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If you’ve got a road bike or any bike with drop handlebars, you’re almost certainly going to need handlebar tape. Modern-day handlebar tapes have never been better. The performance, choice of materials, and staggering choice of colors, has also never been better.
Whatever your specific needs, handlebar tape can transform the look of your bike. It can significantly improve your comfort, and what’s more, it can give you more assured handling when things get tough. Best of all, the very best handlebar tape currently available won’t break the bank.
So let’s take a closer look and find the perfect handlebar tape for you…
- Top 12 Best Handlebar Tapes Just For You – 2021 Reviews
- 1 Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape
- 2 Lizard Skins Tape And Plugs Bar Tape
- 3 Bv Eva Road Bike Handlebar Tapes, Bicycle Bar Tape, Cycling Handle Wraps
- 4 Sram Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape
- 5 Domain Cycling Extra Long Gel Bicycle Handlebar Bar Tape Wrap
- 6 Cinelli Special Edition Handlebar Tape
- 7 Fizik Performance Bicycle Bar Tape
- 8 Lizard Skins Dsp Bar Tape
- 9 Planet Bike Comfort Cork Handlebar Tape
- 10 Topcabin Bicycle Bar Tape Eva Camouflage Series Comfort Road Bike Handlebar Tape
- 11 Vinqliq New Super Soft Cork Bike Bicycle Cycling Handlebar Grip Tape Wrap
- 12 Brooks England Microfiber Bar Tape
- Best Handlebar Tape Buyers Guide
- So, What’s The Best Handlebar Tape
Top 12 Best Handlebar Tapes Just For You – 2021 Reviews
1 Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape
Cinelli was the first company to bring cork handlebar tape to market in 1983. Its introduction transformed the handlebar tape market overnight. Previously cotton, leather, or plastic had predominantly been used. All of these materials had their shortcomings and weren’t able to offer the qualities of grip, cushioning and weather resistance that the new Cinelli cork ribbon tape was able to offer
Antonio Colombo invented this new product in 1983 by blending cork with ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). The result was a well-cushioned handlebar tape with excellent resilience and feel. Within two years, grand tour riders were seen riding with Cinelli cork ribbon tape at the Giro d’Italia, without gloves, and the product exploded.
A natural solution…
From the previous paragraph, it’s clear to see that this is not a completely natural product, and though it’s referred to as ‘cork’ handlebar tape, it’s actually a Cork/EVA mix.
This latest Cinelli bar tape offers a solid grip and the very best in dampening. This hard-wearing handlebar tape is undoubtedly top of its class. Though new and better performing materials have come along to challenge its dominance, this Cork/EVA combination remains popular.
The tape comes with a thin adhesive strip down the middle. In theory, it’s a good idea as it makes it easier to wrap. However, Cinelli has made the adhesive too strong. It’s a real PITA as if you need to re-wrap your bars; you run the risk of damaging or ripping the tape as you try to pull it off.
Test with the strip on…
For any cyclist not accustomed to changing their bar tape, we’d recommend wrapping it around the first time without peeling off the rear protective strip. This is because if you’re not exactly sure how much overlay to apply, you could end up running short. Finishing long is no problem as you can just cut the tape. However, if you do finish short, you’ll have to peel it off and run the risk of rips and tears.
Another issue with Cork/EVA tape is that it can tear if you pull it too tight. Additionally, if you don’t pull it tight enough, it’s prone to unravel and will lose its cushioning qualities.
Not good enough…
Cinelli has a reasonable range of colors to choose from, but quite frankly, their color choice of bar end caps on some of the range is awful. What on earth are they thinking? Not good enough, guys. Not good enough.
It should also be pointed out that for any weight weenies reading this, at 63.5gs a pair if you’re looking to shed some weight, best look elsewhere.
- Good level of cushioning.
- Good value.
- Cinelli logo is on tape and bar end caps.
- Not lightweight.
- Can be tricky to wrap.
2 Lizard Skins Tape And Plugs Bar Tape
Lizard Skins are a fairly new player in the cycling accessories world. It’s been 20 years, admittedly, but that feels oh so new. Anyway, welcome guys and girls, it’s genuinely nice to have you amongst us.
For newcomers, we’re sure you’ll agree that over the last two decades, Lizard skins have brought plenty to the party with their line of gloves, MTB grips, and of course, their bar tape. Thanks.
Lizard skins use DuraSoft Polymer (DSP) as the material in their bar tape. DSP tape gives some of the high level of cushioning we all love in cork tape but gives you a much better grip. Oddly, the tape actually feels a little sticky.
Glued to the handlebars…
The fact is that riding with Lizard skin bar tape can feel a little disconcerting at first. The degree of grip is definitely superior to cork tape. Your hands feel almost rooted to the spot, which in rainy conditions is exactly what you want. In warmer conditions, sweat is easily dispersed off the bars, and grip is maintained.
The 3.2mm Lizard skin bike tape is the thickest in their range and is aimed at those riders predominantly looking for both comfort and grip. This tape would most suit the ever-increasing band of gravel riders or possibly our cyclocross brothers and sisters. Alternatively, riders doing some seriously long day rides or maybe even doing some touring or bike packing.
Commonly used by amateurs and pros alike…
It’s a tape frequently used by professionals riding the Paris Roubaix or any of the cobbled classics.
However, off the cobbles, at 78gms for the pair, including bar end caps, these are not for the sprinters. Seriously, 78gms! Fact: that’s a full 11gms heavier than Selle Italia’s latest lightweight SLR C59 saddle. Unbelievably, that’s twice the weight of the new saddle from the Portuguese company Gelu, the K.3, weighing, wait for it… 38gms!!
That’s absolutely bonkers…
Finally, we have to hand to Lizard; their choice of colors is outstanding. They’ve also got some excellent matching bar end caps to match. Cinelli, watch, and learn.
One last thing, honestly, be careful not to overstretch the tape when wrapping it. This can cause it to deform and prematurely degrade, particularly around the hoods.
- Excellent levels of grip.
- High levels of cushioning.
- Excellent choice of colors.
- The tape weighs the same as a small child.
3 Bv Eva Road Bike Handlebar Tapes, Bicycle Bar Tape, Cycling Handle Wraps
BV is a company that specializes in a variety of low to medium-priced sporting accessories. Cycling is just one of their interests. They focus on cycling items such as; cycle bags, socks, and bike handlebar tape.
The EVA foam they use is a common material at this budget end of the market. It actually provides a surprising amount of comfort, and there’s no doubt that the foam element of the tape does dampen down vibrations really well.
All good so far…
The grip is also pretty decent, though it’s doesn’t perform as well as Cork/EVA, and nowhere near as well as DSP tape, in wet conditions.
This style of tape is readily available from a variety of outlets in a no-name format for the price of a cup of coffee. So, the question is, what have BV done to differentiate themselves from the competition?
Nothing. They’ve done nothing…
We accept this product will do a reasonable job, but they’ve made a product with a choice of only two colors. What’s worse are the awful looking red bar end caps with the white BV logo on them. This is going to be totally unacceptable as a color scheme on virtually every bike.
BV, don’t you know that us cyclists are a vain bunch? Don’t you know we spend hundreds of dollars on shoes just to match our paintwork? Also, don’t you know we also spend hundreds of dollars on the rest of our kit to get it matching perfectly? Don’t you know BV? Honestly, don’t you know?
You don’t? Well, you should!
We’ll all calm down now. We know that there’s a lot of recreational cyclists just after some value tape for their commuter bike. But come on, give them something more than black and white, especially at the price you’re selling them at. We’re not living in 1960’s Russia anymore, you know.
Whilst we’re on a rant, the adhesive tape you use is garbage. It might be from the premium brand 3M, but it’s too strong for the job. Peeling off the old tape is an absolute nonsense of a task.
Last thing, we promise, stop describing this as high-quality tape because it isn’t.
- Good comfort levels.
- Affordable price.
- Poor value.
- Lack of color choice.
- Awful looking bar end caps.
- Difficult to remove the tape from the handlebars.
- Finishing tape will peel off when it rains.
4 Sram Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape
Sram is one of the main players in the world of cycling. They’re one of the four premium makers of groupsets. One of the most respected brands amongst amateur and professional cyclists alike. Any road bike bar tape with the Sram name on it, and you should expect something special. Let’s take a closer look and see if this handlebar tape can live up to the Sram name.
SRAM Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape is a Cork/EVA mix…
This tape is beginning to knock on the door of lightweight at only 39gms, including the bar end caps. It provides some excellent grip, even in the rain, with high levels of comfort and vibration dampening. It’s durable, though, like a lot of other tapes, the lighter colors are liable to staining relatively quickly.
One thing we really like about this tape is it’s easy to wrap again if you get it wrong the first time. The adhesive strip on the back of the tape is just sticky enough to hold things nicely in place. However, if you need to take it all off, it peels back easily without tearing itself to pieces.
Well played, Sram!
Another thing we really like is that the Sram tape has positioned its price close to most standard EVA foam handlebar tapes. This makes it one of the most affordable Cork/EVA mix handlebar tapes. All the more impressive coming from a premium brand.
The bar tape comes in a very limited range of colors with the red, and white Sram logo on all of the bar ends. We’re sure you’ll agree Sram could do much better here. However, you do get the Sram logo running through the entire center of the tape. And in our opinion, if you can get a color that works for you, that’s got to be worth the price on its own.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Easy to rewrap.
- Great value.
- Sram logo running through the tape.
- Limited choice of colors.
5 Domain Cycling Extra Long Gel Bicycle Handlebar Bar Tape Wrap
Domain is a company that specializes in the production of low-priced accessories. Their itinerary of cycling related products is very low. Their history and experience in the world of cycling is minimal.
That doesn’t seem like a good start, and normally, things wouldn’t pan out too favorably for Domain. However, they’ve done enough and shown sufficient innovation with their product to make them a serious contender to take your hard-earned cash.
Firstly, the Domain tape distinguishes itself by being just about the longest tape we’ve seen. It measures a whopping 2,400mm long. That’s a lot, even for cyclists using crazy large overlays in their wrap, this should be long enough for sure.
The other interesting thing they’ve done is to place a Vex-gel lining under the tape to improve comfort. This isn’t completely unheard of, but it is unusual. Normally, we’d see separate gel pads to be placed strategically on the major points of contact. Or possibly a gel-infused mix.
Also, of interest…
Is the fact that that they’ve placed this Vex-gel lining under a layer of Eva and with a surface coat of polyurethane. Now that really is unusual. In theory, at least, the polyurethane should make this a hard-wearing tape. Sadly, the other two materials let it down somewhat, making it not as robust as more premium handlebar tapes.
On a positive note, the fact is that the Domain bar tape does give high levels of shock absorption that is up there with some of the best handlebar tape on the market.
It’s a tape able to offer high levels of comfort for not a lot of money. And we feel for cyclists doing larger miles, or riding on rougher terrains it’s a bar tape worth given a shot.
Lastly, it comes in a limited choice of colors, but given it’s got plenty of other things going on, Domain, we forgive you.
- The longest bar tape in the world (probably!).
- Excellent shock absorption.
- Great value for money.
- Poor color selection.
- Not hard-wearing.
6 Cinelli Special Edition Handlebar Tape
When we first saw this, we thought someone had spiked our drinks.
Cinelli has gone bold…
Don’t panic though, for anyone who finds the special edition handlebar tape a little too bright, fear not, there are plenty of alternatives.
The good news is that these Cinelli tapes have a much better choice of colors than the original Cinelli tape we reviewed earlier. In fact, the choice of colors is excellent. There are some really original and exciting designs. Not only that, but it looks like they’ve put some thought into matching up the bar end caps as well.
Good work, Cinelli!
Not so good is that the adhesive strip is still too strong, so you still run the risk of tearing your tape if you have to do a rewrap.
This is a Polyurethane tape. It’s denser than most tapes and is, therefore, less likely to deform under pressure or stretching. In the cycling world, this means that it provides less cushioning but will have a longer life and will be less likely to tear or become damaged. It’s also, of course, heavier.
The tape will give around the same level of grip as an EVA based tape.
The Cinelli tape comes with two finishing strips. Like most finishing strip, they’ll likely to peel off fairly quickly. Guys and girls, just learn to apply your tape without finishing strips. It’s honestly not that hard and will save you loads of hassle.
- Color choices and designs are amazing.
- Less liable to tearing or damage when wrapping.
- Heavier than standard EVA or DSP based tapes.
7 Fizik Performance Bicycle Bar Tape
If you put your hands, feet, or backside anywhere near a bike, then Fizik is likely to be there.
This is an Italian company operating at the premium end of the market. Despite their premium price and a mere two decades in the business, incredibly, they are still the largest manufacturer of road saddles and bike shoes. All their range of other accessories is highly regarded, and their bar tape is no exception.
Fizik uses a microtex based tape in their performance series. This is a 2mm thick tape that has about half the padding you’d find in a Cork/EVA tape. Since this is a performance tape, it doesn’t offer the same cushioning as some other tapes; however, the padding is more than adequate in most circumstances.
Because of the reduced padding, Fizik bar tape maintains a low profile compared to a lot of other modern tapes. The fact is that padded tapes can make modern Aero bars look bulky. It’s not a good look, and this is why Fizik handlebar tape is a good choice for modern performance handlebars.
The Fizik tape is perforated and has the same visual appearance of leather.
Build for the road…
The surface of this best handlebar tape is smooth but conversely feels sticky and has a superb grip. It maintains its non-slip properties even in the worst of weather. It’s highly durable and strong. Additionally, it’s resistant to discoloration and breathable in hot weather.
It’s easy to wrap and isn’t prone to stretching like most tapes. This makes wrapping and re-wrapping trouble-free. What’s more, once in place, it’s also more likely to stay put, regardless of the pressure you put on it.
Black, black or black?
The choice of colors is OK though you only get black bar cap ends with the Fizik logo on it for every color. This does show a bit of a lack of imagination, and they could do better here. We’d also like to see the Fizik logo run through the center of the tape rather than at the sides where you can’t see it.
Only a small moan for what is essentially an inexpensive but great performing tape.
- Superb grip and feel.
- The tape has a low profile on the bars.
- Easy to wrap and re-wrap.
- Does not discolor.
- Excellent value.
- Color choices could be better.
- Medium levels of comfort.
8 Lizard Skins Dsp Bar Tape
This best handlebar tape again uses DSP. It’s 2.5mm thick, yet despite its thin profile, it still provides the same kind of high-level comfort we’d expect from cork tapes.
The slimmer profile, compared to the 3.2mm Lizard Skins tape we looked at earlier, does have the advantage of being significantly lighter. These 2.5mm Lizard Skins weigh 56gms, including bar end caps. Their reduced weight makes them more suitable for riders looking to maintain good levels of comfort, whilst maximizing weight loss.
Get a grip…
The tape has the same level of grip as you’ll find across the entire range, which is excellent. The tape feels sticky and gives you excellent control. There’s no doubt that come rain or shine you can rely on Lizard Skins to keep a firm grip.
Wrapping DSP tape can always be a little tricky, so a word of warning, be gentle. It’s easy to deform the tape and cause unwanted wear around the common contact points.
Minimal color choice…
Finally, we’re a little disappointed at the choice of Lizard Skin bar tape colors in this range. The previous Lizard Skins tape had an amazing array of colors to choose from. This tape has a choice of only eight fairly standard colors. Admittedly, they get the bar end caps to match nicely, but we think they could have done better here.
- Excellent grip.
- It’s inexpensive.
- Good level of dampening.
- Poor color choice.
9 Planet Bike Comfort Cork Handlebar Tape
Planet Bike is a company selling a broad range of bike accessories.
Their selection of products isn’t particularly exciting, but they have some decent enough merchandise at a fair price. What’s more, they do have an inspirational message, appear dedicated to a cleaner planet, and donate 1% of their total revenue to non-profit environmental groups.
Over $2,000,000 donated so far…
OK, guys, you have our attention, we’re prepared to cut you some slack, now show us what you’ve got.
What they have is a Cork/EVA bar tape mixed with gel and aluminum.
That’s some combination. But does it work?
Well, yes, it does. It provides a good level of comfort, definitely on a par with traditional cork tape. Additionally, it has a slightly tacky feel on the rear of the tape, which both makes it easy to wrap and keep in place once it’s applied. The fact that it’s not easy to stretch makes it even easier to wrap.
Watch out in the rain…
Negatives for this tape are that it doesn’t perform quite as well in the rain as some of the other cork-based tapes. And it certainly isn’t a match for DSP or Microtex handlebar tape in wet conditions. Also, it’s not the most durable of tapes. It easily tears if brushed up against a wall, for instance.
All in all, we still think this isn’t a bad tape given its low price in comparison to other cork handlebar tapes. The color selection is also pretty good, but the bar end caps need some design work.
- Good value.
- Easy to wrap and re-wrap.
- Stays in position.
- Performance in the wet could be better.
- Prone to tearing.
10 Topcabin Bicycle Bar Tape Eva Camouflage Series Comfort Road Bike Handlebar Tape
TOPCABIN is a company serious about bar tape and anything handlebar related. They make an expansive range of bar tape and handlebar grips that are keenly priced and well-designed.
Looking at their camouflage dual-color bar tape certainly raised a few smiles. The yellow and black one we are reviewing looks super cool. The rest of the range of seven colors are no less exciting. If camouflage isn’t your thing, they have 22 more sedate colors to choose from.
Overall, it’s a nice selection of colors…
Unfortunately, their bar end caps are all the same and have their colorful logo embossed on them. So close guys, so close. Just get those bar end caps sorted out, and you’ll really raise the bar for your product. That said, in fairness, this is a criticism we can lay at the majority of handlebar tape manufacturers.
The tape itself is decent quality, and we’re happy to see the price is the keenest of any we’ve reviewed. TOPCABIN is to be commended for the quality of their tape, in a great selection of colors, and at a very fair price.
This tape is definitely good value…
The tape is an EVA tape and is infused with gel. It’s 2.8mm thick and offers a fair amount of grip and vibration dampening. One thing we really like about the tape is its feel. It feels really soft to the touch and has a really pleasant tactile quality to it.
Wrapping this best handlebar tape is easy as they haven’t overdone the adhesive on the bar side of the tape like some manufactures. Consequently, any rewraps are also straightforward. It does come with two finishing strips, but the adhesive on these is not much stronger than on the main bar tape. As soon as it rains, they’ll almost certainly fall off, so don’t bother putting them on in the first place. Get your electrical tape ready!
So, there you have it some reasonably priced tape, offering good levels of performance in some pretty funky colors. Weighing in at 48gms for the pair, with bar-end caps, they’re not a bad option at all.
- Great selection of colors.
- Feels soft.
- Easy to rewrap.
- Good value.
- The bar-end caps are not color-coordinated.
- Finishing strips have insufficient adhesive.
11 Vinqliq New Super Soft Cork Bike Bicycle Cycling Handlebar Grip Tape Wrap
Enter the Chinese with their twist on some of that camouflage chic. Vinqliq has gone down the road of using a Cork/EVA mix.
The quality of the tape is pretty good. The truth is when compared to some of the better-known brands of cork tape; the Vinqliq camouflage tape offers pretty much all the same qualities of dampening and grip.
Come rain, come shine…
The only real difference in this tape over some of the premium brands is in its performance in the rain. In wet conditions, though it still grips well, the more expensive tapes do afford slightly better levels of grip.
One area we think that this tape has over some of its rivals is in the application of the adhesive strip on the reverse side of the tape. Like the other camouflage-tape, we looked at previously, the adhesive is not overdone and makes for rewrapping and removal so, so much easier. It could be just a cost-cutting exercise in using some cheap glue, but who cares!
The only real criticism we can level at Vinqliq is that although their range of camouflage handlebar tape is adequate, they don’t have any other variants on offer. An expansion of the product line would be welcomed.
The bottom line is that Vinqliq has produced a solid-performing tape at a reasonable price.
- Good value.
- Easy to wrap and re-wrap.
- Good levels of dampening.
- Limited range of colors.
- Grip in wet could be better.
12 Brooks England Microfiber Bar Tape
Brooks has a bit of a history of making accessories for bicycles. In fact, this history goes all the way back to 1882 with the patent of the very first bicycle saddle. Now, they came to the bar tape party somewhat later, but it gives you an idea of just how steeped in history this iconic brand is.
This is a company of traditionalists who have changed very little in the designs of all their bicycle accessories. The design of their bar tape is no exception and maintains that quintessential look of leather tape from times gone by.
Brooks does actually still produce real leather handlebar tape, so we’re quite surprised they’ve gone all modern with the use of microfiber, instead of leather, in the tape we’re now looking at.
Right, so firstly, this handlebar tape comes in a choice of… three colors. Antique brown, honey, and black. The honey actually looks like light brown to us, so essentially, it’s two shades of brown and one shade of black. Near 120 years of cycling history and they give us two colors. You have to laugh.
This best handlebar tape itself is thick. It’s 3mm thick to be precise. It feels comfortable and well-cushioned. It’s also incredibly hard-wearing and durable. It offers good levels of grip though it’s not as good as the DSP tapes.
Built to last…
Installing this tape is not so easy as there’s very little stretch to the microfiber. You’ll have to excerpt a lot of force to wrap it correctly. This does, however, tell you just how strong and rip/tear-resistant it is. Putting in the bar end caps is also not easy. They’re quite large, and coupled with the thickness of the tape; you might need a rubber mallet to get them into place. Seriously!
However, there’s no doubt that once you have the tape on your bike, it looks amazing. They look every bit as good as real leather, but without all the headaches that leather tape will give you: the whole vibe, the colors, perforations, texture, all shout vintage cycling from the rooftops.
Pipe and slippers…
We said this handlebar tape looks amazing, and it does. But it has to be on the right bike. If you have a vintage bike or a modern bike with a retro twist, then this is absolutely for you. If you’re the kind of guy, or girl, who smokes a pipe, wears tweed jackets and plays around with steam engines at the weekend, then this is also absolutely for you. In fact, you should buy it even if you don’t have a bike.
However, if you have one single piece of carbon on your bike, then it’s definitely not for you.
Finally, if you already have a Brooks leather saddle, you 100% need to buy it today.
- It looks amazing.
- The bar end caps are spectacular.
- Super hard-wearing.
- Very difficult to wrap.
- The choice of colors.
Best Handlebar Tape Buyers Guide
The first thing we want to say to everyone is, learn how to properly wrap your tape. If you wrap your bars correctly, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and expense in poorly wrapped bars and ripped or damaged tape.
If you want to wrap the bars without the use of fishing tape, then we’d recommend wrapping, starting from the top of the bars, and finishing at the bar ends. It’s not the conventional way, but it saves having to use finishing strips, which are constant points of failure. It also keeps the electrical tape where it belongs!
Whilst cost and durability are undoubtedly important, the majority of cyclists are most concerned with the two basic essentials of bar tape: grip and comfort. These are the two things that will most impact our rides and can turn a great ride into a terrible one or vice versa.
Let’s look at grip and comfort a little more closely…
As one of the key contact points on the bike, of course, grip is important. On more challenging surfaces and especially in the wet, this becomes increasingly the case. Additionally, in a competitive environment, or alternatively where the speed is ramped up, grip will be absolutely crucial.
Under normal circumstances, we can happily recommend any of the modern tapes we’ve reviewed here. They all perform well and offer perfectly acceptable levels of grip. However, there’s no doubt that DSP offers the best level of grip out of any of the tapes. The tape has an assured stickiness that can’t be beaten.
We think the best road bike bar tape for grip is the Lizard skin DSP tape.
This equation isn’t complicated. The further you ride and the rougher the roads, the more comfort becomes important. This is why you see bike-packers, endurance racers, gravel riders, cyclocross riders, and any cyclist competing on the cobbles reaching for thicker tapes.
The thickest tapes are generally 3.2mm thick and offer the best levels of comfort. All modern tapes offer excellent levels of riding comfort, but we think a cork/AVA mix will be your friend where comfort is key.
When this is even insufficient double wrapping can give even better levels of riding comfort. Cyclists putting in some serious miles or who are possibly pre-disposed to carpal tunnel syndrome way well choose this option.
On the other end of the spectrum, where comfort is of little importance, such as on a TT or a short ride, 1.8mm tapes would be a common choice. In these circumstances adding and comfort will have little importance; here, every gram matters.
Something To Go With Your Handlebar Tape?
We’re convinced your bike will take on a great look after you’ve installed your best handlebar tape, but does it need more? If so, please check out our reviews of the Best Bike Helmets, the Best Bike Locks, the Best Bike Cup Holders, the Best Mountain Bike Saddles, and the Best Truck Mount Bike Rack currently available.