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Cork: dependable, comfortable, and classic.
Supercork is SRAM’s take on a mainstay material for all-purpose bar tape.
Buying Guide: Handlebar Tape
When it comes to road cycling, it’s all about your contact points. Stiff, rigid bikes, long miles and the occasional bad bit of road surfacing can ruin your day without the right equipment. Sometimes overlooked, the right choice of handlebar tape can make all the difference. Having come a long way from the slick, thin, uncomfortable wraps of the past - bar tape now comes in literally millions of styles, colours and materials. Below is a quick guide to help you navigate through all these options and help you pick the best bar tape for your particular needs.
A quick search for bar tape will undoubtedly yield thousands of options; most can be easily grouped into a few distinct categories, described below.
The most common type of tape, cork is renowned for its vibration and moisture absorption qualities. Cork also holds up well under extended use, making it a strong all round option. If you ride a road bike then you are probably already familiar with cork based tapes as it comes standard on most new bikes. Easily the most versatile type of tape, cork is preferable as your fix and forget option.
Koo Pick: SRAM Supercork Bar Tape
Designed as a more comfortable alternative to regular tapes, gel tape focuses on soaking up vibration and taking the sting out of the traditionally harsh feel of a road bike. While it can be slightly heavier and bulkier than regular tapes, if maximum comfort is your goal, this is the tape for you.
Koo Pick: SRAM SuperSport Bar Tape
A new take on an old classic, mirco-fibre tapes are meant to emulate the old leather tapes of the past without sacrificing the grip and performance of more contemporary tape options. Mirco-fibre is also lighter than cork and gel options, making it a great choice for those really looking to shave the maximum possible weight off their bike.
Koo Pick: PRO Micro-Fibre Bar Tape
The newest invention in the bar tape world, carbon infused tape focuses on increasing the strength and grip of traditional cork tape. Carbon tape is particularly desirable as it is easily reusable and can be rewrapped multiple times without tearing. Where your standard cork and gel tapes can rip and come apart when being removed, carbon based tapes will last considerably longer and can survive being transferred to new bars.
Koo Pick: PRO Digital Carbon Bar Tape
Bar Tape Extras
Gel Inserts. For the true long haul cyclists, your Audax riders, touring specialists and super sportivers sometimes standard bar tape isn’t enough. For those looking for that extra comfort, gel inserts can be purchased and place under your bar tape as an extra layer. While this will increase the bulkiness of the handlebar the extra padding can make the difference on harsher, longer rides.
Handlebar Plugs. Every set of bar tape will come with two small plugs to fit into the end of your handlebars, keeping the tape from unravelling. Usually a standard black plastic with some sort of brand logo, bar plugs are almost always overlooked. However on rougher surfaces such as gravel these small plugs can vibrate loose and fall out. A quick solution is screw on plugs which will expand in the bar for a much more secure fit. These can especially useful for cyclocross riders.