How To Choose Handlebar Tape

(Zappy sounds) – [GNC rep] Handlebar tape. It’s not as simple as it may
actually seem from the outset. And, for many people out
there, they do in fact cast it aside or they’re not
that bothered about it. But let’s not forget it’s
one of the three main contact points between you and your bike. And while shopping around for new bar tape you could well be faced with hundreds of different possible
combinations. Of course, you have the material of the
tape, you got the texture, the amount of padding,
not to mention the all important color choice.
So today let’s take a look at some of the different
versions and varieties available out there. Luckily
our friends at Physique have just launched a brand
new range so we can go and have a look to see what might
suit your needs the best. (Upbeat music) Now it may not be obvious to everybody out there the reason why we
actually use handlebar tape. First reason is for grip.
So imagine trying to hold on to some anti minion or
carbon bars without handlebar tape on. And yeah, your
grip is not gonna be very good at all. Especially once
you start to get a little bit sweaty or riding over
rough terrain. And the other reason, which is probably
the most obvious, is actually for extra comfort when
you’re putting in those miles and kilometers all year round. (Spunky music) Now walking into a bike shop is probably one of the most exciting
things for a cyclist. But when you go when you check out
that different type of handlebar tape on the wall
quite often it’s daunting, to be honest, because you
don’t know what you should be looking for. And whilst you
normally would leave with some handlebar tape, quite
often you do wonder in the back of your mind, is
it really what you wanted? So let’s have a look then
at this range from Physique and see what you should be
looking for depending on your riding needs. (Zappy music) Now the appearance of handlebar tape for some people is the most
important thing to consider when buying a new roll of
bar tape. But for others, they don’t really care what it looks like which, kind of pains me
really ’cause I always think handlebar tape on a bike
makes a big difference quite often. Now, if
you’ve got yourself a real classic looking bike, then
you’re gonna need some of this classic looking
tape. This is the Tempo tape from Physique so this adds,
well I think personally, a little bit of class to
an old retro bike or if you’re looking for a
traditional look on your modern race bike even for that matter,
wrap it in some of this. I mean look at tiny little
perforated holes, this is the sort of tape that
riders were using say 20, 25 years ago before that spongy
cork tape really started to take off. Personally,
it’s my favorite. I still wrap my bars in this. I
totally and utterly love it. On the flip side then from
that Tempo tape, we’ve got this. This is brand new.
This is called the Terra tape. So, as you can see it’s
pretty different. It’s smooth for a start. It hasn’t got
any of those perforation holes what dirt’s gonna hang
around. Unless it is designed for off road riding, such as
cyclo cross, it should clean up a little bit easier, too.
Next up we’ve got something which is pretty modern looking
in its appearance, not just by the color of it, but
actually in the texture of it. So you can see here you’ve
got a lot of grooves running along the length of the
tape and I think that could come in handy for what we’re
gonna come onto next – comfort. (Jazzy music) First up then on this Microtex classic you can see it’s just 2 mm thick
so it’s not gonna give you loads and loads of comfort
or padding when riding along, but it is gonna give you
really great control over your handlebars ’cause you can
feel everything that’s going through it. But, for those
of you who think maybe it’s a little bit too thin – I
mean I’ve used that for about 20 years now, I think it’s
absolutely spot on, that’s my own personal choice, though
– you could get something like this. So it has exactly
the same texture and look about it but it is a
millimeter thicker. But having done that they’ve added a
middle layer of foam here in the center of the bar
tape and we actually wrap it on your bars it does
transform the feel significantly. A millimeter, it doesn’t sound
like a lot, but when you’re holding on to your handlebars,
it does make the world of difference, I find. Then
pick up another roll of tape and this one, sub-named Soft,
has a slightly different feel to it actually there.
So, the comfort is gonna vary just very, very
slightly. This one has a more velvety appearance to it.
Quite premium and posh really to the touch. I
quite like that. Now this same methodology can be
applied to probably most different variants of
handlebar tape out there. So the Vento, for example,
that comes in different thicknesses and also these
ridges, too. For some people they’re gonna find
that quite comfortable on their hands especially
for those of you who don’t like using gloves. Now,
the tape itself has a kind of rubbery type feel to
it. So, when your hands start to sweat or the rain
starts pouring down, the grip, or stickiness, between
you and the handlebar tape is only gonna improve.
Something which a lot of riders out there absolutely love. I did say at the start there
were literally hundreds of different combinations,
didn’t I? And I’ve not let you down so far. So,
here’s another one into the mix. The type of adhesive
that your handlebar tape applies with, so on this
Terra tape we’ve got ourselves in here a layer of gel
which is gonna help you with comfort. But, also, that
layer of gel isn’t quite as sticky as what you’d
find on some types of bar tape like that so you
could remove and refit it without the chance
of tearing your bar tape as well as leaving that
sticky residue behind. So, you could probably even
put this in the washing machine to clean it up. Well,
maybe not. (Water swooshing) Now if you’re happy and
satisfied with your current bar tape I’ve got a little
tip for you though before you go rushing into that
shop. Take a length of that current bar tape with you.
That way you can be sure you’re gonna get as close
to it as possible from the display. Because quite often
we go into a shop and we think “oh that’s exactly the
same bar tape as I’ve got”. When in actual fact it’s not.
And that’s only accompanied with an embarrassing return
to the shop for an exchange for the correct tape. Now,
if after all of this you’re still not sure, go into
the shop and have a feel around of different handlebars
on bikes on display. And think to yourself “Is
this what I want to be riding along with?”. If
it is, go over, grab that helpful assistant and say
“Shopkeeper, this is the tape I’d like.” and
they’ll find you something from their display I’m
pretty sure. Now finally, we’ve got the all important
decision of color. Now, here at GCN we do in
fact joke around sayin’ that your bar tape should
match your saddle and vice versa, when in actual
fact it doesn’t matter because your handlebar
tape can be a really great way of expressing yourself
on your bike. Now, I hope that this has been of great
use to you and you can go out there now and get
yourself the most comfortable, or most minimalistic maybe,
bar tape that you desire. Now it rumors well to like
and share this video with your friends. Give it a big
thumbs up. Share it with someone who needs some new
bar tape. We’ve all got a friend of ours who has
some really grubby stuff on their bike. Remember
as well to check out the GCN shop at
shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com where we have a whole heap of
different products for you. And now, for a
video on how to wrap your handlebar tape, click just
down here. (Points down)

Norman Bunn


  1. What kind of bar tape is your favourite? Do you have different tape types on different bikes?

  2. Editors… Please turn down the music when the presenters are talking. This is true across all videos. It is very distracting! otherwise, wonderful work….

  3. Can you go into more detail about bartape material types and features – cork, leather, modern gels etc.? Ive noticed that compared to old styles, modern grips are much more reliable in terms of grip in wet.

  4. Fantastic and helpful video as usual!
    For me, my preferred bar tape is thick bar tapes with padding to absorb road vibrations. Hats off to Jon.

  5. Been using Fabric's Knurl tape for about half a year now. Very cheap, comfy due to the rubberized top and silicone backing, grippy due to the knurled texture pattern and I like its low-key look. Blends well with the look of my daily steel commuter.

  6. Got some amazing tape with my cannondale, wasnt able to find anything closely as good as that was. Really sticky, no slip even when totally soaked, and soft enough to have no aches in my hand. I want them baaaaack :'(

  7. Great video & presentation!
    I've got a question about something you did NOT cover.
    What about those of us who like to put bar-gel UNDER handlebar tape?
    What type of tape is most compatible with bar-gel? …so that it keeps it from moving around, or the tape loops bunching up etc.?

    Personally, I like the fizik bar-gel.
    I only put it on the top, straight portion, but in two layers (fizik bar-gel is fairly thin, so on ROUND bars two layers does the job).

    The purpose is to create comfort for the forearms, when riding "puppy-paws" (i.e. "elbow steering" in TT position)
    I typically do about half my rides in "puppy-paws", but do NOT wish to switch to real TT bars — for reasons both of travel convenience (bike box packing), as well as position on the bike (you get a fair bit LOWER with "puppy-paws" than TT bars).

    Thanks for any hints.

  8. I like that even in a sponsored video you managed to give really decent universal advice. Thanks for that! Also, perforated handlebartape looks best!

  9. I prefer thin bar tape since I use gloves. For me the colour matches the brake wires (orange).

  10. #askGCNanything
    Why no one wrap bartape over hud rubbers? I think that best table feel better on hand than slippery rubber.

  11. Thin and black (I cant stand the look of 6 week old white bar tape that's grey in the middle already) is the common criteria…
    Other than that, I have a rubbery one for my gravel bike, a velvety one on my road bike and on my touring/commuting bike I have the same indestructible leather/leatherette tape it came with, and it looks as good after 25,000 km as the day I bought it.

  12. Black tape, always black tape! White bar tape is always a horrible choice, unless you change it once a month.

  13. Black… Silicone type or similar… Some kind of interesting pattern stamped on it. Basically Fabric or Supacaz. Job Done. =)

  14. Bontrager's non-adhesive cork tape is lovely, goes on dead easy and cleans up almost like new every time! (I like white bar tape!)

  15. Default option is to go for thick tape, especially for newbies, but 2mm just gives great road feel. Anything thicker just feels horrible to me, and don't believe the stuff about absorbing road buzz, it's barely noticable.

  16. there are so many options ……. but our friends at fizik ….. …. Do you know that this is illegal in many countries? (mine included) this is an obvious advertisement and you should state it. I like your channel but this is pathetic.

  17. I like fizik classic bar tape and i dont use gloves, only mountain bike do i wear gloves. I do have superkaz tape in box for next year use. Using this in up till new years day when i change my bar tape as a celebration!

  18. My 1982 Guerciotti has original hand stitched leather handle bar tape. I put 20+ k on this bike before making it my winter rollers bike. Not much padding, but its lasted nearly 40 years!

  19. Hi Jon!!!!! I have to bikes one road and one mtb and I use in both bikes lizards skins brand with dsp material. Also in the road bike it’s 2.5 mm thick and two color way. See you later!!!!

  20. I put £40 I got for £30 Specialised HD pearlescent purple stuff on mine wanted heavy duty stuff as I destroyed the original tape on my 1st ride on it.

  21. The Cannondale Synapse and S-Wrap Roubaix bar tapes are the best I've found for riders who don't wear gloves, but for some reason, Cinelli, Fizik, Lkzard Skin, Supacaz, etc, all refuse to make that suede finish EVA foam with gel backing.

  22. DISSAPPOINTING, GCN…Just a repeat flash of the sponsor's new product introductions, which Si already did on the "more motivational" (read: Giveaway) vid.
    Is it "laterally stiff yet vertically compliant"?
    Say something NEW! Test some, provide data (how grippy/long-lasting, soft?). Bah.

  23. I was using a Bontrager tape on my kayak paddle, but I discovered that when I paddle in salt water it was tearing my hands up – I guess the tape was holding the salt and it was acting like an abrasive on my hands. Surprisingly most reviews of bar tape don't tell you whether it absorbs salt water or not.

  24. 1st don't be afraid to ask questions, because your hands need all the comfort while riding your bike. I've used an array of bar tape. From high end to low end. I've tried Cinelli, Bontrager, State, and now I've made a home at Serfas. Serfas has the best from top to bottom tape choices. I've, tested them all. My favorite is the 2 tone stitched bar tape, classic look with modern feel. An my 2nd is their woven and then silicone.

    Even before I wrap my bars I insert gel pads to add extra comfort. Color does play a roll so take your time in making the right choice. Call ahead or scout it out before making a purchase. I've never been a fan of cork that's just not my preference.

  25. Of course handlebar tape should match your saddle. They are to be white, and of Italian make.

  26. Lizard Skins DSP 2.5. Easier to install than the superfat 3.2 but still very comfy. Very grippy and lovely looking as well. And with the best fixing tape for people who wrap from the bottom up.

  27. All black bike including brand labels, but I have white LOOK Keo pedals and White bottle cages (both salvaged from my previous bike when I upgraded) should I do white bar tape to help tie the pedals and cages in or just wait till I can afford to change out the pedals and cages?#GCNpimpmybike (that needs to be a thing) thanks GCN

  28. The thing I find annoying when shopping for bike stuff at bike stores is how each store seems to only stock one or a Max of two brands. I always walk away thinking "maybe the perfect product for me isn't even at that store but at another one", but who has the time to visit every shop? Hence I blindly buy online and suck it up if it's crap.

  29. So what I'm hearing is that the classic bar tape is the best choice for those of us with "grubby little hands"??? 🙂

  30. Lizard skin 2.5 or 3.2.

    Otherwise I really like the $5 cork tapes from eBay.

  31. Is tape with adhesive better? I currently have one with none which I've had to rewrap

  32. 3t microfiber bar tape for my fast touring. Never rips or wears. Cant fault it.

    Brooks began bar tape same reliability but feels a bit too solid for some. Waterproof however.

    Fwe microfiber bar tape. 17.99 identical virtually to lizarskinz without paying the price and its alot more durable than lizardskinz.

    Then i would choose bontragers microfiber minimalist bar tape if i really wanted to munch miles and keep weight down. Remember narrower bar tape actually gives you more control vs thick but most thin tapes don't last long. This stuff lasts years. I was recommended by a trek enthusiast and ex time trialist. It's the only tape he'd use for its price and reliability. Again you feel the road a tad more but you eventually enjoy the feel of this tape


  33. The problem with being sponsored is showing only one brand. Terror tape? Maybe subtitles will help.
    His voice isn't so bad that it needs to be covered by music.

  34. All one brand so is more like an advertisement. I like the guy who did this video but I would have rather liked to get an overall view on different types and brands.

  35. Do I need a roll for each side of the bar or can one roll cover both sides

  36. When you like it on your handlebars, you'll likely enjoy it on your tennis racket.

  37. I've found handlebar tapes, especially the more recognized brands, to be terribly over-priced. I mean $45 – $70 for BAR TAPE???

  38. I try to use a new style & color each time i change mine. Experiment. Sometimes it works out great, other times, i learn to live with them until the next time i have to change them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *