Looking to add some more style and comfort to your ride? With a wide range of handlebar tapes available, BikeExchange has everything you need to get a grip and add a touch of personality to your road bike. See below for more information.
The right handlebar tape can enhance both the look and feel of your road bike. It’s a low-cost upgrade that goes a long way toward making your bike an extension of you.
Wrapped around the handlebars, bar tape enhances the feel and control of your bike by providing increased comfort and grip. Some tapes offer added cushioning which gives the benefit of reducing hand, arm, shoulder and even neck fatigue by smoothing out road vibrations.
Available in a range of different materials and thicknesses, from smooth and thin, to tacky and thick, there’s bar tape available to suit all personal preferences.
There are three main components to look for when choosing your handlebar tape: grip, padding, and appearance.
Handlebar tape is your main point of contact when you’re on your bike. Many riders will look for a tape that has a tacky finish to help them keep hold in wet conditions. If you ride without cycling gloves, the grip you get from your tape is vital for keeping control of it in harsh conditions.
Padding can absorb any shock due to rough terrain (gravel, etc.). The padding will also help your fatigue as it is easier for you to hold over long periods. Some cyclists will double wrap their handlebars for added protection on poorly maintained roads.
Appearance is essential to some cyclists as they like to match the colour of their tape to the other gear. But the colour and appearance of your tape are secondary to the grip and padding. Choose tape for what it offers you during your ride, and then choose a colour (or pattern) that you like.
Older types of handlebar tape were made from cotton, but today, several different types of tape are available. Tapes can be reasonably priced up to high-performance tapes suited for racing conditions. The type of tape you choose will usually depend on your personal preference. Replacing handlebar tape is a great way to improve your riding comfort or give an older bike a new look.
Cork bar tape
Modern cork tape is lightweight and made with a blend of cork and vinyl (ethylene vinyl acetate). Cork tape usually comes with an adhesive backing to help keep it in place. The benefit of cork is that they are highly absorbent for shock and sweat.
Synthetic bar tape
Synthetic bar tape is made from various materials (e.g., carbon) and thicknesses depending on the brand. The tapes may include a gel or foam core to improve shock absorption and a tacky coating to increase grip.
Leather bar tape
Leather bar tape is a premium product, and the feel is unlike any others. You can expect leather tape to last a long time, with many people claiming it gets better the longer it’s on your bike. Leather tape is very comfortable, but it lacks the vibration absorption of cork or synthetic tapes.
Wrapping tape may seem like a fiddly job, but you can have it completed fast with careful planning and a strategy. The way you wrap your handlebars can be entirely personal, but if it is your first time, staying true to traditional methods is a great place to start.
Handlebar tape won’t tear or rip easily; you can be reasonably firm with it as you wrap up your handlebars. A tricky part of wrapping tape is to keep it even, and you may need to trim the ends with a sharp knife or scissors if you don’t use the entire length.
Before wrapping the tape, give your hands a thorough clean so you don’t get the tape dirty and ruin the fresh look. It’s best to avoid wearing gloves during the process as you need to feel the tape as it is wrapped. Also, make sure any cable is secured in place and that any residue from old tape is removed.
When you’re ready to start wrapping, make sure all your tools are within easy reach, including your finishing tape, scissors, and bar plugs. Start wrapping from the bottom of the bar on the drop and overlap the tape by 50% for the first rotation. The extra tape here will be pushed into the end of the bar. Continue wrapping up the handlebars going from inside to the outside. You should be overlapping the tape by about 25% as you make your way up the handlebars.
When you reach the brake hoods, it can get a little tricky, but if you go over the top first and then around the bottom in a figure-eight pattern, the tape will hold. After you’re finished going around the brake hoods, unroll it and check if there are no gaps. If you’re not happy with your first, unwrap it and try again.
Keep going until the bar becomes wider after you are happy with the wrapping around the brake hoods. At that point, you can diagonally cut the handlebar tape and apply the finishing tape (or electrical tape). Then you can insert the bar end plug and get started on the other side.
BikeExchange is the best place in Australia to find bicycle bar tape, with most orders able to be shipped countrywide. We also have a large selection of everything for your bike, including handlebars, road bike tubes, clip-in pedals, bottle cages, and energy gels. We also offer Lazer helmets and Liv bikes. Shop today for the best accessories and gear for all riders.