Best Handlebar Tapes: Ride Your Bike Like a Pro

If you want your bike to serve you well, take good care of it. Get top-tier handlebar tape

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When it comes to bicycles, we focus a lot on the parts that are really noticeable, such as the tires. But there’s one thing we sometimes overlook: the handlebars. If you want your bike to look sharp, you can spruce it up with handlebar tape. We researched numerous handlebar tapes and settled on three of the best.

  • Best Overall
    SRAM Supercork Bicycle Bar Tape
    Summary
    Summary
    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.
    Pros
    Pros
    It is designed to tightly fit on handlebars. It's also great for pinpoint turn control, thanks to its vinyl material, which offers a good grip. It stays in place even when exposed to water. 
    Cons
    Cons
    It is highly vulnerable to stains. It’s also not long enough to cover an entire handlebar.
  • Best Value
    Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape
    Summary
    Summary
    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.
    Pros
    Pros
    It absorbs sweat and remains highly functional on both hot and wet days. Its adhesive secures really well to the handlebars. Its ample padding and vibration reduction make for a comfy ride.
    Cons
    Cons
    The material makes it quite difficult to clean. If you ride your bike frequently or on rough terrain, it can easily get torn.
  • Honorable Mention
    Fizik Performance Bicycle Bar Tape
    Summary
    Summary
    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.
    Pros
    Pros
    The microtex material makes sure you get the best grip for a long time. It also makes the tape easy to clean. The tape’s smooth surface makes it wrist-friendly, and you can ride comfortably. It is also ultra-thin for a snug fit.
    Cons
    Cons
    The tape is not grippy, and your hands will slide whether you wear gloves or not. It's also quite stiff, and you’ll have to pull tightly for it to look neat.

Tips

  • 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 handlebar tape during installation. Overstretching compromises the thickness of the tape, greatly reducing its durability. And if the tape is thin, it might 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. 

FAQs

Q: Which is the best handlebar tape?

A: The best handlebar tape for your bike is determined by your cycling needs. If you mostly 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?

A: 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?

A: 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. 

Final Thoughts

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.