A Tale of Two Tapes

A Tale of Two Tapes

Bar tape is a thing for me. I like low-maintenance tape that looks good and provides good padding. I came up in the age of celo tape and rode more miles without padded gloves than my hands would like to recall. A good padded tape can make a difference in comfort for my shoulders and neck on a long day.

Zipp has given a great deal of thought to producing components for use by pros in real-world circumstances. The Service Course line of products are wash and wear and super-reliable. The Service Course Cyclocross Tape is a perfect match for bikes that are going to be washed, ridden hard, left out to dry. The cyclocross designation may give some insight into the tape’s finish. Unlike foam tapes, the Service Course Cyclocross tape has a shiny finish with a cross-hatched grip that won’t absorb mud or road grime. It’s plenty padded but remains grippy in mud, rain, or Taiwanese humidity. (Cough, cough.) I’ve had it on my travel bike and the finish is also handy for allowing you to wipe any grease that might occasionally be transferred to the tape in the course of case life. Every time I pull it out, a quick wipe is all that’s required to make it look fresh.

And, srsly, when you wash a bike, nothing has ever scrubbed clean faster than this stuff, ‘cept maybe the old Benotto celo tape and I’d sooner hug a cactus than use that stuff again. I’ve only used the black so far, but they offer red and white, both of which I’d like to put to use; $24 at retail.


Ritchey Logic offers four different kinds of tape. And while, yes, they offer the total weight-ween’s tape, complete with weight, the one that drew my eye (and hands) is the WCS Pavé Tape. Cut from EVA like a great many other tapes on the market, what separates the Pavé from other similar tapes is its thickness. This stuff is 3.5mm thick. From what I’ve been able to gather about most other competitors, they range from 2.5 to 3mm thick. I’ve got it on a gravel bike and it’s been helpful in keeping my upper body more comfortable on rides lasting more than two hours.

The EVA tapes have been a great improvement on those cork or synthetic leather tapes because they stretch a good deal more, making them easier to do the figure eight around the lever body without leaving unsightly gaps in the wrap. Yeah, I’m fussy when I wrap bars. If there’s a weird wrinkle in the tape, or worse, the aforementioned gap, it’ll drive me into an OCD obsession over its imperfection. Gah.

Grip on this stuff is excellent in even the wettest conditions. While many EVA tapes have a smooth finish, this is texturedIf I had more boxes of this and more time, I’d put it on all of my bikes until El Niño takes its leave of us. Comes in fall/winter or spring/summer—I mean black or white; $21.95.

Final thought: Sometimes comfort is tightly wound.

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  1. Gus C

    hi Padraig, how does the zipp compare to lizard skins? i had those on my race bike, and when it got humid (translation: summers in MA) it had the grip of a soapy fish coated in egg whites. you’re not the first to boast the awesomeness of zipp tape, but you’re def the most articulate about it. the world needs to know.

    keep up the awesome work,


    1. Todd

      I went from Lizard Skins to the Zipp Tape and would never go back. The Zipp tape has all the cushion (and doesn’t flatten out over time) of the Lizard Skins tape without any of the slipperiness, even in rain.

  2. Steven

    I’ve used the Zipp CX tape through 2 seasons of Pacific Northwest cyclocross and commuting, and I’ve loved it. Very durable, and the grip has always been good for me even in the wettest and slimiest conditions.
    I much prefer it to lizardskins I used to have on the CX bike, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s half the price, either.

  3. MattC

    I’ve had the Lizzard Skin tape on both bikes for a while now. Though the red doesn’t come as clean as I’d like after the inevitable tube-change, and is slowly starting to get the ground-in grime look. I’ll have to try the Zipp when it’s time to replace…thanks for the info!

  4. Jeffrey

    Another vote for Zipp Service Course tape. I’ve been using it for a season or two and love it. Easy to wash and very durable.

  5. Rick

    Check out the Arundel Rubber Gecko tape. It looks a lot like the Zipp and can be purchased in their on-line store. If you lucky grippy tape, you’ll be hard pressed to do better. I’m also a big fan of the Fizik Tacky Touch tape line-up.

  6. Chris

    One can overlap as desired to get the correct thickness as long as enough tape was included, often not the case.

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