I felt the need to review a product that very few people ever think about – bar tape. I like to think that I’m passionate about this topic, but others might call it obsessive. Up front I will confess that I frequently change my bar tape. I also insist on wrapping it myself. I think it says a lot about a cyclist that can wrap his/her own bar tape and make it look top notch.
There are two brand of bar tape that I really like.
1) Lizard Skins DSP 2.5 Bar Tape
My first choice is and always will be Lizard Skins DSP 2.5 Bar Tape. This stuff is simply amazing. I wish I could post a sample so that you could feel it, but you’ll just have to take my word for it (or find some at your local bike shop, because the packaging has a sample on it)
Now, I guarantee that you will experience sticker shock when you go to buy some. This stuff retails around $35.00. But come on are you really surprised? When you consider how much you spend on races, wheels, tires, etc. Simply put, Lizard Skins represents a premium product in the bar tape market. In defense of the steep price tag, I’ve noticed that you definitely get much more life out of this bar tape. In fact, I think it will last about two or three times longer then the other stuff. Plus, if image is important to you, it looks sharper.
A few of the qualities that I love so much about the Lizard Skin tape is that it provides a much more tactile experience. Every time I grip the handle bar tape it’s kind of like getting a little massage. The texture is also just fun to touch. As mentioned above it’s very durable, and from my viewpoint it stays cleaner than a lot of the competition.
Be forewarned that Lizard Skins can be challenging to find. Because of the cost, many stores are hesitant to carry it. My local REI finally started to, but be warned they carry very limited colors. You can order it online, but paying shipping is kind of stinky if you ask me.
Also, for those who wrap their own tape – this tape shouldn’t be stretched and pulled as tight as you would normally with other brands. They have a video that shows you how to do it, but it isn’t the most helpful video out there.
2) Fi’zi:k Microtext Bar Tape
My second choice for bar tape is the Fi’zi:k Microtext bar tape. If you have ever purchased a Fi’zi:k saddle then you know that this company knows their stuff. While their bar tape is not nearly as luxurious as Lizard Skins, it’s more affordable.
The Microtext tape is around $15.00. While it may not last as long as Lizard Skins, it does hold up better than other brands.
Also, it comes in more colors than you can imagine. As an example, I was able to match the yellow of my jersey and tires to my bar tape – totally nerdy I know. My local bike shop did carry many of the different colors, so you won’t have to special order that fuchsia you like so much.
I like the feeling of this bar tape as opposed to many of the other brands in a similar price range. It’s not soft and cork-like, but has a smoother and more finished feel. It also seems to have a micro-fiber quality to it.
For those who wrap, this tape is like traditional bar tape and should be pulled very tight while putting it on.
The Bottom Line ~
Those are my thoughts on bar tape. Lizard Skins if you can afford it, and Fi’zi:k if you’re on more of a budget. Perhaps you haven’t thought much about it, but hopefully next time you will. If you aren’t a bar tape snob yet – just wait. It’ll happen to you soon enough. Spoil yourself and get some premium tape today.