is available in a variety of thicknesses for comfort. Just be prepared to pay more for this performance-oriented material.
- Microfibre such as Microtex offer a very durable and comfortable material for bar tape. Microfibre also allows for design features that go beyond just color. Logos, stitches, perforations, and other design features can be added to microfiber without compromising performance. One such example is the Fizik Performance Handlebar Tape.
- Leather is generally more difficult to wrap due to its stiffness, and, although leather can be quite soft once broken in, it doesn’t offer the cushioning of other materials. That said, a leather tape offers a classic look that is unparalleled.
Different brands come in a variety of thicknesses, ranging from 1.5mm to 3.5mm. Bar tapes such as those from Lizard Skins have a thickness ranging from 2.5mm to 3.2mm to choose from.
- Thicker ones offer more cushioning and comfort from road vibrations. They would suit riders taking on cobblestones, pave, or other rough road surfaces.
- whereas thinner ones
- Thinner tapes generally appeal to competitive riders who are after a better road feel whereas thicker 2.5mm tapes appeal to leisure riders.
Read More : How to Ease Numb Hands While Cycling
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What color bar tape should I get?
Black is the preferred color among most cyclists as it doesn’t get dirty easily.
3. How often should you replace bar tape?
It depends on various factors such as the type of materials which will determine the wear and tear rate. Besides, if you use a white or lightly colored bar tape, expect to replace it sooner than a black one.