LAST UPDATED: October 21, 2019
Best Handlebar Tape: Ride Your Bike Like a Pro
If you want your bike to serve you well, take good care of it with top-tier handlebar tape
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 21, 2019
When it comes to bicycles, the focus is often on the parts that are more noticeable, such as the tires. But there’s one component we sometimes overlook: the handlebars. If you want your bike to look sharp, you can jazz it up with handlebar tape. We researched numerous options and settled on the top options available.
This tape gives you two vital things when you ride: good grip and comfort. It has an adhesive to secure it and looks really professional.
- Designed to tightly fit on handlebars
- Great for pinpoint turn control, thanks to its vinyl material, which offers a good grip
- Stays in place even when exposed to water
- Highly vulnerable to stains
- Not long enough to cover an entire handlebar
The Cinelli handlebar tape brings color into the thrill of cycling with its wide range of handlebar tapes in various hues. It is also easy to install.
- Absorbs sweat and remains highly functional on both hot and wet days
- Adhesive secures really well to the handlebars
- Ample padding and vibration reduction make for a comfy ride
- Material makes it quite difficult to clean
- If you ride your bike frequently or on rough terrain, it can easily get torn
This tape comes with bar end plugs to keep it in place. It also features a sticky strip that grips the bar as you wrap it—if you miss a spot, you can undo and re-wrap it.
- Microtex material makes sure you get the best grip for a long time and also makes the tape easy to clean
- Tape’s smooth surface makes it wrist friendly, and you can ride comfortably
- Ultra-thin for a snug fit
- Tape is not grippy, and your hands will slide whether you wear gloves or not
- Quite stiff, and you’ll have to pull tightly for it to look neat
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With the SRAM Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape, you'll get an excellent grip as well as a comfortable ride. The polyurethane tape is embedded with cork to provide a superior grip and great cushioning. The SRAM logo is embedded throughout the Supercork bicycle bar tape. This product includes handlebar end plugs and finishing tape. It is available in six color options: yellow, black, blue, pink, red, and white. This handlebar tape is lightweight, and the adhesive is extremely durable and long lasting.
It is a professional tape designed to tightly fit on most handlebars. The vinyl material is great for pinpoint turn control, which offers an excellent grip. This product will even stay in place when exposed to water or during rainy conditions.
Get the best bang for your buck with the Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape. This product is available to purchase as a value two-pack, with two self-adhesive tape rolls included with each shipment. The Cinelli handlebar tape comes in a wide range of color options and patterns, ranging from black to camouflage to the Italian flag. It's extremely easy to install and includes enough tape to wrap around one handlebar of your bike.
Cinelli end caps and finishing strips are included with each purchase of this handlebar tape. The Vibra-Absorb gel layer on the inner tape surface provides great vibration dampening while riding, as well as enough padding for a comfortable ride. The design of this product is meant to absorb sweat and moisture in order to remain highly functional even on humid or wet days.
You may find that the stick factor isn’t as good as some higher-end tapes. It’s just about as useful as electrical tape and may not last all that long through more challenging rides. The logo is also rather large and takes away from its overall look once installed on the handlebars. Also, the finishing tape isn’t the strongest, either.
The Fizik Performance Bicycle Bar Tape is available in five different styles, including classic, super light, soft, tacky, and super light glossy. It also comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, ranging from apple green to metal blue. This diverse handlebar tape is ideal for riding in a variety of conditions, including pavement, off-road, or triathlons. The tape comes with handlebar end plugs to keep it securely in place while riding. A sticky strip will grip the bar as you wrap it and is extremely easy to install.
This product is designed to fit most bicycle handlebars. It is made from a microtex material, ensuring you get a supreme, long-lasting grip. The smooth surface of this tape is very easy to clean compared to other products on the market. Its ultra-thin 2mm thickness provides a snug fit on your handlebars.
The tape is on the thin side, and you may have to double up in layers to improve its comfort. It also may not be the most grippy handlebar tape. Also, the longer the roll you get, the more price you will end up paying. It is one of the most expensive handlebar tapes we’ve seen.
This handlebar tape comes in a lengthy 10-foot roll. It is designed without any adhesive, so it only sticks to itself, meaning you won't be left with sticky residue on the handlebars or your hands once it's attached.
The tape is permanent and sticks to the handlebars for several hundreds of miles. It is also available in a range of colors, so you can mix and match them or choose one that goes along with your bike's color. Regardless of whether your bike is built for the road, mountain, trails, or commuting, the tape holds strong through all types of riding.
One downside is that tape does tend to attract a bit of dust and debris. It may clean off easily, but it can be annoying if you like to keep a clean bike. Another issue is the tape isn't the most comfortable to hold onto, and it is relatively thin.
This tape's suede-infused design improves its overall comfortability and grip through long rides. It acts as a cushion for your palms with its soft, pillow-like feel, making it relatively lightweight, too.
A single roll is just under seven feet long and is easy to install, as it is extra stretchy and sticky. Plus, it even comes with end plugs and finishing tape. If white isn't your color, you can choose from six other bright and unique colors and styles. As far as thickness goes, the wraps measure 2.5 mm thick.
While the wraps aren't that expensive, they are higher priced than other models we've seen. We also feel that for their price, they should be longer than seven feet. Also, the adhesive could be just a bit stronger.
- When you buy handlebar tape, get several pieces. A lot of handlebar tape manufacturers provide multiple color options to fit your specific needs and preferences.
- Be careful not to overstretch the tape during installation. Overstretching compromises the thickness of the tape, greatly reducing its durability. And if the tape is thin, it is more likely to tear.
- Handlebar tape is susceptible to dirt. It is advisable to select colors that hide dirt. But if you pick a material that is easy to clean, you can improve your bike’s visibility.
Q: Which is the best handlebar tape?
The best handlebar tape for your bike is determined by your cycling needs. If you typically cycle in gravel or off road, the handlebar tape will need to be cushioned so it is kind to your hands and dampens vibrations.
Q: When do I need to replace my handlebar tape?
Handlebars get plenty of contacts. For this reason, handlebar tape is likely to wear out very fast. If you notice your handlebars getting slippery even in dry conditions—when they were previously snug—it may be time to replace the tape.
Q: Is expensive handlebar tape better than other tapes?
Handlebar tape comes with varying features. Many tapes on the higher end of the price spectrum have features that set them apart, like vibration dampening, extra padding, and bar end plugs. However, handlebar tape can be both functional and affordable.
If you are looking for handlebar tape that will withstand frequent use, you will love the SRAM Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape. But if you want one that combines affordability and functionality, the classic Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape is a great alternative.