If you’ve never upgraded the handlebar tape on your bike, you probably never gave it any thought. Is it just there for decoration? Could it improve your ride? In this blog, we’ll walk you through all the basics you need to know about handlebar tape
What’s the purpose of handlebar tape?
Once upon a time, handlebars were wrapped using white cloth tape as a way to improve grip and help absorb some bumps in the road. Today, people still use it for these reasons with the added benefit of style. You can still gravitate toward traditional white bar tape if you prefer that classic look. However, don’t hesitate to add a pop of color if that appeals to you as well. Bar tape now comes in just about every color and pattern you could want.
What to look for in bar tape
When selecting handlebar tape, you’ll want to make sure you fill comfortable with it during your ride. While it’s partially there for style, you also want it to grip properly. Here are some factors you may consider.
Material: Bar tape comes in a variety of materials, so you have plenty of options based on your individual preference. Here are some that you may consider.
Cotton:This is considered “old school” bar tape.
Cork/EVA:Cinelli mastered the cork tape and this type of tape replaced cotton as the bar tape of choice in the late 1980s. You’ll need to stretch it as you wrap your bars to ensure it looks tidy (otherwise it will unravel). This should be your choice tape for absorbing shock and sweat.
High-Tech Synthetics:These tapes are made from lightweight and durable synthetics. They’re lighter than cork and also help to dampen vibrations. What set synthetics apart is the amount of color and patterns it can create that previous cork/eva bar tapes could not.
Padding: The more padding your tape has the more it will reduce bumps and vibrations during your ride. The amount of padding is ultimately up to your preference. Some cyclists opt to double wrap their handlebars to achieve maximium cushion. However, it is important to note that extra padding changes how you grip the handlebar and make the handlebar bulkier than it really is.
Grip: The bar tape serves as your main point of contact with your bike since it goes on your handlebars. As a result, you’ll want to select a tape that provides grip regardless of the weather conditions. Tape with a tacky finish will serve you best when it gets wet.
Style: This is entirely up to you. While some say that your bar tape should match your saddle, kit, or tube, there is no rule of thumb. If you like the tape and it works for you, then go with it!
Tips for making your bar tape last
While you may be tempted to just wrap your bar tape around your handlebars (easy enough, right), it’s not that self-explanatory. You should follow the next steps for the best results.
- Clean the bars before you apply new tape. Remove any residue from the tape of the prior tape. You will be surprised how much sweat and gunk can go underneath the tape.
- Wrap according to your specific type of tape. Not every type of tape behaves the same when wrapping. Before wrapping, we always recommend pulling the ends of the bar tape to see how much stretch it can withstand before it snaps.
- Many of the wrapping techniques differ depending on preferences. For example, one rule-of-thumb is to “wrap toward the bike” but the best direction may depend on your preferred hand placement.
- Ex: Thumbs sitting toward the top of the bar means you roll your hands more to the outside. The best handlebar tape placement, in this case, would be to wrap away from you.
Wrapping It up
Check out the video on our youtube channel here to see how the pros wrap their bar tape.
Handlebar tape can help you keep your grip and withstand a wide range of road conditions. Incorporate it into your daily rides and you’re sure to see the difference!