I like bar tape that is grippy, and not slippery. I also like grip tape that has some padding to it. I used to ride this really grippy and thick handlebar tape from Specialized that I liked a lot, but they either renamed it or they don’t make it anymore. Also, someone pointed out to me how heavy the gel padding was in the bike shop, letting me hold it in my hand to see. I rode cork tape for a while, which I also liked because of the comfort. But cork doesn’t have the same grip, and can easily get torn up if you aren’t careful.
So when I was at my local bike shop last year and saw this Lizard Skins tape on display, I decided to try it in spite of its really high price. Suggested retail is around $38, and I think that’s what I paid. I put it on my cyclocross bike first, where a good grip is extremely important. And after using it there, I really liked it and also put it on my road bike.
What I didn’t know when I bought this tape at my local bike shop is that it comes in different styles and thicknesses. I got the thinnest and lightest tape at 1.8 mm and just 50 grams. It also comes in slightly thicker 2.5 mm tape at 56 grams, and a really thick 3.2 mm tape that was used in the 2012 Paris Roubaix by Vacansoleil-DCM and still weighs just a little bit more at 63 grams.
If I had known about different thicknesses, I would have gone with the thickest 3.2 mm version for my cyclocross bike for sure, and probably also for my road bike. But alas, I already shelled out the money for what I have, so I’m sticking with it until my tape wears out. And that will probably be a while, because it is holding up quite well.
The 1.8 mm version is slightly plush and extremely grippy. I would describe it as only very slightly thicker and softer than traditional bar tape, with the better grip being the main selling point. Although I have to admit that I’ve done plenty of cyclocross racing and even a gravel grinder with this tape on my cyclocross bike, with no hand discomfort. So maybe even the thinnest version is better at vibration dampening than regular tape.
I’ve had some minor cyclocross crashes with the tape, and it has held up pretty well in spite of that. I have one little spot where I can see that I crashed it, but the tape did not tear completely and just looks a little bit beat up.
The next time I buy grip tape, I plan to stick with the Lizard Skins brand, but move up to the thickest 3.2 mm version. I feel that the tape is probably a little bit too expensive, at almost three times what you can buy some cork bike tape. But having a very solid grip where I don’t worry about my hands slipping off the bars even when my gloves are sweated through or my handlebars are wet is worth the extra expense for me.
Anyone else like grippy bicycle tape? What brand are you using? Leave a comment and let me know.