Your bike, your grip, your style
A new handlebar tape changes the feel and look of your road bike in an instant. The supple tapes made of textile, cork, rubber or PVC are available in many different colors. Whether classic black or bright pink, whether reflective or neon, with the look on your handlebars you give expression to your very personal attitude to life. Try a patterned tape - with stripes, zigzags or bold dots. The extensive range of manufacturers such as Bontrager, Cube or SRAM certainly offer the right thing for your taste.
Of course, you can also create your own individual design with several bands in different colors. How about, for example, a black and yellow tiger look or a stripe pattern in the colors of your cycling club?
Why handlebar tapes?
As an experienced racer, you of course know that handlebar tape is not just about looks, but rather about function. Unlike city or mountain bikes, road bikes don't have grips in the traditional sense. This is because the hands assume many different positions when riding on the race track. The entire handlebar acts as a grip and is therefore also wrapped transitionally with a suitable material. In the search for the optimum support for your hands, we recommend that you try out different surfaces. This is the only way to find out whether the damping effect, the additional grip or the soft padding play the most important role for your riding experience
High-tech for the hands: materials and their functions
Only you can decide which handlebar tape is best suited to your needs. Ultimately, the only thing that helps here is trial and error, for example on one or two test laps with rider friends. However, a few basic words about the different materials will help you make a preliminary selection:
- Leather: The classic handlebar tape for purists feels extremely comfortable and pleasant, but also drives in an upscale league in terms of price. Leather is durable and becomes even softer and more comfortable over time. Wetness, however, does the leather strap no good and takes away its proper grip.
- Cotton: This fabric, which is also used to weave sweatshirts and T-shirts, is ideal for absorbing perspiration. However, this also affects the band over time, as well as bad weather conditions. The colorful tapes are therefore not quite as durable as other materials
- Cork: In its different variants, the most commonly used material. Cork offers an extremely pleasant grip feeling even without gloves. It dampens the vibrations of the surface and is long-lasting
- Microfiber: Easy to care for and easy to wrap are the modern high-tech fibers. Breathable, quick-drying and durable, they also ensure a pleasant driving experience even with intensive use
- Polyurethane: All the colors in the world for little money, but with limited comfort. The plastic is not breathable and can cause sweaty hands during longer tours. The grip is not optimal in damp conditions. But if you're looking for a fashionable eye-catcher for short city tours, you can save a lot of money here
- Gel padding bands: Almost all materials are also available with a soft filling or coating of shock-absorbing gel. Many bikers swear by this type of padding because it reduces shock to fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and back. Others lack the clean grip on the handlebars due to the gel padding. Again, try it out and gain your own experience!
Self-adhesive or not?
An adhesive surface on the underside of the tape guarantees a firm fit on the handlebar in any case. Especially for "winding novices" self-adhesive tape is therefore well suited. The advantage of a tape without an adhesive surface is that it can be used several times and does not leave any annoying residue on the metal tube when pulled off. Ideal, therefore, for people who already have experience with the safe winding of handlebar tapes and want to flexibly adapt look and function to the needs of the day
Tips and tricks for changing your handlebar tape
- First remove the old tape completely.
- Remove dirt, grease and dust from your handlebar, for example with the Finish Line Bike Wash or a similar bike cleaner
- Let the handlebar dry well.
- Turn the rubber covers of the brake handles upwards so that the handlebars are exposed
- Many racing pros swear by this: Attach a strip of self-adhesive textile or insulating tape lengthwise to the top of the handlebar. This substrate provides additional friction and gives your handlebar tape a particularly secure hold. Helpful especially with non-adhesive handlebar tape.
- Cut off twice about 10 centimeters of handlebar tape, loosen if necessary the cover film of the adhesive surface and then cover with it the clamps of the two brake levers. When wrapping the handlebars at this point, you will have it easier later.
- Now put on the opening at one end of the handlebar. When wrapping the tube for the first time, leave half of the handlebar tape protruding. This part you bend later inward, so that you get a neat finish
- Wrap the tape slowly and evenly upwards, always covering about one third of the tape. Important: Always keep the tape taut and work carefully, especially on the curves!
- Make sure that there are no open spaces, especially at the brake clamps
- Continue winding until you reach the stem. Here you cut the tape diagonally, so that it optimally adapts to the shape. Fasten the end with the supplied fastening tape or another piece of insulating tape.
- Then proceed in the same way from the other side of the handlebar
- Finally, bend the protruding handlebar tape at the opening of the tube inward and fasten it with your handlebar plugs. Note: Not all handlebar tapes come with a set of handlebar plugs. Separate handlebar plugs you get but also in our section "bike parts" or simply by entering the term "handlebar plugs" in our search function
Lightness or riding comfort?
A word about the weight of handlebar tapes, which is always a topic of discussion, especially in racing. That's why handlebar tape manufacturers are also constantly developing new, lighter designs. Nevertheless, there are of course differences here depending on thickness, padding and of course material. The bandwidth ranges roughly from a minimalist 50 to about 150 grams for a tape to wrap the complete handlebar. Although any additional weight should be avoided when racing for time, we advise you here to let the driving experience decide. The grip of your hands on the handlebars plays a more important role in your overall performance than a few extra grams. The right grip, pain-free and dry palms and a relaxed posture of arms, shoulders and back save you more tenths of a second than the exact weight. And in the best case, looking at your handlebars in a sporty, individual design gives you an extra boost of motivation every time you get stuck.